February is dedicated as Black History Month, an annual celebration of the contributions and legacy of the Black community across U.S. history and society. Going beyond stories of racism and slavery, from activists and civil rights pioneers such as Harriet Tubman, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, John Lewis and Rosa Parks to leaders in industry, politics, science, culture and more. Black Lives Matter, Black Joy Matters, Black Achievement Matters…and Black Health Matters!
Black Health and Wellness is this month’s theme
The theme for Black History Month in 2022 is very relevant to us: “Black Health and Wellness.” It explores, “the legacy of not only Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also other ways of knowing (e.g., birth workers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, etc.) throughout the African Diaspora. The 2022 theme considers activities, rituals, and initiatives that Black Communities have done to be well. “
The Black community has historically faced challenges in accessing health care and especially alternative health care. Historically, the American medical institution has subjected Black bodies to cruel experimentation, exploitation, and abuse like sterilizing Black women without their knowledge. Structural racism continues to be a current and pervasive health problem leading to shortened life spans for Black people according to the American Heart Association and the pandemic has exposed and exacerbated existing health disparities. The Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, one of the largest in American history, highlighted the pervasive nature of systemic racism which is a public health crisis.
As part of our Representation Matters blog series where we honor diverse voices, we interviewed Dr. Tara Collins, Kerala Ayurveda alumnus, Psychiatrist, UCSF, founder of Tala Integrative Psychiatry, Yoga teacher and Ayurvedic counselor. She discussed her experiences and addressed issues of racism, health care for the Black Community, how Holistic Health and Ayurveda can help and how to take action on diversity in Ayurveda. Here is the link to the interview if you haven’t read it.
According to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, ASALH, there is a rise in preventive care in the Black community and a focus on body positivity, physical exercise, nutrition, and gardening…directed at not just physical health but emotional and mental health. “Black girls are doing breathwork, and there are whole yoga studios dedicated to people of color… we are doing more to move forward holistically for the betterment of ourselves, our bodies, our relationships, our communities, and our planet.”
The community has many trailblazers in healthcare. It also has diverse roots in holistic, African traditional medicine (which is very similar to Ayurveda) – an intertwining of culture, religion and spirituality. African traditional medicine includes preventive medicine, herbalism, minerals, animal products, therapeutic fasting, massage, spinal manipulation, psychotherapy, honoring ancestors, chanting and other rituals by traditional healers.
We invite more Black voices in our community
Kerala Ayurveda is so grateful to our Black students and alumni who have studied and practice Ayurveda and complementary health practices, and to the clients who trust us with their healthcare. We are dedicated to being a strong ally and safe and welcoming space, fostering a kinder, more inclusive community with the values of Vasudev Kutumbhakam, or One World Family.
We invite more voices from the Black community! Your voice matters to us and the entire Kerala Family. Please share with us your experience at Kerala Ayurveda. We welcome any suggestions on how we can be better allies on improving the access of Ayurveda in the Black community. We also want to share your story and perspective to educate allies and inspire the Black community. You can reply to this message or email firstname.lastname@example.org.