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The Power of Self-Care as Resistance: How Prioritizing Your Well-Being Can Challenge Oppression

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.

This is one of my all time favorite quotes by Black feminist writer and activist, Audre Lorde. It's speaks so much to what rings true for me as a Black woman, and specifically as someone who has chosen self-care over the status quo.


Black women enjoying self-care

The other day, my mom and I laughed about a joke she made about me living a "relaxed life" over a trivial task that I felt unbothered to expedite, and I casually mentioned that our urge to "rush" and constantly be doing something is symptomatic of oppression. It then dawned on me that I should write about my decision to live more "sustainably", and why my lifestyle is an intentional act of resistance, and in ways a revolutionary choice as a Black woman. For so many, being Black in America is synonymous with WORK... NEVER ENDING work! So much of what we've been conditioned to know and accept is related to incessant working, and that somehow our value is attached to our labor. This is not just true for African Americans, but it is especially true for Black people given the history of our experience in America, which was built on the free labor of enslaved Africans and many of our ancestors.


Being overwhelmingly conscious of this has made me rebel against the notion that rest is a luxury. Somehow rest has become associated with privilege, as opposed to simply being a necessity for survival. Capitalism has successfully indoctrinated so many of us into believing that our worth is tied to our productivity, and despite any good that has possibly come from it, everyday I question at what cost?


As someone who has adopted a simpler, often slower way of living (which although is completely intuitive, is somewhat seen as "counter culture"), I find myself often searching for videos and articles for inspiration. But, the problem is any time I search #softlife , #slowliving or similar popular hashtags, I rarely ever see content created for or by people of color, specifically Black people, and sadly, I know this is not a coincidence.


For generations the narrative has been "strong black woman", and despite the description being positively rooted in truth in so many ways, we've come to accept this archetype as a badge of honor, but unfortunately too often at our own detriment. And, it's not just true for Black women, but Black people as a whole. We are literally "sick and tired", so why is there not more representation of Black people in this movement toward slower, more sustainable living? To me, it's not just a trend, and it certainly is not a lifestyle only for the "privileged". In fact, at its core, this movement is largely about attuning to the intrinsic rhythms and teachings of nature, and if there's anyone with an intimate understanding of our connection to nature, it's Black and indigenous people.


Which brings me back to the Audre Lorde quote of why caring for one self is self-preservation and political warfare! Every day I wake up and choose not to rush to do something, every time I take my time with a task, each moment I give myself permission to rest, or do something simply for joy and not out of obligation, I am consciously resisting countless forms of oppression, and affirming that I matter, my wellness matters, and that we too deserve the freedom of relaxation.

I'm not waiting for someone to tell me it's okay to care for myself, I'm choosing it now, for myself, and I'm choosing it in honor of my ancestors, and everyone who fought and is still fighting for self-care and wellness to be normalized and prioritized for all people.

So, in the spirit of Black History Month, I encourage you to reflect on the implications of your everyday decisions. What ideas have you accepted as the norm, what notions around work, rest and leisure are you consciously or unconsciously propagating, and what messages are your choices reverberating into the world. This month and beyond, I charge you to choose yourself, and to do it unapologetically with the strength and courage of all those who came before us.


Here's to fighting the power, one breath, one nap, one cup of tea, and one mindful moment at a time!







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