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Black Liberation w/ Ericka Hart

Black Liberation w/ Ericka Hart

The Black Doula Podcast Season 2: Episode 6

In episode 6, Sabia talks with Ericka Hart about Black Liberation

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You can find Ericka online at or on instagram

Ericka Hart (pronouns: she/they) is a black queer femme activist, writer, highly acclaimed speaker and award-winning sexuality educator with a Master’s of Education in Human Sexuality from Widener University. Ericka’s work broke ground when she went topless showing her double mastectomy scars in public in 2016. Since then, she has been in demand at colleges and universities across the country, featured in countless digital and print publications including Buzzfeed, Washington Post, Allure, Huffington Post, BBC News, Cosmopolitan, LA Weekly, Vanity Fair, W Magazine, Glamour, Elle, Essence, Fader, Refinery 29, and is the face of three running PSAs on the television channel VICELAND. Ericka’s voice is rooted in leading edge thought around human sexual expression as inextricable to overall human health and its intersections with race, gender, chronic illness and disability. Both radical and relatable, she continues to push well beyond the threshold of sex positivity. Ericka is currently an adjunct faculty member at Columbia University’s School of Social Work and the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College, a bratty switchy Sagittarius service bottom and misses Whitney more than you.

New to this podcast? Catch up on the episodes Season 1 of The Black Doula Podcast HERE

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Hello, hello. Welcome to the black doula Podcast. I'm in a weird place right now with like black doula podcast like, really I've been really using my name more, it's like I'm still orienting to to things. But I'm so happy to have you here you are a very like special person to me and the ways that you think and ways that you exist, and just the ways that we like we just met for like a work thing. And then I'm like, do different. So can you please introduce yourself? And tell us how you're feeling today?

Of course. So thank you so much for having me. My name is Erika Hart, my pronouns are she and they, I'm a black queer, non binary femme that lives in Brooklyn with my dog, and my partner. Yeah, I'm also a breast cancer survivor. So you may or may not have seen me topless on the internet. And for work for paid work I do I teach sexuality education, with a focus on gender and race, and racism. And how do I feel today, I feel happy that it's the weekend happy, it's Friday, a little tired, because I know my to do list is still long for it to be a Friday. So that's where I'm at.

So I was thinking about what we're going to talk about today. I was thinking about, like, what feels what I feel called to and we checked in beforehand, the blog is at the vibe, like what's going on. And so the vibe that I'm feeling today, and that you agree to is really a conversation about like black liberation. And I say Black Liberation very specifically, right? Because there's liberation, okay, in general, like, we all deserve to feel that way to be in that. But I also think that black liberation, of course, is its own very specific thing. And I think like me, and you, I think we could necks in very similar ways. Even like when you were describing yourself, like, I'm a black, non binary, and I'm like, Yes, hello, yeah, just give it to me. But also, I know that

you're a fucking boss as ditch, right? So because of that, there's been a lot of things that I feel like I can talk to you about. And I feel like also your perspective is always from the, from the, from the space of like, black liberation being the focus. Right? So I really just wanted to, like, get into a conversation with you about liberation, but also like the the many hats that we hold as black femmes in this space, the really the the many aspects of like, just being a full person, right? And what and what does that mean? What does it look like? And just Yeah, fucking black pleasure, black, whatever, like, wherever we go with this? Yeah. So I guess like, starting off, the conversation is like, what do you think of black liberation? What do you think of like, what do you see?

Hmm, when I think of black liberation, I think about the end of white supremacy, I think about the end systems of oppression, I think about black people having not just access to but just actually being able to be taken care of by medical systems and the end of white supremacy within medical racism, but also whatever structure came out of that afterwards would also be a care mechanism that centered black people, right? And that black people in indigenous practices would be at the forefront of whatever that looks like. So when I think I also think about black liberation as a mentality as well, like, because I you know, sometimes I have conversations about black liberation of like, not everybody has the same view of what black liberation is amongst black people, right? There's a different view, some black people feel like it means that you're become a billionaire. They think that's black liberation. Some people believe that, you know, it's an interrogation of inherited thoughts. Some people believe that it's becoming tenured at an academic institution, whatever it might be, I think, I don't know that we'll ever really come onto one accord with the presence of capitalism with the presence of white supremacy dangling in our faces like it's something to attain right. So I wonder I'm questioning my What do I think about black liberation but also thinking how that interacts with other black people's view of black liberation and how then do we achieve it if we all have different views? As my thoughts, but truly it would for me, from my standpoint, it would be just our freedom, like the freedom from like the shackles of believing that we aren't good enough the trepidation that we have in being in white institutions, whether it be medical to academic, no more the literally prisons completely go away. Because they also act directly in our oppression. Yeah, I mean, it just looks like a whole new world. It's not just a framework, it's not just a way of thinking. It's not just the theory, but actually an uprooting of our systems as we know it.

