Natasha Thomas

Natasha Thomas

Black Creative Healing

them/me

Fall 2021

Natasha Thomas (THEMme + any pronouns) is a Queer, Black, Disabled child of Caribbean immigrants from St. Vincent, an island that has historically been home to shipwreck and volcano, as well as the Kalinago people and descendants of the Trans Atlantic Slave trade, among others. Natasha holds a PhD in Expressive Therapies and teaches Music Therapy at IUPUI, on the land of the Miami people (Indianapolis, Indiana), where she lives with her spouse and three year old. Natasha is a member of the steering committee for the Black Music Therapy Network and co-host of their podcast Black Creative Healing.

When not actively creating or playing with their toddler, you can find Natasha learning about Vodou and other African spiritual cosmologies, or talking astrology, cooking, gardening, or any other ancestrally related topic, in community with kin or anyone else willing to join themme.

What excites you about your work?

I have always been deeply excited about the transformative nature of creativity in general, and yet it's only really the last few years that I've begun to really feel myself wholly embodied in this work, and the opportunities I've been blessed with to explore healing justice have further affirmed and strengthened that sense.

I find my inner fire continually fueled by the many Black, queer and disabled folk with whom I've been honored to share this work. I don't feel so much like a "one and only" anymore - I am part of a collective with hands that stretch internationally, inter-generationally, and with mutual solidarity across disciplines & communities, providing multifaceted opportunities for people to engage with healing in ways that feel creatively and culturally authentic to them - and that is deeply fulfilling work!


What feels rich and abundant in your work right now?

I heard someone say some time ago that the COVID-19 pandemic is a portal through which we have an opportunity to envision (and enact) change in our world in deeply crucial and meaningful ways. And I think there's a lot of truth in that. Two years ago I never would have found myself being as open about my own chronic illness and how it impacts my life, but being thrust into sudden quarantine and seeing how much more I could do from home *with the right supports in place* made abundantly clear to me how important grassroots community connections really are.

With each new connection that is made, my own supports get stronger and I can offer more support to others I'm already connected to, and hold more space for future connections, which then yields even MORE strength and MORE potential for broadening community care. The possibilities are just so endless and I'm so grateful for each new connection.

COVID19 & the rise of Telehealth have made it clear to me - particularly as a person living with chronic and mental illnesses - that simply talking about issues of oppression is not enough.”

Who do you dedicate your work to?

I dedicate my work to every person at the margins who's ever been told "well that's the way it's always been done," or "we don't have the capacity for you/your needs/the things you care about." I do this work in honor of all those who've died or had to live "butchered half lives" because someone somewhere lacked the necessary imagination to dig deeper and/or do better.

I dedicate this work to the collective liberation of us all.

Who inspires you? Who do you learn from?

I am deeply inspired by the idea of lineages, and exploring each one I am connected to. I find myself learning new lessons from ancestors as I learn more about them from family members still living, and take more time to listen to my child, who tells me how they are seeing and experiencing the world. I'm also enjoying getting more connected with nature and am loving following and learning from people like Leah Penniman of Soulfire Farms and disability justice workers like TL Lewis.

I've recently begun reading fantasy & science fiction again too and am finding myself continually inspired by the visionary work of Octavia Butler and Nnedi Okorafor, among others (currently I'm enjoying the audiobook of Akata Witch!). And of course, my Black Creative Healing community continues to inspire me - my cohost Adenike Webb and the team currently planning the upcoming retreat that we'll be using these funds for in particular. My heart is so full!

How can people reading this support your work?

Right now we are in the process of building the virtual space for the retreat we will be hosting. That includes building our connections with folks who can do professional captioning and provide ASL for all retreat events. Until the time comes to open that up, folks can engage with our existing work on social media via the hashtag #BlackCreativeHealing. We have a podcast folks can find anywhere they listen to podcasts (also under the name Black Creative Healing), and there are resources from us on Youtube and Patreon as well.

You can view our evolving linktree of resources by visiting https://linktr.ee/BlackCreativeHealing, and stay tuned for more opportunities to engage as we get closer to retreat time in 2022!

