podcastSeason 4

EP 162: Healing Black Mama Trauma

By March 12, 2020 No Comments

Audio Producer

Juan P. Perez


Fatima Mookadam


Valerie Anderson

Aja Rutledge: A single mother who moved abroad to Mexico with her son to design their liberation, moved back to the U.S. and ended up staying with her mother longer than anticipated. Aja has been realizing how much her mother’s baggage affected her own sense of worth and value, as well as her approach to parenting her now 13-year-old son.



A few weeks ago, on Episode 160 we talked with Aja about the pain of being raised with trauma through the vessel of Black mothers, and her new podcast She Said We Shed. In that episode, we talked about “why” she’s doing this podcast and “what” the problem was…in detail. Those of you who listened to that episode (if you didn’t, please go back and do so) because in this episode, we’re going to continue that conversation and touch on “how”. She Said We Shed will not only look at and discuss the impacts of toxic mothering but also how to move into and within practice mode. Aja will speak on learning how, what and why we need to begin shifting our awareness in order to heal ourselves and treat our selves and children with respect and love.

Aja has been focused on this work and we believe it would be useful for us to hear about the direction–the pivot.

Also In this episode, we share a clip of She Said We Shed’s first episode! In this clip, Aja takes us into her personal story and the impact her mother has had on her life. She shares where she is today in regards to her relationship with her mother and highlight’s steps she’s taken throughout the years to heal and improve their relationship. This shedding helps us to understand why she feels she needs to begin this podcast.

We welcome Aja back in this episode as she talks about the pivot and how it’s possible to move through the pain and into healing.

What were some of the things that shifted for Aja?

  • Not playing small anymore by recognizing how she self-sabotaged herself and WHY she was doing so. She realized how, through conditioning she learned, to naturally pull and shrink back when success was on the horizon.
  • No longer using the mask of being an “observer” and “giving zero fucks” to filter who she shows up as in various spaces. Instead, Aja is conscious of how she shows up now through checking-in with herself. Aja digs into this and how to start shifting this.
  • Learning how to care for self and releasing the responses of self-chastisement and massive self-criticism which then shifts to how we (unconsciously) treat our children.

How did Aja deal with what was happening? 

What was she doing as a result of this?

What happened moving forward?

Blame and anger only kept her stuck, she says. Looking at how and where “symptoms” of toxic mothering show up in and throughout life was the start of these changes.

What can you do to begin the shift – the pivot?

  • Get curious about what is happening
  • Check-in with yourself often. How are you feeling?
  • Listen to yourself; resist being hard or critical on yourself.

Did Aja show similar behavioral patterns of Black mama trauma with her own child?

Did it show up in her parenting?

What was one example of that behavior?

Aja shares her previous struggle with yelling on her son years ago and how she brought him into the process of shifting in order to reduce and eventually stop yelling and screaming on him, despite being raised by a yeller herself.  She shares how she became aware, checked-in and listened to herself in order to stop inflicting trauma on her son.

We believe you’re going to want to hear more from Aja so be sure to get on her email list to be notified when She Said We Shed’s first episode is published, and to get an invite to her  Facebook group. Aja wants us to be in practice of resisting and being aware of Black mama trauma. There will be something in this podcast that you will want to hold on to!


Also, coming soon to Raising Free People Network (RFPN), a new podcast called Plant It Up! by my Mama, Valerie Anderson. She’s going to teach us about grown-woman life through self care and plant care.



  1. Check-in with/listen to yourself in order to recognize and identify what’s happening
  2. Resist being hard/critical of yourself… slip-ups/mistakes are okay
  3. Subscribe to Aja’s email list at: shesaidweshed
  4. Subscribe to Akilah’s email list at: she@akilahrichards.com
  5. Look out for Plant it Up! Podcast, a new addition to RFPN, coming soon.
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