June 15, 2020
Word of the Week: Sustainability
In the midst of a collective awakening, many people are realizing—in a whole new way—that we live in an unjust society, poisoned by corrupt systems, structural racism and police brutality, and are taking action like never before. Keep in mind, activism is a marathon, not a sprint. Yes, we want the system to change as quickly as humanly possible. Yes, the murders of innocent lives like George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Nina Pop, Tony McDade and countless others, at the hands of white supremacy, must stop. Yes, you may feel guilty for not being attune to these injustices before. As a Black American, you may also feel an obligation to the movement even though you are exhausted from a lifetime of discrimination and educating on white privilege.
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For us to create long-term change, we need to:
Clarify our individual roles – Flailing around doing a million things only yields to feeling overwhelmed and burned out. We each have our own individual role in this revolution, and it’s important to clarify what that is and where you can make the most meaningful impact.
Practice radical self-care – activism is hard fucking work. It takes a lot of energy and is extremely emotional. Take breaks and practice radical self-care to prevent depletion. This is especially important for WOC, since we already face the daily struggles of systemic oppression, which makes us even more susceptible to burnout. Take extra good care of yourselves right now. Self-care, in and of itself, is an act of political resistance.
Cut yourself some slack – it is unrealistic to expect yourself to uncover your own privilege, confront the racist acts of your ancestors, heal intergenerational trauma, liberate yourself from internalized oppression and fix institutionalized racism in a single day, week, month or year. This is a lifetime of work. Injustice will always remain an urgent issue. Every miniscule step you take towards dismantling your inner and outer structures of oppression is worthy and important.
Coach, facilitator and writer Andréa Ranae Johnson taught me that performance activism (taking action that’s rooted in what other people say you should do), is not wrong, but ineffective and unstainstable. Instead, she suggests,”Check in with yourself about what you have access to, what you want to contribute, where and how and make a decision. See what happens next and respond according to what’s in integrity with you. There is no right way. What is right resides within you. And it’s a moment-to-moment check in with yourself.”
Ask Yourself: In this moment, what is the most meaningful action I can take to support the cause? Is it educating myself on my privilege? Teaching my children about racism? Holding family members accountable? Donating? Protesting? Signing petitions? Creating art? Finding a therapist?
Weekly Mantra: We all have different roles in the resistance.
When in Doubt, Jam It Out!
Like It Is by Kygo, Zara Larsson, Tyga (Follow the Spotify playlist “Jam it Out with Elizabeth” to stay up-to-date with the weekly jams 🎵)
Things I’m Educating Myself With:
Youth counselor, mental health advocate, workshop facilitator, nationally ranked performance poet and Black femme Lindsay Young offers wisdom:
How to Avoid Burnout While Trying to Make a Difference (And Recover From Burnout if You Do) by Andréa Ranae Johnson is medicine. Andréa does an amazing job at explaining why pushing yourself past your limits in the name of making the world a better place is counterproductive. She offers a ton of ways to avoid and recover from burnout and talks about why taking care of yourself is vital to continuing to show up to the causes you care about.
Check out this great list of black, women-owned businesses that are doing amazing work in the wellness space, curated by WTHN (my acupuncture studio).
I appreciate whatever role you’re playing in dismantling systemic racism and building a more just, peaceful world.
[Featured Image: Designed by Daniela Alfieri]