Y’all had fun trying to take down the British royal family?
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s chat with Oprah Winfrey was aired on Sunday and y’aaaallll, the tea was piping hot. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex exposed a lot of the racism and colorism that harmed their family and left them unprotected in multiple ways (they have since responded to the claims). Black Twitter was ready to ride at dawn (United Kingdom time that is) to defend Meghan, Harry and their son, Archie.
— “That ain’t enough for me.” – Keke Palmer (@Twinkee542) March 8, 2021
I would like to point out though that two Southern celebrities played a role in challenging white supremacy across the pond. Winfrey, “Queen of the interview” from Mississippi, gave Harry and Meghan space to tell their story. And when the royal family snatched away their security, New Orleans native Tyler Perry stepped up and said, “I gotchu!” Y’all, Britain was so confused, one of the nation’s largest television network had to write an explainer about who Perry is.
Just goes to show that mind-changing movements really are born in the South. *winks*
All laughing aside, Meghan’s portion of the interview also exposed a lot of pain Black women go through and how it affects our mental health. And with the anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s killing at the hands of police coming up on Saturday….things can get really heavy for Black women right now.
So, I’m here to help. But first, do me a favor. Close your eyes. Slowly reach your arms high towards the heaven as you take a big, deep breath in, then exhale as you bring your hands back down.
Let’s use our breath to heal, y’all.
Affirmation is power
Our new series “Black Power Heals” dropped on Tuesday. These stories give you the low down on how legendary Southern Black women, such as Rosa Parks and Angela Davis, incorporated self-care strategies like yoga and meditation into their activism. The stories illustrate how yoga has been used to free Black women from enslavement to the Civil Rights Movement – to now.
Continuing this ancestral tradition is LeNaya Smith Crawford. As a licensed therapist, holistic healer and yoga teacher in Atlanta, Crawford blends practices for the mind, body and spirit to help people heal and grow. She has been in the therapy game for four years and founded Kaleidoscope Family Therapy, but has taught in the wellness space for a decade. Crawford opened Seviin Yoga along with her husband in January 2018.
Yoga gave Crawford the ability to detox herself from the emotional stress of getting her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy at a mostly white, private Christian university.
“Being one of the very few Black people in classes and having to deal with very clearly openly prejudiced and racist people, it was very challenging,” Crawford said. “It most certainly added to me wanting to get to my mat because, as a Black woman, it’s difficult and challenging to be in spaces where you are constantly having to dumb down or quiet your blackness because of what society tells you.”
Crawford said it’s a shame that’s how her academic experience turned out. She was hoping the school would teach her how to combine her therapy practice with her spiritual roots planted by her family. This became a skill Crawford learned on her own as she learned the power of sound healing and meditation.
“To me, prayer is meditation and yoga is a moving meditation. Sound healing is a vibrational meditation,” Crawford said. “So, for me, all of it gives me that same connection to my higher self as well as to God.”
At Seviin, yogis of color help people sweat off the stress while practicing poses together in a colorful, LED-lit, heated room. As a therapist who specializes in trauma, yoga, sound baths and therapy are all needed to foster a deeper healing of self.
“In therapy, we’re addressing the emotions and thoughts that come up in the trauma, but then there’s this whole space of trauma you can’t process if you’re not moving your body. You’re not breathing. You’re not getting that deeper vibrational healing,” Crawford said. “That’s why I know that yoga, breathwork and sound healing are really powerful with therapy to heal from racial trauma.”
With a global pandemic disproportionately affecting Black and brown bodies and amid rising racial tensions, there was a lot of stress to unwind for folks in 2020. While Crawford’s studio was mostly closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, Kaleidoscope Family Therapy started the Georgia Family Therapy Fund to help 100 Black families receive four to six free counseling sessions.
Along with launching a fund to mend the minds and spirits of Black families, Crawford also started selling her own affirmation cards called “Affirmation is Power: Black woman you are enough” which you purchase through Crawford’s website. Crawford said she created the deck to help Black women discover the healing power of their words.
“Time and time again, Black women are asked to give without so much as a ‘Thank you’ or ‘I love you’ in return,” Crawford said. “So, I wanted us to remind ourselves that we don’t need outside validation. But if we can learn to validate ourselves, and remind ourselves that we’re worthy and enough just as we are, that we won’t feel like we need validation from the world.”
Crawford started selling the deck in November. So to celebrate her success, I asked her to chose three affirmations from her deck that she believes Black women need to hear right now.
I am worthy
I am enough
I am loved
I hope these affirmations nourish your soul and your own Black magic. See you next time!
How are you celebrating your Black Joy? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your happiness and laughter with us! Also, take a minute to check out and join the Black Magic Project’s Facebook page where we celebrate and discuss Black culture and community.