Editor’s Note: Today, we have a good time Juneteenth. The vacation commemorates the day in 1865 when, in Galveston, Texas, federal troops arrived to announce the emancipation of all enslaved individuals within the United States. This second marked the top of slavery in our nation, however whereas the day has been celebrated since, it wasn’t confirmed as a federal vacation till final yr.
Thankfully, recognition of this essential day has grown and amplified. Our consideration has turned to the progress we’ve made as a rustic in addition to the continuing work we should regularly put in. Much of this work falls on the shoulders of Black ladies, who play vital, however all-too-often, unseen roles within the combat for racial justice. Today, we revisit a favourite put up from Virginia Cumberbatch, a storyteller and racial justice educator, in regards to the function that relaxation performs in Black ladies’s resistance.
Today, and each day, we’re recognizing and honoring highly effective ladies. But as we have a good time, the contributions and tales of ladies of coloration (particularly Black ladies) are sometimes silenced, siloed, or severed from our collective reminiscence. And whereas the paths blazed and actions made are an important piece of how we maintain area for racial parity and empowerment, how we nurture area for ongoing contributions, creativity, and disruption by ladies is simply as crucial. How we maintain area within the current is related to how we honor the previous. With this spirit, I’ve begun to unapologetically pursue and pause for moments of relaxation. It’s this highly effective apply that provides area for reflection and fuels our continued resistance.
When reflecting on the numerous methods Black ladies and ladies of coloration have contributed to the cultural panorama of our communities and this nation, I lament how these tales and visuals have remained exterior our historical past books, nationwide reminiscence financial institution, and even our up to date social media feeds. The pursuit of gender fairness calls for the actions of racial justice. And some of the highly effective drivers of sustained resistance, and probably the most foundational rights we have now as people, is that of relaxation.
Audre Lorde mentioned it like this, “caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
We have endured the ache of seeing Black and Brown our bodies brutalized (not simply in its present iteration however over centuries) after which viralized. From this trauma, we’re left to take care of the realities of what it means to be each ladies and ladies of coloration on this nation—and in our our bodies. Emotionally, psychologically, and bodily the affect of racial trauma is actual.
And so, for my 34th birthday, I made the choice to maintain area for relaxation, therapeutic, and peace. A apply not so simply practiced by my ancestors and the Black ladies I’ve come to admire (from Dr. Angela Davis to my grandmother, Dr. Sylvia “G-mom” Rousseau), engaged on the entrance strains of justice. In the midst of our ongoing resistance for liberation and justice, Black ladies deserve to not simply proceed to function from a spot of energy and resilience, however to make historical past from a spot of wholeness and peace. In a world that continuously beckons us to be sturdy, resilient and current, I provide a paradigm shift. Perhaps we lean into the phrases we maintain so pricey at Rosa Rebellion, to pursue “rest in the midst of our resistance.” A stance that feels ever delicate, and but ever so dire.
This is my love letter to Black ladies by means of reflections and practices noticed throughout a lovely weekend retreat in Joshua Tree.
Dear Black Woman,
As we hold space to honor the past, present, and future of women leading radical lives, I invite us to reconsider how we can pursue radical rest in the mist of our radical resistance. Let us resist oppression, let us resist alienation, let us resist the silencing of our stories, let us resist the patriarchal structures, let us resist the centering of only white voices in women movements, let us resist the capitalistic paradigms that keep us working past exhaustion, and let us resist the narratives that we must earn rest.
Last month I turned 34 years old. It was my prayer, plea, and promise to myself to enter the year from a place of reflection and rest. As we reflect on the last two years of visceral racial injustice, a pandemic that has killed Black and Brown people at alarming rates, and navigating the ways in which our mere existence is interrogated—from the politicization of our hair (look up the Crown Act) and the policing of our bodies, to the expectations to show up for ourselves and community at all cost, I ask myself: Where is there space for us to occupy a posture of peace?
Poet June Jordan offers us these words, “to tell the truth is to become beautiful, to begin to love yourself, value yourself. And that’s political, in its most profound way.” This rhythm will require us to give ourselves permission to move differently, hold boundaries and center our well-being. It’s an active practice, one that I have not mastered. In fact I have barely embarked on it. But what I know is that our peace demands it, and our continued investment in community requires it. Exhaustion and martyrdom will not free us.
Perhaps the below reminders can inform new practices that honor the past of brilliant women, inform a present of disruptive voices, and forge a future of radical womanhood.
You require rest:
“Silence is a fierce resistance against the violence of a world whose words are not for us. In a world where we are expected to constantly articulate our dignitary, we will rest.” – Cole Arthur Riley
For much of my adult life, my trips have been motivated by work, family or obligation. I can count on one hand the trips or intentional quiet moments I’ve created space for rest out of pure desire or need. Perhaps it is the subconscious toxic narrative I’ve nurtured that said that rest and reprieve were earned. That unlike sleep, rest was a posture that I could only occupy when convenient or carefully curated. It’s why I stacked un-used gift cards to spas or had an incomprehensible amount of vacation days left over when I left my position at UT a few years ago. I guess I was waiting for the moment of such high stress, exhaustion, or spiritual fatigue that my body was in dire need of respite. Well, if these last few years have taught me anything, it is that my empathy for others, my investment in community, my pursuit of equity and justice in this world is innately connected to my ability to care for my own mind, soul, and body. That creating this space didn’t make me selfish, but demonstrated a love for self.
