Glowing in The Kitchen: An Interview with Glow Maven's Latham Thomas

In partnership with ALIGNED magazine

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What are what are we making?

L.T: We're going to have some collard green ribbons which I'm doing as a really thin chiffonade so that they can be buttery and really easy to eat and chew and just melt in your mouth. We’re also going to make some faro with black-eyed peas and with bell pepper, a little bit of squash and a few other vegetables like zucchini and things like that. So since my grandmother passed away– a lot of foods that she would make would include greens or black-eyed peas and things like that, so I wanted to make something that would nod to her and the ingredients she would use in most common cooking.

There's a big African American tradition around having black eyed peas around the New Year. It's kind of for good luck that you have them. It brings you money and prosperity. It's something that I just incorporate in a lot of cooking I do. I don't want blessings to be bestowed at January 1, I want blessing throughout the year!

What does it mean in the wellness space to create “safe space”? It’s a term thrown around a lot, but I’m not seeing many spaces that really live up to full capacity of what it suggests.

L.T:  It’s so important to go into wellness spaces, or conferences, or gatherings or whatever it is and see a diversity of leadership. You may go to an event and you'll see all of these amazing people and you're like “Wow, look at this incredible group of individuals from all ages and sexes..” but not necessarily backgrounds. It's so important. Right now, the voices of women and women of color in the wellness space are marginalized. And their voices are . . . not silenced, but not celebrated.

I think with people of color too there's a barrier to come into yoga or meditation if you feel like you have to dress a certain way, that you have to have this type of legging which costs this much. This weight. This eye color, hair color, body type. That's what we see perpetuated in wellness media so people aren't going to think it's a space for them. There's a problem with trying to act like everything is one way when really there are so many unacknowledged people who are lending their voices and work.

And not just for people of color but also making sure that we bring voices from the LGBTQ community. I talk to so many people who are like, "I don't want to come into this space. There's so much hetero-normative languaging" or even just the framing. And so people might not feel safe in a space where they have to fight for their existence. If you're going to be about consciousness, if you're going to be about inclusivity and you're going to be about lifting people then you have to lift and want to liberate all people. I think that that's what we have to work towards – making sure that you can go into a studio and also see "oh, my trans sister that I take yoga with" or like this black brother who teaches class.

Also! A lot of these tips and tools and traditions are coming from ancestral traditions, globally, that are being repackaged, spun, and sold to people without the context of where they came from. So I think we have to do better at that. Making sure that we lift all types of voices in leadership.

 

I think it's so important there are spaces that are also spaces designed specifically for these communities, too. There’s a certain freedom, at least for me, in the way I move about in a space I feel at home in.

L.T: I think there is a difference between how marginalized communities move because people who don't always feel safe are always questioning whether or not they belong some place. People who feel safe are always transgressing people's boundaries.

It's like when you go on the subway and somebody's man-spreading. And it's like, I would never think to take up that much space. Your consciousness tells you that it's OK for you to take up that much space? Whereas a woman or someone else is making themselves smaller. Not to say that we should be making ourselves smaller! But how do we frame around taking up more space intentionally and consciously because, in marginalized communities, we've never been able to.

I want people to take up more space. I want women to take up more space. I want people of all backgrounds who have been walking with their wings clipped to take up more space. And it's important too, because the work that these people bring to the world is really profound. And it will only come to fruition if we're allowed to take up that space.

And that sort of ownership sounds like it’s synonymous with an idea like “owning your glow.”

L.T: That's what it is. Taking that responsibility. Own it! Embrace who you are to your fullest so that you can become the brightest light and that everything you touch will be graced. If you hold back in any way on who you truly are, if you don't really let the world see you, or give the gifts that you have to give, then people suffer. The world really suffers when you're not yourself, when I'm not myself. Because there's special medicine that we were sent with that is ignited when you and I activate who we are. That's balm that heals the world. We're supposed to do that. That's what we're here to do. Just do it.

So that's done, and I'll make you all dessert.