In this episode of Transcend, I discussed the Blueprint Ghana Experience and the transformative effect it will have on you when you join us on this journey.
This experience is not a vacation, it is designed to be a safe space for healing and growth, allowing you to confront any feelings of unworthiness, self-doubt, and a lack of belonging that stem from colonized thinking. Through powerful activities like a naming ceremony with a local community, and being in an environment that honors our ancestors, you’ll can feel a sense of acceptance and love while discovering the strength and resilience of our ancestors.
If you’re seeking ancestral connections and a space to reconnect to your worthiness, I encourage you to tune into this episode and then join me on this journey of personal healing and empowerment in Ghana.
What You’ll Learn On This Episode:
00:00:00 – Asha Wilkerson introduces herself and explains that she will be discussing the Blueprint experience, Ghana, and what it’s like for people of African descent to go back home to the continent.
00:01:10 – Asha explains the difference between a vacation and a healing journey and how the Blueprint experience is curated with the intention of creating spaces and multiple opportunities for people to draw connections with people, culture, and land.
00:02:13 – Asha talks about how impactful it is for folks of African descent to blend in when they go to Ghana and how it can feel like a warm hug to be surrounded by people who resemble you and understand you.
00:04:20 – Asha explains why the Blueprint experience is curated for Diaspora folks in particular, providing a safe space to talk about your experiences without having to worry about offending anyone who doesn’t look like you
00:07:47 – Asha discusses how traveling to other places, especially in Africa, can help us confront our colonized and indoctrinated thinking, allowing you to recognize patterns and decide what no longer serves you.
00:16:09 – The Power of Reconnecting with Ancestry, Asha discusses how the Blueprint Ghana Experience can empower and support individuals through reconnecting with their ancestral roots. She emphasizes the strength and resilience of ancestors who survived colonization and deprivation, and how their legacy can empower individuals to see themselves as whole and complete.
00:18:31 – Recognizing Collective Strength, Asha highlights how the trip to Ghana can change an individual’s perspective from individualistic to collective. She explains that recognizing the collective energy of ancestors who survived oppression can give individuals the confidence and determination to achieve their dreams.
00:20:36 – Welcomed into a Family, Asha describes how the naming ceremony in Ghana can make individuals feel welcomed into a community and give them a sense of belonging. She reflects on how African Americans in the US often feel like adopted children without a specific country to trace their lineage to, and how the naming ceremony can provide a connection to Ghanaian culture.
00:23:18 – Empowering Transformation, Asha stresses how the Blueprint Ghana Experience can be a transformative and empowering experience for individuals. She emphasizes the importance of being in a community of people who look like you, with facilitators who support your growth and healing. The trip can change how individuals see themselves and help them recognize their value and power.
00:24:48 – Asha invites individuals to join her on the Blueprint Ghana Experience in August 2023. She encourages listeners to sign up and emphasizes how the trip can be a powerful and transformative experience for individuals seeking to reconnect with their ancestry and find community.
Connect With Us:
- Connect with me further on Instagram @ ashawilkersonesq
00:29 Hi, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Transcend the podcast. I am super thrilled that you are here with me this week, and this week, I’m going to be talking to you about the Blueprint experience, Ghana, and what it’s actually going to feel like as a person of African descent, going back home to the continent of Africa and to Ghana in particular. Now, I want to set this out with a disclaimer or maybe an acknowledgment of sorts, that this is not a vacation, right? This is actually a healing journey.
01:04 And I think that it’s really important to understand the differences between the two, or at least let me explain the differences. I see them in my mind so that you can understand how I have curated and planned this trip with your healing in mind, as opposed to planning this trip for the best Instagram photos that are available. There really, truly is a difference. One of the main differences with how we have curated this experience for you is by creating spaces and multiple opportunities for you to draw connections with people, connections with the culture, and connections with the land. So you’re not coming in as a visitor with this outside lens.
