Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Book Review: Black People Breathe by Zee Clarke

breathwork, spiritual, meditation, racial healing, breathing, book review, witch, witchcraft, occult, spiritual, wicca, wiccan, pagan

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Last year, I participated in Bettie's Pages Challenge Your Shelf where she encouraged her followers to expand their worldview by reading books by and about Black, Indigenous, other peoples of color, and other marginalized groups. Broadening your reading list exposes you to the life experiences of others, developing empathy and understanding for the lived experiences of those different from you. I wanted to continue this journey by reading more spiritual and witchcraft books written by marginalized authors and the first of which is Black People Breathe: A Mindfulness Guide to Racial Healing by Zee Clarke.

This amazing guide to breathwork takes a research-based approach to handling the psychological and physiological stress due to racism. Clarke notes that the book is specifically for Black people in the United States and those of similar experiences, as it is written about her experiences as a Black woman in the US and how she has used breathwork to combat systemic racism. She calls upon her white readers, like me, to educate themselves about the Black experience and to think about the role they might place to accelerate change.

Each chapter addresses a specific issue faced by Black people in the US, from witnessing police brutality and being accused of shoplifting while shopping to racism in the workplace and the mispronunciation of names. Clarke lays her heart bare, sharing story after story after story of personal experiences of overt and covert racism and what breathing techniques she used and uses to get through moments every Black person has experienced. She mentions in the very beginning that she never felt breathwork and meditation or spiritual wellness was for people like her until she attended a retreat for Black women and made a trip to India where she learned the opposite is true. Meditation, breathwork, and spiritual wellness are for everyone. Everyone. Period. 

Coupled with her personal stories, Clarke backs up her claims with scientific evidence, citing multiple sources regarding the health problems associated with different types of racism and how different breathing techniques work. I am always fascinated by the research and the science of why, and was thankful this information was included. She outlines each breath technique, how she uses it, and includes pictures outlining how to perform the technique for those who struggle to visualize the process. As a visual learner myself, I appreciated the beautiful illustrations, even the ones used to highlight specifics from her stories. Furthermore, these techniques can be used anywhere to every situation you find yourself in, making them accessible and practical. 

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Each chapter ends with a "Key Points to Remember" and "Mindfulness Practice Toolkit" so you can easily find the breath technique you are looking for without having to read through all the stories and research. I appreciate the quick reference guide, which is also visually set apart from the rest of the chapter with a peach-colored tab. To accompany the book, Clarke offers free resources which can be found on her website and YouTube channel.

I highly recommend Black People Breathe: A Mindfulness Guide to Racial Healing by Zee Clarke not just to my readers of color, but also to my white readers as this is an opportunity to learn about the Black experience in the United States. To my white readers, I also encourage you to continue your journey toward anti-racism by following BIPOC creators and books such as White Rage, The Color of Law, Stamped From the Beginning, and An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States.

Black People Breathe: A Mindfulness Guide to Racial Healing by Zee Clarke is set to publish today, March 14, 2023, and can be found wherever books are sold.

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