Self-care has been dismissed as selfish, or worse, a capitalistic trend, by some who believe that community care is the only route to health. Others use self-care as a reason to post solo yoga selfies on their social media accounts. And while each camp may be on to something, I position community and self-care as equally essential to the health and wellbeing of us all, especially Black women and mamas. We need both to survive, especially during this pandemic. We need all forms of care to help create thriving communities.
I began my self-care journey following my move from South Central Los Angeles to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to pursue doctoral studies on the self-care practices of Black women activists. I craved community. Although the prospect of creating new relationships was daunting, I was up for the task. Taking time to observe how others created community was instrumental in my understanding of what it takes to build community: commitment and love for certain, but also deep reflection of what you bring to the space. And I didn’t want to bring unaddressed and unacknowledged trauma—at least not without effective tools to help me navigate and feel all my feelings, without projecting as much as possible. Therapy, journaling and reflection were tried and tested tools I used to move closer to healing, and closer to my community. Self-care, in this way, lifted barriers to my ability to be caring, present, and vulnerable to others in my community.