Might it be possible that I am here to do more than survive?
Could it be true that I can actually find pleasure and thrive in my life?
As a Black woman, I have had to craft my vision for wellness within a society that systematically denies me optimal health. Black people endure a disproportionate share of America’s sickness with higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease than other ethnic groups. Black people are also more likely to die as a result of illness.
Racial discrimination and systemic oppression play a significant role in shaping health inequities. Discriminatory experiences span from the daily hassles of microaggressions to the criminalizing experience of being unreasonably stopped and searched by the police. These chronic experiences have debilitating effects on the Black psyche and have been linked to elevated levels of stress and adverse mental health outcomes.
So where do we go from here?
I have spent the majority of my academic and professional career in elite White spaces. As a PhD student in psychology, I consistently witness the field’s incessant focus on negative outcomes in the Black community. As a yoga teacher, I often practice in predominantly White spaces that fail to interrogate the lack of diversity in Western yoga studios. All the while, I sit at the table knowing that Black people deserve better. Black people deserve wellness and it is time for our research, policy, and broader health institutions to intentionally serve Black people. It is time for Black people to be empowered to craft lives that are loving, whole, and well. It is time for radical-self care.
Radical self-care, a concept credited to poet and activist Audre Lorde, refers to the act of caring for one’s self as an act of resistance to systemic oppression. It involves proactively tending to one’s mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual pain. It involves a vision of profound wellness that one can experience in their current lifetime. Radical self-care is a balm for soothing and a catalyst for living a fulfilled life.
I created Being Radical as a space to promote radical self-care, offer yoga and meditation practices, and translate my academic writing on resilience and radical healing in the Black community. This healing space contributes to a vision of a just society grounded in transformational love. Being Radical promotes wellness in Black communities, builds coalitions among communities of color, and interrogates the culture of Whiteness and anti-racism.
Most of all–I created Being Radical to encourage others living in the midst of it all. Here’s a few lines of encouragement I give to you:
Life for you may not always feel like flowers and rainbows
Maybe your mind is always racing
Your body is always tense
Maybe you just feel trapped
IT IS OK
Breathe and know that you are alive
Breathe and know that even if you can’t be free in your everyday circumstances
You can be free in your mind
Breathe and know that you are supported
Supported by your loved ones, the Earth, the Divine
Breathe and find the space to smile
Trouble doesn’t last always
I hope you continue practicing with me!