Ever since I was a little girl, I watched my mom stand up for what she believed was right.
When she started learning that essential oils were hurting people through overuse orally and improper use on the skin (in the 1990’s … and yes, this is still happening), she started talking about it and never stopped.
She became one of the earliest and most outspoken advocates for essential oil safety, sometimes even fearing repercussions from people who wanted that information suppressed so they could continue to sell more oils.
When 9/11 happened, she saw the effect that this disaster had on the lungs and psyches of those affected. Knowing that essential oils could help, she called all her friends for donations and started to work with an Emergency Response team in New York.
This began the United Aromatherapy Effort, Inc. a non-profit organization dedicated to collecting and disseminating aromatherapy products in times of great disaster, which still continues its work to this day.
In both instances, she saw people in her human family that were hurting unnecessarily.
She would not let herself stand by and watch.
She did something about it.
So hopefully my next point won’t come as a surprise.
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Aromatherapy is an incredibly white industry.
I’m hard pressed to think of colleagues who are not white. There are a few, but they’re sprinkled within a sea of whiteness.
There are probably many reasons for that, not the least of which is financial accessibility, but the result is the same: our collective identity as aromatherapists is one predominated by white people.
We’ve learned time and time again that this can cause a host of injustices and discriminations that may very well go unnoticed except by those to whom the injustice is being done.
If white people don’t start listening, we’ll never know the harm we are almost certainly creating. I have to hope that most often it is unintentional.
But still again the result is the same: people are being hurt, and they don’t have to.
Starting to listen to what our non-white friends and family are experiencing is a good start, but not enough.
Those of us with white skin need to realize that we have a power and a privilege that we can choose to use with greater awareness.
So not only do we have to start listening, we have to start speaking out.
We have to start speaking to each other.
Knowing that this audience is mostly white people, I need you all to know that I can not be silent on this issue.
(Please do not comment with #alllivesmatter. That’s not the point. That is actually, again probably unintentionally, contributing to the issue that I am taking a stand against. If that’s confusing, please read here.)
Moving forward, I’m holding aromatherapy to the standards of justice and equity that we need to hold to every aspect of our lives, so this world can become a safe place for all our brothers and sisters.
This means we’ve got to do the work here in our community, too.
I want to be transparent in how I’m addressing this issue in our school and our industry.
These are the actions I’m taking:
- I’m actively engaging in self-critique to further investigate my own cultural biases so that I continue to eliminate them as best as I can.
- I’m engaging my students in conversations on how we can create more inclusivity, diversity, and equality in our program. I’m listening deeply to what they’re saying.
- I’m engaging in conversations with colleagues to help promote anti-racism in our aromatherapy community. I’m listening to the stories and experiences of BIPOC in our community to better understand their experiences and hear what they would like to see changed in aromatherapy.
- I’m learning how to create space for BIPOC, as I work on moving from “Allyship” to “Accomplice”. I’m actively engaging in creating this space in all areas of my life, aromatherapy will be no exception.
- I’m considering how to make scholarship opportunities available to BIPOC who might otherwise be unable to join our program due to financial constraints.
- I’m listening for other ideas (especially from BIPOC) for how we can make our aromatherapy community a safer place for everyone to participate in, contribute to, and be supported by.
As a family business, we see all of our students, potential students, and followers as a part of our aromatic family.
It is important to us that is a place where everyone feels like they belong and have a voice.
Seeing that our whole human family still has work to do in this matter, we’re committed to bring this work home to our aromatherapy community.
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If you’re confused by my sentiments, have questions, or want to know more, I’m making myself available for one-on-one dialogues about this issue. Please email me at [email protected].
Any unhelpful, destructive, or hurtful comments will immediately be removed from this thread here on the blog or any of our social media accounts. (See note on zero-tolerance above.)
I ask that you honor the importance of these necessary conversations.