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Devi Brown Is Carving Out Space In The Wellness Industry For Women Of Color

The newly appointed Chief Impact Officer at Chopra Global is proof of what happens when purpose and passion aligns.

BOSS UP

Reiki energy healer, primordial sound meditation educator, spiritual psychology practitioner, best-selling author, and wellness entrepreneur. These are just a few titles that the unconquerable Devi Brown holds in the wellness industry. After reaching the peak of her career in the music industry and becoming a top-notch radio personality, she began to believe that something was missing. As she dug deeper into her spiritual and wellness journey, she began to share her healing and spiritual findings through Karma Bliss, which has ultimately put a focus on carving a space in the wellness industry for women of color.

Today, Devi Brown serves as the Chief Impact Officer at Chopra Global, where she will "help drive Chopra Global's creative direction, content strategy, and impact efforts, as well as provide guidance and insight to best serve the company's mission of democratizing well-being and bringing expanded consciousness to a global collective," according to a recent press release on behalf of Chopra Global. Tonia O'Connor, CEO of Chopra Global, says the team is "grateful to have her" and dubs Devi as "one of the most respected voices in well-being."

xoNecole caught up with the wellness expert, author, and Chopra certified educator of Primordial Sound Meditation about her devotion to spiritual connection, her passion for advocacy for women of color in wellness, and how her career as a music executive led her to her new role with Chopra Global, who recently launched a new mobile app.

On her initial interest in the wellness industry and carving spaces for women of color:

"Curiosity about personal transformation and spirituality has always been at the core of who I was since childhood. I believe that so much of who we are, our innate skill sets and even the longings and interests that we have were determined before we got to earth, so in that regard I know that so much of my connection to this work is above me. In real-world not just spiritual world reality though I was drawn to explore healing modalities and wellness as I began to experience 'busy burnout' while working in broadcasting and entertainment. I was hitting milestones and fitting the 'success' model that society had taught me to measure myself against but it always felt like something was missing, like there was a void, or like I wasn't really meeting my full human potential.

"As I began to explore that new understanding and started shifting my lens of perception, this new view also extended to the way I experienced my past, present and future. Once you start really working on yourself and accepting yourself, it's as if the floodgates open and an outpouring of deeper understandings begin to happen in every aspect of your life.

"For women of color, I believe access to tools to enhance overall life well-being is of the utmost importance. Women of color are the most marginalized and unsupported group of people in the world. Specifically, black women in the United States. We have to joyfully care for ourselves first which is so counterintuitive to anything we have ever been led to believe."

On how the music industry prepared her for her new career move at Chopra Global:

"Working in entertainment and broadcasting can truly prepare you for almost anything (laughs). Something that I loved about that time in my life was the way it fed my curiosity about the human condition. The way it allowed me to connect with people from all walks of life and all backgrounds. How to really get clear on my thoughts and how to read a crowd quickly. It also taught me how to not take things personally. When I was a little girl growing up in L.A., we were always stuck in traffic and listening to the radio.

"I remember being in awe of the sacredness I experienced with being connected to someone I didn't know over the airwaves and feeling like they were a companion on that leg of my journey, which at the time was just the freeway drive from home to school. That desire for connection to help people feel seen and heard is what still drives me today, except now I get to connect people to themselves and to tools of transformation as opposed to headlines and music."

On her plans on using her role and Chopra Global as a platform to elevate wellness for women of color:

"When I first deep-dived into my wellness journey, first starting with being a retreat and summit participant with various collectives, then as student of different schools and certification programs, then as an entrepreneur starting my own wellness business; it was never lost on me that 99% of the time I was the only Black millennial person in every single space I occupied. This was especially true when I first started almost a decade ago. Some of these events ranged in size from 40 people all the way up to 500+ people. No matter the size, I never saw anyone that looked like me.

"I've spent a very long time investigating what that understanding meant to me, the barriers to healing that exist for POC and how that impacted my/our journey (and sometimes lack thereof). Much of that and more is what I am incredibly excited about helping to shift not just within the company but within the wellness industry as a whole. I'm looking to get more [people of color] certified as teachers and healing practitioners and help create events that include more diverse speakers and attendees as well as implementing the best ways to apply knowledge of barriers various cultures and communities have to healing and how to most authentically help people expand emotionally and embody well-being practices based on those unique but pervasive barriers to entry."

Courtesy of Devi Brown/22 Spring

On how she has been personally impacted by Deepak Chopra's work:

"Deepak's work very literally changed the trajectory of my life and informed my ability to identify my purpose and mission. I think like most, by nature of him being a spiritual pioneer for the last nearly 30 years, I was aware of his books and some of his philosophies but it wasn't until a chance opportunity to attend one of his signature retreats at the height of my busy burnout/ego investigation while still working in broadcasting that I was able to access deeper parts of my spiritual experience. Deepak has authored over 90 books but my entry point to deeper understandings of higher consciousness came through his 7 Spiritual Laws of Success and Perfect Health. I first learned to meditate and how to come into a space of acceptance, detachment from outcome and peace through his life's work. He taught me how to really be with myself and experience a lightness of being in all I did and do."

On wellness, self-care and self-love practices in her everyday life:

"Personal wellness/well-being is the top priority of every facet of my life. It's my foundation and fuel. The quickest road to purpose and personal evolution is found in your daily spiritual practice or routine. For me that looks like an am and pm practice. In the mornings I meditate, stretch, pray, say affirmations, play my sound bowl and read a couple pages from a soul-nourishing book. In the evening I clear my energy, light some copal, pray, journal, play music to raise my frequency and dance. I've really taken advantage of COVID/social distancing clearing my calendar to supercharge my practice at night. I've been really intentional with how I use all this new 'me' time and I've loved the way it is sharpening me. This moment in time is truly an opportunity to become the 2.0 versions of ourselves if we let it."

On spiritual activism and generational trauma:

"I experience spiritual activism as a way of infusing your core spiritual beliefs into the way you show up for yourself and others. This past winter and spring, I noticed a lot of the traditionally white wellness and spiritual communities weaponizing systems of belief as a way to bypass what has been happening in the world and as a way to insulate themselves against deeper understanding of real world human experiences for people of color. I believe that if you have healed and expanded yourself, it is a spiritual duty to go out of your way to insert yourself and these compassionate understandings into the world in real time in a way that is of service to all oppressed and marginalized people.

"A core piece of dissolving intergenerational trauma is educating ourselves on our own family systems and adding in the lens of the role society, systemic racism and capitalism played in our brokenness. To be healed and have regular access to peace we must accept ourselves. To accept ourselves as Black women, we have to radically stand in our truths and regularly set self-honoring boundaries."

"We have to cast down the mechanism of forced resilience and emotional bypass and allow ourselves to heal. We need to prioritize our happiness and well-being first. As we do that, energetically we create healing and freedom for our entire lineage past, present and future."

For more of Devi, follow her on Instagram.

Featured image by 22 Spring

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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