Black People Breathe

A Mindfulness Guide to Racial Healing

About the Book

A thoughtful and inclusive guide to help Black people—and all people of color—heal from racial trauma using vital tools from an expert in mindfulness, meditation, and breathwork.
It is your right to survive. It is your right to thrive. Mindfulness and breathwork will help you do just that.
Racism is more than just an interpersonal experience. It is a systemic injustice that affects the lives of Black people, and all people of color, in countless ways. Doctors and psychologists have discovered the wide-ranging—and often devastating—effects of racism on one’s emotional, physical, and mental health, from high blood pressure and heart problems to anxiety and depression. Yet studies show that mindfulness, meditation, and breathwork can significantly reduce these issues. This is where Zee Clarke comes in.
In this powerful book, Clarke draws on her professional expertise and her lived experience as a Black woman to share mindfulness exercises, breathwork practices, and meditative tools centered on healing from and surviving racial trauma. Filled with deeply personal stories highlighting the many systemic challenges that people of color face, this mixture of guide and memoir offers thirty-three practical techniques based on the emotions elicited from these experiences. Whether you are coping with police brutality, racial profiling, microaggressions, or even imposter syndrome, Black People Breathe gives you the tools to process these complex feelings physically, mentally, and emotionally. Though this collection was created to facilitate healing for communities of color, it also offers allies insight into the discrimination and inequity that these communities face, creating a space for deeper empathy and the inspiration to drive change.
Black People Breathe takes a radically inclusive approach to mindfulness, allowing communities of color the opportunity to embark on a journey towards racial healing.
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Praise for Black People Breathe

“Zee Clarke’s beautifully illustrated book, Black People Breathe, is a go-to reference book for every Black person, People of Color, and ally to understand the devastating health consequences of ongoing systemic racism, microaggressions, and other struggles. Black People Breathe will become a go-to manual, charting a course toward how we can heal ourselves with breathwork and mindfulness so we don’t just survive, but thrive.”—Dr. Corey Yeager, author of How Am I Doing: 40 Conversations to Have with Yourself, Detroit Pistons life coach & psychotherapist

“In Black People Breathe, Zee Clarke captures how we can all be more aware, empathetic, and supportive as allies. She has opened my eyes wider to issues I’ve been aware of and discussing for several years. The magic with this book is that Zee’s personal touch completely expands my awareness and gives me a new perspective that will propel me in my work moving forward. And I plan to implement the breathing techniques into my own life. I am grateful to Zee for her honesty, vulnerability, and strength. I am recommending this book to all of my friends and colleagues, as we will all learn and grow by reading Black People Breathe.”—Shelley Zalis, CEO, The Female Quotient
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Black People Breathe


Angry. Frustrated. Undervalued. Shocked. Sad. Attacked. Ashamed. Anxious. This is only a fraction of what Black people feel when we experience racism. Doctors and psychologists have discovered that the experience of racism can result in a wide range of health impacts that kill us slowly—death by a thousand cuts. Researchers at Columbia University found that racism causes traumatic stress, linked to negative mental-health outcomes such as depression, anger, hypervigilance, and low self-esteem. Chronically high levels of stress hormones in the bloodstream cause severe physical consequences, and racism has been linked to significantly higher rates of both heart disease and high blood pressure in African Americans. Studies also find that racial discrimination causes unhealthy behaviors, including overeating and substance abuse.

We can’t wait for other people to get “woke,” because we’ll lose too many of our own people in the process. But there is something that we can do to begin healing. It’s a “secret” that’s been around for thousands of years. I discovered it when I was in Oakland, California, and then in India, where I explored it further. So, what is it?


It’s the cheapest medical treatment you’ll find on the market, and without a long list of side effects. Mindfulness doesn’t require meditating in an ashram or a monastery. Something as simple as taking a deep breath qualifies as mindfulness, and it can literally change the way you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I used to think that meditation and yoga were not for people who looked like me. The few times that I attended any such classes, I was the only Black person in the room, which only solidified this misconception. However, the more I learned, the more I realized that Black people actually need these practices the most. And they work. Studies show that mindfulness practices reduce stress, blood pressure, heart disease, and so many more health issues that Black people face on a daily basis as a direct result of the harsh impact of systemic racism, microaggressions, and overt hate crimes on our lives. These practices can be used regardless of your religion, and you will feel the effects in real time.

In the following chapters, I’m going to share my personal experiences as a Black woman in America and the specific mindfulness and breathwork practices that have worked for me. Don’t just take my word for it—the best way to truly understand and experience the benefits is to try them out. This isn’t a book to read once and then let sit on your shelf. This is the ultimate guide to your mental and physical health when it comes to racism. The next time you’re stopped by the police, the next time someone touches your hair without asking, the next time a white person says or does something that makes you so angry that you want to do something more Malcolm X than MLK, come back to this book for specific breathwork or mindfulness techniques that you can use to heal. Video tutorials of key practices can be found at to guide you along the way.

It is our right to survive. It is our right to thrive. Mindfulness and breathwork will help you do just that.

Please Note

Although this book is written for Black people and tailored to the Black experience in America, those of other backgrounds who experience similar challenges can also benefit from the tools that I will share. To my white friends, I invite you to educate yourself about the Black experience, with an intention informed by both empathy and action. I also invite you to think about what role you might play to accelerate change.

About the Author

Zee Clarke
Founder of Reclaiming Flow, Zee Clarke leverages her toolkit of meditation, breathwork, yoga, and much more, to teach people of color how mindfulness can improve their well-being at work.  She has trained Black employees at leading brands like Facebook and The North Face, and she teaches Black people across the nation who have never meditated before how to use mindfulness tools to heal from microaggressions, racism, and the anxiety, fear, and self-doubt that often can occur as a result. More by Zee Clarke
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