Monthly Resource Collection May 2021

My newest obsession (aside from quitting coffee- which is going amazing by the way) is learning about how beauty, health, and wellness spaces have been colonized and therefore systematically made inaccessible to many people because of varying identities. I’ve been seriously studying this topic because it inherently intersects with just about every “ism.”

As a beauty professional (but also just as a human committed to social change) I believe it is so important I make the effort to understand how beauty, health and wellness practices have been stolen and appropriated from different cultures and religions, but also how these sectors of business have been whitewashed and healing has been constructed as a privilege for the few. These practices have very real and dangerous ripple effects on the mental and physical health of our society, affecting some much more than others.

Currently I feel like I’m constructing my own college semester (or several semesters) consisting of books, podcasts, webinars, documentaries, and articles created by BIPOC, people of various body sizes and shapes, disabled folks, and LGBTQIAA+ folks to try to learn from those who have not been placed conveniently in the front and center of the behemoth which is our current beauty, health and wellness industrial complex.

I’ve been on my fitness, health and wellness journey for years, focusing on the physical components. As I transition into a me that still loves moving my body, but is much more focused at this time on working on my mental, emotional, and spiritual fitness I think it is imperative to seek out a wide range of perspectives as teachers. People who specifically consider and recognize intersectionality and social systems as inextricably entwined with our healing and wellness. Individually, and as a collective. Healers who understand the implications these systems have on physical bodies.

If you were to look at my home library, I’d like to think the diversity of voices there is great. But when I started looking at the wellness / self improvement section of my collection, the majority are written by cisgender, non-disabled, White women, with some cisgender, non-disabled White men sprinkled in there. I didn’t have ONE book on business, self improvement, fitness or veganism written by a Mexican (my other half). What a disgrace.

Instead of feeling disempowered or guilty, I instantly saw a huge blind spot in my learning and turned it into an opportunity for change and growth, that hopefully I can share with you. There are so many more amazing authors, teachers, badass fitness instructors, vegans, and holistic health practitioners that want to share their gifts with us. Unfortunately, it takes more than diversifying our social media accounts to find many of them. It takes effort. Research. Time and energy. It takes paying them for their services if you are able. Until one day when finding a Latina business coach with a emphasis on holistic wellness from an intersectional perspective becomes as easy as finding a White woman on social media, eager to help you lose weight.

These are the resources I found particularly enlightening this month, but there are many more coming.

Books:

The Body Is Not An Apology, Sonya Renee Taylor

Every. One. With. A. Body: READ THIS BOOK! I received it with my monthly subscription to http://www.feministbookclub.com and oh my, did it deliver. Taylor posits that in order to dismantle systems of oppression we must learn to practice “radical self-love.” This is different than self-acceptance, confidence, or even self esteem, which she argues are not “scalable,” but restricted to the individual. When we work to unlearn and dismantle the systems that have taught us not to love our own bodies this will translate into empathy for bodies different than our own, and ultimately help to create a world where hate and terrorism against bodies will no longer be acceptable or common practice.

When we speak of the ills of the world – violence, poverty, injustice – we are not speaking conceptually; we are talking about things that happen to bodies… Racism, sexism, ableism, homo-and transphobia, ageism, fatphobia are algorithms created by humans’ struggle to make peace with the body. A radical self-love world is a world free from the systems of oppression that make it difficult and sometimes deadly to live in our bodies.”

Check out Sonya Taylor: https://www.sonyareneetaylor.com

Vibrate Higher Daily, Lalah Delia

Lalah Delia is a “spiritual writer, wellness educator, and certified spiritual practitioner.” She is such a light in the world and I am so glad I am learning from her! This book is an overview of her concept of “vibrating higher daily” which is essentially a way of existing in the world in a positive and enlightened way that draws you closer to your purpose, the collective, and the “divine” in order to use your gifts to create a better world.

Lalah Delia also teaches amazing webinars on everything from energy cleansing to divine timing. I signed up for her monthly subscription at https://www.vibratehigherdaily.com and I have been extremely happy with the amount and quality of content available for the $22 / month. I highly recommend!