Yes. All of that, all of that. And I'm like thinking, right, like, it's important. Like, I mean, some of

the things you said was, is important, but like that part around like, liberation looks different for

different people, even amongst black people. Right? It's like, everyone has a different idea.

Like, yeah, and it's based on what you've been around what you've seen what you'd expect

experience, what it was, like joy to you, what feels like trauma to you, like, all these things are

incorporated in that idea of my liberation, maybe looking different from yours, but even still,

like having the ability to hold space for what that liberation looks like for the next black person

next to me, right? Yeah. So like, what is that it's like for for you what has been like just in this,

like, current space that you're in right now? What? What feels like liberation to you, in the ways

that you're currently existing? And like, what ways are you not feeling like that vibe just yet? Is

it like the systems that you're in, but you're feeling personally liberated, and your space, like,

you know what I mean, like, it's levels to this liberation shit. And so where it kind of doesn't

speak to you or where it's not

like it all intersects? I don't think that I can feel liberated. If I constantly, for example, I have a

like it all intersects? I don't think that I can feel liberated. If I constantly, for example, I have a

bill sitting on the table right now, don't come for me from a major state department. I won't say

which one. But let's say a major state department. It's from a couple of years ago, and I am just

I've been trying to call this particular state department and to no avail. They're not answering

the phone. I just feel like I'm being targeted because of who I am. And I know that I am right,

the ultra wealthy do not have to deal with this state department. So it is frustrating that

although I may be feeling good in my body, like a freedom from, you know, particular health

concerns, or freedom from thoughts about my body in particularly damaging ways, I'm still

looking at this bill like that is really sending me into a major frustration, because I don't see any

sort of way out other than just pay the shit. And I don't think the bill is accurate, right. But I

don't think that there's also a way for me to address it either. So the I'm just using that as an

example. But the presence of that then impacts me my life. And that's its purpose, you know,

like it's supposed to be a disruption. So I think I mean, I feel good, like how do I feel my body I

feel good in my body. I feel happy with the things where things are going, like in my job, work,

whatever. But there's still the looming presence of all shit that we have to navigate even in the

work that we do, right? Like, there's always so this is always so much like there's always Abby's

mom Ebony's mom says, if it's not one thing, it's another and truly like that. That is how I feel

right? Like, that's how the absence of liberation shows up for black people. You know, like, if it's

not one thing, it's another always having to sort through thing.

Yeah, I feel you because I definitely like, you know, like, when I'm, I'm an anxious bitch, right?

So hey, and you know, I think what's really interesting to people's perception of us, right, is

that, and I can assume this, and I think I'll be correct, but I feel like a lot of people's perception

of you is that you're like a liberated black, some doing the things moving, how you want to

move through life, so on and so forth. And I think people feel the same way about me, right?

And in many ways, right? I'm very, like you said, I feel good about waking up and like, doing

what I love to do, and like, you know, all these things, whatever. And I'm like, I feel grateful.

And I'm in gratitude, because I also know where I have been, where, like, you know, when I

wasn't working for myself, and I was in corporate America, and like, people hated me for

getting to know myself and expressing that and like, you know, all those things, right? And so,

like, I you know, I show gratitude for that. However, even with this, like, you know, liberation, if

you will, or this freedom that I have gained, and even some like access to things right and like,

whatever, there's still this anxiety that comes with like the liberation for the freedom has come

with a cost of other things or like fear of saying like fear of other things, or like other things

being present in my life because I am aiming to live in my black Liberty The bottom right and

so like, it's like this aspect of like how people view us, right? It's like, Oh, I love sabia because

she's so free. I love Erica because the fuck Eric has out their chest out doing what they do

doing the work that they want to say saying what they want to say and how they feel and these

spaces, but I don't always think that people understand what that comes with.

Yeah, no, no one wants to see a liberated black person, period, especially a black femme living

in their truth. They just want to see us down and out. That is all that they're interested in. And

they want to see us down and out. But then they also want to treat us like mythical magical

creatures in their imagination, right, that don't have anything going on. So they can continue to

harm us and victimize themselves. Like that is the work of Bell Hooks. That's what she talks

about in what white feminism does, right? Like this idea that, you know, I get to say, oh, you

know, Erica, and Savior are so powerful, and they're just so amazing. And, wow, I could never

be like them, only to treat us like shit. And have us not say anything back or not fight back or

not say you know, that really hurt my feelings or not show up as human because when you put

somebody on a pedestal, they can't be human, right, they can't actually push back away from

that, because you've put them there. And it's actually oppressive to put the merits intentional,

to put them there. So you can make yourself out to have you know, some sort of victimhood

and then be victimized by that person, which they were we get, you know, angry black woman

stereotypes, so on and so forth. Always, it's always a fight against who is free, our systems

