Oh sweet Lord I am so ill-equipped to host this conversation but here goes nothing! As I unpack my white supremacy, and host a social media platform, many reach out to me asking what is helping me along MY way deconstructing my own racism and white supremacy.
I hesitate to post this as if I am some sort of expert. I’m not. I’ve been learning about this stuff actively for about 6 months. 6 MONTHS! Posting it here is easier than copying and pasting this text in an email message. Also it holds me accountable – I welcome feedback at anytime.
#1 – I am not an anti-racist teacher. I’m just a white person that benefits, every day, from my white privilege, trying to reconnect with my humanity.
#2 – I am not an anti-racist teacher – and this post is not an education. This is the stamp on the envelope of the invitation for you TO SEEK AND PAY TEACHERS/PROFESSIONALS TO DISASSEMBLE YOUR OWN WHITE SUPREMACY. When choosing teachers (anti-racist teachers – this is their profession and they need payment) choose black, indigenous and people of color teachers, who are experts with a lifetime of lived experience.
THIS LIST IS NOT EXHAUSTIVE AND JUST GOES TO SHOW HOW LIMITED MY UNDERSTANDING ON THE SUBJECT IS. PAY YOUR TEACHERS.
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to white women – please engage conscientiously with these human beings who spend a tremendous amount of energy, often unpaid, educating white women to make the world a safer place for black, indigenous and people of color. In general I recommend NOT COMMENTING! But just “liking” a post that resonates. If feelings are brought up, please journal them privately or find a group of friends to discuss it with.
ON CULTURAL APPROPRIATION
“THIS IS NOT MAYAN ABDOMINAL MASSAGE.”
“Mayan Abdominal Massage” was a phrase coined by Rosa Arvigo, to trademark a practice of body-work taught to her by a traditional MesoAmerican healer, a “Maya healer” Don Elijio Panti, in Belize.
In reality, there is no such thing in indigenous cultural as “Mayan Abdominal Massage.” Womb care similar to what Ms. Arvigo teaches (not the same) is an essential aspect of traditional midwifery care in traditional MesoAmerican cultures. Every respected indigenous midwife is skilled with her hands over a woman’s womb – and womb massage is an essential aspect of women’s healthcare AND midwifery care. This form of indigenous midwifery is endangered, due to centuries of colonial stigmatization (via the national ministries of health, as well as U.S.-based institutions and global health agencies) of the role of indigenous healers.
Training as a womb healer/midwife takes many years (it cannot be learned in a brief workshop). It must be learned, hands-on with a skilled healer/midwife. A midwife in indigenous culture does not only catch babies – she also heals women’s reproductive disorders (infertility, heavy periods, cysts), acts as a spiritual teacher and protector of the mother-baby unit, as a liaison between families and government health agencies, and as a counselor for marital issues between husbands and wives; family issues between a woman and her in-laws. Midwifery is often a practice that runs in families. A woman’s most important role is to her family, and she can only work outside the household as a partera/comadrona (midwife/women’s healer) if she is called to do so, by God.
Traditional healers have been targeted, stigmatized, imprisoned, threatened, harmed and killed for practicing their healing techniques since the beginning of colonization. For example, to this day in Guatemala, traditional midwives are portrayed by the ministries of health as beginning ignorant, uneducated and the main cause of maternal/infant deaths during birth and postpartum.
Healing ceremonies and
are the intellectual property
of indigenous people.
“Indigenous peoples have the right to practise and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artefacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature.
Intellectual property stolen (used in ways not permitted) from indigenous people is entitled to financial restitution:
“States shall provide redress through effective mechanisms, which may include restitution, developed in conjunction with indigenous peoples, with respect to their cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual
property taken without their free, prior and informed consent or in violation of their laws, traditions and customs.”
Indigenous people have the right
to own, protect and control
their own healing practices.
“Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, as well as the manifestations of their sciences, technologies and cultures, including human and genetic resources, seeds, medicines, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions, literatures, designs, sports and traditional games and visual and performing arts. They also have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions.”
Here is a personal narrative of a U.S.-based indigenous healer, who interacted with fellow healers who had personally witnessed the interactions between Rosa Arvigo and her mentor: [link]
“Sulema is from the Mayan community Ox-mul-kaáh a Maya Yucatec community in now known San Antonio, Belize. Years ago a yt woman went into her community and met Elijio Panti who was as a healer using plants and womb massage. The yt woman asked to teach her the use of natural medicine. He gave one condition and it was that she had to serve the Mayan people. She agreed but after she gained the knowledge she broke her promise. She came back to the US and patented Mayan Abdominal Massage and ‘teaches’ people for a lot of money. ~
“You see, traditional technology is a treasure that you cannot put a price to. Womb massage means autonomy and self determination. Knowing our medicine means creating health networks across us and ultimately how to care for our reproductive health. Many of the young folx that are learning how to do this work are piecing knowledge together. Little by little showing each other how to palpate ourselves and weaving knowledge back together. Mimi and I and sharing with each other and will share knowledge with Sulema. We only got each other.”
“Natural and genetic resources have been exploited before. You don’t need to look any further than the case of Don Elijio Panti, the Mayan healer who used plants, massage, acupuncture, herbal baths and prayers to heal the sick. On Amazon.com you can find his cultural and traditional knowledge available for thirty-eight thirty-four US dollars. But these books about remedies are the property of another person, Rosita Arvigo.”