In light of the worldwide protests in recent years over racial injustice and police brutality, I wanted to clarify and reiterate our stance and belief in listening to BIPOC.
(Updated: June 2, 2022)
Black Lives Matter.
We are an interracial couple and Rimakej is Indigenous. I am white. No, being “married in” does not give me insight enough to speak to the horrors BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Person of Color) have endured for centuries. My place at the table involves listening and learning from those oppressed. It is also to unlearn the damaging words and habits that are prominent in white culture, and then use that knowledge to educate others. Racism is not the only thing to unlearn.
We believe here at HHH that knowledge should be openly accessible to anyone that seeks it, without excessive barriers or hoops to jump through. Systemic racism leads to manufactured inequalities like generational poverty, subpar or inaccessible healthcare, predatory financial lending, environmental injustice, lack of access to safe shelter/clean water/healthy food, etc. The list is never-ending.
Any one of these factors can make higher learning difficult if not impossible. They also often lead to poor health. Covid-19 disproportionately affects BIPOC, many of whom society deems essential workers. Yet they are not provided hazard pay or given PPE (personal protective equipment), and then demanded to work overtime.
They face making the impossible decision of protecting their own health, or going bankrupt.
Without adequate healthcare, many communities of color have to rely on themselves. Consequently, this often includes using herbal medicine passed down through their ancestors. The problem is most of these traditions were purposefully destroyed, ignorantly transcribed by colonizers, or worse, simply perished with the elders before being passed on.
I am an herbalist. Because of my various privileges, I was able to study with Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine. Aside from an amazing team and in-depth course materials, they are fiercely supportive of marginalized communities. The school also actively works to include insights from BIPOC herbalists, healers, and farmers in their course materials. I was also privileged enough to provide some aid to a nonprofit herbalist organization local to the San Antonio, Texas, USA area, Yanawana Herbolarios. Yanawana Herbolarios works on providing care for the underprivileged in their local communities with a special focus on BIPOC communities.
Originally, my purpose was to learn about herbs and be able to apply what I learned to myself and my loved ones. The herbs had other ideas. Over the time it took to complete the course, it became apparent to me I needed to share my knowledge. This includes to whoever is interested or needs it. That is part of why we have maintained this website even during all of our recent moves and future moves. I will continue sharing my knowledge on here and through our social media pages.
My teaching focus is on easy to grow, buy, wildcraft, or forage medicines that are familiar and safe to use. These things include items you might find in your kitchen spice rack, the supermarket herb shelf, or even your local community garden. Especially common kitchen herbs like basil and thyme or landscaping plants like roses or calendula.
An Herbal Friend for Our Time: Roses
Let’s take the common rose (Rosa spp.) as an example. A walk around the woods, a seashore, or most landscaped areas will usually turn up a rose of some sort. Their prominence in bouquets, art, literature, gardens, and culinary traditions around the world saturates our everyday lives. It also lulls us into believing something so common couldn’t possibly be more than a pretty flower.
It’s a shame more people don’t know how amazing and useful roses can be.
For most medicinal and culinary purposes, rosebuds and rose petals are interchangeable. Please ensure that you are working with organic roses if you intend to ingest them or use them medicinally. Roses are one of the most highly sprayed commercial crops, which renders anything from a florist unusable.
Rosebuds are anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), anti-depressant, astringent (tightens body tissues), anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory.
I consider rose a spirit medicine as well. It helps to calm agitated emotions. And it is useful for gently guiding you through sadness to a place of self-love.
Why do I mention this? Because rose is an herb that most of us need right now. Whether you are on the front lines of protests/strikes, behind the scenes organizing, or at home just trying to stay safe, rose is a powerful medicine that can help you.
Rose essential oil appears often in street medic work. It can help patients cope with grief, process trauma, and to support them during a panic attack or extreme fearfulness. Diluted as a spray, it serves as a disinfectant for the treatment area between patients. Be aware the scent of rose has the ability to trigger powerful emotions. It should be used with caution if there are any negative scent-memories associated with it.
The astringent crushed petals can act as a styptic to help stop bleeding wounds and a poultice to ease inflammation such as a bruise or sunburn. A cooled cup of rosebud tea is useful as a wound wash and soothing for eye inflammation if mixed into a saline solution. If you need to make a saline solution use: ¼ teaspoon non-iodized salt to 1 cup clean water for an isotonic solution. (A quick and dirty version is to mix 4 to-go salt packets and a 16.9 oz bottle of water. It’s not exact but it’s close, since most salt packets are ⅛ teaspoon.)
For those overwhelmed, heartbroken, and emotionally weary, a cup of rosebud tea helps bring a little balance to the chaos. A massage with the diluted essential oil can return an overactive heart to a more normal rhythm and ground a stressed-out state.
Change Through Knowledge and Community
Please spread this knowledge to those who need it, especially BIPOC and allies on the front lines. We see you. We support you. And in case you forgot: Black Lives Matter.