don't want black people to be free at all, like even from the ways in which Black Panthers were

creating grocery stores. And you know, trying to, you know, create community spaces just for

black people know, like, that's a problem. Y'all are violent. You have guns, who the fuck doesn't

have guns in this country? What are you talking about? Like, there's a whole push to this day to

have done right. So why was it such a threat? When black people had guns? Well, you're not

interested in the liberation of black people or black people protecting themselves. You want

them to be a target. That is like a very blatant example. But that I mean, and the examples of

that blatantly show up all the time, but also how it shows up just socially without a weapon,

right? The ways the words that people use how they target, intentionally target and push out

black people from literally any space, it doesn't have to be just workspace club. Fucking

community center, right. Whatever. There's always some way to do that, because that's just

how our systems are designed. And our system show up in everything. I think people think, Oh,

it's just the medical industrial complex. It doesn't show up elsewhere. Yes, it does. It's called

ableism. You know what I mean, it shows up in our brains, it shows up interpersonally. It shows

up institutionally, it shows up all it shows up many ways, like, and it's important to

acknowledge that, yeah,

this is this, that part, right? It's like all of that. And I think like, the thing that I'm learning, right,

and like you told me, like how this fits for you, is like, I see myself as a person I've always been,

right. I've grown in different ways. I've become more secure in different ways. I've expanded in

different ways. I've learned things I've experienced more, whatever, right? But, I mean, I'm still

the me I was when five years ago, I was a me, I was like, I mean, there's growth and stuff in

that. But one of the things that I realized it definitely is, I told I said it on live, and I was talking

to my, um, my mentor, Michelle, and I was like, I'm grieving. The way that I'm grieving the way

that people used to see me and how they see me now. Mm hmm. Because it feels like in some

instances and different relationships, different places that I've been in, that that pedestal thing

has happened. Without my permission, or without my knowledge, your consent. Yep. without

my consent, right. And so even though I'm like, Oh, can we do that? Like, I'm still whatever, I

get that same shit back. And I'm like, wait, what happen? I thought we were Oh, no, we're we're

not right. And but then I also realized that like, that has also the more the more free that I have

been becoming, right as a black femme in this space, doing what I do whatever the case says,

the more that viewing me differently has become more present. So like as I felt more more

liberated in the way that I exist. I've been feeling more You know, in my own power, I've been

deconstructing thoughts about, you know, shit that gets sick, you know, built in your head and

you deconstruct that. And so you want to fill things around years, people relationships or

whatever has shifted. And I'm like, Damn, it's like, the more free that I become, in my personal

journey. It's been a shift of how people see me. And then I'm unaware of that. And now we're in

some type of weird space. And I'm like, huh, yeah, what's happening, but I'm like, what I, but I

thought we all were seeking liberation. And we all were understanding that I'm on that path as

a person, and you are to, or whatever the case is, I'm like, damn, like, Is it like the black

liberation that is causing a couple, it seems like there's a discomfort there. That is sometimes

surprising to me, also, just like hurtful. And it's like, damn, and it makes me like, I was just

talking to my mentor, Michelle, who I've also done a podcast with. And Michelle told me to do

the writing the foreword to my book there, and my book there, and my wife there, whatever.

And they're like, the thing is, they be like, you can't go backwards. And I was like, I was like, Yo,

that's literally what I've been. I've ever thought, like, what if I go backwards? What if I could get

back to the place where people when I was struggling, and I was this if people were so

receptive, and relationships were different. And Michelle was like, No, you can't go backwards.

So you have to be in what you're in right now. And people places, whatever they're gonna be,

they're gonna change, you're going to shift, but you have to keep going towards a more free

place regardless. And I'm just like, Okay, this is the task. This is this is liberation, this is what it

looks like, this is what this is what I am. This is the journey, this is probably the part of the

journey I wasn't expecting. Okay? Because I know in my head, like, I don't live in a utopia and

my head like, oh, my gosh, everyone's gonna be so happy as I go through my liberation

practices. Like whatever it is, I know that, but I'm just like, I just wasn't expecting this part.


I mean, I, it reminds me I just had a friendship breakup with somebody I was friends with for a

very long time. And if you would have said, you know, y'all are probably not going to be friends

at the end up towards the end of 2022, I would have looked at you and be like, What are you

talking about? Like, there's no way. But there was already signs that this person wasn't truly

interested in me, right, and who how I was showing up and how I was how I continue to grow

and expand, make comments like you are being asked to model because of your double

mastectomy that's like it, like you're not being asked to model for no other reason, and things

like that, like, you know, and when, when they said that it was like, two years ago or so. So

there was probably some impostor syndrome that I was working through that, sure like that,

and not be friends with them anymore. It was something I was dealing with. But then I came to

realize, like, oh, the only thing that's really showing up here, because I started seeing other

