Rising Up Rooted: Black Wisdom as Emancipatory Contemplative Practice for Resilience, Healing, and Liberation


  • Shelly P. Harrell Pepperdine University


Black wisdom, Black liberation, emancipatory contemplative practice, African diaspora, Rising Up Rooted


Black wisdom is offered as a transformative, liberatory, and healing resource with particular applications for disrupting the five dynamics of oppression—dehumanization, disconnection, destruction, delusion, and disempowerment. Cultural wisdom is a key element of emancipatory contemplative practice which intentionally centers strategies for decolonizing inner life. The integration of Black wisdom into contemplative practices can provide an ancestral and experiential connection to a sense of belonging and “home,” as well as establish an empowering foundation from which personal and collective liberation can flourish. Black wisdom can be incorporated into contemplative practice through cultural expressions (music, African proverbs and symbols), applications that utilize embodied practice as communal ritual, and practices that emerge from concepts based on African-centered systems of wisdom and spirituality (e.g., ubuntu, sawubona, àse). The 3-part Rising Up Rooted process is offered as a soulfulness-oriented methodology that provides opportunities for planting, cultivating, and manifesting Black wisdom.

Author Biography

Shelly P. Harrell, Pepperdine University

Dr. Shelly Harrell is a Professor at Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology. Her current “soulfulness” work focuses on developing culturally-informed interventions that utilize contemplative processes, embodied practices, and cultural expressions of wisdom (quotes and proverbs, symbols, music, poetry), to enhance mental health, promote resilience, and facilitate liberation (internally, relationally, and collectively).


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