It has now been weeks since the start of the protests. Since it began I have cried, felt helpless, been angry, cried some more, posted, donated, protested, cried some more, wanted to burn this whole bitch down and all of that is just the surface of the bout with depression that I was already fighting. Not to mention in the middle of a pandemic and revolution I decided it was a good time to make a life-changing decision. smh. I am black and I am a woman and I am a victim of police terrorism. I am a product of black parents who lives through the civil rights movement. I am deeply connected to the experiences of my people and its one of the many reasons why I want to story tell because I believe our stories matter. However, now at this moment the only thing that matters is that our voices are heard and real, substantial change happens. I’ve been strategizing with friends on how we can contribute to the cause and I’m excited about what we are planning but through all of this one thing I realized was that while there tends to be no rest for the weary, a weary mind can’t give more than it has to give. It’s so important that we recharge, reset, take breaks, and rest. Self-care and black joy is an important part of the resistance. The goal of the oppressor is the break your will so that you either won’t think yourself worthy of a better quality of life or have much left in you to fight for it. We will not let out spirit be broken and so we will not allow ourselves to be worn down in the fight. And make no mistake about it, this is a long fight ahead we have. You don’t fix 400 years of wrong in weeks or months even. We have to be ready to stay the course which means we have to do active work to protect our peace. Here are somethings I’m practicing:
- Sign off: I know that it’s hard to unplug especially with social media being a vital source of information for what’s actually going on. However, an overload of the constant flow of news both good and bad, information, debates, and videos where black people are being abused can take more of a toll on our mental health than we realize. It’s okay to step away, even if it’s only for a day, and enjoy your day unplugged. Allow your mind to download all of the information it’s received so that you can process and then move according to what you feel you can handle. I promise whatever it is you need to know will still be there readily available to you when you return. Taking a break is okay.
- Have fun: You don’t have to make a choice between freedom fighting and laughing. You can do both. We can stop to watch episodes of “insecure” together as a twitter family and talk about what happened and still be aware that Breonna Taylor’s murderers have still not been arresting. You can safely spend time with friends and family members, (preferably outdoors and with masks on since we are still very much in the middle of a pandemic) and get right back to work. Ride a bike, go for a walk, take a bath, have a drink. Whatever brings you joy, don’t feel as though you can’t experience it because we as a collective are in pain. This is a part of the healing and you are a part of the collective. Therefore, your individual healing is as important to the mission as anything.
- Find your role: We all can’t be on the front lines nor is everyone an organizer. Find whatever role you fit within the movement and know that your contribution is enough. If you are actively sharing information via social media and direct contact with people in your life, that’s enough. If you are donating money to various orgs, that’s enough. If you are protesting, that’s enough. Whatever way you choose to be involved, for as long as you are doing what you can, what you are doing is enough. Be at peace knowing that you aren’t required to do more than what you can handle and to be quite frank, if you are a black person, the heavy lifting shouldn’t be left to you anyway. This is white people’s problem. Which brings me to my next point.
- Set boundaries with white people: You are not responsible for educating or easing the guilt of your white friends. For some of you, you may be the only black person in predominately white spaces. Naturally, they will then all look to you for answers and “understanding”, etc. You are not responsible. If you want to share your thoughts, if they ask how they can support you and you want to answer, fine. However, you are not obligated to be the spokesperson for black people, especially when Google is literally right there. It is okay to opt-out of the conversation and spotlight when you need to or to not opt-in at all if you want. This is their fight, their undoing, their time to gain knowledge, and decide how they want to take part. And please believe, they don’t need your help in understanding, any white person who still doesn’t “understand” doesn’t want to because the privilege they benefit from is too good. That’s a hard reality if you consider someone your friend but its the reality that you should process so that you aren’t draining yourself of necessary energy doing a very unnecessary thing. Protect your peace, love.
- Look out for each other: The uncertainty, isolation, heighten emotions, and overall overwhelming nature of everything that’s happened can exacerbate anxiety and depression. Even if you or someone you know isn’t susceptible to either of those, this can still be a lot to deal with. So make sure you are checking in with your loved ones both as a source of peace and refuge for them and as you need them. It’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay to ask for help. And if you are in a stable place, its more important now than ever for you to be there for those who aren’t. We are all we got. Let’s make sure we are looking out for each other. Saving black lives starts with making sure we get through each day.
Life is hard as is, and the things we see now aren’t new, we are just living in unprecedented times. This feels different. Gen Z is doing the damn thing, and the many people who have been about this life are standing in the gaps and helping guide the way. I believe that we will win. I believe that we shall overcome. I believe that my niece, nephew, little cousins, Godchildren, and the many young people after me and that will come will see a better life for our people. The fight is going to be long; it’s going to take strategy and consistency, it’s going to take everything we got. And if we are to stand victorious, we have to stay ready, and the best way to stay ready is to set boundaries, find your role, and protect your peace. I love you, and I love us. #BlackLivesMatter #BlackJoyMatters #WeWillWin