It’s been a painful and challenging week. From stomaching the horrifying deaths of two unarmed Black men at the hands of white police officers, to watching or being among the protesters in Charlotte being teargassed, to being subjected to listening to the distorted, institutional biased media coverage, all while having to show up and be fully present at work and in our daily routines, I’ve straddled between feeling drained and distraught all week.
The reality is that there is a long road ahead of us that may be populated with weeks like this one. When we read and watch the stories of Keith Lamont Scott and Terence Crutcher, we’re reminded of how we felt when we heard Sandra Bland’s name for the first time, or when we heard Eric Garner’s final words. We know that the seeds of implicit bias against Black men in women have been sowed in the soil of our country for the last 400+ years, and cannot be resolved in a day. As we work tirelessly to find solutions and figure out how to change the realities and perceptions of Black lives, we have to be cognizant not to let the destructive and frankly, inhumane viral coverage of Black bodies lying in the street, unattended to in pools of blood, desensitize us or make us cold. We cannot allow the scrutiny and hatred of others to make us doubt our strength and our beauty. We cannot let the critics and the naysayers stop us from marching and fighting until our Black skin is no longer seen as a weapon or as a reason to incite fear. We cannot let the distortion of our stories silence our demands to be seen and treated with the respect and dignity that no human being should have to earn. But in order to keep going, in order to keep making the progress that we know is possible, we cannot discount or deprioritize the importance of taking care of ourselves. Here are a few places where you can start:
1| Unplug. Pick a few hours of your day to turn off the CNN notifications on your phone, turn off your TV, get off of social media, and turn your attention inward. While it’s important to stay abreast and aware of what’s going on, it’s equally important to avoid becoming completely inundated with all of the headlines. What we’re reading, watching and listening to is extremely traumatic and terrifying, especially when its compounded with the identities and experiences that we share with the victims. Human beings are creatures of habit, and the more we are exposed to something, the more we normalize it. Please, remind yourself that there is nothing normal about watching a human being die in cold blood, and there is definitely nothing normal about listening to people rationalize and justify why that human being was killed. Don’t validate the opinions of the politicians and commentators that will boldly argue that this is not about race by entertaining their ignorant sentiments. Don’t feel like you have to address or engage in all of the narrow-minded arguments that will inevitably pop up on your Facebook newsfeed. Focus on feeling what you feel without all of the distractions and noise. Unplug to preserve your peace of mind.
2| Replenish yourself with hope. We have a long way to go as a country before we deconstruct the intricate power structure of racism. We have a long way to go before we stop feeling the remnants of centuries-long bondage and oppression. We have a long way to go before the system is completely overhauled and rebuilt to operate on behalf of everyone, and not just those whose ancestors violently declared their superiority and dominance over everyone else. Being hopeful doesn’t ignore these challenges, but it gives us the energy to persevere. Hope is a necessary component to any movement or revolution because it keeps us going–it gives us a reason to continue fighting in those moments when justice feels unreachable. Although the pain doesn’t go away, hope gives us the strength to endure it in insurmountable ways. I believe Barack Obama said it best: “Hope is not blind optimism. It’s not ignoring the enormity of the task ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. It’s not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, and to work for it, and to fight for it. Hope is the belief that destiny will not be written for us, but by us, by the men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.”
My beautiful, Black brothers and sisters, take care of yourselves. Love on yourselves and affirm each other. Look in the mirror and be reminded of your strength and resilience. Be reminded that there has never been a point in our country’s reprehensible history of brutality and persecution where we haven’t risen together to overcome all odds. We are an unbreakable, relentless people. Our Black is beautiful. Our Black is powerful. Our Black is to be loved and revered.
Blessings to you all.