Eating Disorder Recovery In The Black Community: An interview with Alishia McCullough

Alishia McCullough (she, her) is a millennial Licensed Clinical Mental Health Therapist and National Certified Counselor currently residing in North Carolina. She is also an independently published author of the book Blossoming. Alishia is passionate about anti-racism, racial healing, and decolonization within eating disorders. She is motivated to increase access and create spaces for black, indigenous, queer, people of colour to come together and heal in ways that inspire holistic wellness and culturally inclusive informed healing. Outside of her clinical work, she is a Co-Founder of the AmplifyMelanatedVoices Movement and the Founder of The Holistic Black Healing Collective. Her work has been featured by Target, Bustle, Popsugar, and Forbes. To learn more about her work, feel free to connect with her on Instagram at blackandembodied or on her website blackandembodied.com.


In this interview we spoke about our experiences in supporting the black community with eating disorder recovery, how the current framework for eating disorder recovery doesn’t address the intersectionality of racial trauma, oppression and social injustices that black people face and the origins of fatphobia.


We also spoke about the importance of rest whilst doing social justice work and Alishia shared some of her favourite books, resources and tips.


It was a really heartwarming conversation and I came away with lots of deep thoughts, research ideas and motivation for the important work that we do.


I hope you enjoy it.





Transcript


Kaysha:

Hi everyone. So super excited today to be joined by Alishia. Alishia is a licensed mental health therapist based in Maryland. Alishia has been really helpful for me and a massive inspiration in the work that I've been doing around anti-oppression, social justice and anti-racism particularly those that have intersections with eating disorder recovery. So I'm really excited to have Alishia on the show today.


Kaysha:

I'm also a member of Alishia's online community The Holistic Black Healing Collective, which again has just been so helpful for me this past year to have that sounding board. A place where I can just run and just talk about whatever's coming up for me and it's a real safe space. So we'll talk more about that a little bit later on but just to say that I'm just so thankful for what Alishia's been doing in this space. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome.

Alishia:

Thank you so much for having me and as I've told you before, I just really appreciate being in community with you and just learning from you as well. And so I just appreciate you giving me this opportunity to come on and talk today.


Kaysha:

Excellent. So why don't you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about the work that you do and also your journey as to how you got to where you are today.

Alishia:

Yes. As Kaysha said, my name is Alishia McCullough. I use she/her pronouns and I'm a licensed mental health therapist. I'm also a nationally certified counselor. And outside of that work, I'm also a published author. And so I have published a book of poetry just from experiences I was having. It's about a journey of self-love. And so I do have that out there outside of more the clinical or professional work. I also am the founder of Black and Embodied Counseling and Consulting, which is an online business where I do anti-racism work, talk about racial healing, body image and body justice and liberation. And I'm also the founder of The Holistic Black Healing Collective that Kaysha was talking about earlier that she's a member of, which is a community for BIPOC individuals to come together and really have a safe space to just be in community and talk about just a variety of different things.

Alishia:

And then I'm also the co-founder of Amplify Melanated Voices, which is an online global movement that occurred last summer to raise awareness around the oppression that people that experienced marginalization do face, especially those who are melanated black indigenous and people of colour. So those are just a few of the things that I'm doing.

Alishia:

How I got to this place was that I went to school for psychology. And when I graduated, I immediately started my master's program and got my master's degree in clinical counseling. And so in that experience, I was able to work at an internship site that really gave me a lot of experience with a variety of mental health concerns. But what really connected for me was the eating disorders work. And so I had an opportunity to lead a clinical support group for eating disorders, worked individually with clients with eating disorders and disordered eating. And from that experience, it really opened me up in one, made me check in with myself and realized that I was dealing with disordered eating and that it was also showing up in my family and in my friendships. And I didn't realize how prevalent it was.


