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Session 210: Exploring African Traditional Religions

The Therapy for Black Girls Podcast is a weekly conversation with Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a licensed Psychologist in Atlanta, Georgia, about all things mental health, personal development, and all the small decisions we can make to become the best possible versions of ourselves.

Our relationships with religion and spirituality is a long and storied one. As of late, I’ve been seeing more references from sisters exploring African Traditional Religions as a means of reconnecting to parts of our history and wanted to learn more about it. To help us dig a little deeper into this area, today I’m joined by Dr. Dianne Stewart. Dr. Stewart and I chatted about some of the major tenets of African Traditional Religions, some of the common misconceptions, and she shares some of her favorite resources for anyone wanting to learn more.


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Session 210: Exploring African Traditional Religions

Dr. Joy: Hey, y'all! Thanks so much for joining me for Session 210 of the Therapy for Black Girls podcast. We'll get right into the episode after a word from our sponsors.


Dr. Joy: Black people’s relationships with religion and spirituality is a long and storied one. As of late, I've been seeing more references from sisters exploring African traditional religions as a means of reconnecting to parts of our history and wanting to learn a little bit more about it. To help us dig a little deeper into this area, today I'm joined by Dr. Dianne Stewart. Dr. Stewart is an associate professor of religion and African American studies at Emory University, where she created the course Black Love. She earned her MDiv from Harvard Divinity School and her PhD in Systematic Theology from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, and lives here in Atlanta.

Dr. Stewart and I chatted about some of the major tenets of African traditional religions, some of the common misconceptions, and she shared some of her favorite resources for anyone wanting to learn more. If there's something that resonates with you while listening to our conversation, please be sure to share it with us using the hashtag #TBGinSession. Here's our conversation.

Dr. Joy: Thank you so much for joining us today, Dr. Stewart.

Dr. Stewart: Thank you, it's my pleasure.

Dr. Joy: I would love for you to get us started just by telling us a little bit about your journey. How did you come to study this area of theology and how has it connected you to communities in your travels?

Dr. Stewart: Thank you for the question. I would say that my journey in some ways, it has many beginnings but the most important beginning was my experience in college. I was actually an English major and then I was double majoring with African American studies but it was so early at that time for African American studies at my institution that it was listed under social science. So I wasn't a religion major at all, but what happens at predominantly white campuses is black students will get drawn to wherever the black professors are.

And so Dr. Josiah Young was in the religion department, he was amazing, he worked with a giant dance troupe, and I had to take a class with him. And then I just took probably four or five classes with him by the time I finished and I couldn't stop. And so he taught us so many facets of black religious experience, Africana if I can use that as an umbrella for Africa and the diaspora–Africana religious experience. We learned not just about mainline Christianity but about the Nation of Islam, the Moorish Science Temple, conjuring, Hoodoo, black Hebraic traditions. Also African indigenous religions or what I call African heritage religions, black liberation theology, womanist theology, African theology, including African feminist theology.

And then everything began to click for me in his class in terms of understanding my own background and spiritual heritage. I'm originally from Jamaica, from the Caribbean, I grew up in the North East in Hartford, Connecticut, and I attended Catholic schools from the age of six to the age of 18. And I think even that background is another beginning for me because in so many ways I was compelled to think theologically.

Even at a vernacular level, as a child growing up, thinking about the religious education I was receiving in school. And then also going to a United Methodist Church which was predominantly Jamaican, other Caribbeans, some African Americans, and then having friends who belonged to the *[inaudible 0:05:48] church and my neighbors who were Baptist, and going to church with them. And having relatives who were also *[inaudible 0:05:56] or Pentecostal.

I grew up in a very diverse ecumenical, even Christian environment. But at the same time, there was that cultural heritage, these spiritual traditions and remedies and practices that people sometimes whispered about in my household (particularly the women in and around my family circles) that were always intriguing and interesting to me. Even when I would go to birthday parties of some of the people I went to school with. I was bused out, I was part of that time when people were desegregating school systems and I was part of a project that was about busing out very bright “inner city children,” black and brown kids, to white suburban schools. And so I went to this Catholic school and so when I would attend birthday parties of my friends who were Irish Catholics or Italian Catholics, I would see little food offerings in front of statues at their homes. I would see things that were not part of the orthodox tradition we were learning in school.

