These "Healing Retreats" Help Black Women To Disconnect — Without Having To Deal With Racism

by Katie Mitchell

As a Black woman, my bandwidth for dealing with white people is often maxed out each Monday by noon. Every aspect of my life requires me to consider race. Will my dermatologist know how to treat Black skin? Should I straighten my hair for this interview or risk looking too “radical” by keeping my hair in its natural state? If all of this sounds exhausting, believe me, it is — but I’m not the only Black woman who has to consider race in nearly every aspect of life. And given this experience, there are now entire wellness retreats that offer Black women a vacation from racism. As VICE News reported, Women of Color Healing Retreats allow Black women to unplug and "recharge in a community safe space and environment built on the foundation of Black love," as the organization states on their website.

This and other Black-owned travel agencies have experienced increased interest in Black-only spaces since the election of Donald Trump in 2016, according to VICE News. Alexis Bromley, a Women of Color Healing Retreats participant, told VICE News that in her home state of Nebraska, she doesn’t know if the people she interacts with on a daily basis believe that she’s “lesser” or “inferior.” Not knowing led her to seek out a space where she could be more comfortable, a space specifically designed for Black women like her.

On its website, Women of Color Healing Retreats states, “Women of Color Healing Retreats was created out of the desire to connect women with nature and seeks to provide a space of learning, healing, and nurturing that so often alludes [sic] Black women. In order to build sustainable communities that value the intersections of cultural identity, women of color must first rediscover who they are outside of a society that wishes to stunt organic, spiritual growth and self-love.” The mission statement continues, “Women of Color Healing Retreats is a space for all Black women, as they fully honor the diversity of Black identity. It is a space for all bodies, all sexual orientations, all socioeconomic statuses, all political ideologies, and all levels of traditional or radical thought.”

Participants gather in Costa Rica for 10 days to eat vegan food, do yoga, and discuss their experiences of being Black in America. The cost for the retreat is $3,333, not including airfare, according to the website. Other activities noted on the retreat's website include surfing and snorkeling, crystal workshops, a women's circle, and a discussion on colorism, though these activities, the website notes, are subject to change.

“It’s like a mental game all the time. And I’m in these spaces [...] constantly getting poked and prodded. ‘Oh, let me touch your hair. Oh, you’re really pretty for a Black girl,’” Tiffany Jackson, a Women of Color Healing Retreats participant, said during the VICE News documentary.

Andrea X, the creator of the Women of Color Healing Retreats, came up with the idea because she needed it just as much as the Black women who seek out the retreat do. “We needed a safe space that was outside of the United States to hold certain conversations,” she told VICE News.

“The idea of Black women reclaiming control over their own mind, body, and spirit is exactly what’s needed to survive in a system that constantly tells us that our wellness isn’t important.” X told Antonia Hylton of VICE News that she left the United States in 2014 because she was tired of dealing with "gentrification, racism,” and the everyday struggles of being a Black woman in America. Now, Women of Color Healing Retreats is an extension of how X lives everyday.

Traveling can be a difficult experience as a woman of color. But spaces that cater to women of color's needs, while also making room for women to heal systemic racism, are a unique way to merge self-care with vacation in today's world.