01:46 You’re coming in as somebody who is looking to get to know and possibly integrate with the fabric of the community, the fabric of the culture, and not just taking pictures from the bus as you drive by. So as you are connecting and you are learning more about history and culture, one of the things that you will begin to realize right away is that you will blend in, sort of. You will blend in because you won’t stand out because your skin is brown. You won’t stand out because your hair is curly, because it’s natural, like mine is, or because you have braids. You won’t stand out in that respect, but you will stand out as an American or as someone who wasn’t born on the continent of Africa.
02:33 But let me tell you, the first all black nation that I went to was Haiti back in 2007. And it was so powerful to walk off the airplane and to see everybody with brown skin. There’s just this sense of belonging, a sense of welcoming, a sense of not being the other, not being the immediate other as you walk into the room. Because even though it’s obvious that I’m an American, I wasn’t Haitian. It’s obvious that I’m American.
03:07 That I’m not Ghanaian, at least to most folks. I’m not standing out because of my brown skin. And everywhere I go in the United States, I stand out, not just because of my skin, but also because I’m super tall. I can’t tell you how many times I got asked in court by the bailiff if they could help me, because the line that I was standing in was for attorneys only. And you have to sort of curtail your response.
03:32 Right? I definitely had some attitude, but I told them, no, you can’t help me, I’m in the right line. Well, this is only for attorneys anyway. I digress a little bit. But the point is that when you step onto the continent and you walk out into a community of folks who resemble you, where you can say, oh, that person looks like my auntie or my uncle, or that person sounds like my cousin, it just is this warm feeling, almost like a hug, right where we stand out so much here.
04:02 You won’t stand out in that same way in Ghana. And that’s truly, truly a beautiful blessing. The other part that is super powerful is that this group, this trip, is curated for Diaspora folks in particular, only for Diaspora folks. Which means that we are creating a safe space, a safe container for us as black. People to talk about our experiences, to ask the questions about what has happened, what is happening, what will happen.
04:36 Moving forward without having to worry about not offending somebody who doesn’t look like us. Even in groups at work or when I was in school. And we would have our affinity groups. The Black Student Union would meet and talk about things, or the Black Faculty Network will talk and discuss things that are going on because we have financial stake in the outcome or in the opinions of the white folks that are around us. It’s not truly a safe space.
05:13 So even if I could process with my classmates about what it meant to be black in law school, I still had to do it in a way that didn’t, quote unquote, ruin my reputation, that didn’t make me come. Across as an angry black woman that wouldn’t get back to the faculty or the staff or my classmates that I had a problem with them. Right. Every time we process when we’re not in these safe spaces, there’s still an element of self preservation that is involved because we still have to keep our security well. I wanted to remove that completely from you, from this situation, from this trip.
05:54 Even when I went for my very first time back in September, I went with my school, and it was a mixed crowd, predominantly black, but it was a mixed crowd. And even just asking for people’s personal experiences from folks who weren’t black, elicited a response in a number of the black faculty and staff that I was there with where we felt like we had to respond or defend. Or critique their opinion, the non Black people’s opinion, because somehow we were still wrapped up in what they were thinking instead of focusing on ourselves and what our experience was. And again, I believe it’s a natural reaction because of the dynamics in the society that we live in where we are having to fight to make sure we stay employed, where we can’t rock the boat too much, right. We got to play the role.
06:47 I wanted to remove that completely for you as we move through Ghana so that when we’re talking about the colonizers that came, the Portuguese that came, and the British and the Dutch and all of those folks, we don’t have to worry about someone being of British descent, portuguese descent, or Dutch descent when we’re talking about it. And we can just express whatever the hurt is, the anger, the rage, the frustration, the pride, the fear, the joy, all of that amongst ourselves, and we can protect and support each other in that experience. So I hope that makes sense for you because that is a very intentional point of the trip, because I want you to feel safe as you process. And the more safe you feel, the more you’ll be able to process and to heal and to grow. Another thing that will happen when you are in Ghana is that you will be confronted with your own sort of colonized and indoctrinated thinking.
