Faith in our resiliency moves us forward in times of crisis

Preston Vargas shares words about Resiliency to help others instead of giving in to a mindset of “getting mine.”

In times of crisis, human beings can so easily slip into a survival mode of hoarding resources. If you’ve recently tried to buy toilet paper or hand sanitizer you probably know all too well that the survival glitch of “mine” has hit the Bay Area hard. 

I call it a “glitch” because while humans are prone to reacting based on “getting mine,” our history shows us that human survival and flourishing depends on cooperative action and sharing. It is ironic that our old wounds from scarcity can urge us to take more than we need yet only by sharing the surplus amongst each other have Black communities flourished.  

So, it is a matter of pride to witness how Black Brothers Esteem (BBE) members have taken only what they needed and then called a brother to say, “Take only what you need and then pass it on.” This is how our resources stretch so that Everyone can have a seat at the table. I believe that we Black men have been able to do this because we have faith in our Resiliency.

We have inherited the gift of Resiliency from our Ancestors. I invite us all to tap into our ancestral gifts of resiliency. When I’m faced with adversity and challenges that seem to test my limits I remind myself of the resiliency I have inherited from the ancestors who came before me.

Thousands of years ago, on continental Africa, amidst monsoons, droughts, and warring city-states our ancestors were resilient enough to create mathematics, medicine, written languages, agricultural advances and political empires. Hundreds of years ago, in the U.S., during the horrendous conditions of institutionalized slavery our ancestors had the resiliency to maintain our inner sense of humanity while still achieving our liberation. Their resiliency made it impossible for anyone anywhere on Earth to legitimize the immoral act of enslaving another human being.  

In the recent decades many BBE members embodied our ancestral gift of resiliency to organize civil disobedience and create local support structures while our communities stood against oppression based on race, sexual orientation, gender, and living with HIV.

We can access our ancestral gifts of Resiliency simply by remembering who came before us and what they accomplished. If we just whisper their names their gift of Resiliency rises in our consciousness like a shield to protect us from the raging storm. That is the simple yet effective first step in tapping into ancestral Resiliency. However, I am inviting us to go deeper. 

We know how to access Resiliency as a shield. Now is the time to learn how to access Resiliency as a sword to cut through adversity. As a salve that encourages healing. As a hammer to build new structures for BBE community. As bricks to build homes for those of us challenged with homelessness. As a fireplace by which we can gather together against the cold of isolation. I am inviting us all to discover new ways to use our ancestral gifts of Resiliency to flourish as individuals and as a community. Amidst our grief, our shock, our dismay and our numbness lie our ancestral gifts of Resiliency. We can be brave enough to step beyond that shield we hold and fashion new tools.

What a blessing it is to witness how BBE members are offering overwhelming support to one another. It is inspiring to hear from you all about how you are contacting each other, conducting wellness check-ins, and sharing resources. I want to honor you all for maintaining the Integrity of BBE.

“This is about our community, our power, and our liberation. 

Taking the African American Gay, Bisexual, Same-Gender-loving, and Gender Variant experience to brave new heights 

Black Brothers esteem”

 -The Brothers Pledge

About the author

Preston Vargas, PhD

Preston Vargas, PhD is the Director of Black Health.