Alishia:

And so that really brought things home for me. And I'm like, "Well, if I'm experiencing this and other people that I know are experienced this, then why are we not getting the support and help that we need for it?" Because at the time I was seeing a lot of white clients and white people in groups. I wasn't seeing any people of color in those same settings. And so it really got me invested in really advocating and seeing what does this look like for our communities? What does this look like for me and the people that I'm around?

Alishia:

And so that's what really led me to this journey. It caused me to open up an Instagram page to talk more about it and connect with other folks that are also doing that work. And then really was the thing that propelled the Amplify Melanated movement which went global. And that's how I was able to branch out and meet more people and have more opportunities to really get out there and learn more about it and also get my voice out there as well. And speaking about my own experience.


Kaysha:

It's amazing. And I think that is how I came across you as well. That viral global project you talked about. The Amplified Melanated Voices. I think that's how I came across you. I can't say for sure if I wasn't following you before that. I like to think I was but I can't prove that. But I know for sure it has been over this past share just to see that growth and to see people really getting behind that. I listened to your podcast. I forget the name of the podcast that you spoke about the year on anniversary.


Alishia:

Oh, the My Black Body Podcast?


Kaysha:

My Black Body Podcast, which I love that podcast. That podcast, I think I said to one of the comments, one of your posts had a lot of, oh my gosh moment. So my nervous system was just like, you need to pause and just let that sink in because you were just dropping some bombs on that podcast. And I was just like, "Yes. Oh my gosh, yes. Oh my gosh, yes." Some of these things we'll touch on today. But it's just interesting to see how many people were behind that hashtag at the beginning and how performative that was in some ways and where we are one year on those who are still standing and still behind it and those who have disappeared-


Alishia:

Exactly.


Kaysha:

...and stepped back and talking differently now. I mean, and that's what really got me thinking about eating disorders in the black community as well because I noticed the same thing. I at that point was working in an intensive outpatient unit and I was not seeing any black clients, not even as far as I aware, not even coming in for assessments in the three and a half years I was there, leave alone, sitting in front of me, having conversations about their eating disorders. I know from my own, not my own lived experience but I've had members of my family suffer from disorders, friends. So I know they exist in our community. And I was really shocked when I then went on to the very limited data on eating disorders in the black community to see that it is, we are as likely to suffer from an eating disorder. And I think there was even some research that said in some instances more so.


Kaysha:

And I don't know how much that research even looked at the intersectionality between the eating disorders and oppression and racism, racial trauma and social injustices as well. With that limited research it often then just means for those of us who are working with black folks in need of a recovery, we are working off of frameworks that are designed for white people. Very, very different. There is a difference and that doesn't get picked up in the way that we've been taught to treat eating disorders. And I just wondered, what's your experience been of working in this field with black people?


Alishia:

And so I think what really was monumental for me was, I was working at a center and I was leading a couple of groups and again, most of the groups comprised of white women, cisgender women. In those groups it'd be me and one other black person that was going through an eating disorder or dealing with disordered eating and I was the facilitator and they were the group member. So that even caused a little bit more isolation.


Alishia:

And so I just noticed that in those groups, most of the black members would be more reserved or quieter. And wouldn't maybe feel as if they were a part of the group as much as other white members were. And so I was really intentional about creating connections with that person and trying to align with them so that they would know, hey, there's someone here that gets it, there's someone here that can relate. But I will say even in those groups when I would bring up social issues, the white members, it kind of felt like they didn't recognize it, they didn't want to hear it.


Alishia:

And so there was just one time where I was really intentional about creating a group for black women. And so I had a group of black women, there were about five and that year is when I led that group, I had to support them all in getting a higher level of care, whether that was inpatient hospitalization or going to residential treatment facility. That was that semester. And what really connected for me was that when when black folks struggle with eating disorders and disordered eating, there's just so many more layers that I think these systems don't really have the capacity, the tools or the education to really deal with.


