Reclaiming Healing: Embracing African Indigenous Practices for Black Women’s Wellness

Tai Salih (she/her)
Published in
5 min readSep 26

Photographer: Mandeep Bal IG @mandeepbal

(Black women are cis, femme, trans, and non-binary Black womanhood identifying)

Audre Lorde’s wisdom resonates deeply as she cautioned, “For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” It’s intriguing to reflect on the early stages of my healing journey. One thing that stands out is my initial rejection of traditional healing practices. This rejection stemmed from the harm I had experienced within my community and the prevailing message that modern medicine held all the answers. However, this left me vulnerable to the common pitfalls within the mental health and wellness industries, which often reinforce systemic oppression (Lorde, 1984). The tools of the “master” in fact did not help me dismantle the internalized trauma and effects of navigating a world where I am deemed unworthy.

I often find myself contemplating the deeply ingrained structures of oppression that persist within these industries. For too long, I felt trapped in my journey, unable to escape the limitations of Western modalities. It wasn’t until I delved into the heart of healing Black women, embracing the transformative power of traditional African indigenous practices within the framework of womanism, that I discovered the healing I had been seeking all along.

Lorde’s words serve as a poignant reminder that the tools of a system that oppresses us can never be our sole source of liberation. In the realm of mental health and wellness, it’s imperative to critically examine why Western approaches often fail to meet the unique needs of Black women. While these conventional methods may benefit some, they can inadvertently perpetuate the very systems of oppression we aim to dismantle.

Within this context, the womanist perspective, as defined by Alice Walker, assumes paramount importance (Walker, 1982). It provides us with the necessary lens to scrutinize the shortcomings of Western modalities and explore alternative approaches rooted in traditional African indigenous practices.

Challenges with Western Modalities:

1. Standardization and Cultural Insensitivity: Western mental health and wellness practices often rely on standardized models that disregard the rich diversity of…

Tai Salih (she/her)
Writer for

Yogi E-RYT® 500, YACEP® | Founder @ Red Ma'at Collective | Integrative Counsellor