Self-Care in the Era of Dual Pandemics
I think it’s fair for us to be honest right now. We, most likely, are not well right now. I am not well right now. Between the stress and anxiety surrounding the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic (which is disproportionately impacting Black Americans) and the constant bombardment of Black people being slaughtered, executed, and hung on mainstream media, it is hard for Black people, and in particular Black people of oppressed gender identities (women, gender non-conforming individuals, transgender men/women, etc.), to catch a break.
While we fight for our freedom, it is imperative that we fight for ourselves first. We must first love and accept ourselves as a community, finding freedom within our community, if we hope for others to accept and treat us with the respect we deserve. When we exclaim “Black Lives Matter,” we must be including Black trans women, disabled Black people, and every single Black person in that exclamation. We have got to do the work because all we have is ourselves. Queer Black women have been at the heart of every movement for the freedom of Black people, yet Black men have proven to us time and time again that they will not protect us. We are always showing up for ourselves and for others, and it is long past time that somebody else shows up for us. But until then, and even then, we need to learn to cater to and take care of ourselves.
It is no known secret that self-care is a radical act. Audre Lorde said it best in 1988 that “caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it’s self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” The white supremacists in power want us to burn ourselves out. The fight for abolition, the fight for freedom is going to rage on for years and require an immense amount of organizing. This summer alone, we are fighting against multiple plagues to our community and they don’t want us to win. We have to keep going and keep protecting ourselves. Fighting against two global pandemics at once is exhausting. And no matter what your role is in the movement, we are all feeling a collective trauma on our bodies as this fight continues. Acknowledge that. Honor that. Let it fuel you. But under no circumstances can you let that break you, do not let it get to that point! Take care of yourself so that you can continue to take care of your community.
Angela Davis expresses the importance of self-care during a revolutionary movement.
To conclude, I am going to include a few self-care resources below that have been helpful to me in my journey towards healing over the past couple of years. I want to emphasize that self-care does not look the same on everyone and that many of us have been fooled into buying a capitalistic image of self-care that requires purchasing things to feel better. Find what works best for you. What makes you feel good? What can you do to create that good feeling on your own? What soothes you? Start by asking yourself these questions; self-care requires you to get to know yourself just a little bit better, day by day. Don’t let yourself burn out. Care for yourself and do something that brings you joy every day if you can. To treat yourself and allow your inner child to feel safe and cared for is to show love for yourself.