This might be the first controversial topic I’ve written about, but it’s one that simply has to be put out there. In the words of Tina Knowles “I’m not anti-white, I’m just pro-black”. Really, I’m pro any person of color in the wellness field.
When I think about healers, in the truest form, I think about medicine men and women who still live and work in their indigenous tribes and lands. I think of the generations of shamans, herbalists, yogis and the like-folks who didn’t get a degree for this stuff, but who were born and bread into wellness. Many of these people are indeed black, or of Afro influence, and that should not go unnoticed. Now, I’m not discounting those counterparts who have “discovered” wellness and made it mainstream and super western, because really, any awareness of wellness is a good thing. What I do want to highlight though is, unequivocally, how this type of wellness oozes with privilege and exclusivity.
According to the Global Wellness Institute, the wellness industry was considered a 3.7 trillion dollar industry in 2015. The break down is as follows:
Beauty & Anti-Aging ($999 bil.)
Healthy Eating, Nutrition & Weight Loss ($648 bil.)
Wellness Tourism ($563 bil.)
Fitness & Mind-Body ($542 bil.)
Preventative & Personalized Medicine and Public Health ($534 bil.)
Complementary & Alternative Medicine ($199 bil.)
Wellness Lifestyle Real Estate ($119 bil.)
Spa Industry ($99 bil.)
Thermal/Mineral Springs ($51 bil.)
Workplace Wellness ($43 bil.)
There is a disproportionate amount of money that is grossed from focusing on beauty, versus actual healing. As there is an equally disproportionate amount of blacks in wellness. The difference, there are at least definitive statistics about the overall industry, but the breakdown of minority representation, is piecemeal.
Essence did a beautiful write up just last year, specifically about black women in wellness, and what that looks like. From all of the women of color leading the charge and making a difference, there was a resounding notion of wellness whitewashing. Why are WE so underrepresented? Why is it so different for US? And the line of questioning goes on: https://www.essence.com/beauty/black-women-and-wellness.
The upside to all of this is, we can absolutely solve this problem; which is why I am choosing to be vocal about it. Men and women of the African Diaspora, stand up! Say something. Do something. Let’s show the masses that at the root of it all, wellness is our ancestry.