Layla Saad is a writer and speaker, and a black feminist advocate for racial justice. She is the founder of the site Wild Mystic Woman (which has now been renamed Layla Saad), and the host of the Wild Mystic Woman Podcast. Layla leads conversations at the intersections of race, spirituality, feminism and leadership. Today we cover:
Spiritual bypassing and cultural appropriation in business branding
Embracing anger (especially if you hold white privilege)
Creating boundaries when speaking your truth
LISTEN TO LAYLA’S PODCAST: WILD MYSTIC WOMAN
Read this article: “Black Women & Femmes Are’t Only Relevant When we’re Angry” by Asali
ON BRANDING: “There’s a lot of ways in which spirituality is commodified into a brand, and so when we look at a brand, a brand is the imagery, the fonts, the graphics - all that comes together to create a brand. And so there are very clever ways in which different elements can be brought to present a picture of what someone is or what someone’s work is. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the disconnect is when one is being presented doesn’t match what is actually going on behind the scenes. The branding can create things like ‘Oh, this is a spiritual person. This is a person who lives their spirituality in all aspects of their lives.’ But what might be going on behind the scenes in some harmful actions like spiritual bypassing, and using their spirituality to tone police other people. Using their spirituality to create a kind of superiority over people, and using their spirituality or their perceived spirituality to position themselves as more credible than the people who ‘own’ those spiritual practices.”
ON CULTURAL APPROPRIATION: “Native indigenous people had their spiritual practices stolen from them. They were not allowed to practice them, and yet we go on instagram today and everyone is a shaman. Everyone’s got all of the feathers and they’re doing sweat lodges and all kinds of practices which are not theirs. At the same time, they also don’t give credit to where those practices are coming from. They’re profiting off of those practices without giving back to where those practices came from, and because of the privileges they might hold as a white person, they are seen as more credible to be able to do that work and they get paid more for it.”
ON ANGER: I think so many of us have been shut off from our anger. I think most women and non-men have been not allowed to express anger in a way that is healthy, in a way that we get to show the full-range of ourselves, and so we have wounding around that. I don’t think men have been taught to express anger in a healthy way either, but i know for myself i was raised to be the good girl and anger just wasn’t an acceptable emotion. It had to be submitted into something else, and i think that runs rampant in the spiritual community. It’s often identified as shadow and bad and something that we need to rise about and get to the light and stay in the light, but there’s a real need for validation of beauty and power in anger. It’s something that I think a lot of people, especially those who hold white privilege, need to be comfortable in their own anger. Because until they are comfortable in their own anger, they cannot be with a black women, a black femme, a woman of color, an indigenous woman when they are angry.
ON BOUNDARIES: I don’t do this work to serve white people. I do this work because white supremacy and racism is a violence that has killed, abused, and hurt black people include myself and people of color and indigenous people. I do the work first for me because i love myself and i want to live in world where i am not harmed, i am not dehumanized, i am not treated lesser than. I do it for my children and my family. I do it for my friends, my sisters, and i do it for the black, indigenous, and people of color in spaces and societies where they are dehumanized because of racism.
“I matter, i come first, i need to be safe, i need to make sure that i am taken care of because there’s no way i am going to be a sacrificial lamb. That doesn’t serve anyone because eventually, i won’t be able to give to myself. I cannot give to my family from that space, and i cannot give to the work that i’m doing from a really grounded or true place. I’ll eventually burn out and say, ‘Screw it, i’m no longer doing it anymore,’ So it actually serves everybody if i’m putting myself first.”
“I have to be this foundation. I have to live what i’m trying to work towards within myself. If i’m saying, i’m doing this work because i want black indigenous people of color to be treated humanely, to be respected, to feel loved, i need to gift myself that. I need to undo all the internalized oppression that i have that told me you’re not worthy of that, that doesn’t belong to you, that you can’t show up in those ways. It is not just healing for me to do that. It is also resistance and activism. I claim joy as my activism. I claim joy as my resistance.”
I get what’s in the cup, you get what comes from the overflow.
“It’s so important for us to do the work of healing our internalized oppression so that we can root our all those messages that we got about who we are and actually decide who and how we want to be.”
My interviews can all be found here: http://www.wildmysticwoman.com/about/
Layla Saad is a writer and speaker, and a black feminist advocate for racial justice. She is the founder of the site Wild Mystic Woman, and the host of the Wild Mystic Woman Podcast. Layla leads conversations at the intersections of race, spirituality, feminism and leadership.
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