So I learned very early that there's the orthodox confessional faith, what we profess as Christians or what we say we believe in practice, but then there is the vernacular. The kind of vernacular spirituality, the broader range of practices and beliefs and customs that have deep spiritual roots that people engage in, whether or not they're willing to admit it or confess to it. So there are these professed believes and then there are these practical beliefs. And so all of that had me curious and I think when I got to college and started taking courses with Dr. Young, I began to find the conceptual framework for understanding my own African spiritual heritage. Things just clicked to me, made sense to me.

Dr. Joy: It sounds like, you know, it's always so interesting when we're able to kind of look back maybe in the college years on like our earlier childhood experiences and make sense of like, oh, that's what was happening in my friend's home. And it all connects.

Dr. Stewart: Indeed, indeed.

Dr. Joy: So I'm wondering if you can do a little breakdown for us of some of the different types of African and African diaspora religions.

Dr. Stewart: Yes. First, let me say that there are a number of folks, scholars as well, but even just your everyday people who take issue with the concept of religion. I often remind my students when I teach that religion is our scholarly folk term. People live their lives. They live their lives in their cultures, orienting themselves to the traditions that they have been bequeathed and so religion really is a scholarly term that we use to organize ideas about the spiritual domain. And whether that is institutional or un-institutional, we need that term as scholars of religion. And we've become so accustomed to it in the Western world that we think it's just natural when it emerged out of communities. It really is this kind of scholarly term.

And a lot of practitioners of African heritage religions don't like to be told that they practice a religion. They like to think of it as we are living a way of life. We are orienting ourselves in a way of life. And it's really true that what you have in a lot of African societies are ways of life, cultures that are deeply grounded and ideas that value and promote the interaction with the invisible world domain. There is a visible world domain and there is an invisible world domain.

And I often say to my students that the concept of family is one of the most important lenses, it's one of the most important portals to understanding African heritage religions or religious cultures. That family doesn't end when people die, that the visible world is a very vibrant and active world and the invisible powers, those on the other side, have access to knowledge and power that we need. And ritual–religious ritual, sacred ritual–is the way to get in touch with the invisible world powers.

And so I think it's really important to begin in that way and those invisible powers show up in people's lives in all kinds of ways. And so people interact with these deities or powers and they're often associated with aspects of nature–with water (rivers, oceans, ponds), with mineral life, with plant life, with animal life, with human life. They're associated with volcanoes and all different aspects of nature, parts of the human body, certain colors, and they're just quite vibrant and multifarious and diverse kinds of entities. Every aspect of African life involves encounter with and exchange with the invisible domain and with invisible powers.

And I often say to my students (especially for the diaspora) because of censorship, because of the kind of policing and punishing of African heritage religions, we don't have extensive records about those religious traditions. I often say that it's important to not just look for where do I see deities showing up? Or where do I see similar kinds of phenomena that we would associate with monotheistic traditions such as Christianity or Islam or Judaism? I say that we have to think of African heritage religions as family traditions. They are traditions about family relationships.

Another very important lens or portal to perceiving African heritage religions in the lives of African peoples, in the continent and in the diaspora, is health and healing. Another important portal would be dance and music, another one would be agriculture and nourishment, another one would be security and protection, and another one is weaponry and warfare. And that weaponry and warfare repertoire becomes very important in the diaspora for people who were enslaved in this country for 246 years.

And oftentimes... this is what's really troubling, tricky, and maybe even deceptive about what we know about African heritage religions in the diaspora. Oftentimes, they’ve become reduced to weaponry and warfare. Because of the sensational and the harmful or destructive capacities that are associated with spiritual force–which is taken very seriously in African spiritual cultures–African heritage religions get reduced to that and that is such a reductive view. And so, yes, there are those weaponry and warfare repertoires as well. So it's important to think of African religions as ways of life, they are not confessional religions. You don't profess something, you don't profess belief in something. They're not about confessing a faith in some sort of entity the way Christianity might be or Islam might be, for example. They are about practicing a faith, practicing a way of life.

Dr. Joy: Can you talk about some of the common religious practices across the diaspora?

Dr. Stewart: Some of the traditions that have been most pronounced in the diaspora, particularly today, are definitely the Yoruba, Lucumi, Ifa, that complex of traditions which have strong Yoruba heritage. And Orisha, let me also say Orisha. That complex has strong roots in parts of modern-day Nigeria, Benin, some parts of Ghana, but I would say more so modern-day Nigeria and Benin. And other complexes are the Kongo, Bantu, Angola. These are the different names you'll hear. They're also known as Palo in Cuba.

