Black Mamas Be Well? Permission Granted.

by | May 22, 2024 | Blog

Hello GH Family!

My name is Ronda Smith Branch and I am a health, wellness, and well-being coach. I have been blessed to serve as our community organizer and have had some amazing experiences working with Generate Health and our community members. Last month, during Black Maternal Health Week, I was afforded the opportunity to speak as an expert on my lived experience. An experience that enriches and challenges, enlightens, and destroys me every moment of every day. Living within this collective, sacred, and torturous sisterhood – I take what I do to heart.

For instance, I was able to collect stories from birthing people and their partners across the city who shared their experience of what it was like to be Black and pregnant in our region with the MO Momnibus YOUR Story + MY Story = OUR Story Storytelling Campaign. I was honored to sit in stillness with someone who quietly recalled a heartbreaking moment and share joy with a couple when they recounted the overwhelming feelings they experienced in their first moments as parents. As I listened to their stories, I continued to gain clarity in my healing regarding my own encounters.

One day while telling my story, I came to understand that during my traumatic birth experience, I did not feel like I had permission to disagree with the professionals helping me. I thought they must know what is best for me. It became clear that the weathering I had experienced up until this point had not only worn me down, but it had taken my autonomy. I am leaning on my life experience expertise, my learnings as a wellness professional, and the data I have gathered from our community to further “Black Mamas Be Well” programming. This series of wellness workshops looks to do one thing in particular this summer and that is to continually reassure the collective “you” that we have permission to take back who we are.

For this Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month, I am speaking on the impact of racialized trauma on mental health and what we can do to be well during the consistent and evolutionary healing we must endure. As beings of culture, the overstimulation and weathering we experience leads us to understanding the importance of granting oneself permission to prioritize mental well-being and emphasizes the significance of self-love and an authorization to take back one’s life, as well as the need to let go of the hurt causing the anxiety. This blog encourages individuals to explore options for self-care and self-discovery and reclaim joy in every moment of life. It aims to empower you to secure your mental health and move towards overcoming your challenges. As for our true allies, read this with the intent to increase your understanding and capacity to empathize and ignite your spirit to champion the cause of ending health disparities in our community.

Generate Health, Worthy of Well Being, and the Anthropedia Foundation hosted a workshop on Mother’s Day. Our Sacred Self-Advocacy Workshop: Permission Granted focused on providing Black and Brown folk with an opportunity to have a spa experience we are not normally introduced to. As the people at Origin Wellness explained the benefits of realigning with nature and the importance of being able to quiet your mind, we learned how one must find a balance wholistically to attain, maintain, and sustain your well-being. Being your own advocate and deeming who you are and what you do as sacred is key, and improving your life in a way that is customized to what you need is the motion that turns the key and unlocks the box of unlimited potential.

In addressing the impact of racialized trauma on mental health, we know that our physical health and emotional state are often negatively impacted by internalized shame and guilt. We struggle with overstimulation and experience weathering as beings of culture which contribute to difficult outcomes and complications within the body. Diseases like diabetes and hypertension disproportionately affect our community and it is not a coincidence. The wearing on our stress response causes our bodies to release underutilized stress hormones that continue to permeate the body, leaving behind a consistent imbalance. Disease is the body’s manifestation of its fight to return to homeostasis. When one is consistently triggered by everyday interactions and systemically ingrained microaggressions, that stress response process does not complete itself, leaving us hypervigilant and unable to calm the body to focus on healing.

Granting oneself permission to be a whole human being, to advocate for oneself, and to fill one’s own cup with love and positive energy comes with understanding that authorization as the act of permitting and choosing to love for oneself to let go of hurt, pain, anxiety, and issues with forgiveness. Exploring the multiple meanings of “permission granted” and the importance of fulfilling the soul’s request to live in the present space means that we release what no longer serves us. We honor our hurt and trauma by letting go.

This month has been an opportunity to overhaul what matters, examining closely what has occurred without your permission and being determined to reclaim joy in every moment of your life. As a mother or as a collective mothering figure for this earth, choose a sacred space that honors your autonomy. What do you do to connect with nature? How do you show up for yourself? What is that one small thing that will inspire you to choose love? Begin small by doing something like setting an alarm to remind you to look in the mirror, smile and say I love you to YOU. Try on the lens of love for yourself so that you have enough to give to others who may encounter your heart space.

Finally, securing your mental health by being aware of what you are going through and moving towards overcoming challenges acknowledges the power of who you are and where you come from. Examine your origins and expectations while envisioning a world where individuals are respected as human-just as they are. So be well Black Mama. We need you to see you the way we do. Deem yourself sacred and operate in the authority that you embody.


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