We had the good fortune of connecting with Mystique Hargrove and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mystique, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I’m from a small town called Henderson in North Carolina. My background has always been in serving folks in need and healing. My family is pretty much a melting pot of traditional healing. My dad’s side is Black Indigenous and my mom’s side is Caribbean and Spanish, so I’m a spicy combination of healing.
I was mostly raised in the practices of healing by my abuelita, or Mother Canada as folks use to call her. She is the one I just gravitated towards and would sit under as kid all the time learning from her about how to heal the body with things from the earth. That’s what pushed me in the direction of traditional herbal practices and healing the community.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I come from a radical and ancestral perspective in birth work and healing. I’m definitely not your average “cookie cutter” birth worker. I use practices taught to me by elders in my family, including my abuelita, and present it in a radical way of healing. I’m all about liberated laughter, twerk births, and healing from the earth.
This work can be very competitive and ego driven. Many try to do it all and have all the credentials without taking the time to listen to what their purpose is or who their focus should be in birth work. I get excited that I’m able to not only be guided by my ancestors to heal and serve accordingly, but I am able to connect with them on a level of tuning in to what the community needs. I remove ego out of my work. I feel that is an important factor that many don’t get or can become to wrapped up in this whole “I am the best birth working savior” instead of wanting to come together as a collective to save the community.
Between egos in this work and those who fail to be inclusive by displaying anti-Blackness, homophobia, and transphobia, it has been very exhausting navigating barriers as a queer birth worker and healer. It’s definitely not easy and many fail to realize the more we isolate and stick to being ignorant about marginalized populations that are “use to” the neglect and discrimination, the more we will lose our way to actually save bodies during pregnancy and postpartum.
I’ve been learning how to just take time for myself to practice self-care by taking breaks when I need to take breaks and I allow the folks that I trust to assist me by removing things off of my overloaded plate to create balance. I’m use to staying to myself because it is hard to trust and collaborate with folks in this work who are not all about egos and setting their own discriminatory agendas. It’s extremely hard. I have a selected few who I can count on to build WITH me and not against me because this is not a competition. It’s definitely not a competition for me. There are better ways to serve the community so that we all can eat and live a life full of abundance, liberation, and freedom one day.
My brand or my work is sacred. It’s a dedication to the ancestors before me who did this work and now have passed this purpose down to me. It’s not for “smoke and mirrors” to be flashy and showing off. I don’t do ego with the work I do because I can’t. It’s not for me or for my journey. My work is about healing and guiding folks to remove the blocks they have carried for so long because generationally they had to “deal with it.” I want folks to know that my story and my work is about walking in my purpose to not only heal my community but to also empower my community to get reconnected to the practices of what our ancestors before us did and not be ashamed to do so.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well the area I live in doesn’t have too much excitement for a visit, (laughs) so I would definitely do an out-of-town trip to my favorite restaurant in Durham, “Boriqua Soul.” They have the best Puerto Rican food EVER. Reminds me of my abuelita’s and tia’s cooking with a southern spin to it, reminding me of my dad’s side of the family’s cooking. Or I would take them out in Charlotte and do some “restaurant hopping” to explore some good food eats.
I do miss our food truck festivals, so whenever those come back, I would definitely take them there as well.
Can you not tell I’m a foodie who loves great food?
I’m not much of a “going out” person but I would definitely explore places to go that we could sit outside if there the weather is nice.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
First, of course, I must give thanks to my ancestors and their healing lineage, especially my abuelita. She is the reason for this gift I have and this passion I carry to serve Black/IPOC birth and postpartum bodies in need.
Next is definitely the Queer Doula Network. If I could tell you how many times I have wanted to quit this work because I didn’t feel heard or seen because of who I am. Without being aligned to connect with QDN and their work, I really don’t know where I would be in this walk I’m on. They have been my go-to support regarding the experience of anti-Blackness intersecting with homophobia and transphobia in birth work. I’m truly thankful for having them create a platform for LGBTQ+ birth workers, especially those of color…especially Black LGBTQ+ folks from even more marginalized communities.
I would also love to give thanks to Lotus (me and my partner’s kid) who continues to show me why I do this work: to walk in my purpose and speak about my testimony of facing tragedy through pregnancy and postpartum. Also with my partner for being the grounded energy I need to push through the chaos of this work and to remind me who I am.
My kindred family, of course, who has always supported me or checked my moments of “imposter syndrome” to acknowledge that even when I don’t feel seen or heard, they speak over those who fail to uplift and amplify what I’m building.
Vetta From Down The Street Kendra Knight Photo