Alishia:

And so, these were people that were dealing with family and financial issues but were still being forced to show up and have to do their day-to-day things without getting resources around that issue. These were folks that might have had multiple marginalized identities, whether it was, they might've been a black woman, but they might've been a black woman who had a disability or a black woman who also identified as queer. And so there were so many other layers that were not being touched when we were in that group setting because of the system that we were specifically in.


Alishia:

And so that really made me start thinking a little bit more about intersectionality and then how that all shows up in eating disorder treatment. And so I recently went to a training. It was called Eating Disorders and PTSD. And it really connected to me because it talked about how trauma and PTSD actually caused greater symptoms of eating disorders than if you were not to have that. And it made me just think like, wow. When we talk about racial trauma and we talk about transphobia or anything related to disabilities. Those are all forms of oppression that are impacting the way people are showing up in their eating disorders and oftentimes in trauma. And so of course our communities have worser "Outcomes" of eating disorders, but oftentimes we don't really have the language because it's so normalized, right?


Alishia:

It's so normalized that our eating is disordered for a variety of reasons that we're just kind of like, "Oh, that's just how we eat." So I just think about all of that and that's what really connected to me when I worked with black folks in the racial trauma piece. And just the intersectionalities of all of those things coming up in the disorder as well.


Kaysha:

Yes. So important to think about that and I totally agree with the sensations that comes up from those who are struggling with PTSD, any type of trauma and how restriction or binge eating or purging can be a way that a person is trying to regulate the nervous system. And just how I see that a lot with my clients at work. I'm quite interested in polyvagal theory for that reason because it really, really speaks to the clients I work with. And it really, really helped me understand what the experience must be in their body because I definitely know what anxiety feels like, very different from PTSD. So I can understand how there was a real connection in understanding how a person is using eating behaviors, exercise behaviors to try and cope with those, can often be very uncomfortable sensations.


Alishia:

Absolutely. I'll add to that as well. And just say, for me, of course, I'm looking at the individual in the room, I'm also looking at their environment and family culture, all those things that are taking place in other intersectional identities but something in the past year that I've recently more thought about is the ancestral and intergenerational components that they're bringing in. And so even when you're talking about that, it really just made me think about how, for those of us, especially for black folks that have a history of enslavement or even colonization, maybe it's not enslavement, but just the colonization piece as well. We've become so disembodied through those experience. Like our ancestors had to be disembodied to survive some of those experiences and that was passed on from generation to generation to generation.


Alishia:

And so when we talk about eating disorders and not being in our bodies and using these eating disorder behaviours, as ways of coping that, historically, maybe all we really know just from that ancestral intergenerational lens.


Kaysha:

Ooh, I've never thought about that disconnect and how, I mean, that would have been a way for us just to survive, right? Our ancestors to survive. I hadn't thought about how that could get passed down in that way. That's really, really interesting. Thank you for that. That's going to be my next thing that I just go down in a rabbit hole and just research and researching. Really, really interesting. Thank you for that.


Kaysha:

And that brings us quite nicely onto the name of your practice and your Instagram page, which is Black and Embodied. Is that right?


Alishia:

Yes. Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Kaysha:

Yeah. How would you describe the way that embodiment and the role that it plays with an eating disorder recovery and racial trauma?


Alishia:

Yeah. When I specifically think about embodiment, for me, it means to return to self. And so when I think about being black and returning back to yourself, for me, it means unpacking and reclaiming what's ours. And so I don't find it as an arrival place or a destination. I see it more as an every day exercise in a way. I think sometimes when we look at eating disorder treatment, is very binary where you do these rigid things and you get to this destination. Whereas I think when we talk about liberation and taking ourselves out of that binary thinking and rigidity, I think that that really does look like everyday practices.


Alishia:

And so for me, returning to myself every day might be in the small things. It could be in wearing my hair natural, it could be in deciding to do yoga that day because I need to be in my body before I start the day. It could be just taking a long shower and being intentional about how I'm starting my day. And specifically with the unpacking piece, it looks like unpacking the ways that I've internalized anti-blackness or white supremacy or any other isms and obias that we're inundated within the society. It looks like me unpacking that and saying, "What were my indigenous ancestors doing prior to these things being put on us?"


