When I hear of yet another black life taken mercilessly, I decide right away how much I’ll engage with the story and personhood of the stolen life. I consider how much I can handle before reports of our lives & deaths become too much. I'm sure many of you have felt similarly.
Nia Wilson, an 18 year old young black woman, was fatally stabbed at a BART station on July 22. Since then, her death has received just 8 minutes from news outlets like CNN with 6 of those minutes focused on her alleged killer. The lack of coverage of her death serves up yet another constant reminder of how little our lives matter.
If a black man had slashed the throat of a white teenaged girl, the stories and coverage of the value of that girls life would last for days and days. Many of us know deep within our bones the constant coverage that a reversal of that scenario would have elicited.
In contrast, the silence is deafening and only adds to the ongoing stress of being a black woman in America. We're tired.
Ever since Ferguson, I've had to literally figure out a plan to keep processing, sharing, writing & otherwise engaging with the constant barrage of black deaths splashed across my news feed. When the death is so reckless, so senseless to someone so young, as in the case of Nia it hits me a different way. As a parent of a little black girl, it hits deeper now.
Part of my plan has been highly intentional self-care.
Black women need to remember & own that self-care is not selfish, arbitrary or optional.
3 Ways To Practice Self-Care in Light of Nia Wilson's Death.
1. Take as long as you need to step back, guilt free. notice i didn’t say, take a step back indefinitely.
Make a decision about how long you’ll go without reading about or consuming images regarding the tragic events. If it’s a fews, weeks or months it’s your life & your decision. Whatever it is, stick to it.
2. Intentionally seek out at least one other black woman to have a solidarity conversation. Not through Voxer, not through Marco Polo, not via text. Not in your favorite group for WOC on Facebook, but an *actual conversation*. In this digital age, we forget how much belly-to-belly conversations serve us, how much a single 10 second hug can increase our oxytocin levels, how much the sound of someone else’s laughter can leave a smile on your face that lifts your mood in ways you can’t do alone.
3. Finally, stick to the basics of self-care: getting enough sleep, adequate water and taking 20-30 minutes a day for mental rest, ideally also for physical exercise.
The implications of a death like Nia Wilson’s & the way it’s been handled can wreck us. At times it seems it’s one after another. The fact that it’s difficult to keep up is ridiculously sad. This needs to serve as a constant reminder that taking care of ourselves in every way imaginable is the most important thing we can do for ourselves, our children, our kinfolk & future generations.
We honor Nia (and everyone else) by honoring ourselves & our own need to thrive & survive even amongst such heinous emotional turmoil.
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