Growing up, I was taught that black women are strong. That we are the pillars of community. That we raise and protect villages, and that we must uphold our men. We’re expected to this faultlessly and without rest. In activism, black women have been at the forefront of championing change. We’ve lead protests and initiatives in our community such as the “Black Lives Matter” Movement founded by three queer, black women. As much as we’re seen as resilient, fierce and powerful, we aren’t afforded the opportunity to be vulnerable, gentle and tender to ourselves.
Self-care is a vital practice for black women and women of colour.
It is about finding inner peace in a world of chaos. A world that is violent towards black bodies and identities. One that ignores and perpetuates black pain and suffering. Self-care is an act that is defiant because it is about putting your needs, expectations and wellbeing above others. It is about preservation and acting in resistance to societal expectations. As the great African-American feminist writer, Audre Lorde eloquently said:
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare”
Within that, self-care becomes a radical act. The idea of being “self-FULL” begins to matter more in the context of racist and sexist-based trauma and experiences that many black women face in their lives.
To say “I love myself unconditionally” in a world that has benefited on self-hatred of black bodies is revolutionary.
It disrupts systems of powers such as patriarchy and institutionalised racism. These systems seek to politicise and police black women’s bodies and existence. Self-care means we can validate our existence, needs and actions by honouring our wellbeing.
It’s important, more than ever for black women to practice self-care. It can start by simply distancing from potentially toxic scenarios or conversations. We need to protect our energy and ensure that we preserve it for our benefit and our wellbeing.
Self-care is black women giving themselves permission to express their emotions. We become open and honest about what we desire, crave, need and expect of ourselves and of those around us. We should not feel ashamed for struggling, for feeling hurt, sad, angry or lonely.
Self-care is black women putting their health first.
We need to look after, not only our physical health but emotional, mental and spiritual health. Our health must be cared for holistically as it has an impact on every area of our wellness.
For women who have been raised to be self-less and have been taught to repress emotion, self-care is a way for us to liberate ourselves from generations of historical and familial patterns of suppressed pain, trauma and hardship. It allows us to re-engage with ourselves in a manner that embraces and values our dignity and self-worth.
I would encourage black women to give time and consideration to the discipline of self-care. It can be approached in various ways but it’s important to learn what works and best serves you. Whether it’s taking time off from work, travelling, masturbating, spending time with loved ones or sipping on a glass of wine. To get more tips on radical self-care tips for black people, click here.