Alishia:

So a part of it is the unpacking and the other part is the relearning. And so I've been really intentional about doing my own family history, I've taken a couple of DNA and genetic testing just to figure out where my people are from. And so I've studied some of the cultures and things like that and try to pick up pieces of what feels intuitive. I can tell a story. Two weeks ago I was making some plantains. I know some people are like, "They're called plantains." But I say plantains. So I was making these plantains. First time ever making them. And I just had this emotional response to eating them and cooking them. And it just felt so intuitive. And I'm like, "Huh." And I know that they come from... When we think about countries and things, I know where they come from and I'm like, "Wow. I wonder if that's an ancestral connection there with this food." And it was just such an emotional process for me. And so that is what the returning process for me looks like.


Kaysha:

I love that and everything you said I'm like, "Yep, I do that. I do that." But there are days when I'm just like, "This is going to be a long shower. This is going to be a long hot shower and I'm going to take all the time I need." And I totally hit on the food piece as well. On my mum's side, the family's from Jamaica, my dad's side were from Grenada, but there's something about if I'm ever unwell. So if I've got a cold or anything, that is the food I want. I want Caribbean food. It feels like that's the only thing that's going to nourish me in the way that I need to be nourished when I'm sick. And it's not something that I eat every week, but when I'm ill, 100% I'm just like, "Take away, I haven't got the time." Take away order in my Caribbean food. Take too long to cook. I don't have the time.


Kaysha:

But yeah, just love it. I always wonder about that because it wasn't actually food that I necessarily... I grew up eating but we were brought up here in London, UK. So I do wonder about by just that pull that just happens quite intuitively going back to the roots as it were.


Alishia:

Yes. Exactly. And I think you just saying that really made even think about how even sometimes I think we think about eating disorders, definitely their biopsychosocial-spiritual illnesses. And I feel like even from what we're talking about maybe there's a part of it too that really connected to, for our ancestors when they were disconnected from their food, their land, their roots, maybe that could be a part of why just eating is disordered for our communities because this is not our food, right? This is not ours where we are right now. And so maybe that's a piece of it as well.


Kaysha:

Oh, my mind is like... I'm just saying that I'm getting like, "Oh!" But also my mind is like, "I had never thought of that. That's such an interesting point." Literally rejecting that food from this land because it isn't our food.


Alishia:

Exactly.


Kaysha:

Okay. I guess, that is definitely going to be my next piece of research. I think that's so interesting. Do you follow the black nutritionist on Instagram?

Alishia McCullough:

I do. I love her. I love Dr. Kera.


Kaysha:

She just came out guns blazing as it were just like this. And I was just like, "Oh, she's saying all the things I wish I was brave enough to say."


Alishia:

Exactly. I support her 100%. I love every post.


Kaysha:

All the way. She's absolutely brilliant. But that really got me thinking about that whole colonization of land and how food is connected to that piece. So when I was stalking through your... You've done some brilliant projects by the way. I love the work that you do. I know I was all over your religious trauma workshop that you did as well. Again, I think there's something about, I have to say, there's something about here in the UK. It feels like we're always that li,I feel, so people may disagree but I do feel like we're a little bit behind when it comes to certain conversations around trauma. And I did not have religious trauma on my radar until I saw that you did the workshop on that with others as well. I wanted to thank you for that.


Kaysha:

But then the other thing I was looking through your links. I watched that, I thought that was brilliant. It was really helpful for a few of my clients as well. But as I was looking for your links I noticed that you have one course, which I am 100% going to be buying because I'm just like courses, courses, courses, knowledge, knowledge, knowledge and that was injected fatphobia in black communities. So without giving away all the gems of knowledge that I just know are in there, you've done really well and given it tear pricing as well. So I think that's brilliant as well. So if anything, people have to go and but the course.


