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Racial Wellness

A Guide to Liberatory Healing for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color

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Hardcover (Paper-over-Board, no jacket)
$19.99 US
6.27"W x 8.27"H x 0.85"D   | 18 oz | 24 per carton
On sale Nov 07, 2023 | 192 Pages | 978-0-593-57935-0
A guide and workbook centered on self-care, healing, and empowerment for Black, Indigenous, and people of color—from racial wellness visionary and designer Jacquelyn Ogorchukwu Iyamah.

As a society, we rarely talk about how racism affects the holistic health of Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Author and healing-informed designer Jacquelyn Ogorchukwu Iyamah refers to racism as “the multifaceted abuser” because of the ways it affects the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing of BIPOC. Whether these communities are experiencing microaggressions or overt racism, they are constantly forced to practice resistance. Using her background in social welfare and interaction design, Iyamah seeks to stimulate revolutionary healing for communities of color, shifting the conversation from racial trauma to racial wellness.

This powerful book helps BIPOC understand, reflect, and cope with racial trauma. Divided into five sections—emotional wellness, mental wellness, physical wellness, spiritual wellness, and our interconnected wellness—Iyamah lends readers a gentle hand on their journey toward racial wellness by providing ways to heal on individual, interpersonal, and institutional levels, while encouraging deeper reflection through insightful journal prompts. Filled with uplifting affirmations, tender reminders, love letters, and helpful graphics sprinkled throughout, Racial Wellness is as informative as it is comforting, offering communities of color the opportunity to rest, rehabilitate, and rebuild.
Jacquelyn Ogorchukwu Iyamah (she/her) is a racial wellness visionary and healing-informed designer. She has a Bachelor's degree in social welfare from UC Berkeley and a Master of Science in interaction design, where her focus was on creating healing environments for Black, Indigenous, and communities of color. Today, she is the founder of Making the Body a Home, where she designs offerings for the body and home that help people stimulate racial wellness. View titles by Jacquelyn Ogorchukwu Iyamah
Prelude

My first memories of racism were with my white kindergarten teachers in France. At such a young age, I was unable to comprehend why my teachers treated my white peers with tenderness and me with callousness. And while I was not aware of what racism was at that age, I understood that the biggest difference between me and my peers was the color of our skin.

As I grew older, I began to understand how pervasive antiBlackness was. I began to observe, recognize, and dissect the harm that I was facing. Still, I never felt like I had the space to fully express what I was experiencing. It wasn’t until I moved to the United States in 2012 to start my undergraduate degree in social welfare that I began to find spaces that gave me the tools to talk not only about racism but also about how it impacts Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

Years of research have explored the role of racism on our mental health. The work to highlight racial trauma was led by experts such as the psychologist Robert T. Carter, the psychologist Thema Bryant, and the researcher Joy DeGruy. I had the honor of serving as a consultant on Skindeep (2021), a film about race-based trauma, with Carter, whose work set in motion the conversation about racial trauma in the field of psychology. Carter first used the term race-based traumatic stress in his 2007 paper “Racism and Psychological and Emotional Injury: Recognizing and Assessing Race-Based Traumatic Stress.”

I call racism “the multifaceted abuser” because it abuses our communities emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. When we practice reframing “racism” as “abuse” and “racist” as “abusive,” we get a clearer image of the impact racism has on people. Unfortunately, as a society and in psychology, we rarely frame racism as a form of abuse. The cognitive dissonance is so deep that people are often confused when they see the words racism and abuse woven together. This has resulted in a lack of care for Black, Indigenous, and people of color who experience racism.

Take, for example, the therapists who know how to help people who have experienced other types of abuse but who are not equipped to help people of color navigate racial trauma. Or the employers who expect people of color to sit through the same antiracism workshops as white people, when, in any abusive dynamic, the person benefiting from the abuse and the person experiencing the abuse need vastly different things. Or even the white people who casually bring up racist events without thinking to use sensitivity warnings in the same ways they would with other forms of abuse.

As someone who has always been passionate about using creativity as a portal to liberation, I was curious if there were ways for me to use design to stimulate healing for communities of color. In 2018, I began my graduate degree in interaction design. I spent time conducting research into how to design spaces that provide soft landings for those dealing with racial trauma. I tapped into theory from my social welfare degree, praxis from my design degree, and wisdom from my loving ancestors to reimagine the ways in which racial healing can take place. I concluded that these spaces need to be accessible, educational, and led by people with lived experience.

I began to create a space on Instagram where I design healinginformed graphics that help people to understand, reflect, and cope with racial trauma. This work provided a tender space for Black, Indigenous, and people of color during the racial unrest in the summer of 2020. Then, in August 2020, I launched Making the Body a Home, a platform that stimulates racial wellness through intentional homeware products and educational course offerings. Since then, my practice of using design to promote racial wellness has touched people in tangible ways.

Today, the community of people who resonate with my work has grown to tens of thousands. This community is filled with people from all walks of life: students, therapists, parents, teachers, and more who share how transformational this work has been for them. These paradigm shifts, along with the work of other visionaries I deeply admire, have played a beautiful role in setting the conversation about racial wellness in motion on a large scale. In November 2020, the American Medical Association finally recognized racism as a threat to public health. In October 2021, the American Psychological Association apologized for its perpetuation of racism and inaction in not recognizing racial trauma.

This book is a tender continuation of this work. As someone who is inspired by the infographics about Black America created by W. E. B. Du Bois and his students, I’ve always longed for a design-forward book with offerings that help Black, Indigenous, and people of color to rest, rehabilitate, and rebuild. There is so much power that can be found in design. The role of visual culture in racial liberation cannot be overlooked.

