With all that is going on in our society and all that has been going on for forever now, I find it critical to take time to step back. I find it critical to step back from the world as much as possible to break down and then rebuild. It is so easy to get wrapped up in anger and to stay there. It is so easy to get stuck in any one emotion. When things occur like what happened to #SandraBland or the #CharlestonMassacre, you may be forced to walk the streets of your city afraid and/ or angry. That anger can be suffocating. It can immobilize you. What are you supposed to do? How do you stand up for your people with the looming thought in the back of your mind that you could be just like Tamir Rice or Sandra Bland in the next two seconds?
I’ve gone through the motions of “fuck all white people” and “black people can do no wrong,” and I may even find myself teetering on the edges of that circle from time to time. But, how productive can that really be? How productive is it to blame all of my problems on white people? Now, don’t get me wrong, white supremacy and Eurocentric attitudes have a lot to do with the struggles that people of color face on a day to day basis. However, we still hold some type of power. Why are we begging to sit at the table, when we can go build our own?
Through all of this anger and sadness, it is vital that we learn to heal. We as black people have never had the opportunity to heal. We never went to therapy, we never addressed the issue at all. But, we were expected to almost pretend that it didn’t happen. We were expected to go from slavery, to the Jim Crow Era, to the Civil Rights Movement, all without talking about how much pain that was felt. So, that pain and resentment has been carried through generations. How do you grow from that? How do you change such a negative into a positive? How is it possible to fight with one hand and mend your wombs with the other at the same time? These are questions that I ask myself all the time. While I won’t pretend to know the answers, here are a few tips that I’ve tried. Give them a try at your leisure:
- Get off the damn internet. I can tell you that the internet and social media are powerful devices in any movement or business venture. You are able to get immediate answers for whatever it is you need. You can find out more about your history, find out when the next protest is, stay updated with the government laws that are constantly changing. But, this can be harmful too. Social media thrives off of drama and “the next hype” thing. Scrolling through it all constantly can take your emotions on a rollercoaster ride. WALK AWAY.
- Constantly remind yourself to breathe. You cannot change it all. Even if you could, you wouldn’t be able to do it in one day. Remember things take time. None of the problems came to be immediately, which means none of the problems will be solved immediately either.
- Evaluate yourself. Are your efforts always reactive or proactive? It is more of a strain to always go running from one crime scene or trending topic to another. Define what your skills are and how you can best use them to help yourself and the people around you.
- Keep a list of the positives. Like I said before, anger can be suffocating and it can seem like progress has not been made in whatever it is you’re working on. It is good to keep either a mental or tangible list of great accomplishments of yours, people you work with, people that inspire you, etc. Those reminders keep you in a light heart and good mental space.
I am learning that not everything has to be so “stick it to the man,” you know? If your mind, heart, and soul aren’t in the right place, you can’t be giving as much attention as you could to your initiatives.
Answer this: What was the last thing you did for yourself and only yourself (no matter how big or small)? How long ago was that? What is the next thing you want to do for yourself and when?