A Blade of Grass Films


Black Self-Determination: Adaku Utah

In the spirit of abolitionist and herbalist Harriet Tubman, A Blade of Grass Fellow Adaku Utah created Harriet’s Apothecary as an intergenerational healing village. Led by Black cis women, queer and trans healers, artists, health professionals, activists and elders, Harriet’s Apothecary was established by Utah in Brooklyn and has since held events and workshops across the country.

AIRED: August 17, 2020 | 0:05:41



Utah: We live in a world where the mainstream health industry

defines healing as a very, very static

and one-size-fits-all thing,

that in order to be healed,

you have to say that something's wrong with you.

And that to be healed is inside of a rich body,

a body that's thin, a body that's able-bodied,

a body that's also white.

And we want to say no to that. We want to resist that.

We want to expand what healing can look like

and also bring back the value and self-worth

and self-determination that Black, indigenous,

and people of color have to be a part of their own healing.

[ Indistinct conversations ]

Harriet's Apothecary is named after Harriet Tubman.

Part of why Harriet's Apothecary exists

is to illuminate how our ancestors

have utilized indigenous practices,

tools, or resources as sources of survival.

Allow yourself to connect with the truth of you.

We are very intentionally an all-Black team

because we recognize that there are not

enough spaces where Black people,

particularly Black cis women and Black queer and trans folks

are taking leadership and offering healing

and health services to Black, indigenous, and people of color.

I'm working with movement building

and social justice organizers

to create different kinds of change.

My intention is to help people

to see that they can create deliberation

that they seek right now...

Together: Mm-hmm.

...in the midst of systems of oppression

and carefully unearthing the oppressor within.

I'm committed to creating community.

You know, I just see a lot of possibilities

with what we're doing.

I want us to see ourselves

in all of our beautiful Black imperfect perfect excellence.

[ Speaks indistinctly ]

[ Indistinct speaking ]

Thank you.


Utah: A lot of these practices are either sourced

from traditional indigenous African, Latinx practices

or things that have been handed down to us by our teachers

or things that actually come from healer's intuition.

I focus mostly on rose quartz

pendulum readings because of its impact on the subtle body.

It's really about self-actualization.

I've been doing an astrology workshop.

Wherever Libra is in your chart,

there's going to be a sense of diplomacy.

You know, we can be so serious about our healing.

No need.

Have fun and laugh at ourselves and each other.

Like, I'm really learning this workshop,

like, it's good to laugh.

Utah: The village is a community that practices interdependence.

So it's like if you need anything,

there's just this culture of "We got you."

Like, "Whatever you need, we can find it here,

we can create it here."

Totten: It allows us a space to be vulnerable

and to be able to know that we can remove our mask

and be in a space that will affirm and uplift us

and that sees us and validates us.

It gives us permission to be human in a world

that seeks to dehumanize us

at every turn.

Burems: Historical oppression of people of color

and specifically Black people,

oftentimes, this conversation only happens

in an academic environment,

and that's a whole other institution

that we're all experiencing some sense of oppression from.

Utah: We've done freedom schools around,

"What does it mean to love in a time of mass incarceration?

What does it look like to engage with rage

in a way that's really productive and transformative?"

Unfortunately, there's a lot of people

who don't recognize the multiple different facets

of how anti-Black racism exists throughout culture

and the impact it has.

We are adding to the truth-telling conversation,

and we also want to add to the transformation.

We can choose to operate from the places of us

that have been violated and have been punished in silence,

or we can choose to operate from a place where healing enters

and we get more of ourselves restored.

To have that person come to Harriet's Apothecary

and say, "Wow. This is the first time I've really,

really felt, like, the fullness of my Blackness,

and not only felt it, but felt safe in it."

That feels really powerful.

♪ I

♪ Am

♪ One who has room to grow

♪ High water

♪ I am loved


♪ I am

♪ One who has room to grow

♪ High water

♪ I am loved

[ Applause ]


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