examples of it, it's just jealousy. I don't believe in that. But the gag is, is that everybody doesn't

want you to win, right? And everybody is waiting and watching some people watching. And this

is like, advice from my mentor, is to, you know, be a little bit more personal, or remove some of

your personal stuff from online because people are waiting and watching and plotting for you

people you don't even know, for you to fail, right and get excited when you fail. So that I think

is something to keep in mind. And my anxiety is, you know, anxiety girls, like, already have

trust issues. So, you know, to RIT to be so trusting of the world and of people and to forget, you

know, I think that that's like the inner child in me to forget that people have their own motives,

and they have their own ways that they perceive you. And that oftentimes, it may not be

consistent with how you perceive the relationship, or how you perceive how they show up for

you or not. Right. And I think that has been a hard, a hard lesson in in a conversation of black

liberation, but because I think in black liberation, we have very healthy relationships, where we

can communicate what's there for us without, you know, fear of abandonment and whatever it

might be, whatever the fear is that you keep these relationships around and don't actually be

straight up about how you feel. And that goes for me too. So that's just you, you talking about

that made me think of how even in your close knit relationships people will turn on you. Just

because they don't like what you have or they don't like how you're showing up. They don't like

that you are happy period.

I think like a lot of times like especially when we're black friends and black people with

sometimes I feel like regardless of what the other person No racist or whatever, like, there's a

relationship with struggle people, like they fuck with you, because there's a piece of struggle

that's there, that feels like, okay, we can do this we can be a friendship like, or we can be a

relationship because I'm helping you to not struggle, or we're, you know, it's like something

there, there has to it's like this connection to black femmes and just struggle. And when that

struggle, I feel like it's missing or becomes different, or it shifts, because, you know, like, the

struggles that I had four or five years ago, not the struggles I have now, but it's still there, right,

like, so working through shit. But when people can't see it, right, when people can't understand

or they don't, they don't, they feel like it's an absence of that, it feels like it becomes a shift.

And like, it's, I often think about, like, well, aiming to be supportive and black liberation, and not

just like the conscious thoughts, but the subconscious work that goes into actually being

supportive of that. I often realize that for some people, they have done the conscious work,

right? And know the things to say, no, that seems to be an, you know, just like a bat, right? Like

my students, you know, obviously, DDT was built off of like, my, you know, way of assisting and

like, you know, those talks about racism, and let's talk about this, I said that, let's put it out

there. And I told my BDC students recently, I was like, just because you're here doesn't make

you anti racist, or whatever you say, okay, don't think because you're here, this is now giving

you the award for the most anti racist, whatever, why, like, No, these are things that are still

going to be existing in your body president and the ways that you do things, it's not that you're

going to always have to be working on consciously and subconsciously. So I think it's the same

thing with black liberation, where people sometimes feel like they are supporting it, and that

they're, you know, with it, but like, one of the things I was like talking to one of my people

about I was like, sometimes it feels like trust black women until, okay, trust black women and

so on. I think that trust black women is like we were in the struggle when it's so heavy. Right?

When we're in crisis, right? Trust black women, but if a if a black woman or black femme is

showing up, more, more, more settled in themselves, happier doing what they love to do being

more secure, whether it's financially, mentally, whatever the case is, that until that until starts

to come in. Yeah. And it's like

100% 100%, I just want to see you suffer. That's it. Even the trust black women like that idea

came out of, like you said, came out of suffering, right? It came out of advocacy, it came out of

white people wanting a fucking slogan, let's just be straight up. You know what I mean? And it

it's, it's true, it's me, there's nothing else I can add to that. Like, it really is trust black women

trust black films until but it really at the end of the day, there is no trust of black film period,

right? It's just not even there. It's just a slogan, right? It's just something to say, right? It's not

actually something to take heat up or to pay it's or consider or critique or, you know, actually

sit and read the works of, you know, revolutionary black films and what they've already

contributed. It's just well, it's just a thing to say I'm like, oh, yeah, I listen to black films like no,

you don't.

Yeah, that felt it was making me laugh so much for Yes, because I hear so much.

I love to talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk to talk. But if a black feminists in your face telling

you what you need to do, and what you have to do, what I've learned from working in corporate

America, and nonprofits, even working for myself, is white people do not like to be told what to

do by a black person, especially a black film, they fucking hate it, they hate it. They hate it, and

usually will push up against it. At some point, it's and as a professor, I have dealt with that so

much of like, and I have to even embed it in my group norms. When I go to teach, it's like,

you're gonna relate to me, like, what I don't know what I'm talking about, like, you don't trust

what I'm talking about, but also that you know, more than me, and that you know, better, right,

and you don't, that's why you're in my class. You know, what I mean? Like, this is, obviously

we're gonna create a space that's oppressive, and everybody gets to contribute to this

conversation. And what you bring to the conversation is most of the time valuable, but that

doesn't mean that you get to shit on what I'm saying, right? And constantly come up against

what I'm saying. And I find that across the board, black films that that is how we are discarded.

