So family… this 2016 election season has been intense, to say the very least. We have finally come to the “first 100 days” of President Donald J. Trump. Barely past the first 10 days, actually.
Not to mention the racism, sexism, ableism, islamophobia and all the other -isms that we know in all their intersectionalities and horrors that have been having their field days, confirming for us what we already knew this country really to be…
Our very existence in these circumstances in which we find ourselves is radical enough in and of itself. But things do have their way of intensifying at pivotal moments.
How do you keep it together?
- Feel your feelings.
- Allow yourself to feel. Honor your feelings. Grieve. Go on and let it out. Acknowledge them… Vent. Black folks spend a wealth of time and energy in our lives, relationships, and careers in survival mode, just pushing through and not taking the time TO FEEL! DO NOT let anyone tell you to stop crying and just get ready to work. It is a mistake that pushes our people into a state of half-humanity in which we do not allow ourselves the time and ability to feel, be emotional, grieve and even celebrate. It is also part of our ancestral traditions to go through the motions of emotion, and is a perfect opportunity for ritual.
- There are those of us at this time who, in their own ways of attempting to cope, will say that they don’t know what we’re all crying about. We need to shut up and work. But honey, cry if you must.
- Take Time Off.
- Yes, you read that right. Go ahead and request that personal day or sick day. Go ahead and call out. Yes, it is risky. Yes, the gaze is stronger on you. But your peace of mind is not what deserves to be risked. Workplace micoaggressions have been at a fever pitch, without a doubt. Besides… if you do not create the environment in which you are cared for in particular, it will not exist, will it? Be your own best advocate, for you and for all.
- Set boundaries
- Create barriers with your own actions to keep your triggers at bay. Phony non-Black coworker wants to strike up superficial conversation? Feauxtep folks who can’t handle or express themselves in a healthy way and need to disallow you from being a human being with feelings just because you’re Black? BLOCK! UNFRIEND! RECUSE YOURSELF! Remove yourself from the situation. A simple, “I prefer not to discuss politics at work,” will suffice. They didn’t sympathize with every Black body lying in the street, why so excited to discuss now?
- Grow things
- Need a little more life and color in your space? Add plants! You can start from seeds on your own or purchase starter plants from nearby florists, conservancies or even Home Depot. Try out your green thumb. No space is too small.
- Indulge in culture
- Party! Fete! Festival! Black History Month is on its way. There should be plenty to get into. Remaining centered, as our context is always unique, is of the utmost importance. Celebrate our people and our heritage.
- Connect with loved ones who sympathize.
- Some loved ones, as we have all found out, have actually been toasting champagne over Donald Trump’s election. Ain’t talking about them… But it is important not to grieve or unpack this or anything stressful alone. These conversations need to be had as a family. We African people thrive through community.
- Common advice for all necessary periods of radical self care. Although we all enjoy the emotional connection with others and our shared experiences that social media networking brings, feel free at any time to step back from the entire melee. Log off. Delete the apps. Have a trusted friend change the password to something you don’t know. Buy an alarm clock as not to check your phone, first thing in the morning. $8-$20 for a little more peace? Not steep, at all. I just ordered one for myself.
- DO SOMETHING!!!
- Create community around yourself including friends and acquaintances. Once connected, CREATE! Create healing circles, gatherings to foster Black love and community. Meetups. Potlucks. Take hikes. Letter writing sessions. Sip & paint. Create safe spaces for one another to process or simply indulge in #UnbridledBlackJoy
- Commit to deeper work. Commit to service. Create local events to do the same for the community at large. Educate one another on the political process and the options still available locally and nationally. Here are a few suggestions:
- Setup staggered group calling sessions to call your congressman to urge them to make the changes you desire. As a former senate intern, I assure you that calls are received and recorded. With just a few spare moments, you can make your voice heard. Here are some helpful tips as to how.
- Teach youth about the process. Organize “know your rights” classes, or find who may be already hosting them locally. Adults and youth alike can benefit from these classes. Maybe even you.
- Keep yourself informed in organized, digestible ways. Treehugger.com provides insightful ways to stay on track with your legislators, upcoming legislation and ways to get involved, per the followup to the Women’s March at DC and other key organizations and initiatives in this article.
- Create Community Emergency Response Teams. Local grassroots organizations may have similar plans available. Check into that… Create plans and stocks for emergency resources. Protection is also important. Seek options for self defense. Arrange group trips or parties to firing ranges. Groupon is your friend! Ask within your networks of friends and acquaintances to find retired law enforcement officers or other individuals you would trust who are licensed to teach and train others in the use of firearms. Get trained and licensed. It is your constitutional right, too.
- Town halls: if nothing else, communal space to gather and discuss our concerns is necessary and valuable. Black people need to create more communal spaces to gather, decompress and create plans of action to move forward, and keep your ears to the ground of local politics. This is creating community.
Have more suggestions?