Alishia:

Yes please do.


Kaysha:

Absolutely. Because lots of hard work and research goes into that and the effort and time. Well, tell us a little bit about that course without giving away all the gems. Tell us a little bit with what we'd expect to see in there.


Alishia:

Absolutely. And so essentially what I do is walk people through the origins of fatphobia, specifically within black communities. And so I start off the recording with a lot of information from Sabrina Strings book of Fearing the Black Body. And so I really lay out for folks where did fatphobia come from? And it really came from, in the 16th, 17th and 18th century when black bodies were being brought over in chains to be used and enslaved. Essentially, those folks labeled our bodies and deemed them as bad and villainized our bodies. And so with that created this whole idea, well there over sensatious, they eat all this food, they don't have a lot of control "Over their food consumption." And so this is what we're going to use to justify.


Alishia:

That's just one thing. Of course, there's intone but also their body size proves that they're subhuman, they're more animalistic like. And so that was some of the justifications for enslavement, especially because when there was a lot of, to be honest, I mean, there was a lot of sexual violence occurring when there was enslavement. And so because of that sexual violence, a lot of people were birthing more biracial or multiracial children who were looking a lot like the slave owners or the oppressors.


Alishia:

And so they were like, "Okay, this is really not working. And so how do we continue to oppress?" And that's where they created, the one-drop rule, where if you have one drop of black blood, especially from your mother, then you're considered a black person and forever enslaved and that's when there was the story of Sarah Barton who was a woman who they brought around the world on an exhibition show and basically had her body on a stand for people to look at and publicly mock or make comments about or sexualize. And because her body travelled all throughout Europe and other parts of the world and she was a black woman, people were like, "Well, that's what black people look like." And so they're fat, they're this, they're that. And they demonized the word fat and created this whole idea that again, this is what blackness is.


Alishia:

And so I get into that. And from there I move a little bit into what eating disorders are and how they correlate with that a little bit more. And then specifically how different things like healthism in our communities, which is essentially this obsession with health to the detriment almost of our own bodies but also this hyper judgment and fixation on other people's bodies and making sure they're "Healthy" as well. And so I get into all of that and then I talk a little bit about fitness culture as well because that's a piece of it. And then from there just lead people out with that information and what can be different when we talk about how to work with folks with eating disorders and the combat injected fatphobia. And so that's a little bit about what the training is about. It goes through a whole process there.


Kaysha:

Yeah, that's brilliant. I absolutely loved Sabrina String's book and I've been following her work as well but that book took me a while to get through that first part of it. And again, it's a really tough read in terms of once you give such a wealth of information but also just to think that that was how black bodies were being regarded and treated. And the beliefs they had about our skin and even why our skin was the colour it was. They talked about there being toxicity and all sorts of bizarre and quite frankly, disrespectful and very difficult to read really in that way to think that that's how we were regarded and how diet culture was born out of that.


Alishia:

Exactly.


Kaysha:

Out of the fear of becoming anything close to the bodies that we have and wanting to make that very distinct separation between "Them and us" which is really, really hard to swallow that book but fantastic work from Sabrina Strings there. And I'm glad that you got into fitness culture as well because that's a whole nother thing. I'm a pilates instructor as well as a nutritional therapist and I definitely see how that industry also perpetuates that sort of diet. Well, it backs up diet culture but also has this idea that there are "Right and wrong bodies."


Alishia:

Exactly. And I find that when I think about fitness culture. Again, not to get too much into it but I think that again, not all of it. I think there can be positivities to fitness. Again, like I said, I do yoga. For me, that's a way of reclaiming movement and it's gentle for me. And so I like that because it's that gentle movement exercise. I don't even know if I would name it an exercise. I think I'd just say a practice. I see it more as a mental and emotional practice for myself.