That complex is emerging out of West Central Africa and this is something a lot of people don't really understand. About 47% (from what we know now) of the Africans who were deported into the slave trade from the 1400s, those folks who were going over to Portugal and Spain from the 1400s to the 1900s came out of West Central Africa, the area that we identify with the Kongo peoples. And I mean Kongo with a K, not the modern-day countries of Congo spelt with a C. Now, those peoples are from that region and including Angola. Angola, modern-day Republic of Congo, and modern-day Democratic Republic of Congo which was formerly the Zaire.

And so that complex is very pronounced but they’ve become very pronounced through their sacred medicines not through a “pantheon of deities” and that's why it's even harder to see the Kongo complex. We can see the Yoruba complex because the Orisha, the community of deities or powers, are so prominent and it's easy to identify them. Whereas with Kongo, we often see Minkisi, the sacred medicines, and those are not often as easy to recognize but they have certainly influenced African American traditions such as conjuring and Hoodoo, Caribbean traditions such as obeah. And by the way, obeah was practiced in North America as well but a lot of people are not aware of that.

Another major complex would be the Akan complex coming out of the Gold Coast or modern-day Ghana for the most part. Parts of Ivory Coast as well. Very similar nature-based religious traditions, the Abasam are a kind of community of deities or powers similar to the Yoruba, and also the Dahomey and Togo parts of Ghana complex is the last one, is Vodou. People would typically pronounce the term voodoo. A lot of practitioners of this tradition prefer the pronunciation Vodou to separate it from the way the United States and the Western world has invented this tradition of dark evil magic and called it voodoo. And they don't want their tradition to be associated with that invention, that kind of Western imaginary (so to speak) about African heritage religion. So those are some of the major complexes.

As I said, Vodou is associated more with Dahomey which is modern-day Benin, the Republic of Benin which is right next door to Nigeria. And so Yoruba and Vodou traditions have a long history of exchange and they're very similar, they're almost like sibling traditions. And Togo also is a strong center of Vodou. And the Ewe people of Ghana are Vodouisants as well, they practice Vodou tradition. Very powerful center of Vodou as well. So those are some of the complexes.

But as I said, there are other iterations of African heritage religions or at least religious practices that speak to cosmology, speak to spirituality, that have to do with sacred medicines. And so Conjure and Hoodoo, I would argue, are great examples of that. Aspects of obeah tradition in the Caribbean are great examples of that. They call that Bolsas de Mandinga (of course you hear the Mandingo in that term) in Brazil. Before Candomblé even emerged in Brazil in the 18th century, Africans would wear these little small pouches around their necks, filled with herbs and other healing elements for protection.

And, Dr. Joy, it should not surprise us that in the context of slavery, that this aspect of African heritage religions would become quite pronounced. I talk to my students about sometimes like seven to 10 different aspects of African heritage religions to help us know how we can identify them, and one is the prevalence or the belief in neutral mystical power. That there is neutral mystical power, that power can be tapped into as a protective force, as a destructive force. And boy, don't you need some destructive powers if you're an enslaved person!

You need some protective powers if you're an enslaved person. And I tell you, in North America, we are seeing this. The archaeologists are finding these little bundles which are so African, these bundles tied and contained in cloth or different kinds of containers underneath old architectural designs from the slave period. They're finding them and they're finding sharp pins and nails and marbles and other kinds of elements in there. But I tell you, Dr. Joy, what's not in there...

Dr. Joy: What is it?

Dr. Stewart: The herbs–they have already disintegrated. Especially in the Kongo tradition, many of these traditions, you need all forms of life to heal and protect. You need human life, you need plant life, animal life and mineral life. And so those pins, the dirt, the grave dirt, all of that, where the ancestral power is to be found, all of that is often for protection. And boy, wouldn't you need protection as an enslaved person, not knowing what could happen to you. And so those traditions become very dominant. But what's sad is that you cannot reduce African religions to those traditions, but they are important for people of African heritage during the slave period.

Dr. Joy: More from my conversation with Dr. Stewart after the break.


Dr. Joy: Dr. Stewart, I wonder if you could give us those seven commonalities that you typically talk about.

Dr. Stewart: Yes. So I’ve mentioned some of them. One is these traditions are not confessional religions, they are ways of life. The second is I like to use the term they are communal things. We are talking about the divine as a community, the divine operate as a community. Africans have both the poly and the mono. They have the idea of the one, the high god, and they have the idea of the many–what some would call polytheism–and they are a divine community. So I love that thought.

