I Don’t Believe I’m Black And Beautiful by Zeba Blay

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/i-dont-believe-im-black-and-beautiful_us_56b37726e4b04f9b57d899d9?cps=gravity_5055_4373124118784502221

I do not think that I am beautiful.

Whether or not I actually am is irrelevant, but whether I think that I am has become a constant source of preoccupation for me in recent months. Not feeling beautiful worries me for one specific reason: it feels like a defeat.

All women are forced to deal with unrealistic and harmful beauty standards. All women are expected by society to base their self-worth on the way they look — or, rather, the way in which the way they look garners them attention and approval from men.

It’s a messed-up system, but what I’ve always struggled with is the thing we never really want to talk about: the hierarchy of the system. For black women, the harsh realities of beauty standards are twofold: we’re socialized to feel less than beautiful specifically because we are black. Why else did a black model’s naturally large lips receive so much hate in comments on Instagram last week, when big lips on white women like Kylie Jenner and Angelina Jolie are praised? The things that make us black women, our big lips or big butts or kinky hair, are singled out as the main factors that we must change about ourselves in order to be more attractive, in order to be more acceptable.

Skin-lightening creams and relaxers are marketed to us, and while of course there have been important movement towards accepting who we are naturally, thanks to events like BET’s Black Girls Rock! and hashtags like #flexinmycomplexion, the mainstream still doesn’t seem to fully get it.

Recently, a Latina friend of mine was lamenting being the darkest amongst her three sisters. I had to stretch myself to sympathize and empathize with her, understanding the cultural differences and nuances that could allow her to say “I hate being so dark” to me, despite the fact that she is five shades lighter than I am. Despite the fact that with her loose curls and much lighter skin, hers is a beauty that’s far more palatable than mine.

The journey to better self-esteem, to self-love and acceptance for the black woman, seems always to hinge on the journey of accepting those things that make us black. I struggle with this too. I’ve written before about the fact that in spite of having dark skin and kinky hair, I’ve never had a complex about those things. I’ve never looked at my dark skin in the mirror and wished that it was lighter. I’ve never prayed for straight blonde hair and blue eyes.

But black self-esteem, of course, does not hinge only on colorism. That’s the dominating narrative, but it isn’t the only one. It’s far more complex than just the “color of your skin.” Being black and a woman, society would have us all believe, means being at the very bottom of the totem pole, and we have that to grapple with as well. While dating and desirability shouldn’t be the main marker we use to define beauty, it’s still incredibly telling that, according to OKCupid data, black women are the least desired in the dating world compared to white women and other women of color.

The messaging is out there. It permeates pop culture, from movies to magazines, and trickles down into the real world. As a young girl, I had examples of black beauty all around me, in my mother and my aunts, my sister, my friends. That helped. But I was always hyper-aware of the kinds of black women who were praised universally for their beauty — women like Halle Berry and Beyonce, women with light features and button noses. And when dark women were praised in the mainstream, they were regarded largely as novelties, exotic anomalies — the fetishization of Lupita Nyong’o and Alex Wek’s dark skin is a perfect example of this.

I want to be uninterested in beauty; I want to be uninterested in the idea that self-esteem only has to do with the way one looks. But in a society where black beauty is so invisible, so little celebrated, it’s impossible not to be preoccupied with it. That’s the crux. Beauty isn’t and shouldn’t be the scale by which we measure our self-worth and validation. But for black women, the constant bombardment of negative messaging sometimes makes it so hard to separate those things from one another.

For me, the struggle of black beauty is not accepting that it exists in this world. I see black beauty everywhere — I see it in my family and friends; I see the complexity and the range of black beauty in women I don’t know but admire, women like First Lady Michelle Obama, or the French-Senegalese actress Aissa Maiga, or the singer SZA, or the model and activist Bethann Hardison. The struggle is very personal. I can see our collective beauty, I can celebrate it in others, but I can’t celebrate it in myself.

