RX #6: Review of Embodied Black Girl’s Global Healing Day
Yesterday I attended the second annual Embodied Black Girl Global Healing Day event founded by Thérèse Cator. I want to share some of my thoughts and takeaways from it.
Hope is about having the imagination to see other possibilities
I’ll admit that personally I feel that I have very little hope in the world. The world outside is bleak and everyday something else adds on to that bleakness. But listening to the panel discussion and later on the the talk with Sonya Renee Taylor, I was able to redefine hope as having the capacity to imagine other possibilities. Taylor talked about the power of imagination, that it gives “energetic space for things to come into being.” She mentioned that prisoners often use their imagination of the outside world to stay sane. If you can’t be free physically and materially, at least be free in your mind, be free to imagine other spaces and timelines outside of the narrow, oppressive spaces we have to negotiate everyday. So, I guess that’s where my hope is, in my imagination.
Complicating and expanding our ideas around pleasure, sensuality and sexuality
During the morning, we attended a panel, which featured Dust II Onyx tarot creator and mixed media artist Courtney Alexander, creator of Aluna Method, Julianna Luna, healer, writer and founder of Twenty Nine Thirty, Brianne Patrice, and The Black Doula, Sabia C. Wade. While listening to the panel, one thing that stood out to me was how do we affirm different forms of and ideas around pleasure. Alexander talked about labeling herself as pro-hoe/pro-heaux and I guess there was some push back against the negative connotations of the word, since she explained how it was a reclamation of a word that was made negative by patriarchy. To provide another perspective, as someone who studies etymology, words like hoe and whore are etymologically linked to words like care, and previously meant to desire or love. But also to provide another perspective, I personally consider myself to be around the demi-sexual side of the spectrum. So, while I do affirm everyone’s form of sexual empowerment, I do want to talk about the lack of consideration for Black asexuals and demi-sexuals, that sex for us isn’t centered around other people’s bodies, but we can still be sexual and sensual beings. There is this idea that the other side of the spectrum is just people who are reserved, prudes or vanilla and that creates this binary of constantly emphasizing one side over the other. This article, “Rejecting Fetishization and Lack: Claiming the Fullness of My Black Demisexuality,” from The Body Is Not An Apology goes more into Black demi-sexuality. I like that the members of the panel talked about the different ways we can find pleasure in our bodies, including ones that didn’t have to be about other people. For example, Patrice talked about finding pleasure in the feel of sheets or in taking baths. I particularly love the feel of pillows and sensual self-touch is a huge part of my own care.
Ritualizing RESTorative Practices from Naiylah Warren
How do we check in with ourselves? This was a great session with therapist Naiylah Warren. She discussed the need for us to do regular mental health check-ins with ourselves, through reflecting on our feelings, thoughts and behaviors. Warren gave us the 3 P’s of restorative practices — Purpose, Preparation and Patience. Purpose was the reason or why you need to do this practice. Preparation was having the tools you need ready in the moment as well as knowing various forms of care that are possible in that moment (if you’re at work, you might not be able to do what you do at home). Last, Patience is taking the time to fully immerse yourself in the moment of care with little to no distractions. Warren also mentioned managing expectations, looking at gradual progress in feeling better than just an ultimate goal. She also gave us the acronym HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired) and told us about using positive redirection strategies to deal with each of those feelings, so we don’t use drastic, desperate or toxic means to stop those feelings. Towards the end of the session, someone asked Warren about helping young girls learn self-love and her response included acknowledging those feelings of insecurity, providing affirming examples, and helping them to identify positive aspects about themselves.
Manifesting your highest self with Sonya Renee Taylor
Taylor discussed her book, The Body Is Not An Apology, and finding the courage to use the cover photograph, that she realized preaching radical self-love meant that it had to begin with her. The new edition of the cover is Taylor posed with butterfly wings and she used the process of the caterpillar changing into a butterfly to talk about how in order to fully manifest our highest selves, there is a process of decomposition and disassembling the old self. Also, that just like the caterpillar has imaginal cells of the butterfly it will become, we have encoded within us the possibility of what we will become, but we have to be willing to let go of our old selves. Taylor told us that radical self-love is about understanding we are already enough and that it is resistance to the body hierarchies, constant body terrorism, and white supremacist delusion. She said safety is an illusion and so are we choosing the illusion of safety over our freedom? Specifically for Black women, are we saying yes to ourselves or are we fulfilling the acceptable role society has for us to be mules and martyrs? Are we doing the brave, scary thing even when our choice is painful for others and ourselves? Because as Taylor said we deserve joy and to be present in what is good and beautiful in our lives, and others should receive the overflow of us. I also came up with a phrase for myself: Turn can’ts into chants of affirmation!
Breathwork with Thérèse Cator
We ended the day with breathwork, which involved deep breathing in from the belly to chest and exhaling through the mouth. Cator talked about the importance of us connecting to nature and reading signs in nature, which can be hard for Black people because outside can be dangerous for us due to policing of our bodies in public space. But we need to ground our bodies in that space. I did have intentions to go on more outings and nature walks this season, so the message was resonant for me. During the breathwork meditation, Cator played this wonderful playlist, which you can find here. One of my internal messages I received was I need to live life for me no matter whose feelings are hurt (and there is a difference between hurt and harm) as long as it comes from a place of love for myself. I also need to be willing to venture out more to seek what I need. So I will remind myself of that daily.