LET’S TALK TUESDAYS ! | REVOLUTIONARY ACTS OF SELF-CARE AND COMMUNITY CARE
Happy Tuesday, friends of CHN!
It’s Let’s Talk Tuesday again !
The issue of self-care has rightly taken center stage for Black people.
Racism wears us down, and fighting it can push us even further down. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “Racism and racial discrimination adversely affect mental health, producing depression, anxiety, and heightened psychological stress in those who experience it.”
Racism encourages us to devalue ourselves. Taking care of ourselves is therefore a revolutionary act—an antidote to racism’s poisonous effects.
Physical health affects psychological health–and vice versa. We cannot afford to be passive about either one. We must be intentional about both.
Self-care includes eating properly, exercising regularly, and attending to our physical health. We also need to take time to breathe, reflect, meditate, pray, be in nature, disconnect from technology, and seek psychological help when necessary.
We need to be especially purposeful about neutralizing the many negative images of Black people that still wash over us every day.
AS THE ACTRESS PHYLICIA RASHAD REMINDS US:
“EVERYTHING YOU DO, EVERY THOUGHT YOU HAVE, EVERY WORD YOU SAY CREATES A MEMORY THAT YOU WILL HOLD IN YOUR BODY. IT’S IMPRINTED ON YOU AND AFFECTS YOU IN SUBTLE WAYS–WAYS YOU ARE NOT ALWAYS AWARE OF. WITH THAT IN MIND, BE VERY CONSCIOUS AND SELECTIVE.”
Self-care is necessary, but it is not sufficient.
We need to be careful not to fall into individualistic traps. Western culture emphasizes individualism–encouraging us to focus primarily on ourselves.
But humans are also “social” beings. Much of our sense of wellness comes from our sense of connectedness—of being with, and doing things with and for, other people.
AS THE PSYCHOLOGIST NA’IM AKBAR TELLS US:
“AFRICAN PEOPLE THROUGHOUT THE WORLD HAVE A WORLDVIEW THAT IS CONCEIVED AS A UNIVERSAL ONENESS. THERE IS INTERCONNECTION OF ALL THINGS THAT COMPOSE THE UNIVERSE.”
Bottom line is, in addition to self-care, we need to focus on family and community care.
Communities with strong social connections within families and among neighbors and friends are more likely to be healthy and better able to respond to crises.
As people of African ancestry, we have a rich cultural heritage that emphasizes connectedness and relationships, as expressed in the Zulu proverb Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu, ”a person is a person through other persons.”
Among the keys to the enslavement and subjugation of African people was the breaking of bonds of trust among Black men, women, and children. That separation undermined–and continues to undermine–our health. To enhance our well-being, we must strengthen our bonds of family and community.
An Akan proverb teaches that “life is mutual aid.” Coming together in our families and in our communities creates safe spaces in which we can hold each other accountable for taking care of ourselves –and share our feelings, concerns, fears, hopes, and dreams.
Family care and community care, like self-care, are revolutionary acts.
Please click this link for a Care Tool Kit developed by Community Healing Network and the Association of Black Psychologists.
We’re renewing our commitments to self, family, and community care. How about you? Please share your thoughts by commenting below.
–Enola G. Aird, CHN Founder and President, and Diamond Hawkins, CHN Outreach Coordinator