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This is a huge topic to take on… Therefore, I want to start with a few questions before we take a deeper dive. Have you ever been the only person of your race, ethnic background or colour in the room? Or even an entire massage therapy business?

Have you been denied providing massage therapy service to a client because of your race, colour or ethnicity? Has someone ever touched your hair without permission or told you not to wear your hair in its natural curly state because it’s

“not” appropriate?

I have experienced all of these situations in my life. While I was in Costco with a white friend of mine, I looked at her and said do you realize I am the only black person in this entire store? She looked at me with a confused look and said “No, I didn’t even notice”. To provide context the reason why I became more aware was because I finally saw another black woman heading into the store as we were leaving. As an “aware” black person you are always conscious of your surroundings especially when you’re in a city or state when you’re a minority in the population. I live in Phoenix; Black people are less than 7% of the population.

Steve Harvey was on the popular show “The View” a few months ago. He was saying how great it was to visit Africa and how he was going to purchase a house there. He stated “Africa is the birthplace of mankind, but for African-Americans I think it is even more special. To wake up and not have to be conscious that you’re black. Just to be able to wake up and walk outside. And you’re just yourself today. You don’t have to filter that in. There’s not a day that I can wake up over here (America), that I don’t have to filter that in. To wake up and not be a minority. You don’t know what that is, if you’ve never had to deal with that. Congratulations.” When I heard him say this, it summed up my entire feeling and mindset.

The question was posed to me “When is exclusivity necessary/important?” I believe the better question would be “Why when exclusivity happens within the black community is it frowned upon or offensive or even called racist, however when other ethnic groups or religious groups gather or have strong community relationships, there is nothing said”? I’m from New York City. It’s been called the “Melting Pot” because it has all different ethnicities and religions. New York is known to have places such as Chinatown, Little Italy, Spanish Harlem or in Brooklyn there is a huge Hasidic Jewish population. However, Harlem where a majority of black people lived has had gentrification and it is a shell of what it was in the 1930s to early 2000s. Blacks have been priced out of the neighbourhood that was rich in culture, identity and black history, however this didn’t happen to these other neighbourhoods that I have previously mentioned. This is just one example of one city out of many across America where gentrification is happening to many black communities.

As a culture and ethnic group, we need to help encourage each other. We need the networking, fellowship and experience like no other. When we are within each other’s presence we can let our guard down and be comfortable and be who we are and speak our own language.

Why is exclusivity necessary and important? As a culture our history has been removed or hasn’t been taught in schools. Our neighbourhoods have been impacted. It has impacted us socioeconomically. Families of colour will soon make up a majority of the population, but most continue to fall behind whites in building wealth. In 1963, the average wealth of white families was $121,000 higher than the average wealth of nonwhite families. By 2016, the average wealth of white families ($919,000) was over $700,000 higher than the average wealth of black families.

Put another way, white family wealth was seven times greater than black family wealth and five times greater than Hispanic family wealth in 2016. Despite some fluctuations over the past five decades, this disparity is as high or higher than it was in 1963. White families accumulate more wealth over their lives than black or Hispanic families do, widening the wealth gap at older ages. In their 30s, whites have an average of $147,000 more in wealth than blacks (three times as much). By their 60s, whites have over $1.1 million more in average wealth than blacks (seven times as much). The federal government spends over $400 billion to support asset development, but those subsidies primarily benefited higher-income families—exacerbating wealth inequality and racial wealth disparities.¹

As a culture and ethnic group, we need to help encourage each other. We need the networking, fellowship and experience like no other. When we are within each other’s presence we can let our guard down and be comfortable and be who we are and speak our own language. It’s important for us to build our self-esteem because any time black come together in the media and the press it is represented as something negative like violence in the community. Financially we do not have our own ecosystem. Other cultures have their own schools, banks and businesses. They rely on their community and don’t have to rely on others outside of their community to thrive. More research shows why these numbers are the reflection of when we attempted exclusivity, however terrible things occurred in Black American history. Efforts by Black Americans to build wealth can be traced back throughout American history. But these efforts have been impeded in a host of ways, beginning with 246 years of chattel slavery and followed by Congressional mismanagement of the Freedman’s Savings Bank (which left 61,144 depositors with losses of nearly $3 million in 1874), the violent massacre decimating Tulsa’s Greenwood District in 1921 (a population of 10,000 that thrived as the epicenter of African American business and culture, commonly referred to as “Black Wall Street”), and discriminatory policies throughout the 20th century including the Jim Crow Era’s “Black Codes” strictly limiting opportunity in many southern states, the GI bill, the New Deal’s Fair Labor Standards Act’s exemption of domestic agricultural and service occupations, and redlining. Wealth was taken from these communities before they had the opportunity to grow. This history matters for contemporary inequality in part because its legacy is passed down generation-to generation through unequal monetary inheritances which make up a great deal of current wealth. In 2020 Americans are projected to inherit about $765 billion in gifts and bequests, excluding wealth transfers to spouses and transfers that support minor children. Inheritances account for roughly 4% of annual household income, much of which goes untaxed by the U.S. government.²


Instead of just hearing the importance of exclusivity please read below some testimonials we have received from attendees from the Black Massage Therapist Conference.

“This is the only Place I believe that I’ve met so many black massage therapists all in one place. And we get a chance to talk about all the different opportunities and a different state network actually coming together and creating new opportunities for us.”

- Lemar S.

“I think Davonna and her team are doing something revolutionary and very necessary, especially for black people in the spa and wellness space. They are not very many spaces for us to come together. And to create this for us is needed. And I’m so blessed and grateful to be here and I’m grateful for Davonna and her team for doing that.”

- Patrick H.

“It was a pleasure meeting everyone. I can’t wait for next year. I enjoyed all the networking and being able to talk freely about our experiences and how we can represent us and take things to the next level.”

- Kimberly M

Instead of getting offended when Black Massage Therapists come together at a conference it should be celebrated, applauded, supported and encouraged.

1. Stats from the Urban Institute calculations from Survey of Consumer Finances 1983–2016.

2. According to Examining the black-white wealth gap Kriston McIntosh, Emily Moss, Ryan Nunn, and Jay Shambaugh February 27, 2020 https://www.brookings. edu/articles/examining-the-black-white-wealth-gap/


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