I was fairly new to the study of plant medicine when I was introduced to herbalist Sade Musa, who leads the community education and healing project Roots of Resistance. Part of my commitment to self-care and reducing harm meant getting in touch with Mother Earth and learning to seek her out in moments of overwhelm, but it was frustrating that most of the traditions I was being introduced to were European or repackaged indigenous practices. I was starting to feel like the only way to get in touch with my roots was to take every racist’s favorite advice and “go back to Africa.”
It was Musa who helped me realize the connection I was seeking could be found in my American homeland. In between posting herbal tea and tincture recipes, Musa uses her platform to call out popular herbalism texts for subtle and overt racism. She talks about how Black healing traditions are not just the foundation of White herbalism, but White Western medicine. She helps students reclaim herbs like turmeric and ashwagandha, which are typically attributed to Ayurvedic medicine but have been used by indigenous Africans for just as long and in similar ways.
At the center of Musa’s work is bodily autonomy. She says that “bodily autonomy is really key for anti-colonialism resistance, but particularly Black resistance. Whether we’re talking about emancipation from slavery or incarceration or medical apartheid, we’re talking about bodily autonomy. When we give people the skills to heal themselves as much as possible and connect that to how our ancestors would heal themselves as an act of resistance and self-determination, they gain the confidence to push back against the running narrative.”
To read more of Danielle Dorsey's article, please click here.