The third is ancestral veneration. I don't care where you go in Africa, from North Africa to all the way down to the tip of the Cape of Good Hope, from the coast of Ghana all the way over to Djibouti and Kenya and Ethiopia. Africans are empowered to stay in connection with their ancestors. They believe in ancestral power and ancestral realness, it's a very important concept. The Episcopalian Bishop Desmond Tutu says, “I don't care what anyone says: I'm a Christian but I'm an African Christian and I'm an African first and I will never, ever let go of my ancestors.” So that is critical. The power of ancestors, the belief in ancestral life after death and the power of the ancestors that they are still part of the family.

Another is divination and herbalism. There are particular technologies that are used to understand the past, the present and to look toward the future. In terms of major life decisions, in terms of sickness and health. And sickness and health are treated holistically. You cannot have even physical illness without looking into the mental, the spiritual, the emotional health of the person, the family, the community, the society–all of this is treated holistically. And divination, herbalism, they go together in many respects, there are usually herbal remedies that are prescribed to heal clients. So that's an important dimension and this is very spiritual. The deities, the gods, are involved in divination and herbalism.

For example, plants, plants are sung to. When plants are picked in Vodou, they are prepared, they must be asked permission. And they are making a sacrifice. So it's a very serious endeavor to pick a leaf from a plant–you are sacrificing life to give life to something else. And so there's also animal sacrifice and food offerings. And when people say, well, why do Africans sacrifice animals? Well, first of all, we can ask that about multiple religions around the world because multiple religions around the world practice animal sacrifice. But I often say Africans and people (I think around the world, across time), sacrifice animals because we eat animals. Eating, nourishment is a sacramental endeavor, it's a sacramental act.

And so animal sacrifice is a part of healing and nurturing. In many rituals for healing or for restoring balance, whatever it might be, after the animals are sacrificed and the vital organs are offered to the deities, the animal is cleaned and taken home. And the client is expected to cook the animal and have a meal and share it with their family and friends. This is a blessing. It's like the person receiving the communion, receiving the sacrament of communion in the Catholic Church or the Christian Church, the Protestant churches as well. It's a very similar thing. And I shouldn't just say animal sacrifice; I should say food offerings, animal sacrifice, and broader offerings. Because sometimes the offering that will be expected would be to go and volunteer at a youth center to give clothing to children. So offerings, period, are such an important part of these traditions. Let's see... Where am I, Dr. Joy?

Dr. Joy: I think that was four.

Dr. Stewart: That was four. Neutral mystical power which I've talked about again, that there is neutral mystical power in the universe and it can be used productively or destructively. But let me say this, Dr. Joy. When you think about the many persons who are accessing spiritual power, are accessing it because they want to bring either good fortune to their lives. Think about the domain of health and think about how many stories we've heard or we've seen on those crime shows where doctors and nurses betray their trespass... transgress their oath to heal and kill patients with medicine. One person's medicine is another person's poison. So I only use that as a way of showing that there is the opportunity to use force, medicine, spiritual power, positively or negatively in any setting. In any tradition.

Another important aspect is music and dance. Not that all music and dance are related to religion in African heritage religions, but dance is prayer. Dance is invocation of the spirit. If you want to understand liturgy in African heritage religions, you have to take seriously that dance vocabularies are prayer vocabularies. They are communication with the divine. And so you cannot have real religious ritual that is community oriented without that music and dance. They're important for invoking the spirit, so to speak.

And then we have (very important) what many scholars will call spirit possession or spirit mediumship. Oftentimes, a power (a deity, an ancestor) has now become embodied, has entered the body cavity of the host, of the practitioner, and is communicating with the community. And another way to think about that... Some people might not like these comparisons, but this is a part of revelation. This is how revelation occurs in African heritage religions. Some people would say for religions of the “book” which were also oral religions before they started writing them down, that God reveals God’s self through the Bible or the Quran but this is a very important part of revelation.

And I like to use some of the practitioner words I've encountered in the field. In Trinidad, I love the language that they use, they call it manifestation. I love that. The power manifests in the body, in the community. And then in Brazil, they use the language of you are incorporating the spirit in the body. And this is how practitioners communicate with their beloved deities to whom they relate. And get healing prescriptions for their children, their families, they get advice. It's a very important part of the tradition. So those are some that I would emphasize.

