February is Black History Month and serves as an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of Black and African Americans. Saturday, February 29, Metro Inclusive Health hosted the Black and Empowered Brunch and conversation panel.
The panel was simultaneously held in both the St. Petersburg (3251 3rd Ave. N.) and Tampa (1315 E 7th Ave.) Metro Inclusive Health locations.
In St. Pete, the panel was moderated by Hot 101.5 radio host Miguel Fuller. St. Petersburg Councilmember Lisa Wheeler-Bowman, artist and teacher Ya La’ford, stylist Consuelo Mackey-Perry and Mt. Zion Primitive Baptist Pastor G. Gregg Murray were the panelists.
The conversation invoked a wide range of emotions from both the audience and speakers on a number of weighty topics.
“Pretending we don’t see race and that racism doesn’t exist is not only socially immature, it is also irresponsible and dangerous,” said Fuller during opening remarks. “It ends up placing blame for social disparities on those being marginalized rather than tracing those disparities back to a long history of oppression based on color.”
The conversation addressed issues that affect the black community, such as the power of microaggressions, the stigmatization of mental and sexual health and how they care and show love for the black community as a whole.
“When you get offended, you get oppressed,” said Mackey-Perry, when she spoke about how microaggression affects people of color. “I simply see that I have a challenge to change their mind.”
After the discussion concluded, La’ford invited attendees to lend a hand in completing her collaborative mural painting on the south end of the building.
“The handprints bring the community together,” said La’ford, who combined her artistic ability and her passion for the community to create a piece of interconnectivity.