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In Conversation with Jacquelyn Iyamah

Uncategorized Oct 09, 2023

We are absolutely thrilled to be in community with Jacquelyn Iyamah, a writer, designer and founder of Making the Body a Home. Her book, Racial Wellness, comes out November 7, 2023!


Who are you? Who is your community and how do they love you?

I am a Nigerian designer, writer, and cultural worker  whose work centers on the nurturing well-being of communities of color living in a racist society. My community consists of friends, family, my cat, writers, thinkers, creatives, and cultural workers. 

They love me in a way that feels similar  to how bell hooks described love - through a combination of care, trust, commitment, trust, knowledge, and responsibility.

Your forthcoming book is Racial Wellness.  You frame your approach through the lens of racism as abuse. Why did you choose to write about healing from racial trauma when it comes to the dialogue on racism?

When we begin to reframe racism as abuse — it allows us to understand the ways in which racism creates deep mental, emotional, spiritual and physical trauma for those on the receiving end of it. 

Most of the dialogue around race focuses on teaching people how not to be racist; and while this is incredibly important— it does not necessarily serve the intricate needs of Black, Indigenous, Latine, Asian and all people of color who may be traumatized by racism. 

Amplifying the narrative around racial trauma encourages us to invest in increasing the resources for those on the receiving end of racism. This book is a resource that serves to reduce the gap in the level of care available for people who need to heal.

Who is your book for?

  • For the communities of color who lack spaces that hold space for their racialized trauma.
  • For the parents and guardians who want to understand how to support their children.
  • For the teachers and educators who want to create safe learning environments for students.
  • For the doctors, coaches, and practitioners who want to support the holistic health of clients.
  • For the employers who want to understand how to create safe workplace environments. 
  • For the public health, sociology, and psychology academics learning about the impact of racism. 
  • For therapists, counselors,  caseworkers and psychologists, who want to support their clients.

We at the Institute talk about being fueled by an ethic of love. How do you connect to a love ethic in your work and life?

I practice a love ethic in my work and life by being as intentional as I can be.  I put a lot of thought into what I say and do, because I never want to feel rushed into saying or doing something that does not feel honest, responsible, or in alignment. 

For example, when it comes to the book, I could have written a book that provides people with tips on how to heal from racism on just an individual level, but this didn’t feel ethical to me because it can make it seem like racism is not a systemic issue. This is why the book helps people understand what facilitating healing from racial trauma can look like on individual, interpersonal and institutional levels. 


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