It's just another way that were discarded. And quite frankly, it's psychological warfare, you

know, like, and we and you know, you don't know it was I mean, again, the consistencies of

what happens within systems that show up interpersonally black films are not believed when

they go to the hospital when they're pregnant. If they are black femme, right, black people in

general just want to be inclusive all genders, but black femmes in particular are not believed. If

they have, you know pushed a whole baby out? Or if they're in pain? So if that's happening in

that space, why do people think it's not going to happen over here? Trust black films is bullshit.

Why are black people still dying in medical systems? If you trust black films, right,

even in other spaces? Why? Why? I mean, I can assume like, I don't know, the most about

breast cancer, right? But I find a few spaces, right. But I feel like that's also the same thing

where like, black femmes are going in and saying, hey, something's not right. I'm concerned

about this. And people are like, maybe they set it up or whatever. And then by the time it's

found out, it's at a level that is going to be harder to treat,

it's across the board, any chronic illness and disability, you could go to the doctor for a cold,

and they'll disregard it. Right. Even with COVID. Like, I find that the large number of COVID

diagnoses and the folks the fatalities of COVID had a lot to do with doctors not believing people,

right, and what they were dealing with and ignoring it for a very long time. Because it COVID

was already an issue before I hit the news, right? That was already a thing. So I just feel like it

had a lot to do with medical systems not really believe in folks, and they just getting worse,

is rampid. Because they were thinking about the educational system. You know, obviously, that

is your space that you're in. Yeah, like one of the things that like, you know, people like to

throw around, it's like black women are the most educated group and blah, blah, blah. And I'm

like, Okay, I know a lot of people, black femme, specifically who have been in educational

space. And, you know, they get their degrees there. Their perception, again, is the pedestal like

their professor, they're this, they're that. But like, when you actually talk to them, the trauma

that they've had to go through to get to that spot usually creates that same type of

conversation of, we don't really trust black friends, we don't really trust them to know, hey, this

environment is not safe. We don't trust them to know these things. And so like we're just

constantly as, as black friends in particular, like pushing and moving through these systems

and like aiming to do the things because we want to do things. Yeah, we have a movement, we

have a mission, we have this consistently, just like dramatic use of the space, but that it's like

so it's so interesting to me, because moving through that trauma, whether it's like, you know,

ourselves as business owners, you being a professor, like all these spaces, it's like, when

people see our social media or whatever the case is, all they see is liberation. Not they're just

like, Erica is the most like liberated whatever person and I'm like, But what the Erica has to do,

to get there. Right, what Erica has to move through to get to these spaces? And also, what does

Erica still dealing with? Okay, they maintain this level of freedom that they do have,

okay, great question, everything, everything, and it doesn't end, it doesn't end it doesn't end.

And it's like,

you get to that point of like, you know, like, like I said, like we're saying from the beginning, like

waking up and feeling good about my life, I can recognize the privileges that I have, and the

things that I have grown into, and the opportunities are in front of me. But I just often and

maybe it's like, I think I speak to it. But I don't think people because of that pedestal action or

whatever that people have going on that they just don't they don't see it. They don't

understand it. Maybe they don't want to see it. Like I'm not I'm not really sure. But

you're not human to them. That's the thing that has to be unfortunately understood. It's like

you are not human to them. The same Evany tells me all the time, like just because you talk

about racial and social justice, and you have a you know, expert understanding of those things

and teach it all the time does not mean it's not happening to you in the space that you're

teaching it before you get there. On your way there. What, in every way, right? It's still

happening, right? It's still showing up because it's still present. So there's no way to escape

people relating to us, like we don't matter. And that is what that's the depths of it,

unfortunately. And that's the work that non black and white folks and black people have to do

because black people also can be anti black, you know, to really undo that thinking and

sometimes it's not present, right? Sometimes they don't know, because they've just been living

in it. But that's not an excuse. Right? It's important to just understand that you've been

conditioned to believe that black people don't matter gonna show up for you. Like it's gonna

show up on a regular basis, just like the trauma of navigating a white supremacist world shows

up for me on a regular basis. Right, it shows up for you. Right and how are you going to deal

with that?

So have you and I feel like I probably possibly know your answer to this. Yeah, possibly. But I'm

gonna exit anyway because I know I always have something to learn. So in those spaces, right

because I think speaks speaking specifically to spaces that we inhabit heavily which is like

social justice spaces activism. spaces, like, you know, people that are in the, in the vibe of that,

how do we name or how have you in the past, if you will, or presently, how you name like, even

in those spaces when anti blackness is happening.

