I’m no stranger to being “the only chocolate chip in the cookie,” as my mom would say.
In high school, I was one of two Black girls in my graduating class. And college wasn’t much better. Although there were more of us, the obstacles that come along with being a person of color in a predominantly White space still existed.
Indeed, many of these issues have presented themselves throughout my adult life, save for the exception of a two-year stint at an iconic Black magazine. Being in the majority, even if for a small window of time, was truly a blessing. There’s just something refreshing about being around people who just get it.
Too many times I’ve been told to “tone it down,” which we all know is code for “could you be a little less, umm…BLACK?” Umm, no, Becky, I can’t. I was born this way. Nevertheless I often find myself biting my tongue for fear of being labeled the Angry Black Woman.
I mean, Forever First Lady Michelle Obama had to deal with the bullshit, so why should I expect to be treated any differently?
Recently, a young woman of color approached me after a panel I was speaking on and asked me how I navigate being a Black woman in corporate America. I chuckled to myself and said with a straight face, “Therapy.”
She laughed nervously and fidgeted a bit until I said “No, I’m serious.” When I started therapy toward the end of last year, I deliberately requested a Black female therapist because I deal with enough White Privilege day in and day out and did not want to subject myself to it in a supposed safe space. And, to be perfectly honest, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
After a particularly trying (and exhausting) day dealing with misogynoir (that’s the lethal combination of racism and sexism that Black women deal with on a regular basis), I’d had enough. Why can’t I be an angry Black woman? I have EVERY reason to be such, but I could never risk feeding into age-old stereotypes and “giving them what they want.”
So what’s a girl to do? I’ve compiled the following self-care practices that have helped me after mentally overwhelming days of fighting the patriarchy. Because Black feminists need love, too.
Therapy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, everyone can benefit from therapy. But for Black women dealing with both racism AND sexism on a daily basis (which, aren’t we all?!), therapy is especially, well, therapeutic. Woosah…
Kickboxing. Better to punch a bag than a person, I always say. Actually, I’ve never said that, but trying times call for special measures.
Mani/pedi. Few things make me feel as put together as a mani/pedi combo. #TreatYoSelf. You deserve it.
Phone a friend. Sometimes you just have to let it all out. Call or text a trusted friend to get it off your chest before you get back to slaying dragons.
Write it out. Or, if you’re like me, write down everything you wish you could say on a piece of paper, then ball it up and throw it away.
Meditate. I’ve been known to meditate in the office bathroom. In a rush? Insight Timer offers quick, free meditations for just about every scenario imaginable.
Bubble bath. Grab a bath bomb from Lush, light a candle and settle in for some quality soaking time.
Yoga. There’s a plethora of free yoga videos available on YouTube, my favorite is Bad Yogi.
Read. Whether it’s the hot new best-seller or the latest issue of your favorite magazine, put your phone on do not disturb and cozy up on the couch or your designated reading chair for some quality R&R. Might I suggest this reading list for the Black feminist in training.
Really #TreatYoSelf. I’m a notorious stress-eater (so, as you can imagine, working at Girl Scouts is both delicious and dangerous), but the idea behind this concept is to treat yourself to one thing you really, really like. For me, this would be the hummingbird cupcake from Magnolia Bakery. Sweet, sweet perfection…
Have a glass of wine, or two. Sometimes you just need a little something to take the edge off. Call up your girlfriend(s) for an impromptu happy hour. Cheap eats and drinks + fabulous company = just what the doctor ordered.
Dance it out. Lately I’ve found myself listening to LEMONADE on emotionally upsetting days when I’ve had ENOUGH of #WhitePrivilege. Is there anything Beyonce can’t fix?? Or if I’m feeling especially bad-ass, I crank up my girl Chasity’s #NastyWoman Jams playlist on Spotify.
Reset. If you’re at work, try walking outside for a bit of fresh air and then coming back as though it’s a new day. I know it sounds silly, but trust me on this one.
Pray. Sometimes you’ve just gotta let go and let God.
What is your favorite way to practice self-care? Let me know in the comments!