It feels contradictory and hypocritical, to celebrate the beauty of black women but be perpetually unable to recognize my own. To be black and to be beautiful and to recognize, appreciate, and accept your own beauty is in itself a kind of revolutionary act. I believe that. That’s why I feel defeated — thinking I’m not beautiful, that I’m in fact ugly, feels like I’m giving in to all the lies that have been subliminally broadcast to me and every young black woman out there. I haven’t quite figured out how to change the narrative, but maybe at least being aware of it, at least wanting to change, is a kind of tiny victory.

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A Woman Explains Her Mental Health Journey Using The Pills She Was Prescribed ~ Kelsey Darragh, Kirsten King

Understanding your own mental illness doesn’t happen overnight – It’s a process. So, using the medication she was prescribed, one woman opened up about her long, and sometimes impossibly difficult, experience coping with her own mental illness.

BuzzFeed Video / Via youtube.com

“I had my first panic attack when I was 17-years-old. My body went into flight or fight mode. Well, jokes on me because I was on an airplane flight when it happened.”

A Woman Explains Her Mental Health Journey Using The Pills She Was Prescribed

“I had so many questions, but one stood above them all: Why me?”

A Woman Explains Her Mental Health Journey Using The Pills She Was Prescribed

One in four people struggle with their mental health.

A Woman Explains Her Mental Health Journey Using The Pills She Was Prescribed

And only roughly one third of people with mental illness seek ANY form of help.

A Woman Explains Her Mental Health Journey Using The Pills She Was Prescribed

“I sure as hell didn’t like the way I felt and I didn’t care who knew it. Well, maybe I cared a little.”

A Woman Explains Her Mental Health Journey Using The Pills She Was Prescribed

“I was afraid of telling my friends that sometimes I felt like I was dying… physically, and emotionally.”

“I started going to therapy. I had good days, and bad days… and really bad days.”

A Woman Explains Her Mental Health Journey Using The Pills She Was Prescribed

Eventually, a diagnosis was reached: “Bipolar disorder. Getting a definitive diagnosis meant there had to be a cure, right?”

A Woman Explains Her Mental Health Journey Using The Pills She Was Prescribed

“…Hope. What a misleading drug in itself.”

A Woman Explains Her Mental Health Journey Using The Pills She Was Prescribed

“I tried to fixed everything externally to fix an internal problem. I switched jobs, colleges, therapists, I took more Ativan.”

“I had good days, and bad days, and less really bad days. And then life happened – smacked me in the face and right off my tracks because a guy I loved broke up with me.”

A Woman Explains Her Mental Health Journey Using The Pills She Was Prescribed

“The threat of unpredictability is the scariest part when something depressing happens to someone with depression.”

“There are no rights and wrongs when it comes to feelings and moods, they just exist. We just feel. It’s the choices we make on how to constructively deal with those feelings that define us.”

A Woman Explains Her Mental Health Journey Using The Pills She Was Prescribed

“In seven years time, seven psychiatrists, four psychologists, countless therapists, two misdiagnosis, and over 20 medications… I was finally figuring my mental illness out.”

A Woman Explains Her Mental Health Journey Using The Pills She Was Prescribed

“I cannot hold myself accountable for what happens with my depression and anxiety. That I don’t have control over. But I can hold myself accountable for the strength of trying.”

A Woman Explains Her Mental Health Journey Using The Pills She Was Prescribed

It’s Time To Unwind, Sis: Activists Must Practice Self-Care ~ Najya Williams

 photo shutterstock_285334562.jpg

At the time of Trayvon Martin’s death, I was an eighth grader on my way to high school. I first heard the news of this horrific racial injustice on the radio, and to say I was shocked is an understatement. It was my first experience with racial injustice not only in my generation, but in this era. Four years and dozens of stolen lives later, I was as emotionally drained as I had ever been. The constant fear of becoming another hashtag or developing one for someone in my inner circle paralyzed my thoughts daily. Am I next? Will I become another hashtag? How am I supposed to want to bring children into this type of environment?

My journals of poetry are reflective of how consumed I had become with the events that continue to take over our nation. I have participated in discussion after discussion within my community, but I still live with the thought that I may have to say goodbye to the people in my life sooner than I desire. My thoughts often journey to the three women who were not only brave enough to initiate but also continue to grow the #BlackLivesMatter movement. When was the last time someone told them it was okay to take a day to breathe mentally?