Dr. Joy: Yeah, just so much to go into, Dr. Stewart. I mean, my goodness, I really feel like, especially as you talk about the dance and the singing, I feel like those are the most clear examples we see in modern-day black religious experience. I feel like there is a direct tie to these historical ways of life as you are describing it. I wonder if we can talk a little bit about how these experiences have been demonized as opposed to European theologies. You've talked about it a little bit but I think that that is something that a lot of people struggle with because they are often seen as opposition to what we've been taught, in terms of Christianity and those kinds of things. It really feels like some of these experiences have been demonized. I wonder if you can talk a little bit about that.

Dr. Stewart: First and foremost, I really want audiences to understand that if there's one reason we should appreciate and take some interest in the African heritage religions, they were our lifeline. They were our lifeline during slavery, especially across the wider Americas and Caribbean. They were, first of all, demonized, they were criminalized and policed through legislation as a result of their involvement–how significant they were for solidifying and helping African descendants to actually rebel and resist slavery, which included things like burning plantations, burning property. So that's important to know that this is a very important starting point for having African heritage religions policed.

But even beyond that, when the Europeans were in Africa, particularly in the 17th century, 18th century, there was already a kind of literature of tales and a kind of oral tradition and some writing about African spiritual practices and ideas that looked down upon them. Because in Europe, we often think that Christianity is Europe's religion. It's not.

Christianity, after the rise of the early church where we see the formation of the church in the scriptures and the Pauline scriptures and Paul is trying to form these churches in Asia Minor or what we would call parts of the Mediterranean and Northeast Africa today. And these churches spreading, these little house churches, once Constantine adopts Christianity in the late fourth century as the official religion of the Roman Empire, it takes on a different power valence. It becomes a religion of Empire.

And Christianity becomes a violent traumatic and terroristic religion that conquers Europe and demonizes Europe's indigenous religions. Europe calls it the Dark Ages because they have now assented to a Christian identity, a Christian understanding of themselves, of their heritage. They've wiped out their indigenous religions, although not totally, not totally–there are some interesting things that have happened there. And so Christianity is a conquering religion in Europe. And so when these European explorers and travelers are going out, they have been taught to hate and demonize their own indigenous religion and then they're seeing some similar kinds of practices. And so they are then also going to look down upon and demonize them, consider it backwards and consider it not of God, only of the devil, because that's the only way they could understand something. If it's not of God and it's spiritual power, it's demonic power.

So that narrative, that kind of lens is also operative and you see it in the colonial records. They're constantly comparing, oh, we did this in the old country and that was backwards and evil and demonic and what have you. So you have that going on as well in the colonies. And so there are different iterations of the denigration and policing and criminalization of African heritage religions in the new world. But this idea that if you're not worshipping the Christian God, every other power is suspect, is evil, is of the devil–African religions have no chance in that context.

There's another very important context. During the early 20th century, US occupied Haiti and the marines came back to the United States, many of these marines, with all these tales and hearsay and all kinds of outlandish claims about voodoo in Haiti. And that started the long tradition of the demonization of Vodou, in American culture especially, and in the wider Western world. It's these kinds of deep layers of understanding that we never get when we learn about Vodou. We always have these reductive treatments of any “magical aspects” of these traditions. So we have to think about the policing, the criminalization, the containment of African heritage religions, relative to a long history of rebellion, and the Haitian Revolution is a great example... Of these traditions being the groundwork for bringing solidarity and weaponry and warfare to rebel against the colonial and enslaving powers during the period of enslavement.

And then, of course, the kind of theological, perceived theological differences that Europeans who had been conquered themselves by Christianity, who had been taught to hate and despise their own indigenous religions, only kind of extended that kind of analytic lens to the Africans, the Asians, the Pacific Islanders and the Aboriginal peoples that they were encountering during their “era of discovery.” Which in itself is an invented term and concept.

Dr. Joy: More from my conversation with Dr. Stewart after the break.


Dr. Joy: I’d love to hear your thoughts about the ways that African traditional religions foster collectivism and community that feels particularly, I think, attractive to younger people. And I think especially after this last year when people have felt so isolated and we know that we are grappling with an epidemic of loneliness, I’d love for you to just hear about how some of these religions foster this sense of collectivism and community.

