Embodiment for the Rest of Us – Season 1, Episode 4: Alishia McCullough

Thursday, October 14, 2021


It’s the first interview! Woohoo! Chavonne (she/her) and Jenn (she/her) interviewed Alishia McCullough (she/her) about her embodiment journey. To learn more about her work, feel free to connect with her on social media under the handle @blackandembodied.

Alishia McCullough is a millennial Licensed Clinical Mental Health Therapist currently residing in the DMV. She is also an independently published author of the book Blossoming. Alishia is passionate about racial healing, and anti-colonialism within eating disorders. She is motivated to increase access and create spaces for Black, Indigenous and People of the Global Majority to come together and heal in ways that inspire holistic wellness and liberation focused healing. Outside of her clinical work, she is a Co-Founder of the AmplifyMelanatedVoices Movement  and the Founder of The Holistic Black Healing Collective. Her work has been featured by Target, Bustle, Popsugar, LA Times, and Forbes.


Content Warning: discussion of privilege, mention of ableism


Trigger Warnings:

53:20: Jenn discusses the history of slavery on Turtle Island

53:54: Jenn discusses mass graves in North American residential schools

1:24:26: Alishia discusses experimentation on and exploitation of Black people


A few highlights:

4:22: Alishia shares her understanding of embodiment and her own embodiment journey

11:08: Alishia discusses how her IG presence came to be

13:31: Alishia discusses starting the #AmplifyMelanatedVoices Movement with Jessica Wilson

21:07: Alishia discusses her understanding of “the rest of us” and how she is a part of that, as well as her privileges

38:52: Alishia discusses how unchecked privilege from providers can cause harm

45:20: Alishia discusses how using BI&POC rather than BIPOC has changed her work

56:21: Correction: The activist discussed is Gloria Richardson and not Akeelah Richardson.

57:50: Alishia shares wise words to young people on how to support their embodied practices

1:06:47: Alishia discusses embodiment and religion

1:18:23: Alishia discusses how helping professionals can center the people they serve when working with them

1:24:51: Correction: The woman discussed is Sarah Baartman and not Sarah Barton.

1:28:31: Alishia shares how listeners can make a difference based on this conversation


Links from this episode:


Alishia McCullough

Alishia McCullough’s Patreon

Amplify Melanated Voices Movement


Black and Embodied

Credentialism (“letters”)

Enslavement on Turtle Island

Fatness Spectrum

“Food Is Not The Enemy” Article

Gloria Richardson

Imposter Syndrome

Jessica Wilson

Mass Graves of North American Indigenous Residential Schools

Medical-Industrial Complex

Quote about Identity from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Novel “Half of a Yellow Sun”

Religious Trauma, White Supremacy, & Eating Disorders Online Panel

Rosie Mensah

Sage and Spoon

Sarah Baartman


Music: “Wheel of Karma” by Jason Shaw


Please follow us on social media:

Twitter: @embodimentus

Instagram: @embodimentfortherestofus



Chavonne McClay (00:00:00):

Hello there! I’m Chavonne McClay, she/her.

Jennifer Jackson (00:00:16):

And I’m Jenn Jackson, she/her.

Chavonne McClay (00:00:19):

And this is Embodiment for the Rest of Us, a podcast series exploring topics within intersections that exist in fat liberation.

Jennifer Jackson (00:00:26):

In this show, we interview professionals and those with lived experience alike to learn how they’re affecting radical change and how we can all make this world a safer place for those living in larger bodies and in marginalized spaces.

Chavonne McClay (00:00:41):

Captions and content warnings are provided in the show notes for each episode, including specific timestamps so that you can skip triggering content any time that feels supported to you. This podcast is representation of our co-host and guest experiences and may not be reflected with yours. These conversations are not medical advice and are not a substitute for mental health or nutrition support.

Jennifer Jackson (00:01:04):

In addition, the conversations held here are not exhausted in scope or breadth. These topics, these perspectives are not complete and are always in process. These are just the highlights! Just like posts on social media or any other podcast, this is just a glimpse. We are always interested in any feedback on this process if something needs to be addressed. You can email us at listener, L-I-S-T-E-N-E-R, @embodimentfortherestofus.com. And now, for today’s episode.

Chavonne McClay (00:01:40):

Welcome to episode four of our first season of the podcast. And speaking of first, it’s the first interview! Yay!

Jennifer Jackson (00:01:47):


Chavonne McClay (00:01:52):

We interviewed Alishia McCullough, she/her about her embodiment journey.

Jennifer Jackson (00:01:58):

Alishia McCullough is a millennial, licensed clinical mental health therapist currently residing in the DMV. She is also an independently published author of the book, Blossoming. Alishia is passionate about racial healing and anti-colonialism within eating disorders. She’s motivated to increase access and create spaces for Black, Indigenous and people of the global majority to come together and heal in ways that inspire holistic wellness and liberation-focused healing.

Chavonne McClay (00:02:30):

Outside of her clinical work, she is a co-founder of the Amplify Melanated Voices Movement and the founder of the Holistic Black Healing Collective. Her work has been featured by Target, Bustle, PopSugar, LA Times, and Forbes. You can find her work on social media under the handle @blackandembodied.

Jennifer Jackson (00:02:49):

And now, for today’s episode. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Chavonne McClay (00:02:57):

We are so glad to have you with us for our very first interview. Yay! We are nervous and excited, pretty equally. We can’t wait to just be present in this conversation. Today, we have Alishia with us, someone we both adore. There is so much wisdom and kindness coming your way. How are you today, Alishia?

Alishia McCullough (00:03:21):

So far, I am doing pretty good today. I actually started off today pretty slow, and so that was a good thing. At first, I was kind of beating myself up a little. I was like, “Oh, I started my day a little late.” But honestly, I’m like, “Maybe this was just the flow that was needed for the day.” So I’m just giving myself that kindness and that compassion and that grace around, “However today flows is however today flows for me.”

Chavonne McClay (00:03:47):

Ooh, I need that reminder too. Thank you.

Alishia McCullough (00:03:49):


Chavonne McClay (00:03:49):

You have a nice ease into the day, and hopefully this continues to feel like an easeful day for you.

Alishia McCullough (00:03:58):

Yes, yes.

Jennifer Jackson (00:03:59):

I love that so much. So since we’re inside the context of this podcast, Embodiment for the Rest of Us, we’d love to start with asking a centering question about how these themes resonate. Can you share with us what embodiment means to you? It’s even part of your Instagram handle, something I noted. And what your embodiment journey was like, if you would like to share that with us.

Alishia McCullough (00:04:23):

Yeah! So for me, embodiment means to return back to ourselves. And so that, for me, looks like on a couple different levels. So one, returning to self and going back into your body, but also culturally returning to yourself by reclaiming your culture, as well as indigenous practices, and also dismantling things that you’ve been told about yourself that are just lies that are not there to serve you. That’s what I think about when I look at embodiment. And so what that practice has looked like for me is that one of the things I try to do every day … And it’s not done super scripted, but I do engage in yoga. Yoga is my way of being in my body in the morning or just an afternoon pick-me-up, and really just checking in and seeing where am I at for the day.

Alishia McCullough (00:05:14):

That’s a thing that I actually learned in grad school. I learned about meditation, and then yoga was the next thing that came along with that. So that’s been a way that I’ve been in my body, through yoga practice. And then regarding being in my body by returning back to my Indigenous culture and dismantling internalized oppression, that looks like me first noticing that I had internalized oppression. I was experiencing a lot of that oppression, the abuse behind it from these systems. Whether it’s White supremacy or sexism or patriarchy. I was experiencing all of that and wondering what’s going on with my life. And so it really took for me to be able to have names for what I was experiencing, but then also to figure out how have I internalized those things. Whether it’s patriarchy, sexism, misogyny, or other oppressed identities that I do not hold, knowing the ways that I internalized those as well and how those were also keeping me limited and just restricted.

Alishia McCullough (00:06:17):

It was really the journey of unpacking all of that, which led me to really create @blackandembodied, which is my Instagram page, to really talk about each of these different topics, specifically around body image, eating disorders, disordered eating, and look at how all of those things kind of intersect with each other. That’s what kind of led me to this journey, and I’m still doing it, right? I’m still working on disconnecting from the ways that oppression shows up in the small ways and in the bigger ways, and really reclaiming my own culture throughout that process and reclaiming my own Indigenous ways, and hopefully opening up a pathway for others to do the same.

Jennifer Jackson (00:06:59):

Something that really sticks out to me about what you said so far is the use of language in embodiment. Having something be yours, even the word reclaim feels like it’s a way to have it become part of ourselves. And then when you were talking about dismantle … I love that word related to topics like this. Because I like thinking of these things toppling down, that they’re not just internalized forever and that we have choice in the matter. We can do something, we can evolve, we can change, and we can ask the world to meet us in that place, which feels very much related to embodiment because we are embodied in the world. We’re not in a vacuum.

Jennifer Jackson (00:07:38):

And so thinking about this language and these words was just having me go with you on this journey as you were talking about it. I wanted to snap a lot while you were talking. Really held myself back because of the audio. And I also just really got present to your compassion for yourself. Even as you said it’s still happening, but I’m so present to how it is for you. And it made me feel really warm here across a Zoom where we’re not even in the same space. It made me feel really connected. And that’s something that really inspires me about embodiment is how connected it can feel and connecting it can feel, so thank you for sharing that.

Alishia McCullough (00:08:14):

Yes, thank you. Absolutely. I totally agree and know that even as you were talking about that, energy is not confined by our space or where we are. Energy just moves, and I think that’s the good thing about not being confined. Our embodiment practices causes us to, yes, return to our bodies, but also to find that space where we’re not confined, where we can expand and connect in so many different ways.

Jennifer Jackson (00:08:39):

Oh my God, I got chills! I just got shells. Okay.

Chavonne McClay (00:08:43):

I did too. I love your definition of embodiment and learning a little bit about your journey. One thing that really stuck out for me was noticing and naming internalized oppression. I think that’s not spoken about a lot. When I hear about embodiment, kind of in pop culture, there’s a lot of, “I take this on and I take this on and I embrace this.” But I think if you truly want to be an embodied person, I think you have to be willing to call yourself on your own shit. I don’t feel like I’m a completely embodied person if I’m not naming what I’m doing wrong so that I can repair and reflect even within myself.