Reflecting on my thoughts and emotions, I realize that I am not alone. As young, African-American women, we often do not give ourselves the opportunity to unplug from the world around us. We are expected to be an ever present source of strength no matter what is happening, and in turn, our overall health and wellness suffers. I am learning that I cannot help another soul unless I am well within, so I want to encourage you to take a day to gather yourself, too. The racial injustices that occur in our nation are traumatizing, and it is important that we make our health a priority so that we are able inspire change effectively.

I know you may be thinking: “Najya, where do I even begin? I don’t have that type of time.” I’m so glad that you asked! As activists, we know that political and social change does not happen overnight. Well, the same applies to us! We cannot expect to be happier, cheerier people after just one minute, hour or day. Making our emotional and mental health a priority is a commitment that we must make daily because the journey to becoming emotionally sound does not have an endgame.

After identifying where I had channeled all of my emotional energy, I decided to make some changes. Here are some of the activities and practices that I have started and continue to do as I move forward in my journey:

➢ Take a social media fast. I know that this is easier said than done, but the benefits make it worthwhile.

➢ Meditate/Pray. My faith has been my saving grace when I watch the news and follow cases of racial injustice. In moments of fear and sadness, I hold my faith and spirituality close to my mind, body, and soul.

➢ Journal/Keep a diary. An age-old technique, journaling and writing in a diary allows you to let go some of the thoughts and feelings you have saved in your memory bank. Let your notebook and pen carry some of that weight!

➢ Go on a “staycation.” If you are like me and your mind is always running a thousand miles per hour, try setting aside one or two personal days that you can take off from business/academics to completely pamper yourself with a new look, spa treatments, and great food! You can also dedicate a weekend to check into a local resort or hotel and unwind alone. Turn your phone and notifications off during the day and let your hair down. It is the perfect way to clear your mind and recharge emotionally while not venturing too far away from home!

I hope that these ideas encourage you to devote time to rejuvenating, recharging, and becoming stronger emotionally. As I grow, it is my prayer that we grow as a community. I send you positivity, love, and hope.

Photo: Shutterstock

Najya Williams is a social activist, spoken word artist and future pediatrician. She aspires to publish several books on her journey to self-discovery, healing, and faith. Najya hopes that her work encourages others to chase their dreams and reach beyond the celestial realm.

http://www.forharriet.com/2015/08/its-time-to-unwind-sis-activists-must.html#axzz3k2SYlxaG

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Thinks It’s Bullsh*t That Young Women Have To Be ‘Likable’ ~ Alanna Vagianos

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is here to remind young women that whoever likes you or doesn’t like you should have no effect on your self worth. 

On May 19, the Nigerian author was honored at the 2015 Girls Write Now Awards, where she gave a riveting speech directed at young women — reminding them that their stories and their voices matter. “I think it’s important to tell your story truthfully and I think that’s a difficult thing to do — to be truly truthful,” Adichie told the crowd in New York City. 

She said that it’s hard for women to be truthful when telling their stories because we’re conditioned to be concerned about offending people. Adichie told the young women in the crowd to forget about being liked. “If you start off thinking about being likable you’re not going to tell your story honestly because you’re going to be so concerned with not offending and that’s going to ruin your story. Forget about likability,” she said. 

“Forget about likability”

“I think that what our society teaches young girls and I think it’s also something that’s quite difficult for even older women, self-confessed feminists to shrug off is that idea that likability is an essential part of the space that you occupy in the world,” she went on. “That you’re supposed to twist yourself into shapes and make yourself likable, that you’re supposed to kind of hold back sometimes, pull back, don’t quite say, don’t be too pushy because you have to be likable. And I say that is bullshit.” And that’s what we call a crowd pleaser. 

Thank you, Chimamanda for reminding all of us (even the self-confessed feminists) that being liked should never stand in the way of telling your story. 

Watch her entire speech in the video above.

