Black Friday at
The Women of the
Black Panther Party
The Healing Powers Of the Women of the Black Panther Party
By Lady Namastizzle
Yoga when brought up to black people, our rich history of Yogic roots in Kemet, the lost lands of modern day Egypt (which literally means "Black Land"). Where the temple walls are adored with our greatest ancestors in a variety of yoga poses. Is not what typically comes to mind, let alone the Women of the Black Panther Party. In all reality it absolutely should because this is our culture in yoga!
A new Breed of Black Yoga instructors are coming up to claim our healing space. It has become part of our job not only to adjust the cultural vibes & culture appropriation in yoga but also to share the stories of greatness of those before us, the ones who actually look like us! A change is coming, more black and brown faces in yoga with the skills to facilitate their own community healing & with the knowledge to run the yogi ancestors list down.
Dr. Angela Davis, a yogi & former Black Panther, credits yoga as not only an act of resistance but as a healing tool for stress headaches while in solitary confinement for a crime she did not commit. The Panther Party doctor, a man by the name of Burt Smalls suggested yoga after medications failed. Headstand became a favorite as it is good for calming the mind & relieving headaches. As we often read of her as a famous black yogi, she was not the only one. In a chat series with Angela Davis & Ericka Huggin, Davis believes Huggins practice may have given Smalls the information to relay yoga to her for her healing.
Professor Ericka Huggins, another yogi & former Black Panther member. Who's foundation to Oakland's education system is well known. Her introduction to Meditation & Yoga too came from solitary confinement. Self taught as a way to stay sane and to be able to be present in the 1 hour a week she had with her daughter while a political prisoner. To stay strong in the mind while dealing with the pain of losing the martyr John Huggins, her husband she buried just before her incarceration, for a crime she too did not commit. Everything to break a woman's soul! For these "comrades" who had never practiced yoga before it became a radical act of self preservation.
As a certain discipline was required to be a Panther & Meditations foundation is that of self discipline. It's only logical that they would go together as a way to calm the mind and think clearly in the terrorizing trauma's of carrying the weight of being Black. The sad part is the Black Community is still battling the same oppressive ass brutalities, in the radical injustice system as the Panthers 50 years ago! As quiet as it's kept, the Movement is deeply rooted in Self Care as an act of Self Preservation. The term self care was coined in the 50's but the Black Panther Party made it popular! Dr. Davis & Professor Huggins following their release began a movement of proper nutrition & healthy movement in the Black communities. Creating wellness programs from across the US, 65 to be exact!
The Holistic needs of the black communities are deeply rooted in our women. They have always been, even back into slavery but it came to a point where the tactic as an everyday revolutionary was to survive! To be the foundation of a healthy black body in the world. Self Care for Self Preservation, itself a radical act. In yoga this word Path comes up many times, we each walk our own path to yoga but it is also in our DNA. We are a part of yoga from the beginning to radical acts of self preservation as a society. It is a power to use our soul & our bodies for the same political fight, a revolutionary on every level for our political survival.