Alishia McCullough (00:09:20):

Absolutely. Absolutely. I think that’s a huge part of it as well is being able to recognize the parts of you that are holding those privileged identities, and also that have been benefiting from those privileged identities, even though you might also hold oppression as well.

Chavonne McClay (00:09:34):

Yes, absolutely.

Alishia McCullough (00:09:35):

I think sometimes people get in this idea of, “Oh, I’m just oppressed,” when it’s like no. As human beings, we all have areas where we’re privileged in. And I think that’s important to be able to acknowledge so that one, that we can do something about it and use that privilege to make a road and a path for other folks to be able to step through and step on along their journey with us, but also so that we’re not continuing to perpetuate systems that are meant to keep us in this space of feeling as if we’re not good enough or we’re not worthy enough. And so I think that that is important, that we’re addressing that and then also working to undo that.

Chavonne McClay (00:10:09):

Ooh, yeah. It’s something that we talked about in maybe the last episode or the episode before. Acknowledging this privilege and finding it as something that you can use to help uplift yourself, uplift other people. Something we talk about a lot is kind of this imposter syndrome. Yeah, when I think about my privilege, I want to be able to use it as a way of helping others, helping myself. And often, imposter syndrome gets in the way. “Who am I? I don’t know if I’m the person who can always speak to that,” and that makes me think about your page. I love your Instagram page. This is a bit of a digression, but I have to say it. I don’t even social media, but if there’s a page I’m on, it’s yours.

Alishia McCullough (00:10:52):

Thank you.

Chavonne McClay (00:10:52):

And I wonder what made you decide to create such a prolific and important and very visible presence online to be able to talk about embodiment for people. What was your process with that?

Alishia McCullough (00:11:09):

Yeah! For me, it really started that at the time when I made my Instagram page, I was working in a super oppressed environment, a work environment. And so with that, I would often speak out at work about injustices that were being faced by me and others in the workplace. I would try to hold these “diversity meetings” and all of those things, and I wasn’t being heard. I do make all these efforts and do all this work, I lay out so many different articles with resources and all this, and I’m like, “People are going to change. I’ve done everything the way it’s supposed to be. People are going to change,” and I wasn’t heard. Those efforts, either they were not substantial or they were ignored and shut down. So I came across another opportunity to work at another job, and one of the things that the person that was going to employ me at the time mentioned was, “Hey, it’s important to have a social media presence around some of the things that you’re doing and talking about.”

Alishia McCullough (00:12:12):

I started off by just getting on social media, following some pages that I thought were saying some really important things around body image and body justice and all that. And through their work, I would re-share their things. I would just re-share things and say, “Oh. I relate to that. I relate to that.” But I really didn’t put myself out there for a couple months until I had the page because I was like, “Would people really want to hear my voice?” And that was from that trauma of being shut down at that job and in that workplace. I thought people didn’t want to hear what I had to say. So one day … I think it was January 1st, 2019 or something … I decided, I was like, “I’m going to make a post today.” I made the post, designed it on Canva, and uploaded it. And people liked it. I was like, “Okay, that’s interesting!” Social media, what it became for me was an outlet to say everything I wanted to say and that I was saying at my job and wasn’t being heard. It became that outlet to say all those things and put my energy in that area. That’s where I started to direct my attention, away from trying to talk to people that weren’t listening and to people in a space that were open and willing to hear what I had to offer to the world. And again, it started really small. I think I had a couple folks that I was following that I got really close with. And then through connections and meeting other folks, such as Jessica Wilson, we met and we both connected and we were like, “Hey, we’re both experiencing some similar injustices. Why don’t we make a post about this? Let’s do a shared post.”

Alishia McCullough (00:13:49):

Through our shared post was what really propelled the Amplify Melanated Voices Movement, which ended up going global. And I think that honestly was an alignment universally for both of us because the struggles that we were facing are not unique, unfortunately, and so many people related to that. Like I said, I was in an environment where my voice wasn’t being heard. So many people needed that as an opportunity to break out of that, to break out of that space of being silenced and unheard. And so I think it was honestly just universally aligned for that movement to work in the way it did, and for so many people to support it in the way that it was.

Jennifer Jackson (00:14:28):

Oh my gosh. Okay. I was so into listening about that. Thank you for asking that, Chavonne. Something that I picked up on about this, or you could tell me if I got this, but social media was a way to connect with yourself and with other people very simultaneously. This feeling of, “This is in alignment. This is working out.” This is surprisingly giving you what you needed on some level in some way, and to have it resonate globally. I actually didn’t even know that, but it resonated globally.

Alishia McCullough (00:15:04):


Jennifer Jackson (00:15:05):

I’m so glad that it did. It feels that it’s so important that it did.

Chavonne McClay (00:15:08):


Jennifer Jackson (00:15:09):

And also, I have a mixed relationship with social media. I think everyone does, a love/hate, and that actually felt very inspiring to me to want to share authentically. And that feels aligned with embodiment, that we can express ourselves from an embodied place, and that that’s what resonates. That’s what I heard in what you said.

Alishia McCullough (00:15:33):

Yes, yes.

Jennifer Jackson (00:15:33):

Oh, I love that.

Chavonne McClay (00:15:35):

Absolutely agree. I am the same way. I love/hate it, hate it more than I love it. And it makes me want to go post some things and actually let myself get heard and not go hide for the next two weeks that I should keep doing.

Alishia McCullough (00:15:46):

Yes, absolutely!

Jennifer Jackson (00:15:51):

Not just expressing ourselves, but I really just got, Chavonne, what you said, and just this whole reflective experience we’re having right now about social media, that it’s a place to hold ourselves and also to be heard by ourselves. I actually find that I re-share old content when it resonates newly. I’m like, “Wow, it doesn’t even feel like I wrote this.” It’s like a version of me from the past who wrote this, but it has a new resonance. And I was really hearing the possibility of that in what you’re saying, and just possibility in general. I think that’s why it felt really inspiring to me.

Alishia McCullough (00:16:22):

Wow. I think that’s so powerful because a lot of folks … once my page kind of blew up and I had hundreds of thousands of followers from everywhere … people were like, “Oh, what’s the formula? How do I get that?” And I’m kind of like, “I didn’t go in with the intention of this.” I didn’t go in with the intention of popularity or having all this influence. My intention was really to speak from the heart and to put my heart into my page. Everything that I was went into my Instagram page, and everything that I am goes into it. And so I don’t plan my content. Literally, I could be sitting on my couch looking out the window, and an idea will come to me and I’ll say, “Oh, time to type and go in about this topic here.” Or I’ll be dealing with something and I’m like, “That really pisses me off,” and I’m like, “I’m going to write about that.” And so it really comes from the raw, authentic emotions that I’m feeling in the moment. I just put it out there.

Alishia McCullough (00:17:12):

And so Jenn, when you were saying, “Hey, I look back at my posts sometimes and I’m like, ‘Who wrote that?'” I do that all the time. I’ll look back to a post and I’m like, “Oh my God, I created this whole thing here?” or, “This was actually an idea?” And I think it’s just because something happens when we’re in ourselves and in our bodies, and we’re able to create in that way. It’s almost like we’re taken outside of this physical realm that we’re in and put into this other dimension so that we can do this, put it out there, and then just have it there and relate to so many people in the moments that they need.

Chavonne McClay (00:17:45):

Right. And I know your goal wasn’t to have this huge following and to have this much influence, but I think you do because of that. Because you’re practicing embodiment and you are being your authentic self, and you have so many important things to say that we just flock to you. I’m such a fangirl.

Jennifer Jackson (00:18:01):

Me too. Also, something in what you said when you talked about going to another realm, another plane, another dimension, these sorts of things come to mind. A plac.e where we can try on what it’s like to be ourselves as fully expressed is what I was also hearing in what you said. And playtime, I was hearing. Even if it’s something that makes you angry or is volatile in some way, those kinds of feelings that you get to play around with it. That kind of playtime feels like real practice to me, and I actually feel that. So I follow you on Patreon as well, and I feel that there also. That there is in the prompts that you offer there. The way … I’ve actually used this word before about you … that it feels ethereal. Very similar to what you were describing.

Jennifer Jackson (00:18:56):

It doesn’t feel outside of myself. It feels deep within myself. I hadn’t considered that perspective before. I hadn’t interrogated that in myself before. And also, that I have never given myself the opportunity to express myself to myself about this topic. It’s not in my imagining. It’s in your imagining.

Alishia McCullough (00:19:17):


Jennifer Jackson (00:19:18):

And so I feel very held by you in that kind of space too. I feel held in this conversation right now. I feel held on your social media of any kind. You have a real presence about you of holding other people, which tells me we can’t do that unless we hold ourselves first.

Alishia McCullough (00:19:31):


Jennifer Jackson (00:19:32):

So I’m also really getting present to how much you hold yourself and how strong your practice is.

Chavonne McClay (00:19:37):


Alishia McCullough (00:19:37):

Yes. Thank you so much. Yes. Yes. It is not easy work at all. I was just talking to a spiritualist that I’m in community with and I was getting some work done. So essentially, I do a lot of spirituality work, whether it’s getting readings done or divinations and things like that, and really connecting with my own ancestral lineage and all that. That was one of the things that came up was that for me, when signs, when ancestors, when universe, God, higher power, whoever communicates to me, that it’s kind of like this thing of, “This is where we are now and you’re going to have to make some challenging steps to get to where you need to be. But you can’t lead other people to that space or even advocate for that space for other people unless you’ve met yourself there first.” That’s been a big part of my journey. I’m not going to tell somebody to go somewhere where I haven’t been.

Chavonne McClay (00:20:36):

Ooh, yeah. Ooh, that’s powerful. That’s really powerful. I had to dance for a second. I got chills. That was great. I’d like to go to the next part of the title of our podcast, which is rest of us. I’d like to ask what does the rest of us mean to you and how do you identify as the rest of us? And also, further on, if you don’t mind telling us how you identify your privileges as well. I think it’s really important to keep that in mind when we talk about embodiment.