 

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties ~ Shannon Rosenberg

Dating and relationships can be a special type of shit show in your twenties.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties

Between trying to be a real adult and figuring out what you want to do with your life, how does anyone have time to find the person you want to spend the rest of your life with?

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties

The struggle is too real. So we asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us what they wish they knew about dating and relationships when they were in their twenties. Here’s what they said:

Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

1. “Assume that you can get anyone to fall for you if you want them to.”

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties

“It might not be true, but you should go into every date with that assumption, instead of worrying about whether or not the guy is into you.” –kristencarol

2. “Making the first move is terrifying but it will be the most awesome terrifying thing ever.”

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties

ckfreak

3. “The best pick up line in the world is ‘Hi, I’m (insert your name here).’”

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties
Columbia Pictures / Via gifsgallery.com

–Joey Hamilton, Facebook

4. Follow the “Three Month Rule.”

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties

“Follow the Three Month Rule: If after three months there’s something you can’t live with then move on. People don’t change.” –Tracy Evette Paul, Facebook

5. “Don’t commit to someone who hasn’t asked you to.”

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties

kgrandstrand

6. And feel free to actually say no when you want to.

 

Paramount Pictures / Via pshawscorner.com

 
 

“It’s okay to turn someone down. And it’s okay if the person you turn down gets upset, that is beyond your control. I went on so many unwanted dates because I felt bad saying no.” –MrsH810

7. Don’t feel pressured to achieve any specific milestone by any specific time.

“There is no specific timeline that you have to achieve any specific milestone. Some of your friends are going to get married and start having babies early. Others will wait a bit longer. If you’re not one of the first to achieve either or both of those milestones (if that’s what you want), it’s okay. It will happen when the time is right. It’s better to be single than stuck with the wrong person.” –Jen Stone, Facebook

8. Believe people’s actions, not their words.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties
20th Century Fox / Via imgur.com

“If he/she’s not contacting you, or playing games, or being flaky, etc., it’s pretty clear what they actually think, despite what they may have said.” –Mcfly7719

9. “Don’t drink excessively on first dates.”

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties
AMC / Via wordpress.com

lacyl3

10. Make sure you date on your own terms.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties

“Write a contract with yourself to date on your own terms. Be clear about what those terms are and advocate for yourself if it’s not working.” –Sean Fitch, Facebook

11. Have no regrets.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties

“Regret NOTHING!! You will learn from it all in the end.” –Justin Hilton, Facebook

12. Know that your “ideal” partner can change over time. So just do you right now.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties
Screen Gems / Via yvonneashlee.wordpress.com

“Focus on yourself, your goals, and with time, the right one will come around. After all, your 20s are the perfect time for you to explore and really find yourself. Besides, what you saw as an ‘ideal’ partner back in college may be totally different now!” –Valeria Marquez, Facebook

13. And just completely forget about dating if you’re sick of it.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties

“Ugh. Just get a cat.” –Shannon Hooper, Facebook

Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed

14. First, learn to be okay by yourself.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties

“Be okay with being by yourself. You’ll enjoy it so much more when you add someone meaningful to your life and even when things don’t work out, you’ll still have that joy of being with yourself.” – Danit Ehrlich, Facebook

15. And don’t feel like you need to change for anyone.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties
NBC / Via theberry.com

“Don’t change who you are for ANYONE! You can adapt and try to take an interest in things that they love, but never change the essence of you. Never lose yourself. The right person would never want you to.” –NurseTina3938

16. Just because they’re perfect, doesn’t mean they’re perfect for you.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties

“They may be the perfect person, but they may not be the perfect person for you. You’ll know when it’s the right person to stick with.” –Sharon Walles, Facebook

17. “Find someone who you can laugh with and have fun with, any time and anywhere.”

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties
NBC / Via pandawhale.com

christalayne

18. Don’t stay in a dead relationship just because you’re comfortable.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties

“Just because it’s comfortable, doesn’t always mean it’s right for either of you. Don’t be afraid to go after what you want, and do not be afraid to be on your own. You are far stronger than you think you are!” –Cait G.