07:47 There’s a story that I heard, I don’t know, probably years ago. I can’t remember exactly where I heard it from. I think oh, it was one of like an NPR podcast or something like that or maybe on Radio Ambulante. And the person was saying that in their family they didn’t eat garlic. I think she was from like Nicaragua or something like that.
08:09 And garlic is used in a lot of cuisines and a lot of cultures, but the family didn’t eat garlic. And the lady said she had told her now husband that he had to choose between garlic or her. And at one point she decided that she was going to investigate how come we don’t eat garlic anymore. And she realized after talking to a number of people in her family that it was a great grandmother at one point that had told the great grandmother’s daughter, who was getting ready to go on a date, not to eat the garlic. And somehow that lesson of don’t eat the garlic got transferred down from generation to generation.
08:49 And it was like this rule that this lady was ready to give up her fiancé if he ate garlic because she was holding on so tightly to the don’t eat garlic. But she had no idea understanding what the context was of not eating the garlic. That story made me think about where are all of the areas and what are all of the ways that I am repeating and believing in things that don’t actually serve me? Where is the garlic that I am not eating? Because I heard somewhere or was passed on to me that I’m not supposed to eat garlic, but that’s not actually true because garlic is actually pretty good for my health.
09:31 So those are the I really hope that that analogy and that story lands for you. But when I go to other places, it becomes much easier to confront the rules of our society, or maybe the rules in our family or the rules of survival that we have been in or that we’ve been following for a while that aren’t actually landing and aren’t actually good for us. There was a conversation I was having a couple of months ago with a friend of mine and her husband. We were talking about going to Africa and just being colonized nations. My friend’s husband is from Haiti, a country that I love.
10:12 And one of the questions that he had asked was, well, yeah, it’s curious because he was talking about this with his group of friends. Why is it that Africans were so far behind technologically, and he was referring to the European colonizers bringing weapons, bringing guns. Right. And of course, that’s a narrative that we have heard over the years, that Africa was so far behind technologically. But there have been a lot of inventions in Egypt and in Ethiopia that are really the basis for a lot of our modern technology today that we just don’t give credit to because those folks were black.
10:54 So, one, it’s a misconception that Africans were technologically behind because the Europeans had weapons. What about reframing that colonized thinking and saying, why did the Europeans need weapons? Could it be that Africans had different ways of solving problems, that they had different rules in society, that weapons, that arms weren’t necessary? Could it be that they were just in different places at the same time, and that one group having armed weapons and the other not having weapons didn’t mean that one group was inferior or superior to the other? But those are not the questions that we’re taught to ask in school, because the narrative that we’re given is that black people were colonized because they were inferior.
11:43 But that inferiority narrative only serves to justify the colonization. So along your trip in Ghana, you will be confronted at multiple occasions with what we have been told is true, with what actually might be true. So I’m really, really excited for you to start to peel off the layers. And I will tell you, it is a lot easier to do when you start to see some of the same trends in other places, because it’s hard to recognize a pattern that you’ve seen your entire life when you don’t have an outside source to help you view the pattern. But I promise that when you go and travel the world and when you land in different countries in Africa, that you will begin to see some of the same ways of thinking that are oppressive and that hold us back.
12:33 So once you begin to recognize some of the untruths that maybe you’ve bought into. And we’ve all done it. We’re all programmed in one way or another. It will help you begin to decide what is right for you and what no longer serves you. When you decide what no longer serves you, you’ll start to feel lighter and more enthusiastic and more equipped and ready to tackle the goals that you have in life.
12:56 And you won’t be following a narrative that just doesn’t fit. If it doesn’t fit, then it’s time for us to shake it off. But we also have to give ourselves time and space to recognize when something no longer fits for us. As you begin to recognize the thoughts and the programs that have us all individually colonized, we’ll be able to decolonize from those thoughts and those programs so that we can start to build a business, build a life, build an experience that actually serves us. You’ll begin to feel more confident.
