Naomi Pabst, PhD is a transformational teacher, a strategist, and a sage.
The holistic well-being website, MindBodyGreen, in partnership with top fitness brand, Athleta, named Naomi "A Woman to Watch in Wellness," dubbing her "THE INTUITIVE EDUCATOR." It's a fitting description for Naomi's unique trajectory as a transformational teacher, speaker, and writer, who formerly spent 12-years as a sought-after psychic-intuitive, and who also spent 12 years as a professor of black literature and cultural theory at Harvard and Yale respectively.
Naomi is an expert on matters of identity, race, culture, diversity, and human difference. Five years ago she left academia to pursue the calling of her soul, namely to teach about life, love, and the issue of race within society at large.
Naomi leads workshops and master classes on "who you really are," how to live your best life, how to love yourself and others, and how to relate to people masterfully, across lines of difference.
Above all else, Naomi inspires people to "BE the change we wish to see in the world." To truly walk our talk and thereby have way more impact. Also to focus on solutions more than on problems, and to access the freedom, wholeness, and power that reside within each and every one of us. She also offers potent teachings on HOW TO cultivate a genuine, heartfelt regard for our fellow human beings, even those we disagree with. Because only LOVE and a keener sense of our inherent interconnectedness will actually transform our social arena.
As a speaker, Naomi has given talks and keynote addresses, to rave reviews, on race-related topics at venues ranging from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, NYU, Brown, Brandeis, Wesleyan, and many more.
At Miraval Resort in Arizona, MindBodyGreen invited her to present on the topic of wellbeing as your greatest currency in life, in a talk called "Self-Care is Your Path to Happiness." This talk was live-streamed to half a million people online at their annual Revitalize Conference, a gathering of world class wellness experts. She also opened actor/activist Malik Yoba's "Person of Purpose (P.O.P.-Culture) Summit" with an ultra-inspiring presentation on how to fulfill your purpose, called "THE AWAKENING."
For the past 12 years (yes, overlapping with her full-time employment as an academic), Naomi served as the intuitive of choice for a global clientele numbering in the thousands. She worked with leaders, luminaries, visionaries and game-changers--some of whom were household names--in industries ranging from the arts, politics, publishing, entertainment, wellness, academia, personal development, spirituality, and fashion.
With the Sturm und Drang we are seeing in our world and in our news, Naomi felt an urgent call to return her focus to the topic of race. Her intention is to offer anyone who cares to listen wisdom, insight, healing, and illumination on the ever yucky, highly charged, and ultra-sensitive topic. For race is where angels fear to tread.
NAOMI'S EDUCATIONAL HISTORY:
Naomi earned her B.A. Summa Cum Laude from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, with a double-major in literature and African-American Studies, plus a minor in Women's Studies.
She then completed her PhD in the world-renowned History of Consciousness Program (with a parenthetical degree in Women's Studies) at the University of California at Santa Cruz. There her scholarly development was in the hands of some of academia's most brilliant minds, and there she had the good fortune of having the great scholar/activist Angela Davis as an inspiration and as her dissertation advisor.
Upon completing her graduate degree, Naomi was awarded a prestigious 2-year Woodrow Wilson Postdoctoral Teaching Fellowship at Harvard.
She was assigned to two departments : Women's Studies and the famed Black Studies Department, which was right in its heyday, under the Chairmanship of the legendary Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
From there, Naomi was invited to teach full-time at Yale, where she remained for ten years.
Eight years in, she submitted a "two-year notice" letting it be known she would be leaving academia altogether to pursue the calling of her soul, to offer wisdom on life, love, self-mastery, race, and issues of difference in society at large.
FROM BIRTH, NAOMI'S LIFE HAS PREPARED HER TO OFFER A TEACHING, A HEALING, AND A REORIENTATION ON RACE.
Naomi considers the wisdom, insight, and healing she has to offer on the topic of race to be her very life purpose.
Her journey in the thorny landscape of race started with the circumstances of her birth. She was born of a black American father and Swedish-American mother in the year 1968. That was just one short year after a famous case at the Supreme Court level--Loving vs. Virginia--declared interracial marriage legal throughout the United States.
Though they remain happily married to this day, as an interracial couple back in the turbulent sixties, Naomi's parents experienced a lot of societal pressure and antagonism about their union.
When they unexpectedly became pregnant, they opted to put their baby up for adoption. They all met for the first time when Naomi was nineteen years of age.
As Naomi likes to put it, "she left home at birth."
Her soul hungered for the unexpected, for freedom from the well-worn trails of tradition, and from the claustrophobic norms of family belonging. She was up to the challenge of extreme adventures in identity, and open to the self-creation that would be required of her. It was in this spirit that Naomi embraced and lived out her fate.
Being of only lightly tinted skin and hazel eyes, and having hair that curls more like Sarah Jessica Parker's (circa "Sex and the City") than Angela Davis's, Naomi obviously hasn't had the same experience of race as a darker- skinned person.
Nor would she ever claim to have. But as someone who was put up for adoption at least partially because of American racial politics, at least partially because she was not white and the woman who gave birth to her was, race played a powerful role in Naomi's life experience. This was only exacerbated simply by living her whole life immersed in the relentless "crisis of classification" and the confusion that her biracial identity seems to pose for so many. For as any mixed person knows, our world is still more comfortable with either/ors, binaries, and polarities than with the grey areas, paradoxes, and complexities that are frankly a far more accurate rendering of the actual state of our world.
Naomi spent her formative years looking at herself quizzically in the mirror trying to figure out just what about her made her black.
She was always being "othered" with friendly reminders from well-meaning friends, family, and peers, "but Naomi, you're black." She bears a scar on her back from being pushed off a slide in a school yard while being called a racial epithet. And when that happened, it was her white adoptive sister who came to her rescue, offering comfort and the best attempt at reassurance she could muster.
She didn't seem to fit any going (dare we say stereotypical) definitions of blackness.
Not culturally, as she was being raised by white parents. Not in terms of class, as her family was securely middle-class. Not nationally, as she was raised in a country, namely Canada, where the black population totals 3% (and the ones that were there were not "African-American" but rather, appropriately, black Canadian). And not in terms of her physical appearance.
Not belonging neatly within whiteness or blackness, for Naomi, meant two things that fundamentally shaped her destiny.
1. She became obsessed with trying to understand the conundrum of race and racism and where she fit into this altogether strange schema. Her intellectual inquiry was driven by a question of the most nuanced sort: "WHAT THE HELL IS THIS NONSENSE ALL ABOUT, MY DEAR GOD?" Her all-consuming curiosity about this topic for much of her early life led to obsessive reading about it, and later inadvertently launched her smack dab into a career teaching Black Studies in the Ivy Leagues.
2. All her life, racially and culturally speaking, she had to create, invent, and define herself for her. Because no other definition fit accurately. In other words, Naomi had to master the art of being Naomi. Indeed, she had to do this in the face of other peoples' aggressively conflicting opinions on how she should be defined. So how fitting it is that her life path led her out of the Ivory Tower and into her true calling and passion, of all things, teaching: HOW TO MASTER THE ART OF BEING Y-O-U.
With the specific ways life has required that Naomi self-actualize, to go within herself for answers, and to master herself, there is no one out there more equipped than she to help you discover who you truly are, in terms of your relationship to race and racism, and in terms of the far more important part of you, "the content of your character."