Alishia McCullough (00:21:07):

Absolutely. When I think about the rest of us, first I think about the context of the eating disorder field. And so when we think about the eating disorder field as it’s always been, it’s always been White, thin, cisgendered women that have dominated this field, whether it’s through being practitioners or being those that are receiving treatment, or even those that are doing the theories and techniques that inform the work that we’re doing. It’s always been … and specifically with techniques and theories … more White, cisgendered men. But it’s mostly been dominated by that White superiority complex. And so when I think about the rest of us, I think about those that don’t fall within those ranges, that don’t fall within those categories.

Alishia McCullough (00:21:53):

One of the things that I do think is important is to name what categories I fall into and which areas that I hold privilege. And so when I think about my oppressed identities, I’m a Black woman, but I’m also a cisgendered woman. So that is privilege that I do hold within community in that I’m not being targeted because of the fact that I do identify within the gender binary. I’m not being targeted as other folks have been. Also, I think about the fact that I’m able-bodied, so I’m not also experiencing disability discrimination. I think it’s so important when we’re talking about just body image in general to also name that while I might go to my medical provider and I might be labeled within the trash BMI as the O word. I try not to use that because I know the O word is specifically a word that was created by the medical system to discriminate and to basically just institute hatred on people that are in fat bodies.

Chavonne McClay (00:22:55):


Alishia McCullough (00:22:56):

While I have been classified in those ranges and I have experienced people talking about my body or negative comments and internalized fatphobia, personally I exist in a straight-sized body, and so I don’t navigate the world in the way that somebody that is not in a straight-sized body would navigate the world. I think when I look at privileges, I hold a lot of privileges. Yes I do experience, like I said, the oppression of being a Black woman living in America, as well as being kind of lower SES status, socioeconomic status, and some other things as well. But those big pieces there also hold privilege, and so I think that even in my work, I censor voices that hold those identities. And I’m always trying to unpack and learn the ways that I might be contributing to the oppression of folks that are in those communities as well.

Chavonne McClay (00:23:43):


Jennifer Jackson (00:23:44):

Oh my gosh.

Chavonne McClay (00:23:45):

That was great.

Jennifer Jackson (00:23:47):

Yeah. We say that a lot too. That was great.

Chavonne McClay (00:23:50):

When we get bowled over, we’re like, “Let’s say that was great!”

Jennifer Jackson (00:23:56):

I even put it into our scripts. “That was great.”

Alishia McCullough (00:24:00):

I bet!

PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:24:04]

Alishia McCullough (00:24:00):


Jennifer Jackson (00:24:04):

I’m really getting a lot out of just being in the presence of you talking through something, listening to you reflect on what feels like a macro and micro level at the same time, which feels really powerful to me. I’m trying to wrap my brain around that because there’s something just very, it’s just sitting in my body as I listen about what intersections lie within us that send us in this direction or that direction, which could be up, down or whatever.

Jennifer Jackson (00:24:35):

It’s also actually making me think about the sense of loss that comes from having these conversations. And what I mean by that is when we realize that we hold a privilege to really engage in it and to reduce the harm that we do through that identity that we have to mourn, that it can’t be the same for us anymore. It’s something I was just sitting with right now as you said, that it feels so important in a caring profession and just as a person to try not to harm other people. And that requires more presence and a building of more and more presence, not less over time. It’s always going to feel like work.

Alishia McCullough (00:25:15):


Jennifer Jackson (00:25:16):

Even if it brings us something so spectacular as in opening our minds and our lives to not harming, to reduce… I don’t think that’s really possible. To reducing harm.

Alishia McCullough (00:25:26):


Jennifer Jackson (00:25:27):

Repairing, restoring from when there is harm, and also a process of growth, evolution, transformation. I want to use the word elevation, but that actually feels supremacist right after you saying. We don’t need to become purely good in this way or anything, but somewhere that feels like not where we were before, whatever that is to us. I felt that swirling around me. I was so present to me in my body listening to that, realizing that I want to do more grief work about this for myself so that I can notice it before, not during and after.

Jennifer Jackson (00:26:02):

That’s really my journey right now. I notice a lot of things during or after, and there’s a lot of repair and restore. Ideally, I don’t know if this is possible for me, but I’m still going to go for it. I’d like to notice before. I really would so that I can be present to harm that I might be doing in real time. Like, “Oh, I’m so sorry that that happened. I just noticed. Can I please repair with you here? I really want to have presence to that.” So thank you for that. Yeah, thank you for that.

Alishia McCullough (00:26:26):

Yes, absolutely.

Chavonne McClay (00:26:28):

And I think in thinking about the grief that might come around from recognizing privilege, making sure that grief doesn’t morph into guilt, and I was. As you were speaking, I have a certain aspect of my identity that has changed in the last few years. I did not grow up in a family that had the amount of financial privilege that I do now. And so there’s definitely been some, it sounds silly, but there’s been some grief about not being able to identify with the need to hustle, the need to work nonstop to make sure that I can survive. But there also has been a lot of work and still needs to continue to be work in that it doesn’t become this amount of guilt where I feel like I need to shrink myself.

Chavonne McClay (00:27:12):

It’s, how can I use this to, not elevate, but to hold space for other people to make a difference in some way? That’s sitting with me. Because when I think about people, Jen, you someone else who’s like I’m [inaudible 00:27:27] the fact that I can’t sit with this amount of privilege, whatever it is, if it’s, say for instance, it is white privilege so it doesn’t turn into white guilt. So that it turns into, I am white, I am going to use my privilege in order to do blank and hold space for other people who do identify as the rest of us in some way.

Alishia McCullough (00:27:48):

Yeah. I think that’s so powerful. And I’m actually even still sitting with that, like you said, of how sometimes even our identities change throughout our lives and just what that might look like for you as you’re holding space for the newness. But without that survivor’s guilt or even just guilt in general, right? Letting that go, I think that is so powerful just to even sit with and think about holding space for that. And I think that for me, it’s been helpful to lean into both those privileged and oppressed identities because they really do, for me anyway, help me understand each side. The more I lean into understanding where I hold oppression, the more it’s like, okay, and now I can think more about the ways that I am privileged. Or the more that I have privilege and lean into those and say, here’s ways that I’m changing to make it better for those. It’s almost like I can understand each side a little better.

Chavonne McClay (00:28:40):

Absolutely. That’s really good. I hadn’t even thought of it that way. Absolutely.

Jennifer Jackson (00:28:45):

So this is so cliche, but it’s two sides of the same coin. If you don’t pay attention to the side that’s on the table or on the floor, it seems really glistening like, “Ooh, there’s money.” But when you turn it over, that’s where the dirt is. Not that we’re dirty, I mean gritty stuff, the stuff that’s sticky and gritty, that side of thing, the stuff that was touching the gross road is really how that sticks out in my mind.

Jennifer Jackson (00:29:10):

We were talking about embodiment journey before and also, as we’re all reflecting in this space, something else I’m getting present to is not only is it a journey, but each part of that journey is just as important as the other parts. Some feel positive and warm, some feel negative and nothing but grief. Some of them feel depressive, some of them feel full of anticipation or regret or feelings like that, and sensations in the body.

Jennifer Jackson (00:29:39):

And I’m just really getting present to how much value there actually is in exploring each of those places that there’s a sort of evenness. The word balance is so tricky, but there’s a sort of balance or center to come to because we’ve done the work of both of those things is something I’m realizing I would like to work on the. This is called shadow work, or the shadow side. I would like to really consider what doesn’t work. Where do I think I’m not causing harm anymore, and yet, here I still am? Like those kinds of moments. I want to be more embodied in a way, and I want to support clients in a way that they can be more embodied where they get to be… Transparency and authenticity are both coming to mind.

Alishia McCullough (00:30:24):


Chavonne McClay (00:30:24):


Alishia McCullough (00:30:28):

Yes. The harmony of those.

Jennifer Jackson (00:30:31):

Ooh, that’s the word I was looking for. Not balance, harmony. That’s it.

Alishia McCullough (00:30:35):

I was feeling that when you were talking, that word was coming up.

Jennifer Jackson (00:30:39):

Oh, thank you. Thank you for that gift. I always say balance is a problem, and then I never think of what to say next. Thank you for that gift. I’m going to take that with me. I’m writing it down for everyone who cannot see us.

Jennifer Jackson (00:30:52):

Because it has the same, there’s a real resonance to that. I can feel it within myself. And also, like you said earlier about energy transfer, I can feel it in the air around me. There’s something about that has a very particular feeling in my body. So thank you very much for that wonderful gift.

Alishia McCullough (00:31:11):


Chavonne McClay (00:31:12):

It just keeps popping up for me. As we’re talking about our privilege and acknowledgement of our privilege as providers, how is it for you to work with clients who also come from these marginalized populations, but maybe they experience more marginalization than you? Because of the bullshit BMI of the medical industrial complex, you are identified by medical providers under the O word. But you are able to shop in straight sizes.

Alishia McCullough (00:31:46):


Chavonne McClay (00:31:46):

And I think we all have these kind of rest of us identities, but may not always are further along the spectrum of that. How do you do the work and how do you hold space for people who you can identify in that way, but maybe not to that extreme? So in ways that you hold more privilege within this marginalized space, how do you hold space for people who have less privilege within it?

Alishia McCullough (00:32:12):

Absolutely. And so I think that goes back to that piece around how when you hold privilege and oppressed identities, each one can kind of work harmoniously to help you understand each one. And so I think about, and I put myself in a predicament of if I was in therapy and I’m working with, for example, and this just comes to mind more, if I was working with a white therapist, what are some things that I would need to show up in that dynamic and get the support I need? Well, one, I think the question is, can I even show up in that dynamic? Do I have so much trauma from the system of white supremacy that even sitting in the room or across from a white provider, would that be too triggering for me? And so that’s the first thing.

Alishia McCullough (00:32:50):

And then the second thing I would have to think about is even if I’m in here, what am I giving up to be in this room with this provider? What type of things would I have to explain or ways that I second guess things even as I’m going through the healing journey with this white provider? And is that worth it? And then the third thing is thinking about if none of that’s at play, am I going to be able to heal?

Alishia McCullough (00:33:13):

And so I take that same experience that I would use if I was in the room and apply it to the work that I’m doing with clients that don’t hold as much privilege as I do. And so the first thing I’ll ask the client, I’ll be transparent, firstly. I’ll first be transparent and say, “Here’s the size body that I exist in.” Now that we’re in Zoom, a lot of the times with the pandemic, they can’t really see you that much. So I’ll name it, “I exist in this size body, here’s the privilege that I hold.”

