Herbalism, spirituality, and energy healing

Incredibly grateful for Jenelyse Woolery’s (see below for contact information and links for more information) transmission of knowledge and history on racism and appropriation within the herbalism and healing fields. She hosts an online herbalism program specifically for B-I-POC people called Indigi Golden Herbal Academy to reclaim B-I-POC ancestral knowledge free from white commercialization, appropriation, and resell of our traditional knowledge, wisdom, and lineages. She also hosts various workshops, including this one Decolonizing herbalism¬†which I highly recommend if you are any sort of holistic health practitioner or have a business offering any sort of healing practices; white women specifically are comfortable in profiting off of because they are validated, considered safe and official, and supported by society its a good idea to check yourself on this and why that is.

Below is a start through some topics and thought take aways covered in the workshop Decolonizing Herbalism by Jenelyse Woolery:

Commercialized or mainstream healing spaces are white spaces. Have you noticed that most people selling healing services, books, courses, or retreats are white?

This is because of the history of demonizing black, Indigenous, and POC and forbidding them to practice any of their healing modalities safely. Africans, for example, would be killed if caught practicing herbalism because the slave drivers feared the Africans would try to poison them. This conditioning is still fresh in our bones to be very cautious of who, where, and how we open up to sharing any part of our connection to traditional medicine or healing because it has intergenerationally been a risk. Previously of death, now more so to humiliation or theft of knowledge. It has not been safe for b-I-POC to openly practice or share these practices because it risks being violated, shamed, or having them killed physically or emotionally.

Through various forms of manipulation and trickery, white people would and continue to use B-I-POC for their traditional and ancestral knowledge, take their knowledge, and start businesses commercializing, exploiting, and appropriating these knowledge systems. The detrimental part has been that this is without credit, reciprocation, or recognition instead; the demonization and oppression towards the people’s those medicines originated. White women have benefited from a livelihood where they are permitted to share and maintain a validated public reputation that is of interest and considered safe because they are white, thriving through herbal and healing resurgences that B-I-POC have been completed left out of. Hurting relationships and with vast breaches of trust.

This conditioning to demonize B-I-POC and their traditional practices is so widespread people don’t even realize they do it. There has been widespread delegitimization when a B-I-POC offers a healing practice, it is often considered woo woo or superstitious when people pay hundreds and thousands of dollars to participate in a white person’s retreat or service but are skeptical to support or believe in someone of colors.

People who actively promote their healing services are primarily white because it is safe and normalized to have no shame in appropriating practices and starting businesses for them. Whereas this is something that is so sacred and of caution for B-I-POC that really limits us to being seen. Most elders will receive respect from white people, so they take their knowledge systems, but the demonization is still so prevalent in younger people. It is common for you to mention a healing practice to a white person, and they respond: Oh well, is that actually real? It seems like something you shouldn’t charge money for, so many people are commercializing off health and wellness, true, but b-I-POC have been excluded from this. This is something b-I-POC have not seen money for, ever. The system has erased their inclusion in any financial inclusion to the healing resurgences of our practices.

B-I-POC have been excluded from all healing resurgences, and now when b-I-POC want to reclaim their ancestral knowledge or callings in order to become official and certified, they need to pay to take courses from white people as all the B-I-POC have been killed or don’t openly advertise from fear or oppression within the system we live in. It is offensive to have to learn what was stolen from your family line by those who did the stealing and appropriating and support their business and still have no cognition on their part of how this is not okay. I am so grateful to Jenelyse Woolery program for breaking this cycle and reconnecting B-I-POC with their traditional heritage and medicinal practices.

Some questions to reflect on:

How are you unconsciously demonizing B-I-POC and their healing modalities?

How have you discredited B-I-POC and their offerings while supporting white people’s businesses?

Do you see examples of white women profiting off alternative medical approaches while African and Native or POC practitioners are demonized or considered not legitimate or superstitious?

As white people or white women, how will you start giving credit to where your practices come from and giving back to their origins? How will you start building relations of genuine trust and reciprocation without trickery or manipulation in taking something from us.


Links to connect with Jenelyse and her offerings:




2/22 Decolonizing Herbalism w/ Jenelyse Woolery