About

A guide and workbook centered on self-care, healing, and empowerment for Black, Indigenous, and people of color—from racial wellness visionary and designer Jacquelyn Ogorchukwu Iyamah.

As a society, we rarely talk about how racism affects the holistic health of Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Author and healing-informed designer Jacquelyn Ogorchukwu Iyamah refers to racism as “the multifaceted abuser” because of the ways it affects the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing of BIPOC. Whether these communities are experiencing microaggressions or overt racism, they are constantly forced to practice resistance. Using her background in social welfare and interaction design, Iyamah seeks to stimulate revolutionary healing for communities of color, shifting the conversation from racial trauma to racial wellness.

This powerful book helps BIPOC understand, reflect, and cope with racial trauma. Divided into five sections—emotional wellness, mental wellness, physical wellness, spiritual wellness, and our interconnected wellness—Iyamah lends readers a gentle hand on their journey toward racial wellness by providing ways to heal on individual, interpersonal, and institutional levels, while encouraging deeper reflection through insightful journal prompts. Filled with uplifting affirmations, tender reminders, love letters, and helpful graphics sprinkled throughout, Racial Wellness is as informative as it is comforting, offering communities of color the opportunity to rest, rehabilitate, and rebuild.

Author

Jacquelyn Ogorchukwu Iyamah (she/her) is a racial wellness visionary and healing-informed designer. She has a Bachelor's degree in social welfare from UC Berkeley and a Master of Science in interaction design, where her focus was on creating healing environments for Black, Indigenous, and communities of color. Today, she is the founder of Making the Body a Home, where she designs offerings for the body and home that help people stimulate racial wellness. View titles by Jacquelyn Ogorchukwu Iyamah

Excerpt

Prelude

My first memories of racism were with my white kindergarten teachers in France. At such a young age, I was unable to comprehend why my teachers treated my white peers with tenderness and me with callousness. And while I was not aware of what racism was at that age, I understood that the biggest difference between me and my peers was the color of our skin.

As I grew older, I began to understand how pervasive antiBlackness was. I began to observe, recognize, and dissect the harm that I was facing. Still, I never felt like I had the space to fully express what I was experiencing. It wasn’t until I moved to the United States in 2012 to start my undergraduate degree in social welfare that I began to find spaces that gave me the tools to talk not only about racism but also about how it impacts Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

Years of research have explored the role of racism on our mental health. The work to highlight racial trauma was led by experts such as the psychologist Robert T. Carter, the psychologist Thema Bryant, and the researcher Joy DeGruy. I had the honor of serving as a consultant on Skindeep (2021), a film about race-based trauma, with Carter, whose work set in motion the conversation about racial trauma in the field of psychology. Carter first used the term race-based traumatic stress in his 2007 paper “Racism and Psychological and Emotional Injury: Recognizing and Assessing Race-Based Traumatic Stress.”

I call racism “the multifaceted abuser” because it abuses our communities emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. When we practice reframing “racism” as “abuse” and “racist” as “abusive,” we get a clearer image of the impact racism has on people. Unfortunately, as a society and in psychology, we rarely frame racism as a form of abuse. The cognitive dissonance is so deep that people are often confused when they see the words racism and abuse woven together. This has resulted in a lack of care for Black, Indigenous, and people of color who experience racism.

Take, for example, the therapists who know how to help people who have experienced other types of abuse but who are not equipped to help people of color navigate racial trauma. Or the employers who expect people of color to sit through the same antiracism workshops as white people, when, in any abusive dynamic, the person benefiting from the abuse and the person experiencing the abuse need vastly different things. Or even the white people who casually bring up racist events without thinking to use sensitivity warnings in the same ways they would with other forms of abuse.

As someone who has always been passionate about using creativity as a portal to liberation, I was curious if there were ways for me to use design to stimulate healing for communities of color. In 2018, I began my graduate degree in interaction design. I spent time conducting research into how to design spaces that provide soft landings for those dealing with racial trauma. I tapped into theory from my social welfare degree, praxis from my design degree, and wisdom from my loving ancestors to reimagine the ways in which racial healing can take place. I concluded that these spaces need to be accessible, educational, and led by people with lived experience.

I began to create a space on Instagram where I design healinginformed graphics that help people to understand, reflect, and cope with racial trauma. This work provided a tender space for Black, Indigenous, and people of color during the racial unrest in the summer of 2020. Then, in August 2020, I launched Making the Body a Home, a platform that stimulates racial wellness through intentional homeware products and educational course offerings. Since then, my practice of using design to promote racial wellness has touched people in tangible ways.

Today, the community of people who resonate with my work has grown to tens of thousands. This community is filled with people from all walks of life: students, therapists, parents, teachers, and more who share how transformational this work has been for them. These paradigm shifts, along with the work of other visionaries I deeply admire, have played a beautiful role in setting the conversation about racial wellness in motion on a large scale. In November 2020, the American Medical Association finally recognized racism as a threat to public health. In October 2021, the American Psychological Association apologized for its perpetuation of racism and inaction in not recognizing racial trauma.

This book is a tender continuation of this work. As someone who is inspired by the infographics about Black America created by W. E. B. Du Bois and his students, I’ve always longed for a design-forward book with offerings that help Black, Indigenous, and people of color to rest, rehabilitate, and rebuild. There is so much power that can be found in design. The role of visual culture in racial liberation cannot be overlooked.

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