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Reconnect with Joy and Heal from ‘Racial Battle Fatigue’ with Educator Janet Stickmon

Janet Stickmon is a force for joy.

Among her many accomplishments, she is a professor, author, wellness consultant, and educator trainer who has taught for over 25 years. She is the author of Crushing Soft Rubies: A Memoir, Midnight Peaches, Two O’Clock Patience, and To Black Parents Visiting Earth: Raising Black Children in the 21st Century. Stickmon is currently a professor of Ethnic Studies and Humanities at Napa Valley College, where she also served as a founding faculty coordinator of the Cultural Center.

Her latest venture is CenterJoyPWR®: Strategies for Healing Racial Battle Fatigue, a group coaching program for professionals of color who seek to center joy in their lives.

Being a Blackapina — a biracial woman of Black and Filipino descent — shapes her human experience. It is through these lenses that she sees and navigates the world.

“For many years, I identified as half Black and half Filipino. Eventually, I stopped identifying myself in terms of fractions because it left me feeling fragmented,” Stickmon said. “In time, I saw, understood, and identified myself as fully both. Being both meant being able to draw from and be shaped by the richness of both ethnicities and bearing the responsibility of sharing all of who I am.”

Comfortable with straddling but fully embracing two ethnicities, Stickmon often sees the world in terms of nuance, intersection, and complexity.

“I am also very much at home with the in-between space and understanding it as sacred,” she said. “It’s been fascinating to notice how much of this spills over into other areas of my life.”

Stickmon uses her experiences to help fellow professionals of color cope with racial battle fatigue through CenterJoyPWR®.

“Racial battle fatigue” describes the physiological, psychological, and behavioral strain experienced by people of color as we fight against and deal with racism. It was coined by William A. Smith, an Ethnic Studies and Education, Culture, and Society professor at the University of Utah.

Stickmon’s experience with racial battle fatigue has been caused by a number of forces: oppressive bosses; racial and gender microaggressions; resistance to the development of ethnic studies curriculum throughout her career as a high school teacher and community college professor; and behavior rooted in internalized racism from colleagues and community members.

“What inspired me to help people to begin to heal their own racial battle fatigue was my personal experience dealing with frequent racial and gender microaggressions at work as well as at my daughter’s K-8 schools. All of this landed me in the ER twice in the span of 4 years,” Stickmon said. “I knew exactly the root cause of my stress, and I had to slowly learn how to reintegrate joy into my life as if it were a daily vitamin. Thinking of joy in this way not only helped me regain my health and return to my normal self but also helped me develop an attitude that allowed me to see and open up to a whole world of possibilities.”

CenterJoyPWR® consists of two key parts. The first is a self-paced, six-week online program for professionals of color to rest, reflect and recenter as they move toward healing their racial battle fatigue and reconnecting with joy. The second aspect is live virtual monthly meditations and discussions for members to connect with others in the program.

“I designed CenterJoyPWR® as a space that places health and wellness first while creating a path to help us move beyond healing so we can reconnect with joy and feel motivated, energized, and inspired,” she said.

Helping others combat racial battle fatigue is at the forefront of Stickmon’s work. She is in the process of building partnerships with businesses, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions to make CenterJoyPWR® available to employees via employee resource groups and employee assistance programs.

This year, Stickmon is excited about her upcoming speaking engagements.

“There seems to be an increasing awareness about the role joy plays in our overall health and wellness,” she said. “It is a pleasure and honor to be able to speak in various spaces and help shape the public discourse about welcoming and embracing joy and abundance and how vital this is for our well-being.”

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