19. Don’t try to find yourself through a relationship.

“Find yourself, then the right relationship will find YOU. A relationship will never work out when one or both people are only half done downloading.” –John Shinners, Facebook.

20. And don’t give SO much of yourself without getting anything in return.

“You need to both be in a position where you can sacrifice and compromise.” –Alice Louisa Davies, Facebook

21. Really take into consideration what your friends and family have to say.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties
Buena Vista Pictures / Via buzzfeed.com

“If all your friends and family tell you that he/she is a creep, hear them out. Especially if they tell you this repeatedly. They love you and want you to be happy.” –janetm43885b0d5

22. But don’t let them make the decisions for you.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties
New Line Cinema / Via weheartit.com

“Don’t let your parents pick out who to date. You’re not in high school anymore, you can tell your parents no.” –Sharon Walles, Facebook

23. “Know when to throw in the towel.”

“You can’t strong arm someone into their potential.” –Kate Morrone, Facebook

24. And don’t feel like you ALWAYS need to be in a relationship.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties
Warner Bros. Television / Via teen.com

“Going from one relationship to another is not healthy; have a single break!” –Claire Reading

25. Absolutely don’t let anyone mistreat you.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties
Disney / Via manrepeller.com

“Do not stand for bad behavior of any kind — cheating, shouting, lashing out at you and making you feel like shit — if any of this happens, LEAVE!” –Gabi Garb

26. Remember that there is such a thing as giving too much.

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties

“When you do that, whoever you date will grow a sense of self-entitlement rather than gratitude.” –Laurann Rilmen, Facebook

27. “Know that you’re good enough. Anyone would be lucky to have you.”

28. Don’t stay with someone because you think you can change them.

“You CANNOT change that very interesting ‘bad guy.’ Don’t be afraid to set limits. Don’t be afraid to communicate your needs. If he isn’t able to fulfill them or at least compromise, it won’t work out.” –kaa

29. Be with someone who genuinely makes you reallysuper happy.

“No one should make you cry more than they make you laugh.” –hanny12080

30. “No scrubs.”

30 Dating Tips People Wish They Knew In Their Twenties
Warner Bros. Animation / Via gifkeeper.tumblr.com

damnitness

Truth.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/shannonrosenberg/just-get-a-cat#.fvbm86eZR1

The 11 Realest Solange Knowles Quotes ~ Zeba Blay

What’s not to love about Solange Knowles? She’s a talented tastemaker, has phenomenal style, and makes amazing music. Once compared to her equally fly sister Beyonce, Knowles has carved out a niche for herself as a quirky carefree black girl who is more than comfortable to take chances and say what’s on her mind.

It’s Solange’s outspoken nature that’s perhaps the most compelling thing about her. Beyonce sings in her song “Flawless,” “My sister taught me how to speak my mind,”and it’s pretty easy to believe that — from speaking out against police brutality to clapping back when critics slam her style, Solange has never shied away from saying what she wants to say and always keeping it realer than real.

In celebration of her 28th birthday, below are some of Solange’s realest quotes from the last several years. 

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/24/the-11-realest-solange-quotes_n_7647874.html?utm_hp_ref=community-pioneer

11 Black Queer and Trans Women Discuss Self-Care ~ By L.G. Parker

11 Black Queer and Trans Women Discuss Self-Care

“We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” –Gwendolyn Brooks

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” –Audre Lorde

I know a few things about depression. After Thanksgiving, I checked myself into the hospital because repression was no longer enough. There was limited access to anyone beyond the narrow hallway, art and dining room in the hospital’s psychiatric unit, so I wrote and read often. What sustained me were the words I remembered from poems, like Lucille Clifton’s “won’t you celebrate with me,” Rickey Laurentiis’ “You Are Not Christ,” and Audre Lorde’s “A Litany for Survival.” 

When I got tired of walking up and down the hall reciting those poems to myself, I would re-read the African American Women and Depression Fact Sheet. What stays with me is that only 12% of Black women ever get help or treatment for their depression. Economic access, of course, plays a huge role in that, but how many of us never stop to acknowledge that we are hurting? How many of us actually can afford to stop at all to feel anything?