The only way to name it is to name is to call it out. My, there's no other way to do that, like, a

lot of times people are like, well, I need evidence, and I need backing up. And there's a really

good tweet that's like, if there was a lot of spreadsheets and a lot of data that really broke

down, you know, the impacts of slavery and how much it was happening would not have ended

slavery. Right? Like you don't need all of this evidence, right. And oftentimes, the piling up of

evidence, it's just more labor on the the most harmed, right? So you just have to call it out, like,

it just has to be named as whatever is anti Black is anti black. And that's it. Like and now what

are we going to do about it? What are the consequences in that particular institution and that

particular friend group and that particular relationship, whatever it might be that now need to

be addressed? How do you address it? What does that look like the conversations that need to

be had? Right? Are there any consequences? I don't know. But it has to be, you know, it just

has to be addressed. And so often, it's not, right, it's overlooked, it's questioned. It's a it's

essentially debated into non existence. Right. But most of the time, when a black person is

saying something as anti black, it's anti black. And it's unfortunate that a black person has to

name that, right. Like, that's just even more labor. It's just more labor just tired, tired of

tired, right? Like, it shows up in so many spaces. And I think sometimes that's also the maybe

the non human part of what people think they're like, you're talking about this, you live this,

you talked about whatever, yeah, I'm gonna disconnect that from your actual lived experience.

Yeah. And it's like, No, I'm talking about it, because I'm going through write,

and I can, I can see it when it's happening, but also relate to us like that's not trauma, when it's

happening directly to us. And however you your trauma response to something, it's gonna

show up that way to say your trauma response, maybe to not talk about it, maybe to keep to

yourself maybe to protect yourself, maybe to forget it happened, whatever your brain, I have

learned, the brain is very, very powerful, more than just sending all the hormone signals and

telling us to eat until in asleep, like, it's also protecting us too.

I can definitely vibe with that, especially as a person who was like, one of my, my friends, or a

lot of my friends and people just like that, or MRCs one of the things that I think I struggle I

lot of my friends and people just like that, or MRCs one of the things that I think I struggle I

struggle with is being too humble. And, you know, I think like, there's many reasons for that,

right? Like, I think it's like historical. Yeah. generational trauma type shit. Yeah. I think also,

like, you know, being around black friends who were like, from the south. Yeah. And like, you

know, growing up in those ways. Yeah. And I think like, it's something that I'm moving through

really as like a practice on my liberation, where I'm like, Hey, actually, I'm good at this, or, Hey,

actually, I did this, or hey, actually, this is what my contribution did to this or whatever it is, or,

like, I'm a bad bitch, whatever it is, but I feel like it's something that like, has become a part of

my like, daily liberation practice. And it's hard, sometimes hard, because I think also, as a black

femme, I've also just been like, inherently taught to care for everyone around me. Right? And

so with that, that like humility, brings in this like passiveness, you have that people accept as,

okay, her generosity is a standard. And it's like, no, actually, no. So now I'm like, going through

this phase of like, how do I move through, being really aware of like, what I bring into spaces,

and like, who I am and the greatness that's with me, and also hold space for the community,

but also hold space for my own feelings, because that's part of my liberation, but it's just

something that I struggle with. So I don't know how you feel about that. But like, it's just

something that I'm working on.

Sure what you're talking about is the magnification of us. How people treat us like mammies

inch and expect to be held emotionally, socially. Sometimes financially, people will just

essentially like dump on us and be like, Oh my God, you're so generous, and you're always

show up for me and you always are there for me. And yeah, because I'm fucking conditioned to

it's not, not that some it's not necessarily my choice. And that was a big part of me coming into

identifying as non binary is because this assumption that I'm going to just do that I need it for

myself a new marker of a reminder that I don't have and I don't have to show up for people in

those ways. And I get to Be selfish and focus on myself and not hold emotional space. And, you

know, it's hard. It's really, really hard when my friends text me about all the things they have

going on, I'm like, I'm there. Like, I'm showing up, like, I'm, I'm ready to text right back. But

sometimes I have to really practice to leave things on read to get back to it later to, you know,

take some time for myself. Like, it's hard. It's really, really hard. Um,

it sounds like it's like a like the program. It's like, We're fucking up what's like,

like, it feels different. Like, it feels like a state change, to not be there, like and to not show up

for people. That's hard.

Yeah. And then I guess it's also hard when, at least for me, when I some people can accept

that, right? Like, oh, go sit yourself, go do ya gotta do whatever. But also, some people are like,

Nah, like, you owe this to me. And I'm like, Why do you think I have the capacity for that to

begin with? Like, why? I'm trying to take care of myself. I'm trying to take care of these two

children in mind. You know, like, I'm here for my family, and the ways that I feel like I have to

be present for them or want to be present. Yeah. And just like, it's a lot going on in the world.

