People of color have limited genealogical resources with which to find their ancestors, while people of European descent’s ancestors gave up their ethnic identities in order to become “white”. Both of these outcomes, which have cut most Americans off from their roots, are a direct result of racism and white supremacy. In this interview we discuss the history of colonialism in America and its effect on ancestral knowledge, and Darla shares tips and considerations for POC engaged in genealogical research and for white folks wishing to make meaningful cultural reparations.
In the Intro:
In the Interview:
- Genealogy is America’s favorite form of ancestral reverence (and the difference between genealogy and ancestry)
- The story of Darla’s maternal indigenous grandmother and white grandfather
- The construction of whiteness in early America
- White bias in DNA tests and considerations for people of color interested in taking a test
- The history of the One Drop rule for black folk and Blood Quantum for Native Americans
- Ideas for people with settler ancestry who wish to make cultural reparations
- Manifest Destiny & how oppressors need to make up myths for why they deserve to oppress people
- Genealogy research self care ideas for people of color
- Putting our personal family stories in a larger socio-historical context
- Project ideas for making something tangible out of your genealogical research
- Breaking down autosomal, mitochondrial, and Y chromosomal DNA and what those tests show
- The importance of forming a research question when engaging in genealogical research
Catch this episode of The Medicine Stories Podcast via your favorite podcast player or by following this link!
I’ve seen and overheard many conversations online in which someone suggests that healers, coaches and mystics should NOT be paid for our labor, as that is not how it traditionally has been done. This is absolutely true. This is not how it’s traditionally been done.
Traditionally, a healer or mystic (from here on out I’m just going to use the word “healer” to encompass all of these ideas) would have probably been identified as such at birth or in early childhood. They then would have been trained in their craft at the expense of all else— at the expense of a normal childhood, a normal life. It would also be clear that they served a particular role in a particular community. If you had a problem with X, you knew to go see this person. There may also be one or two other healers or mystics in the community with different specialties and representing different life stages.
In return, the community would ensure that the healer was safe from enemies, had enough wood for their fire, enough eggs in their basket and that someone repaired their roof before winter.
Healers served a vital role in the community and the community in turn served the vital needs of healer.
In such a community, your coach would have probably been an auntie that was a bit wiser, not afraid to call it like she sees it, and to whom you were bound to respect and care for by family and community ethics. She’d make sure you weren’t growing up to be a shit and you’d make sure her blankets were patched.
That’s how “traditional” communities worked, in all kinds of different cultures, throughout all different times.
If you did need to seek the help of an outsourced healer, you likely had to make an arduous pilgrimage, be prepared to hear “no” at least three times and persist nonetheless and also bring a gift that represented how much this help meant to you. This ensured that you were invested. Because if you’re not equally invested, the healer can’t do much for you. It just won’t work.
Then a new tradition was born in which these healers, mystics and wise aunties were murdered, raped, tortured and forced into silence at worse. Limited in choices and told they should be grateful they have a family and a roof over their head while they provide unlimited emotional support (healing) to the men in their family at best. That’s also how its “traditionally” been done.
Healers weren’t paid in traditional communities because no one used money in traditional communities.
AND: Healers need to get paid with money because we don’t live in traditional communities.
Most of us have self-identified as healers from a young age and have invested our own time, money and resources in our education. Myself, I estimate I’ve invested at least $120,000 in my education, and continue to do so, over the last 20 years. Not to mention the school of hard knocks that I was born into. I also have to invest in learning how to market, in learning how to write clear copy, in learning how to set up and run a business— this is my part of the bargain in showing up as a healer and honoring my inner call to do so. I wasn’t nurtured and cared for by a traditional community while I learned and honed my craft and I don’t have a traditional community to nurture and care for with my craft. I paid for education with money and I expect to be paid for the fruits of my education with money. This is an entirely different game than just living out my life waiting to see who comes to knock at my door, how I can help them, and the service or food they will bring in return.
Most of my clients can’t bring me a basket of eggs. They can’t come and clean the gutters of my roof or mop my floors for me. But they can PayPal me $150.
Accepting money for your services is a form of capitalism, yes. But it’s not the same as toxic capitalism.
Most healers are women. Women AND healers as a whole have been disenfranchised throughout time. We’ve been persecuted, silenced, murdered and beaten for our gifts, our proclivities and our callings. We’ve been denied resources as much as we’ve been denied life. We healers who are also women of color, nonbinary and/or trans, have paid this price in double, triple and quadruple. Paying your healers is a form of cultural and historical reparation.
You don’t have to walk 50 miles in the elements to come see me. You don’t have to bring me a sacred family heirloom in payment. You CAN’T bring me a basket of fresh eggs or send your daughter to live with me and be my helper for a month. You CAN click a button and send me some resources in the form of money and make an appointment. You can also click a button and slide into my DMs and ask for free advice (but you shouldn’t), that’s how easy it is to have access to healer though.
You also get to shop around. You get to pick a healer that you vibe with, not just the one the village has chosen. You get to decide how much you can and are able to pay and find someone who charges accordingly.
