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9 Things Black Women Need To Add To Their Radical Self-Care Regimen

Because Black women need more than masks and spa days.

Wellness

Have you ever looked at the hashtags of self-care? The first few hundred photos are mostly of white women smiling, brunching with their girlfriends, and in facial masks and expensive robes. The takeaway? Black women can't afford to take time for themselves.

I'm a firm believer that self-care Saturdays and Sunday should be abolished because my needs aren't defined by what day of the week it is, but I get it - the goal is to emphasize check-ins on you.

But who sets that standard for us? Last year, I decided that my self-care would be radical - which meant that I'd go out of my way to take care of me. And while I love a good spa day as much as the next person, I needed a routine that doesn't cost much, and helped my life run much smoother. Here are nine things you can add to your self-care arsenal:

1. Making difficult decisions.

Someone once told me that happiness isn't a destination that you find yourself at, it's a series of choices. It's those things you don't notice--getting up earlier, saying 'no', leaving your ex on 'read', setting a budget--that ultimately helps you create a life for yourself that love.

2. Owning when you need me-time.

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I find that most Black women wear being there for everyone as a badge of honor, and I refuse to subscribe to those toxic expectations that left our mothers and grandmothers overworked, underpaid, and their love tank on E. When I need time for me, I take it. I've learned that the opposite of selfishness isn't selflessness; it's boundaries and realistic expectations.

3. Doing your laundry before your hamper overflows.

Because being on your last pair of underwear, or your favorite workout gear not being clean in time for a gym session with your girls, never made anyone feel better about their lives (now I can't tell you that I folded the laundry, just know I washed it, sis, I don't know what you want me to tell you).

4. Drinking tea while it's hot.

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Raise your hand if you made tea, sat it down to take care of a million other things, and by the time you picked it up, it was cold - you all just virtually raised your hands. Taking the time to be in the moment and drink my matcha while it's hot in the smallest way is a way I can affirm that I deserve to be still, and enjoy small pleasures.

5. Going to therapy.

Therapy isn't free, but for Black women, it's essential. The weight that we carry around in this world mentally and emotionally deserves release, and we need to normalize prioritizing our budget for it. My co-pay has become my happiest weekly expense because that time on the couch will benefit me for years to come.

6. Clearing out unread emails.

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Answering unread emails/cleaning out spam has become my new favorite pastime. Having tons of people awaiting my response can trigger anxiety, so taking the time to assess my priorities and what I can/can't say 'yes' to is paramount to my organization routine.

7. Spend time with your best friend.

As crazy as my schedule can get, I make it a point to at least once a month make time to hang out with my best friend. Even if it's something as small as a coffee, take that time to check-in with the person that knows you like no one else.

8. Twerk lessons via YouTube.

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I don't know if it's just me, but I got tired of not being able to twerk like my girl, Meg. One Friday night, I locked myself in my room, and I didn't come out until I learned how to twerk like the Houston rapper. Even if twerking isn't your thing, learn a new TikTok dance. Laughter and movement are therapeutic in and of itself.

9. Watch your favorite show.

My favorite show of all-time is Girlfriends, and I love watching it in the bathtub with some wine (as well as rose petals, if I have any on-hand). I used to think that romantic baths had to involve a partner, but that time to myself helped me realize that I can treat myself well, whether someone is there to facilitate, or enjoy it with me, or not. I deserve self-care because being a Black woman in American is a revolutionary act and as much as we can - we need to honor that and tend to us, first.

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Originally published on May 20, 2020

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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