You doing okay, fam?
We don't get asked that question nearly enough, do we? Yes, maybe person-to-person in the community - depending on where you're at. We do work at taking care of us, which is great, I'm not knocking it. But, it's a little hard sometimes when all we've got is us.
When's the last time your senator asked you how you are? Asked what you need? Asked how they can make your life better, easier, and uplifted?
I love the Obamas for being Black and keeping it real, but they haven't exactly come through for us, have they? Has your neighborhood gotten better or worse? How about your job, your pay, and your benefits? When's the last time you went on vacation?
When's the last time your mayor asked what they can do to improve your quality of life? When can you remember your community leaders delivering on their promises with more than words and encouraging you to donate to their church or center?
How's your health?
God, people LOVE to take. These leaders and community stewards want our votes and our dollars and our support, but often the love comes up short when it's time for a payback.
That's NOT okay. We need that love. Monnica Williams tells NPR that Black people are collectively experiencing trauma. [link:http://atlantablackstar.com/2015/07/03/ptsd-and-mental-health-disorders-in-black-people-linked-to-trauma-from-racism-and-violence/ ].
That's PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder. Symptoms include feeling emotionally numb, feeling tense, and having flashbacks of terrible events. That's not a full list, read more here [link: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml].
Black people are tired. And with good reason. We live in a society that doesn't benefit us, pay taxes into a system that doesn't uplift us, buy products and services we need from organizations that aren't owned from us (and don't reinvest in us). That shit is tiring. It's exhausting.
We are subjugated to violence that isn't avenged or even held to justice. You know the drill. Then there's the interpersonal violence. All the cobwebs and skeletons in our families that don't get to be put to rest. The same stuff comes up in generation after generation. All your grandmother's and grandfather's aches and pains have been passed down to you. No wonder you're exhausted.
Then there's the economic injustice. While whites in the United States got a free ride when Franklin Roosevelt signed the New Deal into law, Blacks weer not only excluded from access to the flow of money for jobs, homes, and Social Security, they went out of their way to harm us by lowering our pay so that we wouldn't prevent whites from getting work. [link: http://atlantablackstar.com/2015/02/04/9-ways-franklin-d-roosevelts-new-deal-purposely-excluded-blacks-people/4/]
That's a lot. That's a whole lot.
I tweeted those because Black people really do need a vacation, collectively, all of us. We need a chance to unwind, heal, and self-examine. We need a chance to breathe, sit down, and relax. No one pressuring us to do NOTHING. Just us, feeling all those feelings that we can't usually feel because they might overwhelm us, because when you get overwhelmed then you can't get things done.
Black people, we are at a breaking point, because we get pushed and never get room to breathe. And I'm talking to you. You are at a breaking point. What do you need right now to feel better, that isn't harmful or avoidant - trying to push how you feel away?
How can you, right now, take care of yourself , your feelings, and your well-being?
How about these solutions:
It's hard to neglect yourself and expect to thrive. And believe me, I know. I pushed myself to the breaking point and beyond. I tried to ignore my feelings, my anger and my sadness. I tried to carry everything for everyone, and my mind and body just gave out one day and said "No." Since then, I've had the opportunity to invest in coaching programs for my wellness and health. I'm learning to put myself first.
How can you put yourself first today? It may be true that no one has your back but you. I know that's the deal and it sucks. But you've still got you. And, when you put you first, maybe some people will start to put you first too. The more you believe you're valuable, the more the world responds to it.