Do not tell me you don’t want to pay for my services because healers shouldn’t charge. Do not tell me I’m perpetuating capitalism unless you also tell your student loan provider, the grocery store clerk, the airline you flew to that exotic festival and your landlady the same thing. We live in a time and a world where money makes the world go round. To deny a healer access to this vital resource is toxic consumerism and exactly what toxic capitalism wants you to do/believe. Find yourself a healer or coach who can help you unpack your unconscious biases and internalized oppression and work out a payment plan. I do not owe you healing. I am not here on this earth to heal you. I have an interest and a skill at healing, yes, but I’m also incarnated and have bills, taxes, food and insurances to pay for like everyone else. To tell me I shouldn’t need or want money is to dehumanize me. It’s to re-inflict ancestral trauma and violence and ironically upholds the very system you claim to want to dismantle by not paying me.
If you are a client in search of a healer and you can’t afford one, find one who offers a sliding scale or generous payment plans. Find one who offers a ton of free content and names all of her sources so you can begin to piece together your own education on the topic. If you, the potential client, also have a skill that you think the potential healer could benefit from, offer a trade. If they say no, then find someone who will say yes. Or, find a healer that lives in your community and work out a traditional exchange (bring them eggs!). But get off the internet and stop slamming people who have to make money for their living. One, that’s the evil eye and there’s karma attached to it. And guess what else? If they can’t make money being a healer, they will have to go do something else that they can make money doing. Because we all need money. And frankly, I want my money to support fellow marginalized entrepreneurs who are picking up an ancestral calling, under relatively safe social conditions, for the first time in a couple thousand years. That’s fucking interesting, brave, magical, and a story I’m honored to be a part of by supporting it with my dollars.
Avoiding Toxic Capitalism In Your Healing Practice
If you are a healer, you can avoid toxic capitalism by having a sliding scale or pay-what-you-can option. I have this in place. It does require the extra step of the person emailing me to ask for information about the scale. This is them showing they’re invested without having to walk 50 miles in the elements or hear me say “no” three times– a good bargain if you ask me. I do not ask them to prove their financial need with a story or an explanation. It’s none of my business. I don’t want to be a judge and it would set me up with an inappropriate position of power over them as their potential healer. Plus, asking them to explain why they don’t have enough capital to pay my fee is, frankly, a form of toxic capitalist violence.
The idea that no one will pay you what you’re worth, that everyone will just try to get something for free, is a lie that toxic capitalism tells you and it’s misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic and racist/xenophobic as the majority of people seeking the services of healers are people who do NOT identify as cis-gendered white western men.
Conversely, the idea that you should charge what you’re worth is ALSO a lie that toxic capitalism tells you. You are invaluable. There is no price tag. But you also don’t need to earn your entire year’s salary off of ONE CLIENT. There’s another word for that: parasitic (also possibly: lazy).
The majority of my clients pay full price. The majority of sliding scale clients pay $50 less than my full price clients. Every single one of my super-low paying clients have several marginalized identities and it fills me up to work with them and vice versa. Part of the reason is can fill me up is because so many other clients are paying full or nearly-full price.
But hey, if you want me to perform my sessions and dispense my hard-earned wisdom as a free community service, I invite you to come live in my community—- I’m 10,000 feet above sea level in a cloud and rain forest, completely isolated socially, linguistically, culturally and physically because it’s part of my training as a healer. If you’re up for it, come join me. I have a fire burning in my house 365 days a year, you can chop firewood or scrub my toilets and I’ll give you free ancestral healing sessions. In between this exchange you’ll have to find the time to earn money for rent though.
Medicine Stories Podcast
Original Air Date: June 26, 2018
Calling in the grandmothers! The more dependent we are on the industrialized food system- and the more entranced we are by diet culture- the further removed we are from our ancestors. Food is a bridge between the land, our bodies, and those whose bodies we come from.
Darla Antoine is a mixed race Okanagan tribal member, ancestral activist and healer, mother and accidental homesteader in the high mountains of Costa Rica. Darla helps mixed-race and mixed-culture seekers become rooted into place and lineage by combining her master’s degree in food and culture, ancestral healing and her own experiences as a mixed race woman and expat.
In the Intro:
- My unexpected, super transformative, podcast hiatus: shingles and a family emergency
- Fat is love (and an absolutely necessary nutrient for the brain & every single cell in the body)
In the Interview:
- Ancestry that’s deeply embedded in the land
- The Grandmother Hypothesis
- How diet culture keeps us separated from our ancestors
- Disordered eating & how the fear of fat is pushing us away from what it means to be human
- To learn about your ancestor’s lives, look below the level of empire (& what that means)
- Reclaiming kitchen wisdom as an act of resistance against the dominant, patriarchal, industrial food system
- The medicine that people of mixed race are bringing to the world right now
- Dreams as guideposts
- A mythic matriarchal dreamscape
- Charting serendipity: When you’re in the right story, nothing doesn’t fit