Wellness and Community
We are living in a time where pretty much every aspect of our society is being questioned, from America electing its first “black” president to Starbucks mandating that its entire staff undergo diversity training, to the boycott of luxury brands for failing to hire black designers. America is confronting the same problem that it has been running away from since its inception…race.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the wellness industry is currently undergoing the same scrutiny. When most folks think of wellness they think of a skinny, privileged able-bodied white person meditating, doing yoga or sipping on some expensive new drink from the Amazon. Rarely in mass media’s depiction of the industry are black folks included and when they are they are often the exception rather than the rule.
However, many of the healing modalities modern “gurus” capitalize off of are pulled from black and brown indigenous communities from around the world, and yet we are largely silenced from the wellness and spiritual community. Health is intrinsically tied not only to personal wellness but extends to the family, broader community and most importantly the planet. In ancient Kemet aka Egypt – a black civilization that lasted for over 3,000+ years – the oldest known medical records known to humankind can be found. These records include scientific procedures, rituals, and recipes credited with building the foundations of homeopathy, meditation, yoga and a diet made mostly of superfoods.
So why the disconnect? Why isn’t this legacy held up in wellness circles? When is the last time you heard the origins of wellness and black folks in the same sentence? Why are folks so afraid to give credit where credit is due? Fortunately, great scholars such as the late Dick Gregory, the late Dr. Sebi ,and Queen Afua all committed their lives to using this ancient wisdom to heal their communities. Since these folks were unapologetic in stating the intersections between white supremacy/male patriarchy as it pertained to wellness, they were often left out of mainstream conversations and labeled as cult-like, and overly radical.
The veil is lifting, and a new generation of wellness practitioners are emerging from within the black community to proclaim the traditions of their ancestors.
The torch has been passed down through many generations, and I’m igniting the flame with a mission to midwife the next generation of women who will change the world. With a background of an artist, educator, and social entrepreneur, my journey into wellness encompasses all parts of the whole. I’ve worked for over 20 years building values-driven non-profits and startups ranging from co-working spaces to tech and inclusion programs for inner-city youth—all the while nurturing my music career as a performance artist. After watching numerous colleagues get burned out, suffer from chronic illness and even die from stress related diseases, I’ve decided to take a leap of faith and focus my energy sharing my healing knowledge with others.
We will no longer be silenced and demand our voices to be heard. My album After Darkness is doing just that. By fusing ancient wisdom with modern aesthetics, I’m making wellness and healing accessible to people who have largely been ignored from the wellness community. Wellness isn’t just about looking good, it’s about getting free. Free from the chokeholds of white supremacy that are destroying our community physically, spiritually and emotionally.
I’m not just talking the talk. I’ve most recently became a priestess of the Goddess Oya under the IFA tradition of the Yoruba in West Africa. By night, you can still find me entertaining crowds and by day coaching women and hosting healing retreats and wellness pop-ups.
I embody the belief that if you want to see change, you must first have the courage to shift.
Spend Time with Sh8peshifter
Sh8peshifter’s debut wellness pop-up will take place in downtown Los Angeles at Awa Oasia (608 Mateo St, Los Angeles, CA 90021) on Sunday, October 6, 2019 featuring Sh8peshifter, Shiva, Yazamin, and Selam (11am-2pm; Tickets: $30/$35). Buy tickets: https://sh8peshiftexperience.safechkout.net
Sh8peshifter’s EP, After Darkness, was released on Friday, September 27, 2019, please visit: https://soundcloud.com/sh8peshifter/sets/after-darkness-ep/s-OohnU
Sh8peshifter aka Zakiya Harris is a performance artist and advocate for Embodied Wellness.