Dr. Stewart: Indeed. Let me say one thing first. I think we have to take seriously the psychic and mental impact of colonial teachings about blackness, black people, black women's worth or lack of it as sinners, of the damaging effects of certain forms of Christianity that have been quite pronounced. Certainly, there are ways that we have resisted that in black Christian communities, there's no doubt about that. But I have to say that African heritage religions provide a certain kind of solidarity around a new spiritual, cultural, and even personal consciousness about a person's worth.

When you're in a tradition where you don't have to do mental gymnastics to get “that white bearded, white male god off your eyeball,” as Celie would say in the Color Purple. When you're in a tradition where the gods look like you, that's already doing something in fostering a healing community. So there's a lot of attraction to these traditions because they're decolonial in that way. It's not that they haven’t been influenced by colonialism, especially when we look at some of the impact through the Cuban traditions where white Cubans have been a part of it. But in general, you're looking at traditions that offer new ways of recreating the black south and the black female self in particular. There are female deities, it’s just incredible.

But also, these communities are house communities. In fact, many times their temples are understood to be house communities. What do they do? Sometimes people also talk and think about the mothers and I mean that in the sense of their spiritual role in these communities. They feed people. For example, organize around a ceremony or a healing ceremony or celebration of one of the deities or whatever it might be. The anniversary of someone's initiation. Oh my goodness, you pull community together. You have to sing people into health, you have to dance people into health, you have to create the spread, the feast, not only for the deities but for the community, for the children, for everyone to eat.

So it's like building home, building family. You are participating together in a ritual language that connects you to African languages. All of these kinds of the singing, the movement, the collective movement with the dances, so the ritual life, is very communally oriented. The way in which persons, even clients who might not be a part of these African heritage traditions, the way clients have to participate in their own healing is also very powerful for many people.

Dr. Joy: Dr. Stewart, this has been such an incredible wealth of information. I feel like we could be here for hours digging into all of this. But can you share some of your favorite resources for anyone who wants to learn more?

Dr. Stewart: Yes. I would point people to two texts initially. Dr. Wande Abimbola, his book Ifa Will Mend Our Broken World. And it's a very accessible book at the vernacular level, it's wonderful. He's one of the most prominent Yoruba scholars and Babalawo, which is a priest of Ifa. Ifa Will Mend Our Broken World. And another is by his son, Dr. Kola Abimbola who's a professor of philosophy and law at Harvard University. His book, Yoruba Culture: A Philosophical Account. Let me recommend these two.

The Encyclopedia of African and African American Religions is a really great reference. It's something that they might be able to access online as well. It's a wonderful reference because they have great articles in there that are quite long and everything is in there. From the Ethiopian Orthodox Church that came out of Marcus Garvey’s movement to the traditional black churches, to the most obscure African or African Diaspora religions. They're covered. So that's just a great reference source. And I'll say there's also The Encyclopedia of Caribbean Religions which are two volumes–very, very good sources for folks as well.

Dr. Joy: Can we also know, where can people find you? What's the best way to kind of stay in touch with all the amazing things you're doing?

Dr. Stewart: Yes. I am on Twitter @DianneMStewart. I am on Instagram but it's pitiful, Dr. Joy, I just have to tell you. This is all new for me because of my book. I think you know I wrote a book that is more public facing. Black Women, Black Love: America’s War on African American Marriage, and that is what got me out to social media. Twitter is one of the best ways. I'm also on Facebook, look me up–Dianne with two Ns, Dianne M. Stewart, and I'm in Atlanta, Georgia. And they can find me on Facebook as well.

Dr. Joy: We appreciate it. Thank you so much, Dr. Stewart. Such incredible information, I appreciate you sharing your time with us today.

Dr. Stewart: Oh, thank you. It was my pleasure. I so appreciate the work that Therapy for Black Girls does. It is a needed, needed resource for all of us so thank you.

Dr. Joy: Thank you. I'm so glad that Dr. Stewart was able to share her expertise with us today. To learn more about her and her work or to check out the resources she shared, be sure to visit the show notes at And don't forget to text two of your girls and tell them to check out the episode as well. If you're looking for a therapist in your area, be sure to check out our therapist directory at

And if you want to continue digging into this topic or just be in community with other sisters, come on over and join us in the Sister Circle. It's our cozy corner of the internet designed just for black women. You can join us at Thank y’all so much for joining me again this week. I look forward to continuing this conversation with you all real soon. Take good care.


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Discover the transformative power of healing in community in Dr. Joy Harden Bradford’s debut book, Sisterhood Heals. Order your copy now!

Looking for the UK Edition? Order here