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Breath as Liberation

Empowering Black Women and Femmes to Thrive Unapologetically - By Tai Salih

Reading time: 4 minutes

A few days ago, I had the incredible opportunity to attend a wellness event hosted by the Congress of Black Women ON. Among the thought-provoking webinars, one, in particular, captured my attention and has stayed with me ever since. Dr. Krissy (IG @dr.krissy.phd) posed a question that struck a chord deep within me: “Are you breathing to survive or breathing to thrive?” As a Black woman navigating a world that often marginalizes and overlooks our experiences, those words held profound meaning.

Drawing on the wisdom of influential Black women writers such as bell hooks, Audre Lorde, and Toni Morrison, we embark on a transformative journey of self-reflection and empowerment, shedding light on the vital role intentional breathing plays in reclaiming our agency and unapologetically thriving.

In a society that too often dismisses our voices and overlooks our contributions, it becomes crucial for us to reclaim our breath as a catalyst for liberation. Through intentional breathing, we tap into our inner strength and assert our rightful place in the world. Our breaths bear witness to our resilience, carrying the stories of our ancestors and the fire that burns within us.

Thriving becomes an act of radical self-love for Black women and femmes. It is an intentional choice to rise above societal expectations, dismantle oppressive norms, and embrace our multifaceted identities. With each breath, we reclaim our power and acknowledge our inherent worthiness. Through intentional breathwork, we cultivate a love for ourselves that is unapologetic, radical, and transformative.

Our breath becomes a powerful tool of resistance, enabling us to reclaim our agency and reimagine our narratives. In the face of adversity, intentional breathing sustains us, centring us within our bodies and providing a refuge where we find solace and reconnect with our innate power. We breathe in our greatness, exhaling the falsehoods that seek to diminish our light.

Thriving is not a solitary journey. It is nurtured within sisterhood, within the bonds of Black women and femmes supporting one another.

Through intentional breathwork, we create sacred spaces that celebrate our collective strength, wisdom, and beauty. In sisterhood, we breathe together, amplifying the power of our collective breaths. We create a sisterhood that is rooted in love, respect, and genuine care, enabling us to flourish and thrive unapologetically.

Dear Black women and femmes, your breath is a sacred act of resistance and liberation. Inhale the audacity to be unapologetically yourself, and exhale the shackles that attempt to confine you. Embrace every breath as an affirmation of your worthiness, reclaiming your power and rewriting the narratives that have silenced your voices for too long. It is time to thrive, to cultivate a mindset rooted in self-love, and to celebrate the brilliance that resides within you.


As we continue on this transformative journey, let us remember the words of Maya Angelou: “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style.” Thriving is not merely an act of survival; it is a bold declaration of our existence. It is the embodiment of our passions, the embodiment of our compassion for ourselves and others, the embodiment of our ability to find joy even amidst adversity, and the embodiment of our unique style that defies societal expectations.

In the face of systemic oppression and societal barriers, our breath becomes a tool of resistance. It is a reminder that we are more than the limitations imposed upon us. It is a refusal to be defined solely by others’ narratives. It is an affirmation that we have the power to shape our own stories. Through intentional breathing, we tap into our inner strength, courageously pushing against the confines of an unjust world.

As we reclaim our breath, let us also recognize the interconnectedness of our struggles with other marginalized communities. Audre Lorde reminds us, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” Our liberation is bound together with the liberation of all oppressed people. Let us use our breath to amplify the voices of those who are silenced, to stand in solidarity, and to work towards collective liberation.

In this journey towards unapologetic thriving, challenges may arise, and doubts may surface, but let us not waver in our determination. As Angela Davis encourages us, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” With every intentional breath, we rewrite the narratives, challenge the status quo, and create spaces of empowerment and equality.

Dear Black women and femmes, as we breathe intentionally and unapologetically, let us envision a world where our stories are heard, our dreams are realized, and our liberation is unequivocal. With each breath, we reclaim our agency, our voices, and our power. Embrace the revolutionary act of breathing, for it is through our breath that we cultivate resilience, resistance, and the audacity to thrive.

Together, let us breathe and rise, unyielding in our pursuit of a world that celebrates and uplifts the brilliance of Black women and femmes. Let our breath be the catalyst for our liberation, our empowerment, and our unapologetic thriving. As we continue to honour the legacies of those who came before us and forge paths for those who will follow, may our breaths echo with the strength and resilience of our ancestors. Inhale the possibilities, exhale the limitations. Breathe to thrive, for ourselves and for the generations yet to come.

Tai Salih

Tai, E-RYT® 500, YACEP®, integrative counsellor, dedicated to healing and empowerment.