Podcasts:

Shine Brighter Together Podcast with Monique Melton
Season 3, Episode 29: “Do Better w Rachel Ricketts”

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/shine-brighter-together/id1464945623?i=1000518800938

Latino USA
5/21/21: “Masks Off With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez”

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/latino-usa/id79681317?i=1000522634422

No Meat Athlete Radio
5/13/21: “NMA Chats: On Being a Vegan Activist in the Black Community with Jasmine C. Leyva”

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/no-meat-athlete-radio/id476196931?i=1000521580114

Get Loved Up with Koya Webb
Season 2, Episode 47: “11 Rituals to Raise Your Vibration”

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/get-loved-up-with-koya-webb/id1455677259?i=1000470869132

Black Girl in Om Podcast
12/17/29 59. #55. “Creating Space To Expand: A Live Conversation with Rachel Cargle”

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/black-girl-in-om/id1117951237?i=1000459859296

Real Food Reads Podcast
Episode 22: “Decolonize Your Diet: Luz Calvo and Catriona R. Esquibel

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/real-food-media/id1215522970?i=1000414763700

Movies:

Seaspiracy

This documentary focuses on the environmental impact of fishing, but also touches on the human rights violations perpetuated by a highly unregulated global industry.

Monthly Resource Collection: February 2021

Books:

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, Emily Nagoski, PHD, Amelia Nagoski, DMA

Burnout takes a deep dive into the psychology and societal structures that lead to the physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion that keep women from living their most fulfilling lives, while offering practical solutions to break the cycle. Emily and Amelia Nagoski use science and personal experience to demonstrate that fighting the patriarchy on a daily basis (whether it be through the recognition of systematic inequality or simple, yet daily experiences of sexism, or intersecting isms) is exhausting within itself. But, women become even more exhausted when we speak out about these experiences or refuse to conform and are gaslit by society at large (and many times by actual people in our lives) and told that what we are experiencing isn’t real, that structural inequality is over, and that we are the problem. This leads to burnout, or an inability to process stress, rage, or general discontent as we are expected to run households and businesses while denying our reality.

In the Country We Love: My Family Divided, Diane Guerrero

In the Country We Love is a beautifully written memoir detailing the experiences of Diane Guerrero, an American born citizen, whose undocumented parents and older brother are taken from their homes, placed in immigration detention centers, and deported to Colombia when she is just fourteen years old. Left with family friends, Guerrero details her life as a young adult making her way in the world amidst family separation, severe emotional trauma, and a childhood complicated and shaped by the inequality of the American immigration system.

Caste: The Origin of Our Discontents, Isabel Wilkerson

In her book Caste, Isabel Wilkerson examines the Indian caste system, the caste system during Nazi Germany, and the current American caste system: race. Using historical context and a wealth of examples Wilkerson explains the striking similarities between the caste systems, and what we can do to break free from these constraints that harm us all.

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America, Ijeoma Oluo

In my opinion, this entire book is so impactful I cannot synthesize it down to a couple concise sentences. Instead of trying, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes.

White male identity is in a very dark place. White men have been told that they should be fulfilled, happy, successful, and powerful, and they are not. They are missing something vital – an intrinsic sense of self that is not tied to how much power or success they can hold over others – and that hole is eating away at them. I can only imagine how desolately lonely it must feel to only be able to relate to other human beings through conquer and competition. The love, admiration, belonging, and fulfillment they have been promised will never come – it cannot exist for you when your success is tied to the subjugation of those around you. These white men are filled with anger, sadness, and fear over what they do not have, what they believe has been stolen from them. And they look at where they are now, and they cannot imagine anything different. As miserable as they are, they are convinced that no other option exists for them. It is either this, or death: ours or theirs.”

Ijeoma Oluo, Mediocre

Notable Podcasts Episodes:

Unfuck Your Brain, “Episode 151, Maximalism.” 9/17/20

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/unf-ck-your-brain/id1229434818?i=1000491537148

Must Read Articles:

Goodell, J. (2020, December). How Climate Change Is Ushering in a New Pandemic Era. Rolling Stone, https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/climate-change-risks-infectious-diseases-covid-19-ebola-dengue-1098923/amp/

Illustration by Jason Holley for Rolling Stone

“A warming world is expanding the range of deadly diseases and risking an explosion of new zoonotic pathogens from the likes of bats, mosquitos, and ticks.”