Audre Lorde tells us that we were never meant to survive, but to speak anyhow. I spoke with 11 queer and trans Black women artists, creators, and activists about their specific practices of self-care. May their insight be useful to you and their art inspire you to continue to dream, build, imagine, love, cry, laugh, dance, and live.

regina1. Regina Battle

Location: Richmond, VA
Title: Web Developer
Where to find her: Tumblr 

“Being the introvert that I am, I spend a lot of time alone. Taking time to myself allows me to recharge while doing the things I enjoy most. I respect my own limits and know when it’s necessary to step back, which often requires saying, ‘no.’ Surrounding myself with good, positive people is essential as well as minimizing my exposure to negativity. I practice mindfulness, live simply, and just always remember to breathe.”

blair2. Blair Ebony Smith

Location: Syracuse, New York
Title: Scholar, Feminist, Student
Where to find her: SoundCloud

“I practice self-love by creating with the intent to be present and non-judgemental. I create with the intent to honor Black (queer) ancestors and honor my own creativity. To honor my creativity, I let myself create whatever it is I may want to in the moment, whether that’s a beat from a sampled record, painting, collaging or writing. I also move and breathe. I love to walk and practice yoga. Self-care is also about community. I enjoy being in community celebrating life, talking shit (or just being) with other Black queer people.”

llerret3. L’lerrét Jazelle Ailith 

Location: New Orleans
Title: Queer Black transfemme visionary
Where to find her: InstagramTwitterllerretallure.com

“Self-care to me is about hanging stuff up until I’m absolutely ready to carry the burden again. If that means ignoring phone calls, texts messages, emails, and even resting as opposed to studying for that exam, then I will do so.

Sometimes, no matter what the circumstance, you need to just clear your mind and at least pretend you’re all good and can’t a thing hold you down or stand in your way. Pretend that you have all the time in the world and allow your body and mind to reset before you pick back up where you left off.”

4. Stasia Mehschel

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 8.32.45 AM

Location: Brooklyn, NY
Title: Producer and Vocalist for THEESatisfaction x DJ Stas Thee Boss
Where to find her: TumblrTwitterFacebookInstagramSoundCloudBandcamp

“The first step for me was self-love. I love my body, my mind, and my spirit. I want to preserve it in the finest and most luxurious ways that I can within my means. I take vitamins. I make sure to work hard and play equally as hard. I try my best to keep bad energy and vibes away, ridding myself of toxic relationships. A bath with scented oils and a fresh haircut can also do wonders for your confidence.”

5. Denise Maurice

Location: RVA (Richmond, Virginia)
Title: Creator
Where to find her: FacebookTwitterInstagramGoFundMe

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 8.36.51 AM“How do I practice self-care? In a world designed to break me, I keep myself healthy by first understanding that it is my strength that is being discriminated against, not my weakness. These Black woman hips bear the weight of the world with style and grace. This melanin in my skin can withstand the harshest of sun rays and some days…I feel as if I am the Sun herself.  I would be jealous if I wasn’t blessed to be who I am. How dare I step outside of gender norms and express myself when given strict commands to fit into a mold so that everyone else can understand me? How dare I not care about the opinions of people I will never even meet? Because I know who I am and am aware of my own strength and beauty. I practice self-care by creating spaces that allow not only myself but other gender nonconforming and artistically expressive individuals to flourish without having to twist and bend themselves into the form that society deems acceptable and employable…I am a firm believer that we are all born with specific gifts and if we become passionate enough about those gifts we can create our own means of survival. I practice self-care by refusing to believe the lie that I am not good enough. Spread Love!”

6. Monica Roberts

monica-roberts-trans-griot
Location: Houston, TX
Title: Writer, activist
Where to find her: transgriot.blogspot.com

“When I’m not writing on TransGriot, I have to take a moment to step back and actually do stuff for myself. There are times that I like to write poetry, and I do have a couple of fiction manuscripts and novels that I’m working on. There are times when I just sit back and just chill and go to a ball game or something, just to get away from always being in 24/7 serious activist mode.”

