I added a new label to this blog; ‘SELF-CARE’.
But I don’t want to make it a truly ‘separate’ category and only talk about practical aspects, if you know what I mean, but I want to also talk about it on a deeper level. I’ll explain.
From what I’ve noticed at least, self-care is one of the most overlooked aspects of anti-racist and anti-oppressive work. It seems as if the subject is almost taboo, in that it is hardly ever discussed and rarely have I seen the topic appear on my favorite blogs and websites, or hear about it during talks I attend by Black feminists, resistive workers, and other social justice activists. I admit I’ve hardly touched on it, and though I have found a few people discussing the issue here and there, the conversation in the ‘quest’ is always centered around ways to ‘fight the power’. You’ve heard this reference once before, and you’ll hear it once again in an upcoming post, too, on when I went to hear Angela Davis speak a few months back. I asked her about suggestions for activists on how they continue, after always challenging everything under the sun, and feeling the toll it takes on us. I was approached after the event about my question, and was told it was a good one because, as this brotha put it, ‘everyone wants to have dinner, but no one wants to talk about doing the dishes,’ and he was right.
Day after day we prioritize issues that are undoubtedly important, in fighting the ‘good fight’. It involves being vocal and speaking — regardless of the level of difficulty. Activists endure verbal, emotional and sometimes physical violence from others reacting to social justice and anti-racist work, and we are often told to just ‘suck it up’ or ‘keep it moving’. Many of us don’t have adequate emotional support surrounding the issues we challenge — I know for myself it has only been recently that I have begun to find the support I need in some areas, but I feel strongly that most Women of Color face the brunt of this, especially in an environment where issues of racism, sexism and capitalism are the backdrop. Black women, for example, whether actively engaged in anti-oppressive work or not, continue to be labeled ‘strong’, and never in need of a break — that we’ve always got things under control. Of course this dehumanizing stereotype means at the end of the day, without getting proper support and self-nourishment, too many of us literally pay for this myth with our lives.
But just like others have said, self-care, I believe, is self preservation — very much determined by who you are, in a society full of ideas on who we’re ‘supposed’ to be — and who is and is not supposed to be — healthy, physically, mentally and emotionally well or even alive. Those who fall furthest from ‘normative’ dominant standards, as I stated earlier, feel the brunt, and it’s most often these same people and groups on the front lines of the struggle. So why aren’t we focusing more ways to ensure our own self-nourishment as an integral component of this work — and not a separate entity? I think it can provide greater success with challenging injustice?
I don’t think my ideas in this post are as clear as I’d like them to be. I would like to view this via a more critical perspective. I also want to hear about your thoughts on self-care — in the ‘ongoing quest for justice and equality’. I’m not sure what type of conversations exactly will erupt around this, but I do know that in my mind, I wonder how is it possible that we can participate in challenging injustice to its fullest if we fail to ensure we are even at our fullest? This is the way I see it. And is why I want to place a special emphasis on this new category — and make sure I post in it often.