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Creating Breathing Space for Black Students

by Nichelle West, Urban Initiatives Community Liaison at Denver Seminary


The ongoing injustices and inequalities experienced by the black community have taken an arduous psychological toll on them. A number of black people reported engaging in conversations regarding race at work, on Facebook, and elsewhere that have left them feeling a cluster of emotions including anger, frustration, sadness, grief, exhaustion, and anxiety.


In an effort to succor black students and alumni, Denver Seminary Student Life and the Black Student Fellowship partnered to create an essential space for people of color to breathe. Thus, the forum titled Processing Racial Trauma in the Breathing Space was birthed. It was facilitated by Dr. Reginald Moore who is a distinguished Professor of Counseling with a special interest in treatment of historical trauma within the African American community. Our hope was to create a safe space for black people to process racial trauma while connecting with others with similar experiences. Racial trauma comprises the mental and physical effects that black, indigenous, and people of color experience after being exposed either directly or vicariously to racism.


The Breathing Space forum proved to be immensely valuable which is substantiated by the encouraging responses we received from participants. Dr. Moore’s objective was to draw upon personal and collective wisdom and focus on resiliency and wellness strategies. Participants worked toward healing by identifying how the epidemic of racism is impacting them. They discovered strength in coming together as a community to share their struggles and openly acknowledge their feelings.


Overall, participants found the gathering to be balm for their wounds. Suitable to popular demand, Denver Seminary Student Life and the Black Student Fellowship are working on plans to continue the Breathing Space forums once per month. Students that would like to connect with the Black Student Fellowship can contact Nichelle West at (720) 505-3094 or nichelle.west@denverseminary.edu.