SANKOFA: RECLAIMING HEALING TRADITIONS OF THE AFRICAN DIASPORA
If you are connected to the mainstream herbal community, you have noticed the glaring lack of Black presence. Our healing legacies do not exist in their classrooms, conferences, and books. Instead, these spaces serve as neo-colonial institutions that, by ignoring that the white western medical complex was built on Black bodily exploitation and stolen intellectual labor, perpetuate myths of white superiority. For the last several centuries, trafficked Black bodies moving through the medical plantation industrial complex have been routinely transformed into specimens: dissected and experimented on by opportunistic doctors, anthropologists, colleges, and hospitals. Tens of thousands of books, journal articles, and theses have been written with captive Africans as human subjects of interest. All the data collected from these efforts contributed to the medical body of knowledge, and yet, there is little to no acknowledgement of this role Black people have played in its' development.
The medicine practices of enslaved Africans had a significant influence on white settler communities, so much so that they cannot tell their story without telling ours -- and yet they do. Despite diasporic African peoples coming from some of the most botanically diverse areas in the world, and countless evidence that these homelands have been historically mined for indigenous plants and medicinal knowledge, western herbalism teaches a whitewashed history in which the healing ways of African peoples are invisibilized. This erasure serves as a means of social control and disempowerment, continuing a cultural genocide on a people already dispossessed of land and autonomy.
To this I say: enough. Black people can tell our own stories, and we will. I envision a world in which our medicine ways have been reclaimed, and where we are empowered to exist on our own terms. I invite you to join me in this study of the traditions that supported our ancestors on both sides of the Atlantic.
In this 4-month course, we will explore:
The ethnobotanical legacy of Black people in the "Americas":
-Contributions Africans have made to medicine throughout world history
-Plants and knowledge dispersed by the transatlantic slave trade, and the agency that Africans had in this dispersal
-Importance of plants indigenous to the so-called Americas to African medico-spiritual practices
-What factors allowed displaced Africans to adapt to their new lands, and why they were better equipped for survival than European settler-colonists
The colonial history of medicine in the western world:
-How bio-piracy on the African continent enriched colonial powers
-Why western herbalism exaggerates the cultural exchange between American indigenous peoples and the settler-colonial state, while downplaying their exchange with African diasporic peoples
-How unjust power structures shape(d) our body of biomedical knowledge, practice, and technologies
-The role of the medical plantation complex
-How the white male physician came to dominate the medical landscape and supplant traditional healers
-How the suppression of their medicine ways left Black people vulnerable to scientific racism and health injustice
-The esteem white America had for slave medicine practice
The history of Black resistance and resilience:
-How African diasporic peoples have utilized plant knowledge in rebellious ritual acts of self-determination
-Black folk healers and practitioners as agents of social justice and public health
-Black herbal educators, midwives, healers, doctors, and grassroots organizations who fought to advance health equity
Revitalizing this legacy for modern liberation movements:
-How to decenter whiteness, and push back on white supremacist narratives, in herbalism
-How colonization has dictated our relationship with the Earth, and how we can restore this land connection
-The importance of claiming culturally competent health care as our birthright
-Visioning a world offering justice and healthcare to all
-How cultivating an herbal practice is a form of ancestor work
-Turning healing rituals into a liberatory practice
-Folk medicine of our ancestors, such as: infusions, syrups, plasters, balms, and washes.
WHAT TO EXPECT:
18-20 hours instruction, handouts, hands-on medicine making activities, take home medicine (online option does not include medicine), private online group to discuss reading materials.
WHO THIS CLASS IS FOR:
This class centers the Black diasporic experience. It is an intentional space, open to bipoc, with priority given to Black applicants. Herbalists of all levels are welcome. If you are a white ally, please support this work by sponsoring scholarship seats for participants. Send an e-mail to
for more info on how to do so.
Nov 17 2018, Dec 15 2018, Jan 26 2019, Feb 16 2019. 10am-3:30pm PST.
This course has both an IN PERSON and ONLINE offering. Class is held at a private residence near Downtown Alhambra, CA. Exact address will be sent to the e-mail you provide two weeks before class. Distance learners are invited to apply for an online streaming option.
Early bird is $425 (ended 8/15), regular price is $475. Online streaming option is $325. $75 non-refundable deposit. There is one work-trade position available. Bartering is also available for a limited few. There will also be a few suggested, but not required, book purchases (<$100 worth).
Payment info will be sent to the e-mail provided in your application. To complete the registration process, a deposit is required. This applies to all applicants, including those with work-trade and barter arrangements.
07/15/18: Registration opens.
08/10/18: Application for work-trade and barter closes.
09/15/18: Must be paid in full by this date to receive early bird pricing.
11/01/18: Last day to pay remaining class fees, for those paying full pricing.
Classes are in English, and without amplification. // Space is low-fragrance, uncarpeted, pet and smoke-free. Classroom will be well-ventilated with a BlueAir filter running. Central air conditioning or heating will be running, as needed. // Nearby bus stops are the 78/79/378, 260, and 487/489. There is plenty of parking right in front of the building. // There are two steps at the entrance. It is a single story building with a gender neutral bathroom. // There are a variety of chairs to choose from, many are cushioned, one has arm rests. // Livestream/recorded classes are an option for those unable to access the classroom space.
ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:
Drawing from a background in biomedical research, western herbalism, and African-American folk medicine, Sade founded ROOTS OF RESISTANCE -- an educational project that seeks to help folks reclaim healing ways interrupted by colonization, to disrupt narratives which invisibilize Afro-diasporic contributions to medicine, and bring attention to health disparities and other forms of health injustice. ROR operates under the belief that bodily autonomy and culturally relevant medical care are essential, and that learning to heal ourselves is a liberatory praxis of self-determination and resistance. ROR is dedicated to helping historically looted communities advocate for their wellbeing, access quality healthcare, and to find alternatives if western healing models fail them. Through ROR she offers donation-based and sliding scale community herbal classes and consultation, leads free plant walks, operates an apothecary, and donates medicine to various grassroots wellness programs.
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How would you like to participate in this course?
If you are low-income* AND Black (of the Afro-diaspora) or (non-White) Latinx/Indigenous American, then you might be eligible to apply for a partial scholarship. If you select this option, I will email you more details.
*Folks considered low-income can identify with this statement: "I frequently stress about meeting basic needs & don't always achieve them, I have debt and it sometimes prohibits me from meeting my basic needs [include food, housing, and transportation], I rent lower-end properties or have unstable housing, I do not have a car and/or have limited access to a car but I am not always able to afford gas, I am unemployed or underemployed, I qualify for government assistance including food stamps & health care, I have no access to savings, I have no or very limited expendable income, I rarely buy new items because I am unable to afford them, I cannot afford a vacation or have the ability to take time off without financial burden." - via Worts & Cunning
If you would like to be considered for funding, please describe the circumstances that qualify you for a need-based scholarship. Alternatively, you can email me at
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