Melanin Medicine for Melancholy

Daktari Shari R. Hicks

Part I.“Poetic Pain”

We are but African diasporic seeds sprinkled amongst the Earth. Reincarnations of our pasts’ past. Returned ancestars in the flesh roaming about the planet as modern-day griot carbon copies. Melanated manipulators of matter, Benders of time, Transmuters of thought, energy and space. Bound together by our collective history of global dehumanization and intergenerational narratives of doors of no return, strange fruit, Jim Crow,

black codes, prison, killings. Our DNA eternally etched with memories and traumatizing tales of the maafa. Burdens of being bagladies, bagbabies,  and bagmenses too. We carry weight…theirs and ours.

We have chosen to begin this sharing with a poetic expression of our collective pain. By putting our melancholy in context, we are better able to show how our melanin essence is offered as medicine. Before going any further, we should point out that in mental health, “melancholy” is defined as depression of spirits, dejection, severe depression, and miserableness.

Few can deny that the experience of being Black in America has been filled with dejection, depression, and abject miserableness. Even fewer will recognize that in many ways, dance and creative movement have been the hidden invisible healing balm to our socially imposed wretchedness and dejection.

John Curtis

In coping with vicious experiences of marginalization and oppression, we have wised up and plugged into our melanin element/essence to serve as medicine for our melancholy.

According to Dr. Imhotep Llaila Afrika, continental Africans and children of the African Diaspora have the highest concentration of melanin in our brains, which allows us greater access to ancestral memory and historical memory, permitting us to tap into information, thoughts, and ancestral wisdom we didn’t know were there.

Ancestar Dr. Richard D. King defined melanin as “a Black chemical/biological door through which life passes in moving from the spirit realm into the material realm.” Melanin is tuning into ancestral messages, spiritual consciousness, inner vision, inner life, inner healing, creative genius.

From the lingering spirits of ancestors, we have inherited boundless rituals and remedies for healing that traversed the Middle Passage, swam to us, whispered to us, sang to us, appeared to us via dreams.

Dance and creative movement are, in fact, the activators in the performance of healing. Dance is not just dance. It is ritual. Rituals allow us to give honor to those who came before us and to root/connect us to our African ancients. Rituals offer us a sense of purpose, meaning, understanding, awareness, appreciation, acceptance, and gratitude for relationships, laws of nature, and cycles of life/death/rebirth. Healing rituals help to re-harmonize the energies that make us whole and well.

The seeds of Africa’s dispersal, Africans throughout the Diaspora, have adapted, combined, modified, and even birthed rituals to adjust to and survive the toxic spirit of the times. In confronting the reality of the slayings of Nia Wilson, Sandra Bland, and Brazilian human rights activist Marielle Franco, we are forced to commune with death too often.

Daktari Dance Medicine Collective wo(man)ifested a performance ritual to serve as medicine for our deep-seated sense of dejection and depression.

Next week: A description of the healing through motion by Daktari Dance Medicine.

To learn more about Daktari Dance Medicine Collective, follow us @[email protected] @DaktariDanceMedicineCollective on FB, and [email protected] via email.


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