How I Reclaim Wellness | Dominique Drakeford
My name is Dominique Drakeford. I love dogs, karaoke and learning how to grow my own food. I’m a thought-leader harnessing my Leo energy to educate and disrupt un-sustainable systems while simultaneously celebrating my Blackness. For the past 10+ years, I have been dedicated to redefining and breathing new life into the ideology of sustainability to embody transformative justice and creative innovation.
Where did wellness start for you?
- I suppose wellness started for me subconsciously and organically as a young child who LOVED to dance, laugh, dress up, hike and connect with folks in my community. My well-being inherently started with my joy of unapologetic self expression, laughter and exploration. I didn’t have the language back then … but wellness was overtly rooted in happiness - especially being outdoors and celebrating Black culture & love!
Who impacted your perception of wellness?
- Instead of “who”, for me a better question is “what” impacted my perception of wellness. I would say dealing with various accumulative layers of family trauma over the course of about 3 years prior to conceiving has impacted my wellness significantly. These challenging experiences became a compass to inform me that wellness has layers that help define who we are and how we take up space. My perception of wellness expanded to the processes of unpacking trauma, doing shadow work, accepting hard truths and learning how to identify and manage stress through various healing modalities.
What hindrances have you experienced throughout your wellness journey?
- The biggest hinderance is the perception of wellness of versus the reality of wellness. Existing in a digital world means that we see other people’s definition of “wellness” constantly. We’re inundated with mainstream narratives and influential storytelling, which can be beautiful - but sometimes we forget to scrutinize and assess ourselves and define and nurture a wellbeing rubric that is just for us! This was a challenge for me as a Black woman, as a non traditional educator, as a sustainability advocate, as a human living in NY, as a new mom.
- Assessment! I’m a strong believer that rebuilding anything requires a critical and sometimes challenging assessment of where you truly are. Additionally, as Black folks I think it’s so important that assessment includes learning the ways in which our ancestors collectivized and used various tools to be “well”. I believe strongly in a Sankofa ideology - taking from the past what is good and bringing it into the present to make progress in the future! Additionally I think intergenerational exchanges are vital as well - connecting with elders just as intentionally as our dope youth, is essential to rebuilding. As we take baby steps to rebuild based on these pillars - maintenance will require consistent evaluation - a very circular approach when connecting with community and authentically integrating wellness.
What are spaces that currently don’t feel safe to you as a Black human?
- Quite honestly, most spaces don’t feel safe especially being a new Black mom! And perhaps a definition of safety is important - it’s not just physical protection. It embodies my intellectual property, mental agency, internal/external/maternal health, economic stability, etc. From food systems, beauty industry, comfort in leisure space, healthcare hubs, educational institutions, etc … most mainstream spaces weren’t built to protect Black ecosystems. I create my own clock or veil of internalized safety so that I can exist and thrive in these spaces that are inherently anti-Black.