What is something you didn’t know, that you now understand differently about wellness?

Something I used to believe about "wellness" was that it was some sort of destination that you had to work hard to reach and then just perform maintenance to stay there. My evolving understanding now is that not only is wellness *not a destination* in any sense, it is more than any one place or state of being.

Wellness is whatever makes me feel most wholly myself - and that can change moment to moment! So I'm learning to honor the "now" of wellness, and the imperfect nature of that, while working to let go of the "grind" mentality that I think wellness can often lure folks into.

What is your own wellness practice? How do you find balance?

A primary element of my wellness practice is rest, in as many forms as I can find it. I am learning from people like Patricia Hershey of the Nap Ministry that rest can come in many forms, from an extra breath before opening a door somewhere to allowing myself the freedom to have my camera off (and encourage others to do the same) in a Zoom meeting. And, of course, naps whenever I can make space for them!

I am also learning to trust and utilize the tools and support structures I have accessible to me. Sometimes this just means I put my compression gloves on even when I don't feel "that bad." I am holding more and more firm to the idea that anytime I am feeling less than whole is worth my attention and care.

Meet other grant recipients

Adrian-Xavier Scott

The Transistance Network

Angel Alicea

Black Inmate Commissary Fund

Ash "Lightning Woman" Frandsen

Indigenous Karuk and Yaruk Ceremonial Leader

Ash Canty

Sovereign Spirit Death Care

Ayesha Walker

Cofounder, CEO of BE-IMAGINATIVE

Bernadette Lim

Freedom Community Clinic

Betania Ridenour

Somatic Experience Practitioner

Brooke Rodriguez

Cofounder, The Grinding Stone Collective

C. Marie Long

Nature Center for Meditation

Chelsey Thomas

Sexuality Educator

Damon "Shuja" Johnson

Black Men Speak, Inc.

Dandelion Hill

Peer Support Space

Danny Fluker

Black Boys Om Inc

Ekua Adisa

Gender Expansive Liberationist Medicine Person

India Harville

Embraced Body

Jordan Daniel

Founder, Rising Hearts

Joseph Dupris

Assistant Professor of Linguistic and Ethnic Studies, University of Colorado Boulder

Joshua Biron

Anishinaabe Cultural Specialist, Anishaable Agriculture

Julia Mallory

Founder, Black Mermaids

Karen Faulkner

Yoga Instructor

Katherin Canton

Cofounder, Toj + Tijax

Kelsey Daniels

The Dream Experiment

Kiesha Battles

I Am Yoga CLT

Kristie Cabrera

Occupational Therapist

Kristina Jones

Guardian Lane

Krysta Venora

Founder, Pink Opal Magic

Laura Yohualtlahuiz Rios-Ramirez

Lotus Do

Founder, Financial Liberation Movement

Louis Mitchell

Reverend, Activist

Mangda Sengvanhpheng

Founder, BACII

Margaret Andersen

TouchBot Pleasure Tech

Megan (Pumehana) Cabral

Founder, Queer Kanaka

Micaela Zamora

Community Aid

Natasha Thomas

Black Creative Healing

Oceana Sawyer

End of Life Doula

Paulina Almarosa

Founder, Latinx Grief

Queen Hollins

Earthlodge Center

Raeanne Madison

Founder, Postpartum Healing Lodge

Raegan Robinson

Yoga Instructor

Raquel Savage

Founder, Zepp Wellness

Roshni Kavate

Grief Healer

Sally Ortiz Castro

Transgenerational counselor, Acupuncturist and Reiki practitioner

Stef Mandingo

Founder, Keep It Cute

Tejal Patel

Tejal Yoga

Tomas Ramirez

Executive Director, Semillas y Raices

Tristan Katz

Founder, Tristan Katz Creative

Veronica Agard

Founder, Ancestors in Training

Xā Carter

Founder, Xude Yoga

Zami Tinashe Hyemingway

Spiritus Wellness

Zel Amanzi

Rest In Power Yoga + Reiki

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