By TaLynn Mitchell, DWJ Public Policy Fellow 2020

Since December 2021, I have had the opportunity to represent BWOPA/TILE in participating in the Bese Saka Initiative led by the Brotherhood of Elders.  We are joined by a host of roughly 20 Black-led organizations within the Bay Area.  “Bese Saka” in the Akan language means “Sack of cola nuts" symbolizing affluence, power, abundance, togetherness, and unity.  Each session, BWOPA has joined in with other organizations to intentionally spend time together uplifting each other and recognizing the abundance of innovation and wisdom.

Similar to the Bese Saka adinkra symbols meaning to educate us on the need to engage in a united effort against all forms of unhealthy environmental activities, each fellowship session focuses on creating sustained organizational communities and cultures steeped in healing through African traditions.  As leaders, our focus is often on those we lead and support, yet this fellowship has allowed BWOPA to lead the community from a nourished place.

The Bese Saka Initiative is a direct answer to the mental health crisis facing our current world after years inside due to COVID-19.  Instead of competing with one another, we have banded together as black organizations supporting the Bay Area, to encourage one another and uplift each other's causes. 

Participating organizations include All of Us or None, Anti Police Terror Project, Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project, Black Organizing Project, Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA), Community Housing and Development Corp, East Oakland Collective, Hidden Genius Project, Hospitality House, Live Free, Oakland Frontline Healers, Oakland Reach, Performing Stars of Marin, Priority Africa Network, Richmond Housing and Neighborhood Services, Safe Return Project , SF Black Wall Street and Young Community Developers.