Alishia McCullough (00:33:39):

And is this based on how you’re coming in? And it’s totally fine if you feel like you don’t want to or you can’t, or it’s too much. Do you feel like this is a dynamic that is going to help you heal? And I hold so much compassion and space for wherever they’re at with that. And so some folks might say like, “You’re right. Nope, I didn’t think about it. And I actually would prefer to work with a provider that is in a bigger body or does hold these specific identities.” And I totally understand that. I release them with love and try to find them someone that does hold those identities.

Alishia McCullough (00:34:09):

Maybe they’re saying, “Yeah, I can work with you, but there’s things that I might be second guessing.” And so then I’m intentional, as the provider, to go do my research. Also make sure that I’m learning, checking myself in the process and being very intentional in that dynamic with that person so they’re not feeling like they’re a burden or they’re having to do more work in our relationship with each other. And then if it is that we’re working together pretty well, I’m still just being intentional throughout, asking questions, checking in, giving them permission to completely call me out because that’s okay. And that’s the way we need to dismantle the field. I’m not the expert. I’m learning, and I’m a part of this journey with them, but I don’t want to put that burden onto them. And so just being really intentional about how I’m showing up in a way that fosters an equal relationship versus one where it’s like, I’m this head therapist with all these degrees and titles and all that, and they’re this client who’s just showing up and having to conform to whatever treatment plan or whatever that I have planned for them. It’s about co-creating and creating that dual dynamic where they feel like an agent in their healing as well.

Jennifer Jackson (00:35:23):

That made me want you to be my therapist?

Chavonne McClay (00:35:29):

So let’s just pretend we never spoke before and I’ll just-

Jennifer Jackson (00:35:31):

Alishia who?

Alishia McCullough (00:35:36):

Exactly. Cancel the podcast.

Chavonne McClay (00:35:37):

Podcast done. I’m moving to your state. One thing that really… That whole answer just blew me away. And transparency is so important. And the way that you hold space for just us, it shows how much space you’re holding for your clients, how much space you’re holding for yourself. The question that really made me have to, I almost fell out of my seat, was thinking about if I’m going into these spaces, how much… I might be forgetting because my head’s spinning, it was such a good thing that you said. But how much am I willing to lose? How much am I willing to give up of myself by being in this space? And I think that’s so important because we all live in a world where we’re not always welcome based on certain identities. How much am I willing to lose by being present with this person? Wow. Whoa, that was good.

Alishia McCullough (00:36:30):


Jennifer Jackson (00:36:33):

Yes. And I heard one of your favorite words, Chavonne, in my head while I was listening to her, which is discernment, to be able to discern.

Chavonne McClay (00:36:39):


Alishia McCullough (00:36:41):

Yes, yes, yes.

Jennifer Jackson (00:36:43):

The opportunity… Also, very trauma sensitive was also, I was sitting with that. The people that you work with, and this includes you as the practitioner that you get to choose which spaces you hold, that your clients get to choose who they co-create with. I loved all the co kind of language in there. And as the sessions continue or not, that is always present. So I’m hearing this in embodiment language. Now, a chance to be embodied with each other without losing either of yourselves in this process. So she was talking about, well, clients think about what is too much to lose? But also as the practitioner, right, we are human beings. It’s something I’m always trying to think about for myself because I used to leave myself out of this conversation. How embodied am I getting to be?

Alishia McCullough (00:37:35):


Jennifer Jackson (00:37:36):

What are my boundaries and more importantly, what are my limits? When does it feel too far? And how can I not lose myself in this process either? Feels like the opportunity for reducing harm and having really clear and transparent conversations comes from a space like that.

Alishia McCullough (00:37:52):

Yes. Absolutely.

Jennifer Jackson (00:37:56):

[inaudible 00:37:56] Yeah. So those who can’t see me, I’m shaking in my chair, just feeling that in my body. So that’s also really make me think of the next question that I want to ask you, Alishia. A word that’s come up a couple of times in what you’ve responded, intersectionality and intersections, which I’m hearing also now along with the word harmony, which feels really important. Because we often think about it just in terms of oppression and marginalization, push down and out. I’m hearing a new element of this, and I’m really curious how this sits for you. Different intersections about embodiment. Privilege is about embodiment or lack thereof, and how unchecked privilege from providers, kind of the opposite of what we were just talking about, can cause harm and how that sits for you.

Alishia McCullough (00:38:53):

Yeah. So I often think about how does it look for folks that we’re telling to just be positive. Just be positive about your body. Just be in your body. How does that look for people that don’t identify with the body they’ve been assigned. For our folks that are gender expansive, for our folks that are transgender, what does it look like for you to tell them, “Hey, just be in the body and be positive about it.” When again, that body is not something that makes them feel empowered or liberated in, and they don’t want to feel positive about it. And I think that’s where our privileges can come in, especially when we don’t hold a gender expansive identity or a trans identity, that those privileges can come in when we’re telling folks to do something and to be embodied with something that doesn’t make them feel the most free. And so I think that’s a big piece of it to be intentional about, when we look at intersectionality.

Chavonne McClay (00:39:46):

Ooh, ooh.

Jennifer Jackson (00:39:49):

Ooh. It’s reminding me of something we were talking about earlier, about naming and also asking. So I was just hearing there, what works for them, what language works for them?

Alishia McCullough (00:40:01):


Jennifer Jackson (00:40:03):

Which expansive conversations work for them? What feels like the edge of comfort for them? And also, what feels like a topic not to be touched right now. And maybe even a chance to say, “Can I ask you about this later on? And you tell me how it feels then.” Something that feels important, maybe important to them, but now is not the time. Creating space both for this is the time, and also this is not the time. I was really hearing that in what you said. That was amazing.

Alishia McCullough (00:40:31):


Chavonne McClay (00:40:33):

I think it also plays into the idea of when we’re talking about unchecked privilege, the letters.

Jennifer Jackson (00:40:39):


Chavonne McClay (00:40:40):

Yes, degrees. It’s creating more of a collaborative environment, like you said, co-creating. And if you’re not checking that privilege, even if you aren’t acknowledging it, there’s this power differential. So I think it’s important to name it, naming and claiming. I’m coming in with all these letters behind my name, and if I’m not acknowledging that, that can lead to a person really feeling even more disembodied because they feel like they can’t speak for themselves and what’s right for them because, “Well, I don’t have any letters. I don’t know what I’m talking about.” That’s another part of privilege, I think that’s really important in treatment for sure.

Alishia McCullough (00:41:16):

Absolutely. And when you were saying that, it made me think about how when we have our letters, we go through these programs, we get our certifications and our licensure and our degrees. We’ve been taught and trained through the lens of white supremacy that tells us that we’re the experts, that it’s about us, that that’s why we’re showing up in these spaces. It’s all about us and the practitioner being this high and mighty expert or something.

Alishia McCullough (00:41:42):

Whereas, a way of reframing it for me has been about, it’s not even about me. Let me take myself out of this dynamic. What it really is, is that when I have the privilege of holding space for someone, that it’s about something that they need, whether it’s from the universe, whether it’s from their own lineages, whether it’s from just anything, it’s something that they need. And I’m kind of the instrument that’s being used, the vessel in some ways, that’s being used to get that message out and across to them in this space. And so it is important to center what they need. It is important to co-create it, to ask them what language works best for you so that the message can come across better and that you can heal and be well around this language and around this process. And so that’s what I kind of see it as, that reframe from, it’s all about me and all the things I’ve done, and I’m this person to, no, this is the person across from me and what do they need?

Jennifer Jackson (00:42:36):

And how can you meet them there right now?

Alishia McCullough (00:42:42):


Jennifer Jackson (00:42:42):

Which makes me think about the potential of reflection. What I just heard and what you just said is this, am I missing the mark about that?

Alishia McCullough (00:42:49):


Jennifer Jackson (00:42:49):

It feels really important to have the vulnerability of not thinking you have it right from the very first moment of hearing something. And also, when you talk about co-creating, I was like, yeah, this space is being held with the person, not for the person. That’s what, dieticians, which is what I can speak to and public health is taught to say the voice for the voiceless and underrepresented and all of these sorts of… I’m like, “They’re right there. They’re people. They exist.’ I think these institutions and us as agents of these institutions and degrees and professions are this unlearning process that we do that I can hear is very rich in this conversation right now, is reminding ourselves that they’re people.

Alishia McCullough (00:43:33):


Chavonne McClay (00:43:34):


Jennifer Jackson (00:43:34):

We’re people, which we’ve talked about a lot already. Also, they’re people and I want them to be… Well, I’m not going to speak for either of you, but I want them to be people first, not my client first.

Chavonne McClay (00:43:45):


Jennifer Jackson (00:43:45):

They don’t have to show up for me in a particular way. I will do my absolute best to meet them where they are whenever it is that we engage with one another because that’s part of the process, is that’s a rare space. That’s what I’m getting present to right now, that it’s a rare space for someone to actually hold space for us as we are.

Alishia McCullough (00:44:05):


Jennifer Jackson (00:44:06):

Which is imperfect. And yet, it’s often not the space that we encounter with other people in our profession who have not done this similar level of work. And I have a lot of work to do. I’m not trying to say I’ve done all the work. It’s more like right now, I can tell that the unlearning that I’ve done, because I can hear it in this conversation, is really like, it’s with them, under them, around them. When you said vessels, yeah, like a virtual hug space. I’m a hugger, that’s why I always go to hugs. Also, the word sacred is coming to mind.

Alishia McCullough (00:44:40):

Yes, sacred.

Jennifer Jackson (00:44:42):

This space is not just special. There’s something about, and it’s not because of us, it’s because of them. They bring that. We just hold it, with them again, not for them.

Alishia McCullough (00:44:55):


Chavonne McClay (00:45:00):

Talking about all of us and holding space for people who need space and are always giving space reminds me of a change that you’ve made recently in your language on Instagram and in your life that feels really, really important. How has intentionally using BI and POC rather than BIPOC, changed the scope of your work?