13:34 You’ll have less self doubt. You’ll begin to recognize your experience and the way that you naturally want to do things as an asset and not a deficit. You’ll be able to decouple from the narrative that we are inferior in some kind of a way, because you’ll recognize that the narrative that says that we are inferior is a narrative that doesn’t mean that it’s the truth. But by going to Ghana or going to a country in Africa, you will be able to see yourself in the people who are surrounding you. You will begin to compare thought processes and the ways that we’re doing things and see what feels true to you and what actually feels like colonization, what actually feels like control, what actually feels restrictive and reductive instead of inclusive and empowering.
14:26 When we visit the Last Bath in Elmina Castle, you will begin to feel empathy, maybe in a way that you’ve never felt empathy before. Of course, hearing our story over the years of being the descendants of enslaved people is heartbreaking. It’s tear jerking, right? All of that. But to actually walk the path that our ancestors walked, and to go to the same river that is still there, and to go to the castle that has survived hundreds of years of weather and regime change is absolutely incredible.
15:01 You will begin to feel or to imagine what it would have been like or what it might have been like for us to be in those situations. And for me, let me speak first person when I had that experience. Of course you have the anger, you have the sadness, you have the frustration, you have the disbelief. I can’t believe that this happened. But surprisingly, what came up for me was this sense of pride, this sense of it still brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.
15:33 Which is why I also want you to have this experience as well. Even though we have on shirts all the time, I’m black. And I’m proud, right? It has come out of this resistance to being told that we are inferior because of our experience in the United States or as they ask for a people. But when you actually go and walk through some of the same paths that your ancestors walked through before, there’s a different sense of it is like pride.
16:09 It is a sense of being empowered, being supported. It’s an incredibly moving experience that I want you to be able to have because it will change how you orient yourself in the world. You’ll begin to see that you are not lacking, but that instead you are just as strong as your ancestors or can be just as strong as your ancestors who survived all of this crazy colonization, deprivation, death, massacres and all of that. Just really heavy, powerful torture. I can’t think of a better word for it.
16:49 And you are here today. And so when you go back and walk through some of the same paths that your ancestors likely crossed as well, it is an amazing experience. Emotional. I’m obviously still emotional. It’s really emotional, but it is just incredible.
17:08 And it will change something inside of you. Because in America, we are taught to be so individualistic and that the fights that we have are all ours individually. But going together as a group will make you realize that we didn’t survive this as individuals. And we will have to come back together as a group to survive again, to get better, to get stronger, to change and reclaiming our own history and reclaiming our own narrative is a part of that survival. It’s a part of that healing so that now we can go forth and be victorious.
17:50 Feel like a preacher when I say that. I’m not trying to, but go forth and find our own success because we’re no longer thinking of ourselves from a deficit perspective, but recognizing the strength that our ancestors must have had for us to be here today in 2023. That’s what I want you to feel. And that’s what I think that you will feel when you walk through the last bath and when you go to Elmina Castle in Ghana. You will begin to heal wounds of feeling unworthy, feeling like you’re not good enough, feeling like you’re striving for this impossible standard because the bar is always changing.
18:31 One of the experiences that I had was, again drawing on the strength of my ancestors, the people who had come before me thinking, wow, all of that is in my DNA somewhere. I already have that inside of me. And it just gave me the push I needed to keep going. It gives me motivation to keep going. It makes me think about whatever I’m experiencing right here is nothing compared to what my ancestors experienced for me to get here.
19:06 Not to minimize whatever struggles I have going on, right. Or whatever problems that you have that are going on for you right now. But by comparison, it just gives us a perspective. It takes you out of your own individual situation, makes you realize that collectively we have been successful, collectively we are really powerful. And because of that collective energy, you will individually be able to come back and do the things that you need to do.