Why don't I owe anyone anything? Yeah. You know, so it's been like a pattern of like, Michelle,

my mentors, like, everyone deserves to get themselves to the more free place, right, including

you. And like, you don't have to hold space for everyone else all the time. Yeah, you don't have

to be the place where people lay, I want this, I want that where, you know, this stuff. Like, you

don't have to be that space. And it's been very different. Yeah, to really practice that

intentionally. Yeah, it's uncomfortable right

there with you right there with you. Because we've been doing it for so long. And we watch our

our moms and our grandmas and aunties do it as well, you know, to, I mean, the amount of

hours that my mom would spend on the phone was like, it wasn't a text message them, like it

was just talking on the phone, right? It was just be it had that we I had to get a second line?

Well, one because I want to one, but always be on the phone, just like this Ha, you know,

holding the phone up with her, essentially, with our shoulder. And you know, my mom would

complain, and she would say, I had chemotherapy today, I just supported, you know, my friend

was something and they didn't even ask me how chemo was, or how I'm doing. And it's that it's

that I think about that, like, I think about the fact that I'm 13. And she's telling me that, you

know, and she's frustrated by that, you know, and there's that, you know, I'm I'm just gonna

take and take and take and take from you until you are depleted. And I don't actually care

because you aren't supposed to have anything anyway. You're just supposed to be of service to

me, so much the levels of work and the levels of damage that white supremacy has done. That

is why it is the lifetime of undoing nobody going into any course even my workshops, people

I'm like, do not leave here and be like, oh, yeah, anti racist, because I did a workshop where

absolutely not like you have so much work to do move period when you walked in here. And

when you leave here, it doesn't end.

It doesn't and it doesn't for anybody. No, it doesn't. Like you said like anti blackness is also

pregnant president and yes. Yeah. Like it's also present in every level of what we do. Like, why

is it? Yeah, it's present in everybody and whatever levels that it presents itself, like, it's

constantly undoing an awareness thing that we have to be doing. Yeah. So I have I have a

question for you specifically, when it comes to this, this work, and it's like work that was in it,

people have to constantly be doing by what, and I mean, obviously gonna look like different

things. But like when you think about people consciously doing the work to really trust black

people, or to get us, you know, to not see us as people of service. Right, whatever those things

are, what do you think that work actually includes?

I think it looks like thinking about the ways one, I think it looks like looking at how the

institution of slavery operated, and how those themes are still very present in our society. How

they show up this idea that, you know, wet nurses existed, you know, and if you've been, I

don't know if this is happening in other major cities, but if you go to wealthy neighborhoods in

Brooklyn, or the Upper East Side of Manhattan, you see black women pushing white baby, I

mean, we haven't moved away from that too. Too much, right? There's plenty of white nannies

right? But for some reason, what we see in large numbers are black immigrants, mostly who

are essentially getting below whatever they should be paying ate from these white parents.

And they are the person that's there for them all the time. But playgrounds in the middle of the

day are full of black films, even in neighborhoods where black films do not live, right, for the

most part. So looking at how those themes from slavery or carried forward, how the social

themes of that, how they haven't gone away how they're written infrastructures, and really

studying that, and showing how, and looking at how it shows up for you personally, and not

thinking that it doesn't, I think that's the work is like, do not think for one second, just because

me myself, I'll use myself as an example, because I have a disability that I'm not able to, I still

have my own shit to work through in terms of ableism, my own, calling myself out my own

looking at, you know, a my partner and I are about to buy a house, essentially. And we're

considering like, is this home accessible? Like for if something were to happen with us both are

relatively able bodied in? If we for something where it happened? How would we get into this

home? Right? How would we access this but also for our friends that are not able bodied? How

will they visit? Right? How long they access this space, like thinking about that, right? Things

that institutions do not even consider, right? constantly pushing yourself to think about it even

when you don't, I think is the work I do. And in real time being called out to like being called out

for getting it wrong. And I think that's the thing is, so many people want to move away from

getting it wrong. And when they get it right, and they're so freaked out by having it wrong. And

it's like, you're gonna get it wrong, like you're gonna harm somebody, like we live in a very

harmful society, right? Like, if you are in a position of power, you're going to harm somebody,

right? You have a privilege and a particular area, you likely are going to cause harm in some

way, shape, or form throughout your lifespan, right? Like it's gonna be something. So it's

important to just acknowledge where you fucked up and how you are going to move on from it

the work that you're going to be doing. But you also don't have to wait until you forget to

actually look at how our structures are and do work from there. Like just don't be Don't, don't,

don't don't be, I want to say don't be a fool, but I don't know if this I think that's just a V I don't

think this ablest a lot of people like, Oh, we're in a different age, and everybody's coming out

as trans and non binary. And this is a different world now. No, it isn't. It's the same. People

