Wellness has a diversity problem: Only 4 percent of physicians in the U.S. are Black; far too many fitness studios don't make BIPOCs (Black, Indigenous people of color) feel welcome; mainstream healthy eating is remarkably whitewashed. And these three facts just scratch the surface. During last Thurday's Well+Good TALK, four Black business owners discussed the micro- and macroaggressions currently poisoning the wellness industry. There's a way forward—but white and white-passing people have work to do.
Moderated by celebrity doula and author of Own Your Glow (just out in paperback!) Latham Thomas, the panel's insight into Black experiences of wellness makes it a must-watch from start to finish. So that you can get started being the best ally you can be right this minute, though, go ahead and read up on three anti-racist actions you can do right now to help make the wellness industry a place that's concerned with everyone's well-being.
3 anti-racist actions you can take to make the wellness industry more diverse and inclusive
1. Look at your last credit-card charge. Who did that money go to?
"One thing I think is easy is, choose something that you just bought recently—a pair of pants, a lipstick, I don't care—and commit to buying that from a Black-owned company for the rest of the year," says Nicole Cardoza, founder of Yoga Foster and Reclamation Ventures. Elisa Shankle, co-founder of HealHaus, echoes Cardoza's point: "Racism is economics, point-blank, period. You have to put your coins into Black-owned businesses, especially right now more than ever in the middle of COVID-19 and going into an economic recession," she says.
Make sure you find companies to support on your own, though. Google it, or check out this extensive list of brands who deserve your support. It's not your Black friend or coworker's job to tell you where to spend your money. You can listen to NPR's short, 5-minute explainer on the impact of supporting Black-owned business below. And, just a hint, it goes way beyond economics:
2. Let BIPOC wellness practitioners be your teachers
"I want everyone to decolonize their wellness practices. And if your wellness is who you follow on Instagram, who you are doing digital yoga classes with, or breathwork, or reiki with, I want you to commit to going to a BIPOC—especially for the next, let's say, two to three months," says Maryam Ajayi, CEO and founder of Dive In Well. "Go to their classes, show up. Learning how to listen and be led by BIPOC is anti-racism work, so change up your schedule."
HealHaus has a whole roster of BIPOC practitioners—so that'a great place to start.
3. Link your professional development with anti-racist development
"Whatever that is, the thing you're thinking about doing to advance yourself, there are people who are doing that work [in the BIPOC] community that you can pour your money into," says Thomas.
Mama Glow, for example, has been offering a digital-doula training program since COVID-19 started. "The critically important thing is that, since our work is so tied to birth equity and reproductive justice, you really need to be learning from people who are from the communities that suffer the most," says Thomas. "You really also need to be trained in tools that protect, support, affirm, and advocate alongside marginalized groups."
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