7. Diamond Sharp

diamond

Location: DC-based; Chicago native
Title: Poet and writer
Where to find her: Twitter

“I take time to myself. I say ‘no’ often. I don’t feel bad for putting myself first.”

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 8.39.19 AM8. Stud Slayer

Location: Washington, DC
Title: Advocate for Masculine Women of Color
Where to find her: Tumblr

“Self-care…is something I recently learned how to do. In the past I never had time to take care of myself. That neglect made me very grumpy and stressed. Now I make it a point to look out for my own well-being and mental health no matter what’s going on. Kind of like ‘Pay yourself first’ in regards to finances.

I write frequently and spend a lot of time at the gym. Working out and exercising is not only good for my physical health, but mental health as well.

I take care of my soul by writing on my blog and continuing to reach out, be there for and mentor masculine women of color in regards to sexuality, self esteem, gender identity and a myriad of other issues that aren’t always addressed in our under represented community. Female masculinity is very much misunderstood and misused and we need to continue having discussions about how we move in the world as masculine women and the micro aggressions that come with that.

Giving back keeps me close to the people that matter to me and makes me feel like I’m contributing to the solution instead of just complaining about the problem.”

9. JP Howard

Location: New York
Title: Queer/Diva/Poet/Nurturer
Where to find her:  FacebookTwitterInstagramwomenwritersinbloompoetrysalon.blogspot.com

(Photo taken by Rachel Eliza Griffiths)

“During the work week, I practice self-care when I seek out and find moments of ‘quiet introspective time.’ Like so many of us, my days are super busy as I’m in a relationship with my partner, we are raising our two sons and I also curate a NY-based literary salon, while working at a full-time, fairly demanding day job. When I can, I take long walks, usually by the water, during my lunch hour to regroup and focus on self. Those quiet moments are very precious to me. I also try to make a habit of traveling outside of New York to attend writing residencies or fellowships that let me pursue my own creative writing for an extended period of time either in a quiet setting and/or in an environment surrounded by fellow writers (for this full-time working mom even a week away from home is a true indulgent writer’s luxury!). While those residencies or fellowships may only happen a few times a year for me, they satisfy my self-care needs. I get so much writing done, I get a week away to solely focus on being a writer and while I miss my family during those trips, I think a necessary part of self-care is finding quality time to nurture ourselves, especially for those of us who are often busy nurturing others.”

INasah10. I’Nasah Crockett

Location: Down South
Title: Recovering Artist, Black Culture Junkie, Semi-Professional Big Mouth
Where to find her: Twitter

“This question kinda stopped me in my tracks because I’ve been doing such a poor job at it this year especially. [Laughs.] But more recently, I’ve been working on taking deeper breaths, being nicer to myself, and doing some yoga at home. It takes me being attentive to my body’s needs (which for me is also a form of self-care, not ignoring what my body and mind is trying to tell me), which takes some work, but I always end up feeling better for it. Also, binging out on my favorite TV shows and spending times with my friends always always always helps make life a little sweeter!”

11. Lourdes Ashley Hunter, MPA

2014-07-28-Photoon10113at4.04PM-thumb

Location: Washington, D.C.
Title: Black Trans Revolutionary
Where to find her: Twitter

“I love to cook and take walks in the park with my dog, Cashmere, but I also enjoy taking time to touch myself. There is healing in your own touch and I love all up on this body. Taking time to breathe because every breath a Black Trans Woman takes is an Act of Revolution. I practice self-care by becoming submerged in self-love.  Allowing others to give love and allowing myself to receive love but also being particular with my love and with the love I allow in my life. For me, practicing self-care is an act of self-love.”

For more information about self-care, visit Black Girl + Mental Health or purchase I’Nasah Crockett’s zine Death Valley: Or, How to Not Kill Yourself in Less Than Ten Days.

 

LGPL.G. Parker is a student and writer living in Northern Virginia. Connect with her on Twitter at @posttragic