19:35 It doesn’t mean that you won’t need a re up, that you won’t want to go back to Ghana, that you won’t want to surround yourself with community. Yes to all of those things, but it also will just give you a little bit more confidence, a little bit more self determination, a little bit more ire to go out and to get the things that you are dreaming of, because you deserve it, your family deserves it, and your ancestors deserve it. And most importantly, you will recognize that you already have what it takes. You are not lacking. You don’t need to get to somebody else’s standard.
20:06 Everything you have and everything you need is already within you. But sometimes it takes getting out of your own situation. In the US. Going to a place where people look like you think a little bit differently than we do in the United States. For you to be able to see yourself in a new lens, as someone who is whole and complete and ready to conquer the world, or at least your corner of the world, another experience you’ll have will be feeling like you’re welcomed into a family.
20:36 When we meet with different community members and we’ll actually go into a few different neighborhoods and engage in a naming ceremony with one of the local communities, what that does is it gives you a sense of belonging. I’ve always made this analogy that it feels like African Americans in the United States are like the adopted children who don’t really know who our parents are, because most of us can’t actually trace our lineage back to a country, a particular country. We just know we came from West Africa in general. And as a result of the slave trade, obviously there has been a new culture, an African American culture that is diverse within itself, but that is still different from Ghanaian culture, from Nigerian culture, Benin culture, any other country in West Africa. So having a community say, hey, we are inviting you in and we are welcoming you home.
21:32 And in order to show you that you are a part of us, we want to give you a name. A name that you would have received had you actually been born on this soil. So I don’t know if you’ve ever had the experience of really feeling like you’ve been welcomed into a place before where you feel like, oh, you could live there, like your home amongst your people. I’ve had really good experiences and been able to connect with a lot of communities, but nothing like I experienced in Ghana. When people said repeatedly, oh, you are our ancestors return.
22:08 Oh. We want to name you because you are a part of our community. You are a descendant of our shores. And because of that, even if it was hundreds of years ago, you will always be welcomed home. And just the gesture, right?
22:25 I don’t have any plans to move to Ghana. I’m not encouraging you or dissuading you from moving to Ghana, but there’s just something really, really powerful about a group of people saying, welcome home. This is where you belong. Should you choose to come back, we appreciate it, we love you. Just for you being who you are.
22:44 There’s nothing you can do to change that opinion. It’s just love. And it’s really incredible. I feel like it sounds kind of cheesy as I’m talking about it, and it might not be something that is really understandable just hearing me talk about it, but it’s definitely something you will experience in Ghana this summer. So as a result of joining the Blueprint Experience, Ghana with me, you will return home feeling like a new, reinvigorated, empowered, loved, self determined individual.
23:18 That’s truly what I want for you, because I believe that if we are going to advance and to make it, especially in the United States, we have to come back into ourselves. We have to come back home into ourselves to learn how to trust ourselves as our own guiding force. But how do you even begin to do that? I believe you begin to do that with a trip back to the motherland, back to Ghana, so that you can allow people to pour into you, begin this healing experience that will take you from where you are to where you want to be. And it doesn’t mean that you’re going to come back and you have no more work to do, no more healing to do.
23:54 No, this may just be the start of your journey, or it may be a spot on your journey, but I promise you that it will change who you are, because it will change how you see yourself. And that’s probably the most important thing. And that is really the one thing that I want you to get out of it. I want you to see yourself as a whole and complete, valued, empowered person. So let me tell you, you deserve this transformative experience.
24:24 You need to be on the ground in a group with people who look like you, with facilitators who have planned for your experience in Ghana, for your healing, for your growth, and for your community. You need to be a part of the Blueprint Ghana Experience with us this August, August 2023. And I’d be honored for you to join me. So head to the show notes on this podcast app and click the link there so that you can get more information about the trip and sign up. I will see you in August.
24:59 You thank you so much for listening. If you want to hear more on how you can align your business and your life with me as a coach. Head to the show notes and sign up for the email list. See you next week.
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