Growing up, I had the privilege of being surrounded by a large, loving family who taught me to love myself and made sure that I saw myself reflected in my world. From my dolls to the music in my home, I grew up seeing and loving Blackness. I had access to a great education and watched my mother model for me that I could do anything.
However, even a loving and privileged upbringing could not keep me from receiving the message that in order to be safe, I needed to act and appear “respectable” enough for the rest of the world. My experiences in school reinforced this message and it became apparent to me that for my Black classmates and I, our identity made other people perceive us as lacking in some way.
After high school, I attended IU for business and eventually moved into non-profit management before realizing that the type of impact that I was interested in having was not taught in these programs. Eventually, I became an AmeriCorps Public Ally and it was during this time that I really dug into my wellness and yoga practice alongside my non-profit work in a majority-Black neighborhood.
Spending more time in yoga studios, I was hyper-aware of my surroundings because I felt hyper-visible. Not only did I not see myself reflected in these spaces, but when I began working in studios and teaching, I was questioned, tokenized, and even had ideas taken out from under me. People treated me differently because I embodied things that they did not perceive to be Black. It was that experience that motivated me to open Haven Yoga Studio.
The reality is that for many people in minority communities, healing simply can not happen in proximity to whiteness because of the messages that we have received and the lessons we have been taught. It is my mission to help marginalized people heal, and creating safe and accessible spaces is absolutely essential to this mission.