It’s okay to log off sometimes.
In the last couple of weeks, images of black suffering have been a common occurrence. Videos and photos of innocent black men, women, and children being brutalized by the police have been surfacing, trending, remaining a constant presence on our social media. But for us, for black people everywhere, struggling has always been a constant presence in our communities, whether it trends or not.
In the last couple of months, the lives of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor have been ripped away from them. But they are not the only ones. Police brutality against African Americans in the USA is shamefully prevalent. Often, officers are often served no justice, despite being caught on camera.
In light of the tragic and senseless killing of George Floyd, America took to the streets to protest. Minneapolis, the center of the protest, stood against the police, followed by many other states and countries outside of the US. Only when the world demanded it was justice served.
The global protests of the killing of George, Ahmaud, and Breonna is a stark reminder of the trauma the Black community has faced and still continues to face, not only from law enforcement but as a result of systemic racism. Black people across the diaspora are experiencing rage, exhaustion and a hollow feeling of powerlessness at the sight of yet another innocent black life taken. We are tired. But most of all we are anxious.
Amidst the anger and protesting, we need to understand that self-preservation is necessary for this fight. Feelings of sadness, anger can be overwhelming right now, but it is okay to take a break. The fight for equality is about demanding change and reformation. It is about amplifying the silenced voices of our people. But we need longevity for that- we need to reclaim some semblance of relief, and that starts with taking care of our mental health and wellbeing.
Limit your time on social media
Whether your job involves consuming social media content, or you’re a proactive protestor, or just in need of keeping up to date with the situation, we can often find ourselves scrolling for hours. We feel obliged to bear witness to the injustice and struggle that is happening as black people. To watch every video of an innocent black person being subjugated to violence or harassment. It’s not okay to desensitize yourself to reality, but limiting the time spent consuming information from social media is vital.
Social media, as we all know, is rife with bots and racists, so be careful and avoid racial gaslighting. Do not exhaust yourself or waste your time arguing with people who are deaf to the obvious truth.
Fill your social media feed with inspirational black creatives and engage in uplifting your communities’ black-owned businesses. It is important to consume content that keeps you up to date with the reality of our world, but it is also important to immerse yourself in uplifting content. And along the way, help amplify a black-owned platform during this time of struggle.
Schedule “me time”
Part of protecting your wellbeing involves tuning out from the noise if social media. Schedule a meditative time out from your phone or the news. Instead, read a book by your favorite black author or maybe watch a ted talk or documentary on something you find interesting. Do something mentally stimulating that isn’t as exhausting as the overwhelming news of riots and protests.
With the pandemic still among us, it is easy to abandon all structure and sometimes just lay in bed all day. While that may be tempting, remember to take care of your basic needs. Eat right, exercise a little, and sleep the right amount of hour. Be productive, but take it easy and don’t be consumed by work all day.
Be careful who you interact with
In times like this, it’s easy to get into a heated debate with someone, or maybe you find yourself minding more attention to other people’s feelings, whether they’re allies or friends more than your own. You are not obliged to educate or direct people to where they can help, remember Google is free. There is a myriad of readily available resources to educate your non-black friends and families.
It is not your job to soothe guilt or provide answers. Don’t burden yourself by engaging with people who aren’t entering the discussion in good faith, who aren’t willing to learn or do any research. Sometimes ignoring them is okay, if they choose to remain ignorant.
Find ways to connect with other black people
It is vital to be surrounded by people who truly understand your pain and black struggle in a time like this. I know I don’t have it in me to educate people anymore. If you have to defend your humanity to someone, then maybe they shouldn’t be present in your life. Find people who share the same interest as you and are a part of the same community, whether it is gaming, writing, or cooking- people who you can feel comfortable in sharing your grief and experience. Who knows, maybe you will learn a thing or two.
Celebrate and consume Black art
Seeing countless images and videos of black struggle and suffering is traumatic. In moments like this, I find positivity in music, literature, and art. Create a playlist of your favorite songs, make a reading list of books you want to read, or do some research on a piece of art. Revel in black art, read some Toni Morrison or Audre Lorde, listen to some Jill Scott or Lauryn Hill or watch reruns of Living Single or my personal favorite, My Wife and Kids. The point is, remind yourself there is more to us than what you see on the news or your twitter feed.