Posted May 8, 2017 by Cooper Point Journal in Community

Self Care When you Want to Scream

Constantly being immersed in conversations about race and injustice will take its toll. The first time I took an African American history class, I started self harming. I found it completely overwhelming, just trying to deal with the pain caused by constantly thinking about the long list of traumas Black people have faced in this country.

When writing these articles I sometimes find myself having to spend hours researching Neo-nazis, sifting through racist propaganda and legal paper work, or spending hours and days reading the words of faculty members and people in authority who blatantly don’t care about the struggles we all face as POC. I do it because I know it’s important. We all do it because we know how important this work is. It’s been proven time and again that if we don’t stand up for ourselves no one else will, but I’m not going to lie to ya’ll, we all know it’s exhausting.

Remember it’s okay to take a break or ask for help. Most of us are college students, who are already having conversations around racial justice in class and in our everyday lives. I know it can seem like constantly stomping for the cause is worth the affects it causes to our minds and bodies. I would never imply that this work isn’t important but, I need ya’ll to be good to yourselves too! There’s a mindset it’s easy to fall into being a college student that, sleeping very little, not eating well, working yourself really hard is not only normal, but seen as a positive trait indicative of leadership abilities. This is propelled by a society that values illustrated by being so committed you are willing to run yourself into the ground. When you add social justice work on top of that there’s often not much time for anything else left. The amount of sleep you don’t get can seem like a trophy of how hard we work, but this can lead to burnout or a break down. None of us are superhuman; we all need time to unwind. So with that in mind please remember to practice self care and remind your friends to take care of themselves too.

  • Do some yoga
  • Watch a movie with friends
  • Cook a good dinner for yourself or for that friend that seems a little run down lately
  • Remember you don’t have to join a conversation just because you are knowledgeable
  • Purposefully make space away from conversations and events focused on injustice if need be
  • Take a long shower or bath
  • Take a walk to the beach
  • Tea! Tea! Tea! Tea!
  • Get out in the sun!
  • Find an animal to cuddle
  • Deep breathing and physical awareness pat downs

Likewise remember it’s okay to:

  • Scream
  • Punch a pillow
  • Call a friend and cry
  • Be angry

This last one’s important—anger is not inherently bad, no matter how many times and how socially acceptable it is to put people down for it. Being angry can be a healthy reaction when dealing with issues that are traumatizing and that honestly should inspire anger.

As people of color we are constantly dealing with issues of injustice, it isn’t a sign of weakness to take time for yourself. Even when not explicitly talking, educating or learning about issues of injustice, we as POC are constantly have the conversation put on us and experiencing those same injustices whether we chose to hold conversation or not. That is why it’s important to remember you don’t have to go to every protest, event, workshop, or lecture. It’s important to know it’s not a requirement to educate other people all the time, even if you feel like you have to because you have the knowledge. This goes for seminar and class time as well as out in the world or on the internet. You can’t be helpful to the cause when you’re so worn out you can’t take care of yourself.

This is where allies should really come in. As POC we don’t have the ability to step out of the oppression we are fighting against. It’s important to remember there are people who do have the ability to step outside of these issues and they can and should be called upon when the weight of the issues starts to be too heavy.  I am not saying don’t go to these things just because we are dealing with issues of oppression all the time. I’m saying it’s okay to take a step back to ensure you are able to give your full energy once you’ve allowed yourself time to recharge.

Finally, I’m going to take this time to remind you all of something we all need to hear every so often, the work you do is important and appreciated. You are important and appreciated! You’re beautiful and we all deserve a world that respects us as human beings. That’s why we do what we do!

Until then, we all work really hard to make it so. As this school year heads towards a close if you are feeling like it’s too hard to continue your activist work and you’d rather be somewhere you don’t have to have these conversations all the time I want to offer you something a friend once told me, “When if feels like an uphill battle you are exactly where you need to be. If it wasn’t hard it wouldn’t be so needed.”

POC Talk is a space to focus on the unique experiences people of color face at Evergreen and in Olympia. It is written by Evergreen Student of Color in an effort to specifically discuss POC issues. We want to center and boost POC voices so if you have something to add you can submit your questions, comments, concerns, or ideas for what you would like POC Talk to cover to