When it comes to fighting the systemized oppression and centuries of racism that have kept our world broken, the burden often falls on Black communities. While fighting the systems that were designed to keep Black people down is vital, it’s often done so at the expense of the individuals who are already feeling fatigued.
The reality of a society that still treats Black lives as if they are less than is an uphill battle and one that oftentimes leaves people with no energy to fight for the betterment of their own well-being or their community’s health. Because of the emotional and mental toll that fighting for justice takes on a person, self-care and communal care must be prioritized in Black communities.
Self-Care VS Communal Care
Both self-care and communal care are tools that Black people can use to stay afloat in a society that constantly tries to drown them out. Combining these practices can assist Black communities in creating an atmosphere of collective healing and restoration—while also reigniting their energy to fight for liberation and justice.
Self-care is the practice of becoming aware of and developing body-based practices, routines, and basic needs regimens in service to the overall well-being of the individual. Self-care can include activities such as eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, drinking water, taking deep breaths and meditating.
Self-care is an activity that Black people must practice to combat the emotional and mental toll that fighting racism takes on a person.
Communal care is the practice of coming together to embrace the needs, health, and growth of community members. Communal care can include activities such as cooking a meal for someone who didn’t have time to eat, sending encouraging text messages or being available to talk to someone who might be stressed.
Communal care is a practice that Black people can use in addition to self-care to ensure they are caring for themselves and their community simultaneously. Practicing communal care within the context of a Black community can not only heal individuals but can also help rebuild the strength of our communities as a whole.
Another way to practice communal care is through the lens of Black philanthropy. By giving back to Black causes or organizations, Black people have the opportunity to support and be there for a collective that they are invested in.
An example of current issues where Black philanthropy is needed ties into Black August, a commemoration to the history of Black resistance and freedom fighters who lost their lives at the hands of the state or were imprisoned fighting for justice and defending lives in the Black community.
The month-long remembrance originally honored George Jackson, an author and activist who was shot and killed during an attempted prison escape in 1971.
Today, Black communities coming together to address those same issues that made Black August what it was decades ago: systemic racism, mass incarceration, and murder of Black people at the hands of law enforcement.
In addition to encouraging communal care and participating in Black philanthropy, educating people about the history of months such as Black August can encourage more people to step up and lessen the burden the fight for justice has on Black individuals and communities.