Ain’t I A Woman: Helsa Thompson

Six years ago, I became a mom.

Motherhood is my greatest accomplishment and my biggest emotional roller coaster. Before becoming a mom everything came easy to me….school, career, side hustles… and then I became a mom. I felt like a failure. I was not sleeping, I could not produce enough milk to breastfeed, and I overcompensated at work because I didn’t want people to think I couldn’t handle being a senior level exec and a mom.

As soon as I was getting into my mommy rhythm, I FOUND OUT I WAS PREGNANT AGAIN! So here I was juggling the realities of being a newlywed and preparing to be a mom of 2 under 2.

Fast forward to now. I have three sons– 6, 4, and 9 months old. You would think that I would have everything figured out now, but that is further from the truth.

As a mom, I was losing myself. I was no longer Helsa. I no longer felt like a woman. I could not see where I began and where my responsibilities end. So I knew I had to make a change. This began my self love journey and the launch of my passion project, The Black Butterfly Collective. Self love is a mother’s power. I knew I had to take my power back because “A mother who looks after herself and her needs, who nourishes herself, who takes care of herself and who feeds herself with love, is a mother who is happy. And a mother who is happy, creates a happy and healthy home for the rest of her family.” Focusing on my self love and motherhood journey was critical for me as a woman. Specially, as a Black woman.

As a Black women, we are taught to be strong, to serve as the back bone of our community upholding our families and supporting our men. We are at the forefront of societal movements personifying resiliency and fierceness. But we are never taught to rest. We are not given the liberty to be vulnerable and gentle with ourselves. So as a part of my journey, I founded The Black Butterfly Collective, where I believes self love & self care is a form of activism.

The Black Butterfly Collective focuses on creating a community of empowerment and evolution through self care and healing. I work to empower communities of color with the tools necessary for healing, living healthy lives, and promoting pride in our identity. During my self love and self care journey, I prioritized my mental, emotional, and physical health and I took up yoga, meditation, sound therapy, and Reiki. I saw the power that these healing modalities did in empowering me to be the best version of myself emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I knew I wanted to empower others to do the same. I decided to become a certified yoga instructor, meditation teacher and life coach. I create spaces for others to heal, grow, and love themselves.

I want to support the empowerment and evolutions of all people, but have a specific focus on the black community. Identity factors such as race, religion, sexual orientation and gender—is complex, especially, in the Black community. (1) The Black community suffers from generational trauma that affects how people deal with stress and emotions in the present (2) Black women are most effected by heart disease, caused by stress, and are not equipped with tools for self-care and stress management (3) Black boys are disciplined at high rates and misdiagnosed for learning disabilities, leading to lack of access to more educational opportunities, closing the opportunity gap (4) Suicide rates for black children aged 5-12 were roughly two times higher than those of similarly aged white children Knowing how to deal with stress and learning how to self-regulate emotions are skills needed to empower the Black community.

These tools allow for people of color rewire how we deal with generational trauma, the stress of being black in America, emotions that come with navigating white dominate culture in the work place and schools, and the reclaiming ownership of how we engage and react with others. My passion for empowering communities of color is evident before I even launched The Black Butterfly Collective.

I began her professional career as a pioneer in the field of education making a difference in schools and community organizations such as DC Public Schools, KIPP, LEAD Public Charter Schools, and Relay Graduate School of Education. She currently serves at the Senior Managing Director of Foundations Integration and Special Initiatives with Teach For America DFW focused on diversity, equity, and inclusiveness.

Instagram: @blackbutterflycollective

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