Hitaji Aziz is a Trauma Abolitionist and a holistic healer who has a master’s degree in counseling psychology from the Union Institute & University. She is the owner of Peacemaker Enterprise and the founder of The Greenway Meditation Institute for prison re-entry. She is a racial recovery facilitator, a Reiki Master, Healing Touch Practitioner, registered massage therapist, coach, spoken word artist, radio producer, labyrinth, and meditation facilitator of sacred spaces. She is a veteran social justice activist who is in recovery from her own personal traumas and a Keeper of Sacred Grandmother Wisdom.
She was born Sheila Kirkland in Pennsylvania not far from Pittsburgh. She was raised by her physically disabled mother Jeanette Liddell and Grandmother Bessie Forte who nursed her mother with limited resources. Her father Jack Kirkland was an alcoholic who lived elsewhere and was one of the first Black steel mill workers in that area. All three of her main caretakers were chronically depressed and directly affected by addiction. All of this would set the stage for the rest of her life and what motivates her today as a Trauma Abolitionist.
Her personal experiences reflects an African American family system that was heavily impacted by the generational traumas of chattel slavery, southern migration, incarceration, domestic violence, sexual abuse, mental /physical illness, poverty, addiction, creativity, hard work and resilience without the needed emotional or financial resources for sustainable care and wellness. There was always a constant level of pain.
Her story…The power of a family system…She was born Sheila Kirkland in Pennsylvania not far from Pittsburgh. She was raised by her physically disabled mother Jeanette Liddell and Grandmother Bessie Forte who nursed her mother with limited resources. Her father Jack Kirkland was an alcoholic who lived elsewhere and was one of the first Black steel mill workers in that area. All three of her main caretakers were chronically depressed and directly affected by addiction. All of this would set the stage for the rest of her life and what motivates her today. Her personal experiences reflect an African American family system that was heavily impacted by the generational traumas of chattel slavery, southern migration, incarceration, domestic violence, sexual abuse, mental /physical illness, poverty, addiction, creativity, hard work and resilience without the needed emotional or financial resources for sustainable care and wellness.
“I never pursued my master’s degree in counseling psychology so I could have a successful career in the western way of thinking. I was called as a young girl to pursue what I would see as spiritual vocation that would call me to be of service to myself first, to other people including this living planet called Earth. I am a social justice activist in recovery. The biggest challenge would be self-care and my ability to show up for my wellness by learning to love myself first.” ~Hitaji
Pulled by a compassionate vision…
She was strongly attracted to the work of civil and human rights and social justice organizations. She felt called by Spirit to volunteer and be of service to others. By the time she was 13 in the early 60s she had participated in her first demonstration in support of The United Farm Workers Union co-founded by Caesar Chaves and Dolores Huerta and a host of many other organizations on the east coast.
She ended up in Houston in the early 80s and would dedicate 36 years to producing progressive community radio programs for KPFT radio station in Houston while still committed to her own personal recovery.
Grand… mothering A healthy grandmother is a less stressful experience for grandchildren. I take care of myself so I can help guide my grandchildren for as long as I can. The more I practice self-care, the more I can be of service to them and others in healthier ways. I have more energy to love and heal. Being a “Grand” mother can be a sacred position based in mindful wisdom.
“I was a community radio activist who lived with depression and suicidal visions while reminding people not to give up the fight. I was dying inside and like so many community activists I was a walking contradiction of love and devotion. I could fight for marginalized people but did not know how to fight for my own life. I sought therapeutic help and started to strive for some sense of emotional sobriety. The pain drove me to therapy. I was saving my own life one radio show at a time, one protest, one speech at a time, one more stand for justice but this time I was in recovery.” ~ Hitaji
They migrated from Alabama to Pennsylvania in search of a better life. Elevated levels of chronic stress, racialized traumas and overwhelmed nervous systems would be the norm. She would grow up to duplicate her family system patterns in her long journey of childhood / adult depressions, domestic violence, and a chronic eating disorder.
“I remember being an overfed fat child hooked on processed foods. Eventually food would be my primary painkiller for childhood bullies and teen depression, and the same when I became an adult.” ~ Hitaji
Wisdom of recovery…
She developed self-awareness. She joined her first 12-step recovery program in 1982 which would be her first step to Radical Self-Care. She entered the Houston Area Women’s Center Shelter for Domestic Violence with her three children in 1983 which would be her second big step in self-care. That year would be the last time she would experience physical violence.
Hitaji is a holistic healer and a powerful storyteller. Dysfunction and violence such as telling the story of a favorite cousin who was killed because of domestic violence. She facilitates mindful coaching sessions that are culturally sensitive for individuals and groups by helping them develop a meditative mindful lifestyle that can help buffer the day-to-day micro aggressions of chronic stress, societal violence, racism, gender, and class bias, reminding people that suffering can be generational as well as optional.
She believes that environmental disrespect; racism, poverty and violence are major health challenges for our planet. She has a passion for stress reduction, epigenetics, neuroscience, flow science, holistic wellness, and prison re-entry work. She believes that creating personal and community systems of compassionate care and human connections that are emotionally literate will be part of the new paradigm shift for planetary healing.
“I was excited when I finally understood how intergenerational trauma and its collateral damages arise within family systems, institutional systems and how social justice movements are epigenetically affected by trauma that can manifest energetically and systemically through human behavior. The relationship between epigenetics, neuroscience, mindfulness, heart/brain wellness, nutrition coupled with a strong meditative practice are the new tools for creating a world that makes sense for all life forms.” ~ Hitaji
Hitaji maintains a strong meditation practice and uses EFT and affirmative prayer for self-care. She promotes plant-based eating coupled with intermittent fasting cycles. She takes advantage of her own personal support groups along with a weekly therapeutic co-counseling session to maintain emotional accountability.
Personal Self-Care for Social Justice
Now I can meet each day with gratitude no matter how bad I might feel. Becoming aware of how important Self-care is has radically changed the way I see people and social justice movements and the way I see holistic healing. Self-care is a radical social justice movement starting from within. I want to be sane and grounded.
All social justice movements can grow stronger and more compassionate when they practice justice for the mind, body, and the Spirit. I want a sustainable spirit led wellness, always starting from the inside radiating to my outer world and always for the Greater Good of all.
Personal self-regulation and care can help us heal from a society rooted in trauma into a society rooted in compassion and love.
Being Black and Female and Woke
I was raised as a child with a colonized mindset within a neighborhood riddled with generational traumas and racial mythologies migrating from the south and dictated from a White settler culture of enslavement. A White settler culture that was birthed out of its own unique White trauma stories. In this life experience I am proudly an African American grandmother. By the time I was 13 I started to rise and become aware that something was not right with my soul.
I am mindfully aware to use meditation, therapy, support groups and a mindful lifestyle as a way to heal my past and a way to buffer the daily micro-aggressions of racism ,sexism and other isms. I am wise enough to know that any person working with high stress situations without support for the mind, body and spirit can be a dangerous person to self and other.