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Self-Care as a form of Black Resistance

Happy Black History Month!

The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) has set this year’s theme as “Black Resistance.” For centuries, black people have been fighting for their right to exist and thrive in an equitable and just society. It’s been a long time coming from the days of escaping plantations to the civil rights movement to today’s Black Lives Matter. Our activism continues to challenge, subvert and resist discriminatory policies, laws, and societal norms that undermine our autonomy, dignity, humanity, and well-being.

Maya Angelou said, “I come as one but I stand as 10,000”.

We, black people of today, are truly our ancestor’s wildest dreams. We carry on with their activism and bravery in the face of everything that’s meant to break us. In case you forgot, you come from a long line of people whose grit and tenacity changed the world for good. You are black excellence! Your aliveness today is your black resistance!

We may not always have the capacity to hold or attend protests and marches against black oppression. Sometimes we’re not even in a position to fight back against everyday racism like microaggressions, physical violence, and racial slurs. Racial prejudice and discrimination are embedded in our society’s social, political, and economic systems. So how do we take back our power? How do we rest in our black excellence? Self-care!

As Audre Lorde said, "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare."

Continuous exposure to discrimination strips us of our identity and exposes us to psychological harm like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This pain moves from one generation to another if it’s not addressed. Our communities are also harmed and broken in the process. Acts of self-care give us space for healing and restoration, help us manage symptoms of trauma, empower us to reclaim our agency, and promote well-being and resilience.

Self-care for race-based trauma can involve a range of activities and approaches including:

  1. Use a creative expression to process and convey emotions. This means using art, music, dance, writing, or other forms of creativity as a therapeutic outlet for your feelings or as a lift-me-up. Art in whatever form can be a source of healing, personal growth, and connection with others. It may be time to channel your inner creativity and make something! And yes, you are a creative person. You can explore other artsy ways like listening to new music, going to art galleries, trying adult coloring, photography, reading poetry, etc.

  2. Develop self-care rituals or habits that promote your health and wellness. This can include; getting adequate sleep, eating healthy meals, doing physical activities like working out, consuming content that empowers you, taking breaks and resting, doing more of what makes you happy, journaling, meditation, hanging around uplifting people, gifting or pampering yourself often, doing the inner healing work through therapy, etc. The idea of self-care activities is to provide a sense of structure and routine in your life so that you feel more confident, comfortable, and secure in who you are.

  3. Surround yourself with a community of people who love you and make you feel seen and heard. Communities remind us that we aren’t alone in this fight. A sense of support, validation, and shared understanding is important every single day because they are the wind beneath our sails - what keeps us going. You may do a lot of individual self-care but you also need the joy that comes with feeling like you belong somewhere and with someone. Our ancestors did the work collectively. Invest in your friendships and relationships; make time for love. You can also join like-minded groups in your area or online. There is a lot of strength in a community especially when it comes to healing race-based trauma.

Don’t neglect the power that self-care holds in helping us resist and survive systemic and interpersonal traumas from racism. By taking care of ourselves, we are also resisting the societal pressure to conform to harmful stereotypes and expectations to always be strong and mask our pain. Well-being is our birthright.

Starting therapy is the best decision you can make for yourself this year. We'll discuss your needs and if we're a good fit for you as well as answer any questions you might have about cost, length of treatment, and coordinating services. We treat these common concerns:

  • Depression

  • Anxiety and Phobias

  • Relationship Difficulties

  • Life Transitions

  • Difficulties with Self-Esteem

  • Eating Issues

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

  • Professional/Career Issues

  • College/Graduate School Issues

  • Medical and Health Concerns

  • Pain Management

  • Stress Management

  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

  • Sexual Abuse

  • Spirituality

  • Gender Identity Support

  • LGBT Counseling

  • Grief, Loss, or Bereavement

  • Other Issues

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