If you are still with me after last week’s shade-fest, kudos and thanks! It is not often that I center my writing on topics of colorism or racism, as I usually try to reach for something more beneficial and uplifting for readers to consume, as well as for me to have to concentrate on. This is the point of what I’d like to say to you this week: As black women, we are all deserving of the right to look after ourselves first and foremost.
The work of demanding corrective promotion, calling out hypocrisy and lies, and holding others accountable is important, but it is also draining. It can take a toll on the mind, body, and spirit if that is all you do. I do not recommend that this become anyone’s life, for it is a life teeming with disappointment, sadness, and hard work. I do not feel any of us were placed on this Earth to suffer, just some of us choose to do so by leaning into oppression rather than choosing intentionality and joy.
First, I recommend that every black woman, regardless of her life circumstance, do considerable work to protect her own personal energy. The messages you receive through music, television, movies, social media, and those around you plant seeds in the fertile ground that is your mind. Those seeds can either sprout into beautiful flowers, fresh produce, or meaningless weeds.
To avoid the latter, I recommend engaging only with that which serves to feed the better part of your soul through growth, encouragement, and healthy challenge. The people who are down on you for wanting change are not helping you reach your true potential any faster, nor are they ushering happiness and joy into your life. Even if they are your blood relatives, distance yourself. Hang out with the folks who encourage you, even when you have setbacks.
Next, get a healthy grasp on what is and what is not your responsibility. Looking after yourself, eating right, taking care of your health and physical appearance, all of those are your responsibility. Saving all black men, women, and children from oppression, single-handedly taking down the system of white supremacy, and changing everyone’s mind about black people are not. You can do work in those areas, contribute positively, and do your best to make a difference within your individual sphere of influence. But beyond that, it is okay to back away and declare that enough is enough for yourself when it becomes too much. It should not consume you.
Lastly, give yourself permission to have fun. Go for drinks with friends. Eat a nice meal out on occasion. Date the guy you wouldn’t normally go for but who makes you feel seen, heard, secure, and respected. Watch television shows and movies that make you laugh. There is nothing wrong in choosing the lighthearted, fun option.
Your life does not have to be hard-wired to oppression unless you want it to be. I don’t suggest wanting that, though. It is in those rough times of struggle that depression can take hold, anxiety can build, and harmful thoughts can be triggered. No one deserves that, especially not any of us precious black women and girls.
So, in short, I advise you to honor yourself and your personal peace above all else. This does not mean the important work of correcting colorism does not get done, but it does not lie on any one woman’s shoulders. Live a life of balance and equity; I have found that these are the key to true happiness.
Antoinette is a consultant, author, yogini, and host of The Midday Reset Podcast. When she is not advising clients, authoring books, or recording episodes for her podcast, she is enjoying life with her husband and two children. Find her on Instagram @msantoinettechanel.