Alishia McCullough (00:45:22):

So for me, it’s really acknowledged the separate and unique struggles and the ways that those with more privilege have more work to do around really unpacking anti-blackness. But also, again, really holding space for the ways that we can show up uniquely. And so I think sometimes, for example, even when we look at black indigenous, a lot of times we can name someone as being black, but we don’t see black people as being indigenous to a place. Black people are indigenous to a lot of places throughout the world. And so I think it gives and holds space for that as well as the indigenous folks and the struggles and the colonization and things that they went through all over the world as well. Because indigenous folks are indigenous to a lot of different places as well, not just America. And so I think that’s important to say.

Alishia McCullough (00:46:08):

And then I think separating people of color is really intentional because it does allow for those to define their own way within that rim of color. And so for example, some folks might be white passing and so they can classify themselves within the POC range while also acknowledging that while, for example, they might be a lighter-skinned POC and they do experience oppression, that it’s not the same oppression that someone who might be a darker-skinned, black indigenous person, would face when we look at that term. And so I think it really offers that complexity to the ways that identity show up.

Alishia McCullough (00:46:45):

Now with saying that, I will say that even for these acronyms, that we didn’t necessarily create these to define ourselves, that other people created to define it for us. And so while I use it as this scope of understanding, I don’t also box in the understanding of what that means for folks. And so I try to use it as a way of describing, but also open it up and say, but that’s not it. There’s so many other ways to identify, and giving folks access to identifying whatever ways that feel best for them.

Jennifer Jackson (00:47:20):

Oh my goodness. So you can’t see me on this podcast. We’re on a Zoom, recording this, but again, this is all audio. So I am a white woman. And so as I’m thinking about this and really sitting with this and realizing that the language that Chavonne had in her question and that you talked in such a great way about, in other words, really landed and sunk in over here, that I want to, it’s kind of like what we were saying before about intersectionality with clients and reducing harm. What language is important to people? And considering the direction of our language, that it doesn’t keep-

PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [00:48:04]

Jennifer Jackson (00:48:03):

And considering the direction of our language that it doesn’t keep coming from this place of power, that it comes from what people would like to be referred to as, like reclaiming the word fat, for example, comes to mind as a kind of adjacent conversation. And that it’s not up to me. That’s something I was just really sitting with and I was like, “I have no idea of what I would say here.” And I thought, well, that seems like a good thing that I did not have something to say there, that I wanted to take on what you said for you. And that’s not me tooting my own horn. I’m just trying to say, what I’m learning in real time or really getting, and I think that would take… I just need to sit with that and make sure that I practice that to make sure that I’m this, Chavonne, earlier you said not disembodying people.

Jennifer Jackson (00:48:51):

That one just really came across the internet and slapped me in the face. I was like, “Oh yes.” The kind of harm that shows up that we are taught from these white supremacist structures and that I am an easy agent of, as a white woman, that we don’t… I don’t know if this is a verb or not, microaggress, like using microaggressions in a session that undermine the work we’re actually trying to do, the space we’re trying to hold, and the clarity with which we want clients to have with us or with themselves. That our words can sink in a way, when they come from that place, where we may not notice that we’ve asked them to be disembodied and they may not realize that that’s what’s happening because of this internalized trauma that you’ve been referring to, Alishia, that we may not notice this happening.

Jennifer Jackson (00:49:44):

It’s not just that it’s internalized and noticing it. It’s like how do we get it out of there? How do we notice it when it happens again? So really just, I was hearing a reminder to myself in there to first of all, say we and us about white women, that’s something I used to not do. And to reflect in session and ask myself, “Is any of that going on?” Can I find any traces of that, is something I was just really thinking and getting present to. So again, thank you for that gift.

Alishia McCullough (00:50:14):

Yeah, absolutely. And I think even here, you talk, Jen, what really came up for me was a concrete example. And so I’ve been in spaces where someone’s been like, yeah, they referred to me as a POC. Like they’ve said like, “Yeah, because I know POCs or I know us POCs,” it might be someone who’s not black saying this, “Us POCs.” And I immediately know that in my body there’s like this constriction in my chest. It feels like, right? Okay.

Chavonne McClay (00:50:39):

Yes. I’m like, oh no,

Alishia McCullough (00:50:42):

Listen. Right? Because like you’re saying Chavonne too, in agreeing with, I’m like, when you say that, well, yes, I am a person of color by, I’m of color, but you’re erasing the blackness part of that. So now it feels like that I’ve been clumped in with this when in fact, it takes out all the things that have to do with blackness as well. And so for me, it is that moment of disembody it because my chest crunches and now I’m thinking, going through the thing in my head of, “Are they intentionally saying this or do they know the implications of what they’re saying? Should, in this moment, I stand up for myself? What will that do for our unity?” And all of those things. Because I think sometimes even with unity, it requires for you to erase yourself to be a part of, in solidarity with someone else.

Chavonne McClay (00:51:33):

Absolutely. Absolutely. I’m the same way. If someone says to me, “Woman of color,” I’m like, “Oh, no, no, no, no.” Blackity-black black.

Alishia McCullough (00:51:38):

Blackity-black black.

Chavonne McClay (00:51:38):

That’s right. All day, every day. It just does not feel right for me. And I don’t know how you feel about African American, but I don’t even being called African-American.

Alishia McCullough (00:51:51):


Chavonne McClay (00:51:52):

I have had people apologize, like, “Oh, it just feels better. I thought it was being more respectful.” I’m like, “No. Black.”

Alishia McCullough (00:51:57):

Yep. Black.

Chavonne McClay (00:51:58):

Black. And honestly, I hadn’t even thought of, showing my own privilege or my own lack of education, this is why I love you and I love your page, and I’m going to fan girl again for a second. Just the black indigenous, when you said that black people are indigenous. I was like, “Oh my God, holy shit. Oh my God, I got to go read for the next three hours and get my head on straight about this.” I read your post or I remember texting you about reading your post and saying, that was huge, and I hadn’t even thought of it this way. But now it even feels even more nuanced for me and using that term in a really intentional way, both personally and professionally. So thank you for explaining that. That was just huge for me.

Alishia McCullough (00:52:44):

Yes. And to that, Chavonne, I’ll add, I saw a post on Instagram or Facebook, I can’t remember, and I don’t want to ruin her name, she is a poet. Again, I don’t want to say her name wrong. But she had this quote where she said, ” Before I was black, I was African. And before I was defined as Nigerian, I was actually Igbo, which is a cultural group within Nigeria.” And it made me really kind of even reframe my thinking, like, yes, I do identify with black and I’m so much more.

Alishia McCullough (00:53:18):

For me, I’ve been doing this past year has really caused me to do a lot of internal cultural work. And so I’ve been finding out where my people are from. And so for me, my people are from the Sierra Leone, the country of Sierra Leone in Africa, as well as my paternal side is from Nigeria. And I’m learning specifically about the different tribal groups that we are a part of. And so that’s been a second part of connecting back and returning back home of before Sierra Leone was renamed by the colonizers or Nigeria was renamed by the colonizers, I belong to two distinct groups in Africa that had their own cultures, customs, food, all of these things. And so even as I hold space for this collective identity of blackness, that was created out of oppression, and I really do connect with that, that there’s also so much more that I connect to and belong to as well and centering around that too.

Chavonne McClay (00:54:08):

Ooh, my goodness.

Jennifer Jackson (00:54:16):

My head is spinning slightly, but I’m going to try to articulate this question anyway. So this was get reminding me of something that I just learned recently, which again speaks to my privileges that I had no idea something like this was happening. In the United States, internal island, let’s talk about all of North America, that among Indigenous populations that there were slaves inside of these populations who were of darker skin.

Alishia McCullough (00:54:39):


Jennifer Jackson (00:54:39):

So even among the people that are mentioned in this acronym, there are oppressions from one group to another.

Alishia McCullough (00:54:49):


Jennifer Jackson (00:54:50):

Which is true everywhere. This is just an example of that. And also thinking about the latest conversation about residential schools in Canada and now the United States, where they’re unearthing these mass graves that were planned in the residential schools, because they knew there was going to be a need for graves. This is a very intentional, forward driven dynamic of racism, oppression, marginalization, violence and death. And getting present to how, I want to say revolutionary, but I think I want to use a different word, but just as I was listening to both of you, I was like. This is the conversation I was hoping I would get to hear from both of you today that I would have the honor and to be present.

Jennifer Jackson (00:55:35):

I have a lot of humility of being in this moment and really getting that it was really important that it was shared here, especially with things like this where it’s kind of like when we talk about Martin Luther King and there’s a lot of white people using those quotes out of context and saying, “Look, he agrees with me. Look, he agrees with my oppression of you. Look, he agrees with the fact that you can’t rise up in violence against me.” All of those kinds of things, is also, and not only do they use his quotes, but very intentionally, pictures of anyone in this sort of civil rights movement are black and white that it looks like it’s from the past. Even though I’m so sorry that I do not know her name right now, Richardson? I have it in my head. I see her face, I just cannot remember her name.

Alishia McCullough (00:56:18):

Akilah Richardson.

Jennifer Jackson (00:56:20):

Yes, thank you. She just died recently and was part of this movement, and every single picture of her, except for the most recent one, was black and white, even though it was about 50 years of her life.

Alishia McCullough (00:56:34):


Jennifer Jackson (00:56:36):

I’m like, but it’s something that I’m beginning to get as I try to not just be in my privilege and have it internalized, but listen to conversations like this and be in these kinds of spaces where I’m listening that I’m really getting… I can tell I’m listening because what I’m getting is that it’s very much in the here and now. What I really get is that I would like to notice things in real time. It’s something that I think I already said.

Jennifer Jackson (00:57:01):

And then I’m really wanting to acknowledge as I’m listening to you, Alishia, in this conversation that we’re having, things are happening in real time. Racism is not a thing of the past. The direction of terms is like racism causes poor health outcomes. Not race, racism, the direction of oppression, the nowness of things that are happening as well as people in the lives of black, indigenous and people of color and whatever label they would like to be called that their grandparents, their parents, people in their lives currently have gone through these things that feel like they’re in the past because of the black and white photos, but are very much now.

Jennifer Jackson (00:57:44):

Not just in their lives, but also in your life, the generation that you are, Alishia and Chavonne, and I am. So Alishia, in thinking about that, it makes me want to ask you, if you could tell any young black person, indigenous person, person of color, including your younger self, anything to support their embodied practices with these things in mind, this really rich conversation that we’re having, what would it be or what would they be if there’s more than one that comes to mind?

