#BlackLivesMatter: A Foundation of Self-Care
Esteniolla Harbor, June 10, 2020
“Could there be anything stressing you out lately?” the ER doctor asked during a flurry of diagnostic questions.
Sarcastically, I replied, “No, Doctor. COVID and protests bring me great peace.”
The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others by police are devastating. So much so that a CAT scan, a chest x-ray, and pain killers could not diagnose my broken heart. That’s what awoke me in a cold sweat at 4am from my sleep. That’s what gripped my chest with sharp pain. That’s what made it difficult to simply….breathe.
By design, racism robs us of our self-care. We watched our parents work themselves to death. We experienced medical negligence in hospitals. We saw our Black fathers, brothers, and partners shrink at the sound of a police siren. We grew up hearing stories of violent acts against Black ancestors and, sadly, we can witness such acts today.
Beloved, you are an advocate in the business of fighting for justice every day. I, and the RAFT team, thank you for doing so amid COVID-19 and white supremacy.
And we also encourage you to take deep care of yourself. #BlackLivesMatter is not only a resounding truth, it is also the foundation of our self-care.
Yes, that’s right. Reclaim breathing as the source of life and not the gasping sounds of police brutality. Take intentional breaths throughout the day. Notice and meditate on what makes you feel alive, hopeful, and joyful.
Releasing your feelings is so important to healing. Cry in the arms of a trusted friend or partner. Dance until the rage subsides. Write until the ink runs out. Laugh until your heart is light. We all grieve differently; choose what works best and decide that your body will not be the final resting place for your grief.
SET & STICK TO YOUR BOUNDARIES
Suddenly, white people in your life are showing an interest in all things racism and how it impacts your life. It’s okay to engage on your terms and it is okay to flat-out say no. If you struggle with the latter, here’s a useful way to do it.
Take a break from social media. Turn off the news. Take a personal day off work. And then, plug into what feeds your mind, body, and spirit.
If it makes sense for you to take action as part of your self-care, do it. Attend a peaceful protest. Lend your advocacy to racial justice organizations in your area. Call your local representatives to demand police reform. Support Black restaurants and businesses.
Any action you try is one ripple in a sea of long-awaited justice in this country, and it must include the effort to take care of you.