The darkness has always been in the world even though it feels like there’s so much more of it.
One good thing about it (there aren’t many) is the amount of light that comes up to push it back.
I’m a Black queer femme, my very existence is a political act in this world. That I hold on so fiercely to my right to thrive is my own little revolution. And also I hold privilege in many areas, and must use it in support of those who don’t. I struggle with this though. I understand that I need to engage and not look away and also, I am made a victim of the system as well and it can hurt to make myself present in the movement.
Waking up every morning and learning of new atrocities will wear anyone down. It’s become a cycle for me. First, I get heated and every other waking moment is spent doing what I can. Inevitably, I start to tire and my heart breaks into pieces I can’t immediately recover. Then I feel ineffectual and guilty. To protect myself I disassociate to survive. This is often where it ends for too many of us.
I offer this addition for my cycle as an activist healer: Yes, I turn away – not only to rest but to remember/imagine/dream into being new and beautiful worlds and ways of connecting. I take care of myself. Then I get back in it.
It has taken me a while to even get to the part where I do turn away and take care of myself, let alone turn back and dive into the movement again. I have come to understand that those parts of the cycle are non-negotiable if I’m to be any good to myself or anyone else. I don’t offer these suggestions as an expert in anything except my lived experience. Consider what resonates and leave here what doesn’t. I could also be plain wrong, and also this is what I’ve come to. I invite you to please share what has worked for you in the comments.
In this world where everyone has a platform and hashtags can spark revolutions, we have every reason to speak the truth against injustice. Wherever we hold privilege we must risk it to take power to task. Silence in the face of oppression does no one any favors, not even for those privileged enough to not be held down it.
Additionally, the silencing and tone-policing of marginalized folks under the guise of encouraging everyone to love each other more and let love and light rule makes you just as complicit in oppression. It doesn’t make you enlightened. It tends to cruelty. Instead of moderating those actively being harmed, consider what you can do to lessen the harm or even better put your privilege up in front of them as a shield.
The balance between doing what we can for justice and taking care of ourselves can often feel at odds. I am constantly struggling with this as one who carries both privilege and marginalization. I don’t have it all figured out but so far this is what I’ve come to: It is a difficult thing to ask, but consider how much less care is accessible to others before you completely check out of the movement. By no means bring yourself to harm, adapt and tend to your needs, and also be honest when the project of self-care goes becomes a means of avoidance or selective ignorance.
Part of why this issue is so fraught is also about how we need to care for each other better: community care in conjunction with self care. Another layer of this is that we need to make sure our organizing is accessible- too many times those claiming allyship refuse to hear the real concerns of folks who want to be a part of the movement but have been excluded. We fear that if we take the time to bring everyone along, progress will be slowed down. This simply isn’t true. Let’s resist the instinct to complain about having to consider yet another list of accommodations for folks we’re leaving behind. We aren’t perfect, we won’t always get it right, but we owe it to each other and the movement to ensure we do our best to get there.
Donate your time, services, and profits.
If you are able to volunteer with organizations doing the work do so. Should you go this route remember you are there to help, not manage or take over. Do not speak over folks whose experience you cannot possibly fully comprehend.
Give of your services when you can. Some healers choose to offer free service to marginalized folks. This can be hard to do everyday but there are options. I’ve known healers who give a discounted price, or designate the lower end of sliding scale pricing for marginalized folks. In your communities, there might be a specific day where you open up your service for free to those marginalized folks.
Consider donating a portion of your profits to organizations and people doing the work. An easy way is to pick a percentage, and stick to it at regular intervals- for example monthly or quarterly. Do it in a way that keeps it sustainable for you and also you’ll be helping to sustain folks with dissimilar access to yours.
As always, work your magic.
For those of us not able to take the traditional avenues of organizing and protesting, being able to share our time and energy like this may be our only way to participate. Do not feel guilty about this- your work is too precious and too important.
Where and when you are able to share your magic, do so. Whether you want to send a hex to the oppressors, offer discounts to organizers or marginalized folks, conjure art that supports the movement, send an herb care package to organizers, offer energy work and rejuvenation areas for activists, or you’re dressing a seven day candle of protection for protestors, lean in to your gifts.
Even more difficult for healers, activists, those too used to the fight is our capacity to let ourselves be cared for. This is where community care becomes absolutely crucial. If all we have left after organizing is our trauma and burnout, we aren’t getting too far. Movements thrive when we do everything we can to ensure that wellness and care is available.