Alishia McCullough (00:58:11):

Yes. I had a recent experience that really connected to this question as an adult actually. And so I was in this reclaiming healing workshop for black and women [inaudible 00:58:24]. And in that workshop we did this activity where we were defining and listening to what is your yes, what is your no and what is your uncertain? And so through the practice, our facilitator guided us in literally saying like, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes,” and feeling like, where is that yes in my body? Is it in my heart? Is it in my shoulders? Is it in my stomach? Where is my yes? And then you do the same with no, like, “No, no, no, no, no, no.” And you notice, where does no sit in my body? And you start really describing, is it intense? Is it sharp? Where is it at? Because then when something comes up for you and you need that intuitive knowing, you can go back to that place.

Alishia McCullough (00:59:02):

If I’m being asked to do something that feels uncomfortable, I check in and say, “Is my stomach turning right now? Is my chest feeling heavy?” Oh, that’s my no. And so that’s how I know, by listening to my body. And if I could tell any young person is really starting to really be intuitive with what is your yes, what is your no and what is your uncertain? And that’s something that I wish that we would teach young folks from a younger age is knowing those intuitive answers so that they can set boundaries and also stand up for themselves and know what feels more authentic to me to do and what feels like I’m just doing it because I feel like I have to do it or it’s some other thing outside of myself.

Chavonne McClay (00:59:46):

I’m just so excited that as soon as we finish this, I’m going to go sit and write about what yes, no, and uncertainty is in my body. I couldn’t even answer that as you were saying. I was like, “I don’t know. I’m 37 years old and I don’t know.”

Alishia McCullough (00:59:57):

I just figured it out. I just figured it out.

Chavonne McClay (01:00:00):

I feel like this just changed my life. I’m not even being… I’m super dramatic all the time, but I’m not being melodramatic. I really feel like that will change my entire… Oh my God, I’m really emotional just thinking about it. I’m emotional because I’m so excited to know what that feels like within my body, but also emotional because like you said, young people don’t know this. How much healing would their be in our society, how much healing would there be in our world, if we were taught from an early age what feelings feel like inside of our bodies? I can’t.

Jennifer Jackson (01:00:43):

Wow. I was also hearing the resonance of obligation that young people are taught what they’re obligated to do as adults to survive, to mask, to look a particular way, to be in situations and be invisible or not, whatever the ism is that’s keeping them oppressed in those situations. That’s what obligation feels. I was like thinking of the no, and it made me think of obligation and expectation, and not just that, but the attachment to expectation from other people that they constantly throw at us, right?

Alishia McCullough (01:01:16):


Jennifer Jackson (01:01:17):

People in power over us, in our own household, in our community, and people we interact with that we’re looking for support and encouragement, then it comes at us in this way rather. And how freeing, I can hear and feel the potential of this to be coming from the other direction.

Alishia McCullough (01:01:39):


Jennifer Jackson (01:01:41):

What kind of freedom would I like based on how I feel?

Alishia McCullough (01:01:44):


Jennifer Jackson (01:01:45):

Do I want to be hidden in this situation? What if that’s my choice? What if that’s my authentic choice? And in terms of perception that we are often perceived from without, and we internalize these in embodied ways, these things. So to feel like that can come from within and that, that expands, and I’m going to use the word revolutionary again. I can’t think of a better word for that. But it just feels like a revolution of one. In your life, in my life, in each of our lives and anyone’s lives who’s listening, we can have a space… When I was thinking about embodiment practices, I know a lot of the researchy stuff, the white men has researched us or white women and they have taken all the lived experiences and they’ve decided to filter it and then present it back to us. What I was hearing in this is honoring lived experience and in all the versions of ourselves. Not just now, but before and now, and after, like permission. Something that feels like embodiment asks of us, what permission do we need?

Alishia McCullough (01:02:52):

And that embodiment requires us to realize that we are already enough and that we’re already abundant within. Because I think, and I was thinking as you were talking, Jen, that when we decide to go against the yes, the no, the uncertainty, it’s usually based in this idea that we have to get something from the outside, whether it’s someone’s approval or if we had to make more money or all of these things that are really rooted in scarcity. And I think that, and I’ve heard this a lot from folks in spiritual communities, that scarcity is the wound of humanity and that we have to realize that within ourselves, that we are abundant people, and that looks like we’re returning back to ourselves and figuring out what do we need, but then honoring that in other folks as well.

Chavonne McClay (01:03:35):


Jennifer Jackson (01:03:36):


Chavonne McClay (01:03:37):

Scarcity is the wound of humanity. Dear, oh my goodness, that’s incredible. That’s incredible.

Jennifer Jackson (01:03:42):

I’m going to have to sit with that one for a minute because-

Alishia McCullough (01:03:44):

Yes. I had to sit with that, yes.

Jennifer Jackson (01:03:50):

Yes. Yeah. I don’t have anything to say about that.

Chavonne McClay (01:03:51):

I know. My head’s exploding at the moment. Oh, this conversation’s so good.

Jennifer Jackson (01:03:59):

When you said intuitive knowing. Not just a phrase like embodiment, which definitely comes from the powerful place down, right? A word, a label, something trying on. When you said intuitive knowing, being in the body and being in rhythm step with your body, authenticity and transparency were also coming to mind. But really being in our own rhythm is what I was sitting with about that. The rush of going into adulthood, I think is what I was trying to say earlier, we’re preparing as young people to be an adult. We’re preparing in our degree programs to be a professional. We’re preparing as a professional to be someone who teaches other professionals. There’s always like this forward look.

Jennifer Jackson (01:04:45):

This intuitive knowing, when it’s always forward-looking, I don’t think that would feel very embodied. And so I really heard that as an invitation, like what is my yes, no, uncertain now. I heard the word now in that. So I really appreciate that because I tend to go in the future or the past. I’m very rarely in the now, and I just really heard that invitation to be like, okay, those three words are really asking you to answer now.

Alishia McCullough (01:05:11):


Jennifer Jackson (01:05:13):

And the next now and the next now. Every time is an opportunity that you don’t have to project and imagine how it will be, you can actually ask about right now, which as you said earlier, cannot always feel accessible to everyone.

Alishia McCullough (01:05:27):


Jennifer Jackson (01:05:27):

There are things that can be in the way that trauma is really coming to mind right now.

Chavonne McClay (01:05:31):

Yes, absolutely.

Jennifer Jackson (01:05:32):

And in the beginning, when you were telling us about how you were feeling in the day and that it was starting more slowly, that we’re also able to ask what is the smallest amount that you could ask yourself, yes, no, or uncertain? It doesn’t have to be a big exercise.

Alishia McCullough (01:05:47):


Jennifer Jackson (01:05:48):

It could be smaller. So that felt really full circle for me, so I wanted to make sure that I shared. So thank you for that.

Chavonne McClay (01:05:54):

That’s really good. Okay, I’m so excited to ask this question. I’ve been thinking about it for quite a while. In getting ready to meet with you and to interview you and doing research, I read an article in Forbes Magazine titled, Food Is Not the Enemy. And there was a quote in there that really blew my mind. The whole article blew my mind but this quote was… The quote was, “The church still blames one woman choosing to eat for all of humanities woes.” So I grew up in a very strictly Christian health. And so this really stuck out to me. I texted friends who grew up in the same way, have the same background. And I guess my question is, how do you help clients who grew up in the church, heal their relationship with food and with their bodies with such a strong, and I think, damaging message as a foundation?

Alishia McCullough (01:06:49):

Absolutely. So I grew up as well in a very strict Christian, religious household. And some of the things that really I thought about was how much eating disorder behavior, or even disconnection from body, is very much connected to some of the things that are in our religious institutions. And so some of the things that really come up for me is perfectionism, this idea that you’re striving to always be perfect. Rigidity, so this idea that you have to do everything, and if you don’t do it right, then you fall short of some type of glory, quote, unquote. Or this binary thinking patterns or things being good and bad and evil, or angelic or something like that. Also, just following rules, being a measure of worthiness.

Alishia McCullough (01:07:35):

And so I think that when we look at the overlap of those patterns along with eating disorders or disconnection from body, we see a lot of that overlap there. And really, a lot of what I do is help folks unpack all of that, the ways that it shows up, and then really create an image of themselves that is based in how do I become the most expansive version of myself and not box into these things.

Alishia McCullough (01:08:01):

And so that also could look like what is the version of God that I have in my head, and how do I begin to create an expansive version of that or a higher power or even disconnect from that if that doesn’t serve me to create a vision of myself that feels more embodied with who I truly am. Because I think we look at religion, for a lot of us that grew up in Christian, Westernized households, we see God as this white man who wants to send everybody to hell and hates everybody that promotes slavery, that hates women, that hates folks in LGBTQ community. And that’s not a reflection of the majority of people in humanity. And so it’s like, how do I create a God figure or an image of creation that looks more in alignment with who I am in and the way I was created? And I think there’s a lot of unpacking that goes into that.

Chavonne McClay (01:08:52):

Ooh, that’s good. Yeah. I was just so excited to talk about this. I think that, like you said, there’s so much rigidity within. And I don’t want to speak to other sex or other religions, but there’s so much rigidity within that, like keeping your temple cure and following all these rules and all these things that are said about how to exist within this world, especially as a woman. And so I think it’s really important to, if they’re at a place where they want to maintain their faith, find expansion, that’s what keeps coming to mind around it. Find some grace around it in terms of how you exist within this world and how your relationship with God impacts that. And also can be used as a way to find some grace around your body.

Alishia McCullough (01:09:43):

Yes. Absolutely.

Jennifer Jackson (01:09:44):

Not as a weapon, but a tool.

Chavonne McClay (01:09:45):

Yes, yes.

Jennifer Jackson (01:09:50):

That makes me want to ask just a tiny follow-up question, or maybe it’s not going to feel tiny. But whenever I think of fundamentalism and purity culture and these really rigid ways of ascending and purifying and elevating to a predetermined place, makes me also think of diet culture. Purity culture and diet culture are so aligned for me in their rigidity and who gets to say what is healthy, who gets to say what is pure. Do those sit for you as parallel in the way that I’m seeing them, or in another way?

