Dr. Patricia Bath: A Legacy of Visionary Achievements

By Daktari S. Hicks, PsyD and
Monique “Kiki” Lyons, MA, AMFT

Except for some ceremonial moments and times, i.e., Kwanzaa, Juneteenth, Memorial Day, etc., we don’t think a lot about our ancestors.

Most of the time, in fact, we don’t think about those who walked in life before us and left footsteps for us to follow.

In many cases, we just bury them six feet under; or we cremate their physical bodies and scatter their ashes in a body of water or house them in an urn.

But are the dead really dead? As Black psychologists, we think not. The master Congo Nganga Dr. K. Kia Bunseke Fu-Kiau has taught us that we are seeds in a seed, from a seed, in a seed, from a seed ad infinitum.

We come and go and return and go and come back and go and come continually. As Black psychologists, we do believe in the continued existence, spirit, and power of our Ancestors, the invisible ones, or the dwellers of heaven (the sky world).

Ancestors are those in our maternal and paternal bloodlines born before us (in most cases) who have transitioned from the Earth to an invisible-spiritual-sky realm. We use ancestors interchangeably with Ancestars to honor some African ancients’ belief that our dearly departed return to the stars from which they came once they leave the Earth.

Us Black folk also adopt chosen, non-blood related Ancestors due to their vital impacts on us while they were alive and long after they’ve gone. Ibaye (“blessings to ancestor”) Sir Duke Ellington, Marvin Gaye, Chuck Brown, and Billy Stewart, a few of our Chocolate City-DC ancestors, where Dr. Daktari was born and raised.

Ibaye Monica Renee Hastings-Smith, Dr. “Papa” Zakariya Diouf, Zeke Nealy, Kamau Amen-Ra, and Dr. Angelina Graham, some of our local Oakland community Ancestors.

Nana Peasant, a character from Julie Dash’s film Daughters of the Dust” says, The Ancestors and the womb … they’re One, they’re the same. Those in the grave, like those who’re across the sea, they’re with us. They’re all the same. The Ancestors and the womb are one … Call on those old Africans. They’ll come to you when you least expect them. They’ll hug you up quick and soft like the warm, sweet wind. Let those old souls come into your heart. Let them feed your head with wisdom that ain’t from this day and time.”

Our Ancestars are vital because they serve as ever-present driving forces that guide and direct us on our divine paths.

An African proverb states, “A wise will is dedicated to the Ancestors, for it’s them who gave you everything.”

With that notion in mind, we inherit the good, bad, ugly, and phenomenal from our ancestors via genetic, familial, psychical, spiritual, cultural, and social modes of transmission. Within our collective ancestral memory bank, we can tap into intergenerational memories/stories of distant Ancestors that impact how we think, feel, and act yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

We co-authors crossed paths in 2017 when our ancestors deemed it necessary while attending an ancestral veneration ceremony at Oya Nike’s Botanica in Berkeley, CA, led by Curandero/Santero/Palero Baba Ruben Texidor.

We continued along our shared ancestral journey in 2019 by participating in Lead to Life’s Guns to Shovels Ceremony at Oakland City Hall where we erected altars for the ancestors, drummed/danced for the orishas (deified ancestors in the Yoruba tradition), and witnessed fireworkers meld guns (used to take lives) into shovels, which were used to plant trees on reclaimed local Ohlone land.

Via public/private communal ceremonies, we learned to cultivate ancestral healing. We acknowledge, communicate, and collaborate with our beloved Ancestars in an effort to resolve their unresolved trauma and access our inherited legacies of dynamism, resilience, revitalization, spirituality, and vitality.

The ancestors are, in fact, you. Acknowledging our ancestors is to honor the best of ourselves. We are the ancestors come to complete what they left incomplete, to finish the song, to finish the dance step, to finish their task, to finish our elevation and affirmation.

We encourage you to reach out, connect with, and honor your ancestors for reciprocal rejuvenation by creating an ancestral altar in your home/community, offering them omi tutu (fresh water), giving them their flowers, cooking their favorite meal, playing their favorite songs, and paying attention to your dreams, which are the “voices of Ancestors.”

We also invite you to attend the Annual Maafa Commemoration Sunrise Ceremony at Ocean Beach, which typically occurs on the second Sunday of every October.

The Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi) Bay Area Chapter is committed to providing the Post Newspaper readership with monthly discussions about critical issues in Black Mental Health. The ABPsi-Bay Area Chapter is a healing resource. Readers are welcome to join us at our monthly chapter meetings every 3rd Saturday via Zoom. We can be contacted at bayareaabpsi@gmail.com.

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