The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Toronto MU chapter.

Menopause, a topic that is usually kept quiet, was talked about at Chubby’s Kitchen on Sept. 24, 2023. The subject inspired Omisade Burney-Scott, the creator of the Black Girls Guide to Surviving Menopause Podcast (BGG2SM), to bring a peer dinner and conversation to downtown Toronto. 

Wray and Nephew sign in a mirror at Chubby’s restaurant (Original photo by Monserrat Quintana)

The intergenerational and intersexual community of Black people from all over the world came together to destigmatize this natural cycle. As you walked into the room, a beautiful table was decorated with several objects, signs and rocks. This table was referred to as the “altar of abundance.” While part of the altar’s meaning was to honour Oshun, a Goddess in several African traditional religions, this was also open for everyone to interact and reflect on.

“We got to talk about our bodies. We got to talk interracial dating. These are things you don’t get to talk about unless you experience it yourself,” said Daniella Tshilombo, one of the invitees.

A deck of cards that looked like a pink board game was placed at every table in the venue. Guests did not expect to find several cards with self-reflective messages for them to discuss with their peers. 

Guests at the table while Omisade Burney-Scott gives a speech (Original photo by Monserrat Quintana)

In 2019, Burney-Scott decided to take a sabbatical and “refocus on her energy.” Her eldest son had suggested that she start a creative project. She said, “I like to have conversations with other black women who are my age or older about how life is right now for them, and Mariah said, ‘You should start a podcast.’”

At first, the podcast focused on Black women and femmes, according to Burney-Scott, “By focusing on that, we realized we were leaving out a large portion of the Black that also experienced menopause…In season two, we decided to shift our focus on Black women, femmes, non-binary, genderqueer and trans-people and ages.”

While working on the podcast, Burney-Scott built the foundation of a community. She realized that to achieve success, you have to lose your fear of failure.

“Mariah and the rest of the team showed me how unnecessary that is…I’m part of Generation X, I grew up being scared of making mistakes, but there is where you learn,” Burney-Scott said, “I was crying on the phone with Mariah wondering how I would make it work, and now I realize that I could pick it up and be ready, there was no pressure.”

Up to this year, BGG2SM has gained over 16,000 followers on Instagram. With this media coverage, the team arrived at King Street West. Previously they had visited Harlem in New York and London in the United Kingdom.

Crystal Clark, a reproductive psychologist, said, “I’m from Chicago, and it has never happened there that I’m aware of…Omi, who was from North Carolina, brought it to Toronto. This has been extremely exciting.”

BGG2SM’s chosen drinks for peer dinner on Sept. 24, 2023 (Original photo by Monserrat Quintana)

Before guests arrived, the crew looked at each other and closed their eyes. As their chests went up and down with every breath and their faces expressed relaxation, smiles and cheers lit up the room and they formed a circle. It was grounding time which meant a safe space for conversation had just opened.

As they prayed and thanked Oshun, they let out loud sighs.

“Grounding for us is a way to connect with each other and center before we, you know, invite people into the space,” said Mariah M, the creative director and producer of BGG2SM. 

After everyone had entered the room, everybody seemed to be enjoying the ambiance, drinks and food BGG2SM had organized for their invitees. Suddenly, everything turned quiet, and a woman in a red dress appeared in the room’s centre. Burney-Scott welcomed everyone and introduced them to a world of self-reflection, love and acceptance. 

Maureen Owino, a social justice activist, said: “I opened an email that said ‘Black surviving menopause,’ I’m thinking the universe listened to me because, for the last few weeks and months, I’ve been complaining about being premenopausal to everybody I know.”

She added, “I’ve never really been in a space where I’ve been able to express what I’m feeling and my concerns and my experiences until this Sunday.”

The members of the BGG2SM crew included administrative director Leigh Reid, documentary creative advisor and production team lead Madylin Nixon-Taplet, in-house artist Assata Goff, photographer Jade Ayino and videographer Farhath Siddiqui along with Mariah M. and Burney-Scott. They thanked their guests for attending by giving out gift bags that contained feminine hygiene products.

Black Girl’s Guide to Surviving Menopause farewell gift (Original photo by Monserrat Quintana)