Alishia McCullough (01:10:19):

Yeah, I definitely think so. So I think about how a lot of times, we’re thinking about that purity culture, like you said, there’s this idea of this one way of being, and this arrival point as well of when we look at recovery too, there’s this idea of arrival. And this might be a super unpopular opinion, but I think that recovery is not a state of arrival, I think it’s this constant evolutionary journey where you might get to a space that feels good, but then you have to go deeper within that space, and then you get deeper and deeper and deeper. I see that as well when we think about religious culture. One of the ways that I’ve kind of reclaimed my own spiritual and religious beliefs is that I don’t see it as this one way of being, I think there’s multiple ways of being.

Alishia McCullough (01:11:03):

I think there’s multiple things that are unseen to us all around us all of the time, and all of those hold the same amount of… They’re all important. No area is more important than the next. I’m looking at all my plants in my house right now, and I’m like, “These plants are just as important as I am.” And when I go out to walk on the earth, the earth is just as important as I am. The sun that gives us light every day is important as I am. And so all of us, as humans, but also as other beings are a creation of something, and we all hold that same amount of importance. And so I think about that and then again, looking at the eating disorder treatment, knowing that again, it’s about going deeper and not getting to a space where we just get to and stop and say, “Oh, I’m good now. I’ve recovered.”

Jennifer Jackson (01:11:50):

Thank you so much for that. I was hearing some phrasing in my head, like the circumstances in life change.

Alishia McCullough (01:11:56):


Jennifer Jackson (01:11:56):

Life changes, life is happening. Point of arrival of this pure point of whatever the label is-

PART 3 OF 4 ENDS [01:12:04]

Jennifer Jackson (01:12:03):

… Point of arrival of this pure point of whatever the label is, recovered, I can’t think of other words, but something like that. That have an illusion, that once we’ve arrived, the work is done.

Alishia McCullough (01:12:13):


Chavonne McClay (01:12:13):

Healed, cured.

Jennifer Jackson (01:12:15):

Yes. Yes. Which makes me think about violence. That feels violent, that we can be led to believe that we will come to a place where we never feel like this. Has a falseness to it, but there’s a lot of harm from beginning to end about that. It’s a rhetoric that I used from my training in the first five years of being a dietician. “Come with me on this journey to this place that I’m already in,” even though I was absolutely not in that place. Just the emptiness of that language, I’m really remembering how empty that felt, the cognitive dissonance within myself. I didn’t have a word for it then, or a phrase. It didn’t feel right.

Jennifer Jackson (01:12:59):

And I’m really hearing, just thinking about purity is often about right and wrong, that binary thinking, the black and white thinking. Things that felt right, that no longer do is part of that journey also, including someone in recovery, being able to speak for themselves more. Their voice gets stronger as they get more recovered. And that that’s not a static place. It’s a dynamic way of being. It’s probably ways of being. I want to even pluralize that so that, thank you so much for answering that additional question.

Alishia McCullough (01:13:32):


Chavonne McClay (01:13:34):

And this isn’t an indictment on people who are religious, people who are spiritual, but at least I can speak personally, I’m not going to speak for other people. I think that quite often, being in these very rigid environments can really lead to a, I’m not saying religion leads to eating disorders, definitely not saying that. But I think the rigidity of it can absolutely lead to some behaviors that people might use to try to grab control because they don’t feel controlled, otherwise.

Chavonne McClay (01:14:05):

So I’ll speak personally. So like I said, I grew up in a Christian family and I always felt like I was striving to be good, striving to be holy, striving to be pure, striving to be clean and fell short in probably what that would’ve looked like for other people. And so it was easier to try to grasp control by what I was eating, what I was not eating, what I was eating a lot of. And I was talking to a client about this yesterday, many clients actually. We pick coping skills because they work. There’s no such thing as a good coping skill or a bad coping skill. This just happened to be one for me. It happens to be one for a lot of people, trying to grasp control around food or how they interact with their bodies. A coping skill can become either more helpful or more harmful than it was at one time. That’s kind of how I see how it works. And I’ve worked with some clients who also have a background in certain religions or certain aspects of faith, and there’s been conversation around that. I feel like I cannot ascribe to this level of holiness, this level of perfection, but I can make sure that I don’t eat, blank. So I think that any kind of rigid structure in one’s life can absolutely lead to some harmful relationship with body and with food.

Alishia McCullough (01:15:36):

Yes, absolutely. I’m actually writing about that now. And a lot of the themes that you said really resonated with some of the things that I put down. And also, some of the patterns that got me into disordered eating growing up as well in a religious household were the need to control. Like you said, perfection is impossible. Nobody can be perfect. And so when you realize that and you’re like, well, then how else can I be good enough? Or how else can I feel a sense of worthiness? It is in that, okay, well then I’m going to try to grasp control of the things that I can. And especially adding the layer of having maybe multiple oppressions, maybe it’s like, well, I can’t just get out of my black skin, I can’t just get out of my womanness, I can’t just get out of poverty or disability or whatever. And so now this is the thing that I can control.

Alishia McCullough (01:16:24):

And so I think that, that’s another way it can show up. And I actually talked a lot about that. I did a panel not too long ago with a couple colleagues called Religious Trauma, White Supremacy, & Eating Disorders, where they were even adding those layers as well. And so I think that really, this is, for a lot of folks that have subscribed to a religious tradition or a spiritual tradition, this comes up a lot and you can hear it just even talking to other folks as well. So I think it’s something that we really have to turn an eye to and see what is going on within the structures or within, however this is made up, that’s contributing, or maybe not contributing, but bringing up some of these patterns for folks.

Chavonne McClay (01:17:07):

Absolutely. Absolutely. Thank you for speaking to that. That’s really helpful.

Alishia McCullough (01:17:13):


Jennifer Jackson (01:17:15):

Oh my goodness. Okay. I can listen to you all day about any topic. And now I’m going to go to the next one. A theme I’m already hearing, so some of this may feel repetitive. And also I feel like this is an opportunity for a little bit of expansion about something we’ve talked about, is that there’s a lot of conversation about helping professionals of all kinds about, quote, what helping people really looks like. Like a scope of practice, like professional performance indicator. There’s all these kinds of words for these.

Jennifer Jackson (01:17:48):

Something I’m really getting present to, especially in this pandemic and a lot of us being online where I can just witness it over and over, is that it misses the mark for marginalized and oppressed folks, truly. And it’s especially, or at least that’s what I’m looking for perhaps, is around embodied practices and ways in which people are blocked from being embodied because of the power dynamics that are inherent. Even the phrase and the audacity to say, “I am helping you.” What do you think is important to consider that could be missing from generalizations of whole fields that you notice?

Alishia McCullough (01:18:25):

Yes, yes. So I think it’s really looking at how it’s even structured. And so when we think about ways that we define helping people, it’s usually based in this, again, I think it’s a very Westernized way of thinking of taking information and then deducing it down to a workbook or just a general book and then having these step-by-step instructions on how to do a thing. That in itself is very prescriptive. And it also is like, so who did the research? Who was it normed on? Who put this publication out? And has it been widely used on a variety of populations and shown to actually be helpful? Oftentimes, the answer to that is no. Oftentimes, it’s very a limited group of folks that it’s been shown to be helpful on. And so I think that a lot of us, through our training, have been through programs and currently maybe even in our practice, use those type of prescriptive ways of treating folks or helping folks.

Alishia McCullough (01:19:25):

And with that, again, it’s just very limiting, as you were saying, Jen, in that it is not for everybody. And so I think that the answer to that could be really allowing the folks that we’re working with to be the center of what’s helpful. Not the research, not these ideas. Not just these random people that are representative of one population. But truly the fullness of folks we work with and having them be the folks who say, “Here’s helpful for me,” and approaching it in that way. Even within our research. And so I think trying to add to that, it looks like centering those voices. So a lot of times, again, because of the white dominating field, we don’t have a lot of black researchers or even black indigenous and people of color researchers doing the work, having things normed on their population that are through their lens.

Alishia McCullough (01:20:17):

And I think that’s really important to say because even I’ve noticed now where research will be done by a white provider or something or researcher, but it’s through their lens of interpreting a certain community, which is obviously always going to be based in a lens of that privilege, going to be some spots that they don’t see or don’t recognize because of that privilege. And so I think that that’s important to know and be aware of and have folks that are within community that are doing the work, be able to do these studies with their own communities and have the work speak for what you’re trying to, quote, unquote, actually help. The work does that by asking people what do you need? And having them define it and not just saying, “This is what they need,” and we’re now going to create a thing.

Jennifer Jackson (01:21:03):

Yes. I was really thinking about and kind of sitting with self-determination as you were talking, that assuming the presumptiveness of, “I’m going to help you and I’m going to help you in these specific ways that I’ve already decided based on research that I’ve already done about people who look like me,” me saying this as a white woman who is often in research, not as much as white men, but tend to be the subjects, that self-determination is a part of and aligned with lived experience. And research has a real denial, and denial I know, is quite an agent of white supremacy. It’s what lives in me when I can’t notice these things. I know that it’s denial. It denies that it came from people’s lived experience. Perhaps an exception, although I haven’t thought about this very much, is community-based research, where you involved the community. But there’s still a level of being researched. So it makes me question what the power dynamics still are.

Alishia McCullough (01:22:02):


Chavonne McClay (01:22:02):


Jennifer Jackson (01:22:02):

I used to work in public health and social work while I was still getting my degree and I took a backseat a lot because I didn’t want to adjust what was happening because the community was supposed to be involved. And yet, I could hear, because I did a lot of transcription, I could hear the hesitations, the lack of transparency and the presentation or masking of being with people that they know are researching them and wanting to perform. It was very apparent in that work. So it’s makes me feel hopeful. But also, like many things public health, it’s all about taking something macro and pretending it’s micro and we can assume what other people need. That real, I’ll use the word again, presumptive. It’s just like, the space that is occupied by the researchers that should be occupied by the lived experience, it pushes it out of the way.

Jennifer Jackson (01:22:55):

Yes. So I was really thinking about. And in a session I was just thinking, “Oh, I wonder and really want to reflect and think about what am I pushing out of sessions, where I’m taking up space?” And I don’t just mean talking. I mean lack of acknowledgement, lack of affirmation, lack of reflection. Is this your experience or have I just turned that into something in my white woman brain that is now something else? I need to check in with you.

