Almost a decade ago, I was 100 pounds heavier than I wanted to be, suffering from depression and social anxiety, and barely engaging with social media. At the time, I was facing a great deal of trauma that as a Black girl in America, I didn’t have the ability to address. I was too busy on assignment: to complete college, to smile in class on Monday morning even though I was emotionally spent from visiting my father in prison on Saturday afternoon.

Things changed after a knee injury in college, when I returned to my favorite hobby as child: swimming. That restored the full range of motion in my leg. Therapy allowed me to forgive my father and my abusive ex, and my holistic fertility doctor walked me every step of the way as I reversed my PCOS symptoms naturally. My wellness journey was powerful, yet I recognized that  none of those things are easily accessible to Black communities. Black Americans have been denied access to swimming pools, access to doulas, and adequate mental health services—all as a result of slavery and systemic racism.

Addressing that inequity within wellness has become my mission in life. I’ve now the founder of one of the largest online wellness platforms for Black women, Transparent Black Girl. TBG exists to create space for more than 80,000 Black women to heal, own their power, and ease into wellness. I say ease because this industry can often feel intimidating to the very women who helped to build it: Black women who, for centuries, were doulas, therapists, herbalists, and seers before we had the language to name it as such.

Wellness is just as multifaceted as Black people are.

In my experience, the people who are struggling most to gain access to wellness are the people in marginalized communities. They need to see that wellness is just as multifaceted as Black people are, which is why TBG’s community offers an assortment of offerings. We feature trauma-based yoga flows, prayers of support for all religions, twerk classes to reclaim our bodies, healing spaces to process various forms of trauma, mental health check-ins with therapists, and conversations encouraging Black men and women to reclaim Black joy and explore inner child healing.

Those conversations can be powerful. Prior to the pandemic, some of my greatest moments involved intimate discussions with people of all ages: women in their fifties who were shocked to find that I was so young and made them feel seen, teens who were struggling with body acceptance, men who asked me how I could help them find therapists, and women needing support as they walked away from abusive relationships. Although COVID-19 changed some dynamics, our community is more engaged than ever. As we endured the pandemic and collectively mourned the lives of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, there wasn’t a day where I didn’t receive an alert of someone naming Transparent Black Girl as a community that supports the Black community and provides mental health and wellness resources.

As the Transparent Black Girl community has grown, I began to feel that a space solely for Black women was not enough. That’s why I decided to take my work a step further and form a collective for all Black people: Transparent & Black. Healing for Black communities means addressing not only the trauma that meets us daily, but also the intergenerational trauma that causes division in our families and throughout the African diaspora. That trauma can leave us feeling disconnected from the very thing that unites our community: our birthplace of Africa, our place in this world, and our connection with each other. As an African American woman, I see America as a place where I can affirm how far my ancestors have come, and am simultaneously served reminders that so much of my identity is not my own—even down to my last name. Now just imagine what that can do to your mind and your body as you process and find tools to heal.

That’s why wellness studios created for and by Black people are necessary. Representation is not only power, but in times of crisis it can literally mean the difference between life and death. Black lives matter in wellness spaces, too. We deserve affordable spaces that cater to our specific needs.  We need to heal in an environment where we are the priority with the support of each other and allies.

Transparent & Black’s community support, pop-up event ticket sales, and following have been the strongest in New York City, which is why we’re crowdfunding to open our first location in Brooklyn, New York. With support, we’ll be able to open the first wellness studio for Black people with trauma-informed swim classes, access to therapists, and on-site doula matching. Our goal is to have an accessible wellness ecosystem with Black herbalists and intergenerational trauma therapists. We aim to be community hub for the Black community that provides a variety of wellness experiences generally inaccessible to our demographic. If you want to help close the health and wellness equity gap for underserved communities, if you value the quality of Black life, I invite you to support our work. Help us create healing spaces for the Black community.

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