Grieving While Black | An Antiracist Take on Oppression and Sorrow


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Typically, when we reference grief work in relation to anti-Blackness, people think about the grief experienced by those oppressed by white supremacy. But Breeshia Wade encourages those who are not Black to consider how their own unexplored grief amplifies the suffering of Black people.

Most of us understand grief as sorrow experienced after a loss—the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, or a change in life circumstance. Breeshia Wade approaches grief as something that is bigger than what's already happened to us—as something that is connected to what we fear, what we love, and what we aspire toward. Drawing on stories from her own life as a Black woman and from the people she has midwifed through the end of life, she connects sorrow not only to specific incidents but also to the ongoing trauma that is part and parcel of systemic oppression.

Wade reimagines our relationship to power, accountability, and boundaries and points to the long-term work we must all do in order to address systemic trauma perpetuated within our interpersonal relationships. Each of us has a moral obligation to attend to our own grief so that we can responsibly engage with others. Wade elucidates grief in every aspect of our lives, providing a map back to ourselves and allowing the reader to heal their innate wholeness.

Breeshia Wade holds a BA in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity from Stanford University and an MA in Religious Studies from the University of Chicago. She completed Upaya Zen Center's two-year Buddhist chaplaincy program.

Wade served as a hospice and palliative care end-of-life caregiver in Los Angeles County. Over the past five years, she has supported people through grief and transitions as a birth doula and a lay-ordained Buddhist chaplain working in jails, on the mother and baby units of hospitals, and in people's homes. Wade uses her practice as an end-of-life caregiver to encourage those who are not facing illness, death, or dying to be open to what grief can teach them about relationship, life, failure, sex, and desire.

She wishes to expand the world's conception of grief beyond concrete loss and to call attention to the numerous ways our experiences of grief impact the way we (mis)understand power, craft self-image, and approach boundaries, conflict, and accountability.

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