2020 Book List / Monthly Resource Collection January 2021

Every year one of my goals is to read more.

In 2020 my objective was to read one book a week. As part of my daily ritual I schedule in thirty minutes of reading per day, early in the morning. I simultaneously listen to audiobooks during workouts and the in-between moments where my mind isn’t otherwise occupied: cleaning, doing my makeup, driving. This allows me the time to read two books at once, and strangely enough, the two mediums of delivery allow my brain to compartmentalize the story lines so they don’t overlap. I highly recommend.

This routine is perfect for me, and yet, in 2020 I still missed my goal by a lot. It was a complicated year. My book club has been put on hold as I struggle to run my business through this pandemic, and I’m learning to let certain things go. Not forever, but for now.

As long as I’m learning, that’s all that matters.

I hope you enjoy this post and pick up a few of my recommendations. I would also encourage you to do three things if reading more is a goal you share.

-First: schedule it in. Even if it’s only a few minutes a day or one block a week, it’s progress.

-Second: take an honest inventory of the materials you read and challenge yourself to expand the diversity of voices in your collection. Are you reading female-identified authors as often as male-identified? What about Black authors as often as white? Are you reading books written by authors from countries other than the one you live in? Throw some non-fiction in there if you typically shy away from it. I think that to truly use reading (or podcast listening, or movie watching… or any media consumption) as a path to learning it is necessary to expand our perspectives and expose ourselves to lived realities that are different from our own. This takes effort, but is important.

-Lastly, make a list of small, locally owned, and/or Black, Indigenous, Latinx-owned, etc. bookstores and support them! Where you purchase books also matters. And, if you are shopping from a variety of stores, it will be easier to find a diversity of voices. I have a list in my phone and rotate between them. I actually use Amazon as a wish list and organizational tool and then order my books elsewhere. It’s easy to do!

Five of the books I’ve read have an asterisk next to their number, indicating they were my favorites. I hope you’ll let me know what you think if you read them!

And for anyone wondering – Yes, The Stand is about a global pandemic. Ironically I did not know that until I picked it up. I simply was interested because I had never read anything by Stephen King and wanted to escape into some fiction (haha; joke’s on me). I’m now hooked (even though I’m not a big fiction reader), and have The Shining cued up next on Audible.

1) The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals that Protect Us from Violence, Gavin de Becker

*2) Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Bryan Stevenson

3) The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People / Thriving as an Empath: 365 Days of Self-Care for Sensitive People, Judith Orloff

*4) Stamped from the Beginning, Ibram X. Kendi

5) Are Prisons Obsolete?, Angela Davis

6) The Color Purple, Alice Walker

7) The Undocumented Americans, Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

8) Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools, Monique W. Morris

9) When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, Asha Bandele and Patrisse Cullors

10) Becoming, Michelle Obama

11) Life Will be the Death of Me… and You Too!, Chelsea Handler

12) The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, Barack Obama

13) Burden: A Preacher, A Klansman, And a True Story of Redemption in the Modern South, Courtney Hargrave

14) How to Be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi

15) Idiot: Life Stories from the Creator of Help Helen Smash, Laura Clery

16) Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World, Michael Pollan

17) What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism, Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner

*18) Columbine, Dave Cullen

19) Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions, Russell Brand

20) White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, Robin Diangelo

21) The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, Richard Rothstein

22) The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander

23) Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot, Mikki Kendall

*24) Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, Trevor Noah

*25) Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates

26) Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol, Holly Whitaker

27) So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo

28) Greenlights, Matthew McConaughey

29) We Were Eight Years in Power, Ta-Nehisi Coates

30) The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, Issa Rae

31) The Stand, Stephen King

This year I read ten more than last, so I’m taking it as a win. Only about twenty more than that and with any luck, I’ll meet my 2021 goal of 52.