have been trans and non binary. No, they've been trans and non binary forever. And also, you

can't even exist as a trans or non binary person without fucking being harmed for the most

part. So it's not a different world. Visibility does not equal liberation, right. So that that visibility

doesn't equal liberation. No. Yeah, I that would definitely bring a point when we're talking about

black liberation. And I think the perception that because there are more black people visible,

and because there are specifically more black feminists visible that like liberation is just

happening everywhere. Like, it's just like, oh, everything's happening. Yeah. And it's and it's not

true. It's not true. And I, you know, my, like, my hope for folks is like, you know, as a, you know,

maneuver through my work and my presence and whatever I got going on, is that they see,

they see me like as as a human, and I think, like a bit of that humility, when I think about it has

been my attempt at wanting to be humanized. Right. So like, instead of being like, Oh, I'm

really great at this. I'm like, Hey, I make mistakes, too. Yeah. Or I'm sorry. I'm like, Hey, I'm not

perfectly when people are trying to give you my kudos. Right. Yeah, I'm like, hey, well, that's, I

love that. But also, like, I'm learning to write and like, definitely what I'm taking from this

conversation is, or at least some of what I'm saying, from my personal self. It's like, there is

there's humility, and I think that has to be worked when it's when it needs to be worth but

there's also humility, at the fault of myself, right? And I think a lot of specifically black friends

are in that process of kind of creating this humility to be seen as human right. But as they do

that, getting further away from their liberation, so finding the space between that so yeah, I

know, I knew I was like, when I talk to you,

yeah, you are you already know, you already know.

And my question to you is like, how do I or we, whoever's listening to this, how do we best

support your liberation? And you? You know, I'm a doula always. Actually, every time we're in

this together, I'm always like, so what do we need to do for you? I think just working

like people just ridding themselves of their inherited thoughts that they've carried from white

supremacy, but also just be great to people and treat them how they want to be treated, not

how you think they need to be treated and special attention special care for the most

marginalized is what feels what helped me right because that's to me, I'm like kidnapping

trickle down to the care of people. will be trickled down. Can that be something that if you

someone else feels that someone else is spreading it? Like, I don't know, I mean that

for real, I recently was having a conversation, one of my friends is a week. And like, I'm like,

first of all, they do a lot of like, work around like transformative justice. And every person

actually should probably do a podcast with them. So we're talking or whatever. And I know that

this is like, work that they do. Right? So I'm like, from the very beginning of the conversation, I

was like, listen, I will pay you for this, right? Like black friends do shit like that, too. We like this

your job? I can. Okay, let's agree upon that before I started just spewing shit at you. Right? So

anyway, so I was talking to them. And we, you know, what, through the conversation or

whatever, it was good conversation, you know, they're giving feedback, we're going back and

forth, that of that, whatever, yeah. And then at the end of the conversation, they were like,

listen to Xavier, like, I don't want to take your money. Like, I know that you're offering it, you're

willing to pay, you're ready to send this, you know, money over, but I don't want your money if

you would like and the reason for that is because I feel like right now you need to receive care.

And if receiving care is this conversation, if I can contribute to your care, and that way, I just

want to contribute in that way. Because I hear what you're saying. And I see how you're feeling.

And I feel like the best thing I could do for you outside of listening is just giving you some care.

And I was like, and it also brought back to what you said about like your mom, right being on

the phone, and how like how we communicate through and how that feels like care so heavily I

think for black people in general, right? Like for black people specifically. And I just remember

just like receiving that care and being like yo, this this is supporting me it's supporting the work

that I do is supporting my liberation and also something that I didn't even really know that I

needed at the time right and it's like that's what I would like to see people do especially for

black femme specifically. And black liberation is like just giving care and and not being

something that is so opportunistic or so. So, so fleeting, or so momentary. Like I'm gonna get

you share until this Yeah, well I put you in this place so then I'm gonna stop it here. That's just I

guess what I what the work is

100% 100% Well, on that

note, I feel like we have some things I could talk to you forever you really know what it is. You

may know what it is and you know when you come down here I told you told me when Yes.

A nice hug embrace black people is the best medicine

like it's just like yes, let's just embrace it. Let me tell you how beautiful you are. Yeah great you

look and while your hair is amazing. Last but not least you have some people reach you how

can they learn more about your work?

People can find me and Instagram at I heart Erica that's AI h a r t e r i c k and that is also on

Twitter. And yeah, you can email me too I guess it but usually DMS were fine. I used to answer


of them. So great. Kind of like the DM game. I had to

know it's a good idea to take off. I think taking breaks from it is good.

I love you so much. I love your time and your wisdom and you are like you

The Birth Neoterist Newsletter
The Birth Neoterist Newsletter Audio Files
A collection of interviews on Designing and Creating the Future of Birth.
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Ericka Hart
Sabia Wade, The Black Doula