Why is Self-Care Desperately Needed for Black Women?

When was the moment you realized you desperately needed intensive self-care or else?

For me, it was almost too late...

Photo by  Leighann Renee  on  Unsplash

I realized when I was flat broke, had no job, no back-up plan, no savings and I was 4 months pregnant in an abusive marriage. Once I began to take full-responsibility for the position I'd gotten myself into, the light bulb went off: I realized I had not been taking care of myself, loving myself nor investing my self. Not an iota. Not even a little.  If I had, the consequences of my life choices wouldn’t be set up to reveal that I was a woman who actually hated herself.

I was 39 at the time. My meager efforts were -as some would say- a day late & a dolla short.

Yet, I persisted. Hellbent on survival for the sake of my children, I started with them as the motivation & eventually shifted it the necessity of MY survival.

My breakdown from the aforementioned events + a few years of heavy chaos before that were in part due to my being a black woman & the unique challenges we face...

I could try to explain why self-care is so vitally & desperately needed for black women, but I will never say it better than the multiple black women who have all ready so beautifully articulated this important conversation.

Grab a cup of coffe, tea or Kombacha & read these insightful pieces...

Black Bodies Need Self-Care Too from Blavity.com.

Mental Health & The Strong Black Woman Trope from BlackGirlNerds.com.

Women of Color Have to be Revolutionary for Women of Color to Follow Us from BlackGirlNerds.com

Subversive Self-Care: Centering Black Women's Wellness from The Feminist Wire

What Self-Care Means to me as a Black Woman on Huffington Post.

Black Women Keep Dying After Giving Birth on NPR.

How Beyonce Busts The Black Superwoman Myth on Romper.com

For Black Women Self-Care is a Radical Act on Ravishly.com

And finally, please see Black Girl + Mental Health, a tumblr which is a drop box of all things related to mental health & WOC.

As I'm sure you can surmise, there are several other articles out there to be linked. If you know of any you'd like me to add to this list please email me the links at: grace@buildaselfie.com.

As black women, we are just starting to touch the surface of this all-important & revolutionary self-work. No matter where you are in the process start leaning in deeper to your self-care, but it is thrust upon you in circumstances you wonder if you'll even live through.

Life hits hard, let's be ready.


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The Murder of Nia Wilson Begs an Important Question for Black Women

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. 

How can we as black women practice self-care when the burden of our community looms large on our souls?
Artist Uknown. (Please contact me to add).

Artist Uknown. (Please contact me to add).

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. 

Image by: Melissa Joskow via Media Matters

Image by: Melissa Joskow via Media Matters

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.


If you'd like to support my work & help me launch the Build A Selfie podcast, please consider donating $1/month to my Patreon.

For each post delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for my newsletter below. Every week or two, I send out a newsletter with specific physical & mental health based tips that are much more specific than I'll ever get here. Beyond that, I wont send anything else. I have zero interest in cluttering up your inbox, so please do subscribe. You won't regret it.