Alishia:

But I think when I look at some other exercise programs and things like that, there's this idea of push yourself to the absolute limit. And also this idea of, even if you're in pain, you just push past it and keep moving, which again is this whole idea of not listening to yourself. And so not only are you probably not embodied, but you're also intentionally ignoring those signals that are telling you to stop or telling you too much or telling you that you don't need that. And so that's something that I think also has to be examined too when we look at the intersectionality of diet culture and fitness as well.


Kaysha:

Absolutely. Yeah. That pain piece as well. It's almost as though that's part of it. It has to come with pain, which is just an interesting angle to take given that this is something that we need to look after our mental and physical health as opposed to harm and damage it. That brings us then on to body liberation. And I have to admit, I have a lot to learn in this area of understanding the origins of body positivity and how that differs from body liberation. So if you could help me on my learning journey and give me some pointers so I can carry on with my research.


Alishia:

Yeah, of course. And so even going back to the history, back to what we were saying about black bodies being beamed as demonized and villainized and all that. And white women specifically engaging in diet culture to distance themselves from blackness. When enslavement was over. I mean, not initially because I'm sure people were not thinking about all this stuff immediately. They're thinking about survival-



Alishia:

(Zoom cuts out for a moment)


Alishia:

...queer folks, trans folks, folks of all identities and expansiveness that were advocating for their bodies and their lives. As again, time went on and they were emerging into society and trying to survive in this new world, they were advocating for themselves and they were showing up in their bodies in the way they wanted to.


Alishia:

And so essentially what happened was, a lot of people... I'm thinking about writers that we know. Big name writers, such as like Zora Neale Hurston and Audrey Lorde. Again, those revolutionary thinkers again are just showing up in themselves. And so white women in particular, use what they saw black women being in their bodies and all that specifically for the women's rights movement as a way of advocating for themselves and their bodies. And so it's almost like they took it and they whitewashed it and that's where we get body positivity. And so body positivity is essentially the remnants of the white washing of a movement that was really started by black women and queer folks and trans folks and gender non-conforming and expansive folks and was just taken and then again, like most things, whitewashed and then turned into something different.


Alishia:

So essentially that's what body positivity is because it's saying, all you have to do is be positive about your body and you'll be good. When in fact, what liberation really talks about is, how am I free in the fullness of who I am? And so that's very, very different from, I'm forcing myself to be positive because you might not feel positive about yourself every day, right? But you can aim to create a sense of freeness in yourself every day. And so I think that's what's different and body liberation goes beyond just the idea of the individual and moves towards, how are we creating liberation for all bodies? Not just the ones that are societally acceptable, but also the ones that are being oppressed.


Alishia:

So I think it's even deeper than food relationship. I think it goes into, what does it look like on a systemic level for bodies that are oppressed in all different areas? And so that's what I think about when I think about body liberation versus body positivity.


Kaysha:

I love that. Yeah, absolutely. We're not going to feel positive about our bodies every day but that separation between positivity and freedom liberation, that doesn't stop us from it. It might not feel positive one day but that's not going to stop me from getting out and doing what it is that I need to do. Liberation, that's very different. And also that collective liberation of body as opposed to the individual body, which is just... That's really, really powerful. Thank you for that. That's absolutely brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.


Kaysha:

So this is something that I'm going to try and not be salty when I say this next part. Probably it's going to come out so salty anyway. Here in the UK, I think it's similar in the US as well, that dieticians are the only nutritional professionals who have a registered title.


Alishia:

Yes.


Kaysha:

So if you're a dietician, you've done specific training and that's what makes you a dietician. I'm a nutritional therapist, and this isn't a standardized training so people who are nutritional therapist could have done all different types of training. There's no gold standard. So I understand why that can be problematic.


