Why I’m No Longer Just Going to Talk About Race — Because I Never Have

Michelle Saahene
4 min readNov 22, 2021

I’ve been struggling to define myself and what I do for a while now. I’ve succumb to the social pressure. I was sure of my goals in 2018 before my actions went viral and I was labeled as an anti-racist activist. I would find my name in online magazines under lists of ‘Black Women to Follow on Social to Media.’ My DM’s were being intruded upon with people asking me for advice on all things race-related. I was invited to speak at corporations, take part in panels and conferences, and interviewed on TV several times. It was all exciting, and then I’d feel the pressure. ‘Shit, now I have to post more about race. I need to read everything and all at once.’

Sometimes I felt like an imposter. Sometimes during these events I would think to myself, “I was in the Starbucks that day studying to be a life coach.” I was on my way out from corporate healthcare as a consultant. I was into health & wellness, I liked fashion and food and travel and house music. I did talk about race before that day in the Starbucks more than any other time in my life, but it wasn’t my main focus. Then almost overnight, it became my focus. I wanted people to see the humanity of Black bodies and normalize us in all spaces. Yet, I had started to abandon all those other things I loved, and shrunk myself to being a resource to discuss just race. Of course those of us who experience racism are much better equipped to facilitate conversations about race, and I did co-create an organization to help people learn how to better show up for racial justice, but balance is key in everything in life. You can die from drinking too much water.

The truth is that I don’t always want to talk about racism. Let me just keep it real. Learning about injustices, other people’s trauma, and remembering my own, all the time had started weigh on my physical, emotional, and mental well-being. I believe the universe connected me with Gail Parker, Ph.D. at the exact moment I needed her. She was one of the strangers in my DM. But rather than ask something from me, she offered me her support. She is such a graceful, warm, and brilliant woman. She is a licensed psychologist, certified yoga therapist, and meditation coach who uses yoga and meditation as modalities to treat race-based trauma. So, I called her and we talked for hours in our first…