And so, in the midst of the unknown of year two of a raging pandemic, the ongoing experiences of oppression and the anger that stems from a lack of systemic compassion or justice, I honored the desire (and need) to press pause and surround myself with things that give me peace: friendship, food, and cool fits in the desert.
With help of life-long friendships and my young sister, I planned a trip to the high desert area of Yucca Valley. Throughout the weekend we enjoyed hiking in the Joshua Tree National Park. Stepping outside in nature served as permission to step outside our normal life rhythms.
The Practice (via Black Liturgies)
Inhale: The world demands much of me.
Exhale: Give me the courage to be still.
You deserve peace:
“Silence. Stillness. To give her soul a chance to attend to its own affairs at its own level.” – Toni Cade Bambara.
Inundated by the images of police brutality, Covid, and war; overwhelmed by a country’s unwillingness to tell our full stories, protect our full humanity, we must create space to experience peace. From voting disenfranchisement and the caging of immigrants to the violence and control around women’s bodies and lack of economic parity of women, these marks of inequity bear real consequences on the minds and bodies of people of color and as incubators of care and compassion, our collective psyche as women. The resulting trauma isn’t just an indictment on failed political processes or systemic inequities, but a disturbance of our peace. We have an opportunity amidst this pandemic world to carve out a new rhythm for ourselves, one that centers our dignity, our humanity, and our peace. It shouldn’t be so hard-fought. It should feel innate, intimate, and integral to our everyday posture.
Protecting our peace is active work. Day to day, that may look like logging off Instagram for a day (or three months), taking a walk, finding time for prayer or meditation. On this trip, I opened myself up to a new practice, sharing the experience of a sound with her and her friends. Amidst the backdrop of the Yucca Valley, in the comfort of gifted loungewear from Mate the Label, (a Los Angeles-based, women-owned brand with a commitment to sustainability and inclusivity), we each drifted to sleep, holding space for meditation, prayer and quiet. For 60 minutes we were able to disrupt the swirl of the endless to-do lists, the triggers of their Instagram feeds, and the self-doubt that the world incessantly throws at us, with sounds of Tibetan bowls. Low-key, it was the best sleep of our life. It offered a glimpse into the possibility of internal peace, even with the world (literally and figuratively) at war.
Inhale: I will not forget my self.
Exhale: The lie that our empathy and care for our community and world requires the sacrifice of our peace.
You are joy:
“I embraced joy as my birthright. Radical black joy is inherent as a human need and not some special trinket you get after you rise high enough on the social-economic ladder or unlock some special level of desirability or accomplishment. –Tanya Denise Fields
As we reflect on the moments, movement, and matrons that give us reason to celebrate this month, we often focus on the miraculous and magical feats. From the underground railroad and mothers of the Civil Rights Movement, to the radical women who spurred the Black Power and Chicana movement, to today’s authors of the Black Lives Matter, Latina Rebels, and Stop Asian Hate movements, our resilience and our disruption centers a story of resilience, and overshadows our stories of joy. And with that practice has come an unhealthy and untruthful narrative that as Black women, we must be resilient, strong, and sacrificial—and we don’t deserve joy like everyone else.
There is more to our experience as women of color than struggle and oppression. We are authors of bliss, anchors of humor, and architects of delight. Getting to that place requires that we invite practices of joy. Joy in some ways is an exercise of freedom, an active posture of liberation. As we pursue justice, as we seek shalom, as we resist and persist, our history, our present, and our future can still be that of joy.
No matter where I am, or what is happening in the world, the sight of the sun offers hope and happiness. Perhaps it’s because it represents promises of life, and our capacity for peace. It is with that understanding that we planned a “golden hour” dinner and photoshoot, because nothing brought me more joy than seeing my friends golden and radiant and celebrating such friendship with the fellowship of food. Capturing the light of the Valley and the radiance and resilience of women I admire was the amazing Riley Blanks Reed of Woke Beauty. Riley is a buddy and photographer whose life’s work serves to elevate our tales and evoke our inner-selves by means of her lens.
Riley shared images duties with the proficient Tamra Gibson who documented the whimsical candid moments of the weekend and the magical meal ready by the culinary genius of Vija Adam of Sunday Dinner and Eboni Wells of Dizzy Desserts. Exuding pleasure of their preparation, presentation and highly effective taste palate, it was a deal with to have a good time the brilliance, boldness, and wonder of ladies of coloration with such vibrant and exquisite fares ready by proficient Black ladies. They delighted us with a candy potato and rooster curry, a ginger salmon and veggie stir-fry and my favourite dessert: gluten-free apple crisps. While Vija and Eboni dazzled our style buds, they extra importantly fed our souls. The night provided a snapshot of the facility of our pleasure—to gasoline a lifetime of fortitude, disruption, and herstory.
Image by Tamra Gibson
Inhale: You don’t owe them all of you. Your boundaries are holy ground. I was meant for more than giving.
Exhale: Help me to receive. I don’t have to save us. My boundaries are holy. Healing is a promise. Joy is a gift.
And so, I leave us with this poem written to Black girls by my friend and ever inspiration, Cole Arthur Riley:
“Guide us to communities which see us in the fullness of our humanity, but regardless, let us walk in knowledge of our dignity. And let us marvel at those who walked before us, knowing that our story is entwined with theirs; that we come from a brilliance of mind and heart. Free us from the lie that our dignity and our brilliance are things to be proven, but let the truth of them hold us like the warmth of the wombs that formed us.”
This post was originally published on March 25, 2022 and has since been updated.