This job is neither pretty nor comfortable. It can break you if you let it.

Share on Pinterest

With the recent wave of police brutality against my black community, I haven’t been sleeping well. My mind races every minute of every day with anxious, action-driven thoughts:

How am I going to fight this?

If I protest, what are the possible consequences for me as a dark-skinned black woman?

What kind of legal protection do I have?

Did I donate enough?

Have I replied to all the registration messages from my friends?

Did I send article links to non-black friends who want to shut down the fight against blackness?

Did I eat today?

No wonder I have been waking up with headaches every day of the lift.

I have barely held on during a pandemic that has disrupted life as we know it. The virus has been killing my community at a relentless rate, and my own father is recovering from COVID-19.

After the recent inhumane murders of even more innocent and unarmed Black people, after generations of protests against domestic terrorism against Black people, the world seems open to the possibility that Black lives have value.

What a time to be alive.

Although my professional and personal mission is to fight for equity and empowerment for Black and other communities of color, I am struggling to keep pace and find balance. Even though I know I shouldn’t, I constantly ask myself if I’m doing enough.

At the same time, I sometimes have mixed feelings about my work.

Strategic, long-game anti-racism can seem self-serving and privileged when I see black people being killed every day.

History tells me attempts at solidarity from self-proclaimed “allies” will be a cycle of personal disbelief, outrage, empty social media posts, one-time donations to black organizations, and brittle exhaustion.

Still, I know that uprooting anti-blackness and other forms of racism takes all of us. I struggle with that while trying to take care of my mental health. While I wish I could say I’m having impeccable success in protecting my energy in this fight, I know I’m not.

In my best moments, I have found the following strategies immensely useful. I offer them to anyone who really wants to dedicate themselves to dismantling racism for the rest of their life.

Build your strategy

Dismantling blackness and other forms of racism means deliberately challenging and unlearning all the problematic messages you’ve received from movies, books, education, and casual conversations with friends, family, and associates.

It means that you will be thinking critically about what you have come to believe about your own race and the races of others as you witness who has power in our institutions and who does not.

This job is neither pretty nor comfortable. It can break you if you let it.

Take the time to think about your strengths and how they fit into your short- or long-term strategy. Organizers, activists, educators, and philanthropists all have their part to play. If your strength is financial, automate your donations to anti-racist organizations.

If you’re an activist, think about spaces to regularly challenge anti-Black racism, whether it’s on social media, at your job, or at your PTA. Continue expressing the uncomfortable issues.

Schedule time to recharge

This is probably one of the most difficult compromises in anti-racism work, but it is absolutely necessary.

First, accept that you cannot fight any battles empty. It is a detriment to you and to others. It is also a losing strategy.

You have the right to use your mental health days, sick days, or vacation days to recharge as you see fit. Whether you need to take that walk you’ve been putting off, binge on Netflix, cook a delicious meal, or just cry, take your time.

Since you’re probably not used to deliberately taking care of yourself in this way, make it a regular practice. Schedule time into your calendar and try to stick to it as best you can.

Set limits

It is vital that you are clear about what is and is not worth spending time and energy on as you become more committed to anti-racism. That means practicing saying no to people, causes and tasks that take time away from anti-racism work.

You can learn to say no and redirect those who want you to unpack your recent discoveries about anti-black racism and other forms of oppression. You can learn to say no to social media trolls who want to provoke you into a losing argument.

You may even need to completely delete your social media apps, or at least stay away from them for extended periods of time. It’s okay to take a break.

call for reinforcements

One of the many consequences of racism is that people of color have been left with the backbreaking role of educating whites.

When you add anti-blackness and colorism to the mix, many black people are forced into the role of teacher (in the midst of racial trauma), while white people are isolated from their own investigate, reflection, Y action.

Call in the reinforcements! If you know any friends, teammates or co-workers who call themselves racial alliesask them to weigh in the next time you find yourself in the role of spokesperson or educator. Forward the emails you’ve received to them for additional resources on anti-racism.

Send your allies invitations to serve on the racial equity committees that have burned you. Explicitly mention why you are redirecting people.

Remember your victories

Racism is so woven into the fabric of American life that any victory against it, whether it’s passing a law, removing Confederate statues, or finally training your company on how to talk about racism, can feel like a straw. in the ocean.

In your strategic approach to sustained anti-racism work, be sure to keep track of your victories. No victory is too small to stand out, and each one is essential to building your stamina.

Your victories matter, as does all the work you do.

hold on to your joy

Take a moment to think about the people, places, or experiences that bring you the most joy, no matter the circumstances. It could be a family member or a dear friend, dancing, surfing, cooking or being in nature.

Close your eyes and transport yourself to your happiest memory of that experience if you can’t physically be there. Stay there as long as you need to feel grounded. Let your joy refuel you and get you moving towards continued anti-racism.

It’s easy to get exhausted when we conquer one peak and find another waiting for us on the other side. There is nothing wrong with taking a break to recharge and take care of ourselves. It is the only way we can face the next obstacle with all our strength and commitment.

Remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup, and you do your best work when you’re at your best.

Providing you with the care you need and deserve is a revolutionary act in itself.

Zahida Sherman is a diversity and inclusion professional who writes about culture, race, gender, and adulthood. She is a history nerd and a novice surfer. follow her on Instagram Y Twitter.