America is not well. She hasn’t been for quite some time. The impacts of various systems of oppression have culminated in a deeply rooted illness that has manifested in mass shootings, violence, trauma, social inequality, housing crises–the list is too long.
The sense of unwellness and utter despair have not evaded healers, consultants, and wellness practitioners hired by companies.
The wellness industry is projected to grow from $48 billion to $66 billion between 2017-2022 as individuals have taken on the burden of superficially healing the harm inflicted by our government, institutions (e.g. medical, academic, corporate), and historical karma, buying crystals and massages for one hour of peace to offset the hours of struggle and pain. Companies have approached wellness as a concept and a trend without admitting to the need for people to feel fully well, genuinely–psychologically, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and yes: financially.
Financial wellness within capitalism has always been a fraught dream, which some people have had more exclusive access to historically and presently as their social location permits. Even after Black people were finally allowed to earn wages for our labor, we have been repeatedly denied access to financial wellness through job discrimination, predatory loan contracts, and wage discrimination, where Black women currently only earn $0.64 to every dollar earned by white men, which is still less than white women and Black men earn.
Without financial wellness, people do not have access to adequate health care, to alternate methods of healing, healthy foods, safe housing, good school systems (impacts future generations), leisure and relaxation, new experiences (e.g. travel) to add to one’s personal development, or time with family. I discuss these things along with their ramifications more in-depth in my book, Grieving While Black: An Anti-racist Take on Oppression and Sorrow.
We are at a point in the nation’s history where the manifestations of the illnesses we’ve been avoiding have reached a critical effect, and the current pandemic has only amplified the spiritual endemic we’ve been enduring for centuries.
Organizations have made frantic attempts to appear compassionate while taking action that does not address the root of suffering. One such method is recruiting health and wellness practitioners/consultants, many of whom are freelancing and struggling to make ends meet financially because ‘helping’ professions are often gendered towards women/femmes, which means that they are overworked, underpaid, and undervalued. Countless nurses and social workers have detailed this experience within the institutions.
Without financial wellness, especially now, health and wellness professionals are not able to mitigate the harm caused by all of these systems without utterly destroying themselves. What does it mean for companies to call upon these consultants and practitioners now, to serve ailing colleagues and customers, when the people recruited are also suffering from financial hardship within this same system?
If companies are interested in addressing the consequences of systemic trauma and healing the overall economy, then they must take responsibility for their role in perpetuating a culture of inequity in the first place. They must be willing to pay healers to be well.