Jennifer Jackson (01:23:19):

And just thinking about that and even thinking on a bigger level in public health research, which always uses the language of intervention. They need to intervene because something not okay is happening. Even the language of that is so oppressive.

Alishia McCullough (01:23:33):


Jennifer Jackson (01:23:34):

I was just really thinking about that because you were not from that space. You were talking about this other space that’s like what actually supports, what actually helps, what feels easeful, workable, effective, words that that are personal to the individual or group or however that’s expanding. I’m giving myself a note here to really think about that because I wonder how many ways in which, because of what’s ingrained with me in my training, I’m still missing something like that. I can feel that I am, but I don’t have any examples yet. But I can feel it.

Alishia McCullough (01:24:07):

Absolutely. And I think even through this podcast episode, even this part here, we’re working through it in some ways together because as you were talking, it also reminded me of if someone’s coming in my community and wanting to do research on me about a thing because of potentially ancestral trauma, even around, I know that for black people specifically, there was experiments that were done on them that we can feel in our bones and our bodies and ourselves that were passed down. And specifically on black women, I think about even there was a time where black folks were put in zoos and seen as spectacles, or even the story of Sarah Baartman, who was taken around as this show person for the world to see. Her body was used as a show. And so I think that those experiences live in our bodies as black folks and do keep us in that apprehensive and suspicious and hesitant state when research comes.

Alishia McCullough (01:25:08):

And so it made me even think about let’s just take away the research, the name of it and everything and dismantle that whole thing and really build something new that space, then I’m sitting with you and I’m learning with you. And so I think about in other cultures that are not Western, like Indigenous or even African cultures, how when it comes to learning information or knowing, it’s about really sitting and building an authentic deep connection. And then through that, there’s of course going to be trials and things that come up. But through those trials, it’s like you have your community, your village, that’s there for you, that are helping you through that process. And again, you’re all learning together. And then you know, okay, here’s what we’re going to do for healing. This is our person that knows about this thing. And so I think it is kind of re-centering and giving that empowerment back to the community in that way. And maybe just dismantling this whole idea of what research even is.

Jennifer Jackson (01:26:04):

It’s moments like this that I have this brief vision of taking my degrees and setting them on fire.

Alishia McCullough (01:26:12):


Chavonne McClay (01:26:12):


Jennifer Jackson (01:26:13):

I just had a really clear vision of us in a clearing surrounded by gorgeous, lovely smelling pine trees, which here in New Mexico when it hails, it damages the pine trees and it smells like there’s an air fresher in the air, [inaudible 01:26:28] that smell. I just had this smell and I was like, I would love for you… I was thinking of witnessing and I was just feeling really present to being witnessed. And for the honor of both of you allowing me to witness you in some really important conversations. And that I just wanted you to witness me burning my degrees, my letters.

Jennifer Jackson (01:26:54):

Rosie Mensah, a dietician and nutritionist in Canada talks about credentialism and mindism. I’ve had all these years doing all these degrees, how can I go backwards to a place of listening when I have done all this work and spent all this money? And I was just realizing how disconnected I feel from that. I don’t even remember what it feels like to be connected to that. And I was feeling that in the room, this Zoom room, of all three of us, the lack of connection and identity with the power over others. And that feels, I don’t actually have words for that either. There’s quite a few things I’ve written down. So Chavonne, I’ve caught up to you, I think in writing notes over here, some nuggets that you’ve shared and that I’ve heard from each of us that I’m like, “Wow, that one thing I could reflect about that for a lot of pages.” That filling up feeling. And actually, I’m almost feeling an overflow feeling. I am full of the, I want to say magic. I don’t know how that feels to either of you, but the magic love of being together.

Alishia McCullough (01:28:04):


Jennifer Jackson (01:28:05):

And now there’s this overflow that feels expansive. I can feel it outside of myself. So thank you. I just want to say thank you.

Alishia McCullough (01:28:15):


Chavonne McClay (01:28:17):

Yes. We’ve talked a lot about macro, so overarching and micro, smaller, intimate level things, in this conversation. We will ask this of all of our guests. What do you think we can do to take what we have learned from you to help make a difference?

Alishia McCullough (01:28:32):

Yeah, I think that exactly what y’all… Throughout the podcast, I’ve heard both of y’all both say, “I’m going to step away with my notes and reflect. I’m going to do this thing here.” And I think that’s actually what it looks like is taking the information that you’re downloading and then sitting with it and figuring out what place it sits in your body and then asking your body, “What do I need to do with this information now?” And using that as your guide towards what to do next. Because I think that when we think about knowing things, we always think about knowing as in I learned this thing, I did this thing, or the degrees we’ve been talking about so far. But knowing is so much more than just what our culture has told us it means to know. There’s so many other ways of knowing things.

Alishia McCullough (01:29:18):

And I think the part of what you all are getting in with this podcast, is the knowingness that comes from our body, which is deeper than just being with your body in a moment. That’s amazing. That’s great, that’s a wonderful form of being. But when you really know through knowing that a lot of things that we know about our bodies have been passed down for generations through ancestors, for those who think in this way through different lives that we might have lived beyond this earth, all of that has been stored in our body and we just have to really remember that. But a lot of times, because of all the systems and things we forget because the systems keep us disconnected from knowing and remembering. And so taking this information we’ve talked about so far, allowing it to download and then figuring out what part it sits in and then tapping into that part, I think is opening up that deep level at a cellular level or in your bones or wherever, to learning more about yourself, but then what to do next.

Chavonne McClay (01:30:16):

Ooh, I love that. And do something, we talked about that last episode. Obviously, there’s lots of intellectualizing you can do, lots of research, lots of reading. But at some point, you’ve got to just be like, “Okay, I’m going to go practice this.”

Alishia McCullough (01:30:34):


Chavonne McClay (01:30:35):

That’s what I’m getting from what you’re saying right now. I’m going to go journal for hours, I can already see this happening. But I still think, after I journal for hours, I’m going to be like, “Okay, now I got to do it.” So I definitely hear that from you, that feels really powerful and really… It makes me think of alter girls since we’ve been talking about church. This was [inaudible 01:30:55].

Alishia McCullough (01:30:54):

Yes. Yes.

Chavonne McClay (01:30:57):

[inaudible 01:30:57] Need to go do this. That’s my next rotation. So thank you, thank you for that.

Jennifer Jackson (01:31:04):

I’m just sitting with the beauty of this. It’s making me really, really misty. I’m just sitting here feeling misty about the beauty of this.

Chavonne McClay (01:31:11):

Yeah. This has been so life altering for me and such a beautiful gift. Thank you so much for being here with us and giving us the opportunity to learn with you, unlearn with you, and take what we have talked about and go forth.

Alishia McCullough (01:31:32):


Chavonne McClay (01:31:32):

It’s been such a gift, such a gift.

Jennifer Jackson (01:31:34):


Alishia McCullough (01:31:34):

I’m just so grateful that you both helped this space for this to happen. And I think that it really again, shows how healing and change can really happen beyond just the compounds of these buildings and all the things, these borders and the arbitrary states that were drawn up. The fact that we’re all three connecting in this space and we’re energetically in flow and in alignment throughout the conversation, it really reminded me of a meditation I did about two years ago where we were doing a heart opener and there was a part where we were all sitting with our eyes closed in this circle and there was a space where it was, now imagine you’re opening your heart and the light is shining and the light is shining from you is touching the hearts of those across the room from you and around, and they’re meeting in the middle to create this bigger light.

Alishia McCullough (01:32:23):

And that’s what this really felt like, just talking to you all, which for me feels like so much healing, to have all of our lights kind of shining to create this bigger thing and really seeing each other for all the parts of who we are. And I think that, that what’s really going to cause not only internal healing and change, but also that cultural shift in change as well.

Chavonne McClay (01:32:46):

Oh, thank you. Thank you so much. I’m actually almost speechless because of how powerful this has been, almost speechless. As we close out today, what would you like everyone listening to know about what you’re up to and also how can they find you?

Alishia McCullough (01:33:04):

Yeah. And so folks, if you want to find me, you can follow me on Instagram, @blackandembodied. And then you can also go to my website, which is blackandembodied.com. If you want to hear of any podcast episodes I’ve done or any other talks that I’ve done, those are all on my website.

Alishia McCullough (01:33:20):

And then right now, I’m currently leading an eating disorder and disorder eating group and body image group. It’s called Sage and Spoon for black folks. And so folks can join that. It’s a global group, and so you can join in from anywhere and it’s on the last Tuesday of every month at 7:00 PM EST, which is my time, Eastern Standard Time.

Alishia McCullough (01:33:41):

And then outside of that, I’m still doing some things around my online healing collective, currently working on creating like a body liberation collective for providers that are coming into the field and want to connect with folks that look like them. And then outside of that, my more bigger project that I’m super excited about is that I’m working on a book right now. Yes, I am working on it. My proposal is supposed to be in this week. I am super hopeful [inaudible 01:34:21].

Chavonne McClay (01:34:31):

[inaudible 01:34:31] Like I said, I’m such a big fan. I love everything you write, everything you say, and I honestly cannot wait to read this book. Go write it.

Alishia McCullough (01:34:42):

Thank you. Thank you.

Chavonne McClay (01:34:42):

Thank you. No, thank you. Thank you. I’m so pumped. Oh my gosh, I’m so pumped.

Jennifer Jackson (01:34:47):

So in case, because everyone can’t see me, I’m just rubbing my temples and I have my mouth hanging open. That’s what’s happening over here for Jen.

Chavonne McClay (01:34:53):

Yes. We are so excited. So thank you so, so, so much for this opportunity. We are so grateful and so honored that you wanted to spend time with us.

Jennifer Jackson (01:35:03):


Chavonne McClay (01:35:05):

Yeah, we’re dancing. We’re just dancing around because all this awesome energy. I’m like sweating, it’s a lot. So excited.

Jennifer Jackson (01:35:14):

All good things.

Chavonne McClay (01:35:14):

All good things. Happy sweat. Thank you so much. And thank you all for listening. Bye. We’ll see you next time.

Alishia McCullough (01:35:19):


Jennifer Jackson (01:35:19):

See you next time.

PART 4 OF 4 ENDS [01:35:21]