Black Business Spotlight: Reviving Roots Therapy and Wellness

Submitted photo Marlee James

A ‘Black centered, Black serving, Black affirming space’

Reviving Roots Therapy and Wellness is a Minneapolis-based resource whose mission is “to create a Black centered, Black serving, Black affirming communal space, conjuring a legacy of health, wealth and healing,” according to its website. 

Founded by Black mental health therapist Marlee James in 2019, Reviving Roots offers individual therapy services as well as professional counseling services that help organizations improve employee mental well-being. 

James is a Minnesota native who carries a strong personal dedication to health and wellness, especially within the Black community. Before becoming a fully licensed therapist in 2019, she spent a considerable amount of time working in wellness programs, mainly within collegiate communities. 

“I had worked in about five different organizations at that point,” said James. “They made sure that I was on each of those websites as the one token Black person at the organization. But then a lot of the things in the way that they operated did not match. I knew once I was fully licensed, I was going to leave. And so that’s what I did.”

In early 2020, James was prepared to open a new space in South Minneapolis. She recalled scrambling to get her space ready as COVID numbers rose. “I had a big green couch and beautiful chairs and beautiful art,” reminisced James. 

Due to quarantine mandates, James needed to postpone the opening and quickly pivoted to telehealth as a way to provide services to the community. Soon after, the murder of George Floyd shook the city of Minneapolis. James lived only a few blocks from the 38th and Chicago Ave. intersection, the epicenter of the George Floyd Memorial. 

“We were told to be ready if someone was breaking into our home. But at the same time, I’m doing therapy with people,” explained James.

Because of the trauma that Minnesota’s Black community faced in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, there was a massive influx of people who needed Reviving Root’s specific service offerings, like culturally specific individual therapy and professional counseling. “I had at least 100 referrals, and they were all Black folk wanting only a Black therapist because of what had happened,” said James.

James was a participant in Finnegan Brewery’s entrepreneurship program called Finnovation Lab. As a Finnovation Fellow, James was provided with the support and resources to envision a different future of Black wellness in the Twin Cities through Reviving Roots. This future would be inclusive and provide the care, services and tools that the Black community actually needs, yet too often does not have access to. 

“I did a lot of community research, surveys and interviews,” said James. “I realized my original thought was that Black folks didn’t want to go to therapy, and they didn’t want to take care of their mental health. But then I realized through this work that we just don’t like the options that we have.”

James explained how her research findings unveiled how there are a number of common barriers that prevent Black people from participating in health and wellness resources, like White practitioners who are disconnected from cultural issues, premium price points for services, and lack of Black providers: “This field has only 5% of people of color…so there’s not a lot of representation.”

Reviving Roots is working to fill this gap by providing a plethora of services to our local Black community like yoga, mindful fitness, mental health therapy, cultural wellness workshops, and much more. The brick-and-mortar space will begin offering services in the spring of 2023 and will serve as a new beacon of Black wellness in the Twin Cities community. 

“Part of finding the solution for me is centering Blackness, and being very intentional about what that looks like,” shared James. 

For more info about Reviving Roots, visit revivingrootstherapywellness.com.

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