It’s all around us in the headlines and on our timelines- another unarmed black person gets shot and killed by a cop, another woman bravely comes out and tells her #MeToo story. We march, we protest, we raise our voices. We search and fight for change over and over again, striving to disrupt the narrative that our dominant culture society has affected deeply. But after a while, we become exhausted.
What can you do then to keep going but not feel burdened by the weight of the racism, sexism, and all the other hate that is going on in our nation? As a young black woman in America, I know for me, it can be hard. I want to be aware of all that is going on, but when my blackness and womanhood continue to be under attack I can’t hide from this reality for too long, so what do I do? I have to find ways to live. It’s beneficial to have balance, but it is something that is a continued practice. Here are some things that I have found helpful for myself as a black woman and things that my friends have found helpful to live holistically during these times.
Look To Those That Have Come Before Us
This is not the first time people of color and women have been under attack, so why not look to those who have paved the way for us? Fannie Lou Hamer, Shirley Chisolm, Anita Hill, Angela Davis, and many others have laid the foundations for us to undo the injustices that entangle women of color, so what can we learn from them? We can learn how to be resilient and fight the racism and sexism that we experience today. These women and many more have been sexually harassed and assaulted, experienced violence, and experienced racism towards them and yet, they stood strong and spoke out against what has happened despite the possibility of not being heard or believed. They spoke out so we too can have the courage to speak out and not let the culture of misogyny and racism continue to try and have dominion over us. The bravery of the women that have paved the way have not only moved them to speak out, but they broke glass ceilings in politics, activism, and other facets of life so that we could do the same.
Fannie Lou Hamer has said, “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free..” and you can see that so many of the change makers that have come before us believed that. The wisdom that we can learn from those that came before us is invaluable, so find their books or books about them. Listen to their speeches. Watch their interviews. Be encouraged by the powerful people that have come before us.
What gives you joy? What makes your soul happy? Whatever it is, do it and do it often. Whether it is going to a concert and singing to the top of your lungs to your favorite song or dancing to the dope instrumentals to that song, it is helpful for your mind to just let go and rest for a bit. Do you like comedy? Find a nearby comedy show and laugh till your sides hurt. Laughter is the best elixir life has to offer. Do you like to exercise? Exercise produces endorphins which are known as the “feel good” chemical that your body naturally creates for a haven of happiness within you. When people hear exercise, they often think of someone hunched over trying to remember where they lost their very last breath! If that's not your thing, find what’s best for you- there’s Zumba, Hip-Hop dancing, Yoga, and so much more that you can do as an exercise.
Go To Therapy
Therapy and talking about mental health is still taboo in the black community. It does help to talk about things in life with a close family member or friend, but there is also something refreshing and different talking to a licensed professional who can help you with the race-based and gender-based trauma that you may be going through during these times. One amazing resource is Therapy For Black Girls, an online space dedicated to encouraging the mental wellness of Black women and girls. The online space includes a podcast, as well as a directory of therapists who are people of color from all over the US. many of them are even trained in and able to respond to race-based trauma. Going to therapy is a big step and it can be scary sharing private thoughts and digging up stories from the past; however, understanding more of yourself and continuing to grow into one's own becoming is more than worth the investment in a therapeutic experience.
Here are some of the many possibilities for how we can help ourselves to progress in trying times. I am hopeful that these tips will start us on the path of living holistically, as we move toward equity for all. We must be committed to physical, mental, and spiritual wholeness to realize the change we are expecting to see!