Black Women’s Self-Care Reparations Project

Our focus is the repair of Black women’s health and well being. We start with the understanding that there is a debt owed us for centuries of unpaid labor – physical, emotional, spiritual – that has come at the expense of our lives, time, energy, health, and wellbeing. We are a group of five Black women who have come together to explore in a small community built on a foundation of love and trust over time, how we can heal both individually and collectively. We believe for this work to be complete there must be repair in the form of funded support from the larger community that has and continues to benefit from Black women’s uncompensated labor. In this way the repair flows towards Black women’s healing and wellness and back towards the community in need of healing/repairing its values and actions towards Black women. When we are rested, and swimming in the overflow of our own healing and well being, then and only then will we bring this work to a wider group of Black women.

There are three phases to our work. Phase 1 focuses on healing our bodies, hearts, minds and spirits. Phase 2 focuses on financial repair and building a sustainable healing network of Black women practitioners. Phase 3 focuses on facilitating the healing of our sisters from a place of overflow. We will find funding for them to heal with us and explore other modalities individual to their healing.

Phase 1 (September – December 2021) – Healing ourselves. Moving towards lives of thriving

Phase 2 (January- March 2022) – Financial Repair/Building the Foundations of Sustainable Healing Network. Moving towards lives of financial sustainability.

Phase 3 (May/June – Sept 2022) – – Launching Healing our Sisters from the Overflow. Moving our work into the Oakland community.

Collaborators

Yvette Aldama

Yvette Phillips Aldama is a Cultural Keeper, Cultural Practitioner, Cultural Bearer, Earth Shaker & Ice Cream Maker.  She is an Oakland resident initiated into the mysteries of Chango in the Afro Cuban Lukumi tradition and is trained in its customs, ritual practices, songs, food and history. Her lifework is centered on the wellbeing of Black women and girls in Oakland, organizing around such issues as reproductive health and justice, equity, disparities, and educational achievement in public schools, self-help groups, and commercially sexually exploited children (CSEC). She is a Co-Spiritual Advisor and Co-Leader of Processions and Rituals  for House/Full of Black Women – a site-specific ritual performance project in Oakland, CA.  She is a 2017-2018 Isadora Duncan Dance Awards winner for Visual Set Design:  House/Full of Black Women: Episode 12; passing/through/the great middle.

Her experience includes teaching and mentoring persons in Lukumi Afro-Cuban customs, ritual practices, divination practices, songs, food and history.

  • She is trained to identify and prepare ritual plants for ceremonial and medicinal purposes. 
  • Trained in the intrinsic sacred art and code of ritual beading. 
  • She is a trained Ashero, a title given to those who have mastered the preparation and cooking of ritual foods for the Orisas. 
  • She has 25 years of building sacred spaces and religious altars.

She is an Ice Cream Maker of small-batch ice creams.

Tobe Melora Correal

Tobe Melora Correal – author, Finding Soul on the Path of Orisa – Yoruba-Lukumi priestess (Yemaya, 1990) – MA, Consciousness Studies (1996) – BFA, ceramic sculpture and hand-painted fabric (1990) – led “Grieving and Greens”, a day-long gathering of ancestral ritual, emotional catharsis, and food for Black Oaklanders (2016) – Izzie Award recipient for altar design (2019) – spiritual mother for house/full of Black women – ceremonial beadworker – shrine builder – community pray-er, nurturer and ritualist – death doula – culture keeper – living with chronic illness since 2005 – if well-resourced and sufficiently rested, would be indigo-dyeing cloth for the gods, channeling ancestors into clay figures, writing books on undoing the wounds of intergenerational Black trauma and actively mentoring other Black women in the sacred arts of transformational healing – currently, beyond exhausted but not giving up and in hot pursuit of my sweetest life. 

Chris Evans

Chris Evans is an interdisciplinary artist trained in music and dance who creates immersive, interactive work with the goal of cultivating sacred spaces for communal listening, healing, and transformation. While much of her work and collaborations are with and for Black women in Oakland, she bridges many communities through her collaborations and the audiences she reaches. She directs the Reconstruction Study Project and Reconstructing Imagination Residency, co-founded Idora Park Project Space, is a member of House Full of Black Women and Black and White Projects collectives. She served on the City of Berkeley’s Civic Arts Grant panels from 2018-2020, co-led a grant writing workshop for grant applicants in 2020, and served on the Dancer’s Group grant panel in 2019. She is a certified Pilates Instructor, Yamuna Body Rolling practitioner, and Level 2 Talawa Technique practitioner, a technique that centers Africanist movement technologies, and the founder of Deep Breath Pilates.  

Sheila Russell

Sheila Russell has been a healer through movement for the past three decades. She began her training in San Diego, California and continued her studies at the University California Irvine where she was blessed and honored to study under greats such as Donald McKayle and Bernard Johnson. She has most recently performed with Movement Liberation, Samara Atkins, and House Full of Black Women. She is the co-founder and artistic director of See Through Soul Dance Company in Oakland, Ca. See Through Soul seeks to explore the subtleties, complexities, and dynamics that drive and shift relationships between beings and to heal both the performers and the audiences through performance. 

Keisha Turner

Keisha Turner wields earth, celestial, and ancestral energy in her work as a performer, choreographer, yoga instructor, healer, and organizer. She is a former touring company member with the critically acclaimed dance company Urban Bush Women. At present, she is thrilled to make soul-stirring magic as a performer with Embodiment Project and Deep Waters Dance Theater (House/Full of BlackWomen). Turner’s creative enterprise, EarthChild, activates ancient Afro-diasporic cultural wisdom and reimagines it in a contemporary context to conjure radical liberation of those at the margins. For more on Keisha’s work see Earthchild.

Funding/Support

We are tremendously grateful to the Artists Adaptability Circles for believing in the importance of repairing Black women’s health and well being, and for providing our initial funding for our Phase 1 work.

HouseFull of Black Women

We see this project as having grown out of the work of HouseFull of Black Women directed by Ellen Sebastian Chang and Amara Tabor-Smith. Sitting together at the HouseFull table for six years building loving, trusting relationships is what makes this work possible.