Kaysha:

One of the biggest issues I have here is we have this, I don't know how real it is but I definitely get this pushback from dieticians that nutritional therapist should not be eating disorders and not really looking at the individual and even the training they've done. And also me knowing that the training that we have all done as in myself, the dieticians and nutritionists is mostly again, based on that whitewashed way of dealing with bodies. And a lot of eating disorder training is still quite fatphobic and it still has an air of weight or what could be dressed up to be called weight management, which is just still fatphobia. Let's call it what it is. And I have definitely fallen, and this is where your podcast on My Black Body?


Alishia:

Yes.


Kaysha:

Was, this is where I just kept on having to pause it because I am such a sucker for buying courses and getting certificates and to show, this is the work I've done, this is the studies I've done. Dah, dah, dah and not actually thinking about what it is I'm trying to do, which is just trying to jump through a whitewashed hoop to show that I am legitimate. That I'm legitimizing myself and also work with eating disorders when actually the work that we do isn't often the stuff that we are taught as things that we learn from each other and also what our clients teach us as well.


Kaysha:

How would you describe some of the issues that you've come up against in that same area when it comes to working with eating disorders?


Alishia:

I totally relate to everything you're saying. I think that what's really important and what I center in my work is lived experience, whether that's our lived experience of disordered eating or our lived experience of just being in a culture that's inundated with diet culture. And so it's all being impacted by that on some degree. I really base it in that because you're absolutely right. A lot of these programs that are meant to "Certify us" are really based in white supremacy and that's the lens they look at.


Alishia:

So I'll give it a quick example even for therapy. Mental health therapy, the origins of it, some of our founding "Fathers" of American psychology were proponents of slavery. They were proponents so saying that black people were inferior, they even did research to prove these things, right? And so these are the people that started our mental health background and your field in general. And so these are the people we're basing our expertise in.


Alishia:

And so when I think about ascribing to these titles and licenses and things, that's what comes up for me because those theorists were still using them in all of our theory and work. We're still using research of people that support them or have not done their anti-racism work and all that and are basing their research off of these bias perspectives. Their sample sizes might not even be black people and most times that not are not. And so that's what we're basing what makes someone credited or not. And so I don't really put my trust in that. And so when I think about these hierarchies, I feel like, when we think about it from that lens, it's really just classism. It's created to separate certain folks from being able to do the work.


Alishia:

And so when I think about classes and I think about people who can afford certifications and people who cannot. And so that's a barrier that keeps people from being able to do these different things. I think about racial-wise, if I'm trying to do a specific certification program, but every class I'm taking in is not catered to people in my community, then I'm going to have an issue with that and I'm probably not going to be able to go through that program with ease as much as somebody else would be able to. And so I think that's where we get into some of that whiteness and white supremacy in these systems.


Alishia:

And I'm sure there's just again, thinking about other identities like ableism and all other intersecting identities as well. I'm sure that they're remnants of that too because when we think about who's doing our research, it's mostly cisgender, white, men, educated, married. Those type of status that a lot of folks don't have. And so I totally relate to what you're saying. And I mean, these programs are really not substantial. When we think about what they're standing for. Like, "Oh, we're here to credit someone." But you're accrediting someone in a limited perspective that's not really reaching the full vastness of the population you're serving. So that's how I feel about it.


Kaysha:

Oh, exactly that. And it's the same in the nutrition world as well. A lot of the studies that were based in our evidence-based nutrition off of are not studied on people that look like you or I. So it's like, "Well, what am I learning?" And then now the other part is absolutely having the resources of time, money, the support to go and do these certifications or this extra education. We don't all have that. So it's just another way that we get separated from one another.


Kaysha:

So I am about... No. I was going to say year and a half but I'm pushing it. I'd say I'm around a year and three months into my anti-oppression work and a lot of this language is still stuff that I'm still getting to grips with, which is why I love having these kind of conversations. I'm like, "Right. That's the term for that. Right. That's the term for that." Because I'm still just learning just how to communicate in a way that really speaks to anti-oppression, anti-racism and body liberation as well. I'm still learning so much.