Founder of Embodied Black Girl, Thérèse Cator
Thérèse Cator is a mother, leadership coach, healer, storyteller, and the founder of Embodied Black Girl and has worked over a decade to promote wellness and healing among women of color. While working with women worldwide, Cator recently observed the stress and anxiety that many women have faced over the past 12 months and decided to host Embodied Black Girl’s second annual Global Healing Day next Sunday on March 21. The wildly popular free healing event comes just in time for women of color who have disproportionately felt the sting of the pandemic and subsequent job loss, illness, and financial hardship that has hit many.
As a child, Thérèse quickly learned about activism and public service through her mother’s activist work in their community. Learning about the history of marginalized populations and the effects of institutional racism and discrimination at an early age was both a gift and a curse for Cator. She was fortunate that she learned about the history of racially marginalized populations, but once she entered college, Thérèse quickly realized that many of her white peers lacked the same level of awareness and education. Cator experienced racism and colorism at the hands of her classmates and, like many other Black women, often wrestled with being the only Black person in the room.
But it was not until she almost died after being racially profiled by police when she was made painfully aware that being both Black and woman could be a death sentence. Equally as traumatic was her experience when seeking support from people she thought were close to her, who minimized and dismissed her experience. “When I sought healing in certain spaces, I faced constant gaslighting. Not support and love.” After several years of investing in her healing, she realized that other Black women shared her same experiences and would greatly benefit from having access to a safe space that promoted healing from their trauma. Thérèse was motivated to draw from the years of education and experience that she invested in her catharsis to follow in her mother’s footsteps and continue her activist work to create Embodied Black Girl.
“I felt it was important to have a space away from the white gaze so that we can heal. We live in a world where we’ve become disembodied. Largely because of the unnatural and inhumane systems that seek to oppress and suppress Black women’s natural cycles and intuition. As a result, we lose touch to what is real and to ourselves,” Cator reflected.
Thérèse created Embodied Black Girl to promote healing among Black women and women of color who have experienced racialized and intergenerational trauma by providing a secure space for them to feel comfortable being venerable. Embodied Black Girl centers at the intersection of spirituality, liberation, healing, community, and social change. Their offerings weave together breath work, somatic attunement, embodiment, creative practices, and coaching for an integrative and transformative experience. Cator shared, “I wanted to create a place where women of color could show up in their softness. So often, we exhaust ourselves trying to hold up others. Embodied Black Girl was created to provide room so that we can be held,”
Scholars of gender studies and sociologists agree with Thérèse. A rich line of research explores how women of color have endured both racism and sexism and the immense trauma these experiences have caused. For Black women, in particular, their bodies have been commodified and politicized for white men’s financial gain.
“I want to help Black women move through a journey of becoming untethered to colonialism and to be released and healed from those wounds. Black women should be heard, seen, and witnessed. But that cannot happen as long we are disembodied,” Thérèse explained.
The second annual Global Healing Day takes place next Sunday on March 21. It serves as a further extension of Thérèse’s continued dedication to making wellness and healing accessible to all self-identified Black women and women of color across the diaspora. The virtual event’s theme is: Healing is Our Birthright and features Sonya Renee Taylor, a world-renowned activist, bestselling author, award-winning artist, spiritual, transformational thought leader, and the founder of The Body Is Not an Apology, as the guest speaker. The event will also include roundtable discussions, sharing circles, and meditation.
The event builds on last year’s momentum when almost 3,000 Black women and women of color from across the globe joined in a celebration of healing, wellness, and liberation. This year participants will explore topics that impact their wellness and come away with awareness and tools to support their wellbeing that can be applied to their daily lives.
While speaking with Forbes, Thérèse offered three suggestions for Black women and women of color who might be on a healing journey themselves:
I am a writer, activist, and college professor who teaches graduate-level courses in counseling. I earned my Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Clinical Supervision and I