As we learn what it means to show up in a “post-pandemic” world—but are we really though?—self-care has become synonymous with individual survival. Although the worst of COVID has seemingly passed, so many educators, parents, and youth are burned out from over two years of virtual classes, a lack of capacity, toilet paper and hand sanitizer shortages, and sticking obnoxiously long Q-tips up their noses. However, one thing there isn’t a shortage of—structural racism. Now, structural racism is decidedly more insidious that your run-of-the-mill individualized racism; structural racism represents cultural values in a society that are so ingrained in daily life—or society—that they are seen as “the way things are.”
Now what does this have to do with self-care?
As many of our multifaceted community members, I sit at a variety of intersections—Black, cisgendered, femme, queer—the list goes on. As a result, the burnout was real in 2020, and during her equally problematic, quarantine cousin, 2021. As I struggled with mental health challenges, I knew that I needed a system of support and resources: a mental health professional, a massage therapist, as well as a yoga studio and a reiki practitioner. However, one thing became apparent to me as I sought these professionals in the Seattle and Tacoma areas: self-care was for white people.
The practitioners. The clients. The faces on the marketing materials. All white.
To be clear, self-care is nuanced and can be sought in a variety of ways: financial (my mama always used to say, “If the money ain’t right, neither are you”), spiritual, communal, and so many more. However, a majority of these services are either not catered to the communities that need them most due to varying shades of oppression or practitioners of color don’t have the resources available to get these services back out into the community.
So what do we do?
For practitioners, actively seek out and include communities of color in your practice. Offer a class outside of the cocoon of your studio and host a public event. Partner with practitioners of color in a truly reciprocal, symbiotic fashion throughout the year—yes, that means outside of Black History Month. Most importantly, refrain from depending on practitioners of color to do all the culturally competent work.
For our communities, actively seek out the help you need and do the research. Practitioners of color won’t stay in business if we don’t patronize them. Advocate for yourself by requesting the help you need. Engage in radical self-care—assert that you have the responsibility to take care of yourself before taking care of the needs of others.
Because we need you. We all we got.
Do you know of any POC-led self-care resources? We’d love to share them with our RMP and CCER community! Let us know at email@example.com.
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