For a woman like Roicia Banks, life did not start off easy.
Raised in foster care until she was eight, she was adopted into a Hopi tribe who welcomed her as her own. Though her early life was filled with inconsistency and troubles, her mother loved and nurtured her. This experience helped shape her life in a tremendous way—and she learned how she could give back to her community as a black and Native American young woman.
In 2013, Ms. Banks received her Master of Social Work from the Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston in Houston, Texas. Ms. Banks knew that she had to prepare and educate herself on the world of social work so that she could better aid her people.
Fast forward to 2018, and Ms. Banks works as a social worker. While reflecting on her company, she told blkpreneurship.com, “I was inspired because I couldn’t understand how I came back home [from Texas] to work for tribal government and still seeing a lot of European or white standards being or becoming the standard in tribal communities and knowing, seeing, and understanding that every system will always need people in it in order for it to continue to function. And that was something I just did not want to accept.” Ms. Banks started her business, Social Roots LLC, to fight for the unfair cultural treatment she saw amongst the African American, Latinx and Native American children and communities.
“It’s really about punishing a people for not being civilized enough,” Ms. Banks continued to add. She was determined that with all the pain and unhealed trauma within the three communities, she would step in and find a solution that would benefit all involved. “That’s why I do a lot of mental health advocacy, and why I have this conference coming up specifically for black women who are going to be taught by black women, doctors and therapists.” (Ms. Banks hosts a conference called ATTITUDE: A Mental Health Summit for African American Women) She hopes to educate black women about their bodies and minds through the expertise of fellow black experts. “Historically, we [black people] have a very toxic and harmful relationship with the health providers because of our history, like the Tuskegee experiment.”
Ms. Banks is in law school part time as well as being a social worker full time. While she doesn’t see any challenges with having a family as well as going to school for a Master of Legal Studies (with an emphasis in Federal Indian Law and Conflict Resolution), she does see problems with black organizations who don’t see the importance in her work toward fellow black Americans. “It’s hard for me to get black organizations to sponsor or cooperate or want to be a part of something that I’m doing as it pertains to black health or black women’s health,” she said. “It’s very hard to get black people to believe that what I am doing is valuable to us as a people … it’s one thing to say ‘Oh, I support you, we love what you’re doing’. But then it’s like one thing to show up to the event. It’s one thing to help promote the event. It’s one thing to help get the word out, to help get sponsors or donors or buy a ticket. There’s so many other levels to action to prove that there’s value in what you’re doing.”
Ms. Banks lives by two quotes: Malcolm X’s “by any means necessary,” and her home tribe’s “nahongvita“, which means “keep going and don’t give up.” Ms. Banks referenced that her tribe would run as they are very active, and she would hear people shouting the word. “That means, you have to dig deep, deep down inside you and those moments when you want to give up when there’s nothing else,” she continued. “The finish line is coming, use everything in you to keep going. And so that has really been my saving grace, of course, with the grief of my mom and other challenges that we’ve all had at this time.”
Ms. Banks wants people to see a desire that they can heal. “You can heal from trauma, you can heal from anything and you can achieve anything. I was a child who experienced the foster care system. I was a child who experienced sexual trauma. I was a child who experienced abandonment. But at the end of the day, what is in you, what you need—is already in you.”
Visit Roicia Banks at her Instagram
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