If you were born between the years of 1981 and 1997, chances are you never experienced the uninterrupted activity of national, wide-spread assault on Black people in America.
Sure, you may be well-versed on slavery and the “I Have a Dream Speech”—that time in America long, long ago, when people who look like you weren’t treated equally and had to sit in the back of buses.
Perhaps you’ve taken in the iconography of firehoses aimed at Black bodies on a HBO documentary during a Black History month special. Maybe you watched Selma on opening night and caught Do the Right Thing during a Spike Lee marathon on BET.
But this is different. This is traumatic. This is the 1960s on instant-replay, on Instagram, on your iPad, in your backyard pool and in your church.
Times like this are stressful and confusing as fuck. You may be asking yourself, ‘what can I do?’
What did Ella Baker do? After the fifth planning meeting of her day in some Jim Crow-era den, did Ella and the girls croon out to an Otis Redding track with a bottle of Jack Daniels and a pack of Cools? Or did she draw up a nice bath and soak for hours with orisha candles? Maybe she just sat in her kitchen and stared at a beige wall.
Over 50 years later, life these days feel something like a day-in-the-life of Ella.
The work day is over. You just got off the D train and after news of Charleston, news of the Maryland Black Girl Scouts, tweets on the Ohio police officer assaulting a 12-year-old girl at a pool, that other pool incident, Freddie Gray updates, and damn! You’re suffocating.
After you make it to the third flight of your walk-up apartment, throw your keys on the kitchen table, slow-drag to the bathroom for a shower, your eyes unintentionally connect with a tee lying casually on top of the basket of clothes you’re overdue to wash. It reads “I Can’t Breathe”. The movement is all around you, because the movement, whatever that’s supposed to mean, is waiting for you at the doe.
But what can you do to deal, sis? Here’s five quick (and not so quick) hacks we suggest to lessen the heavy load.
1. Turn off the TV.
The news cycle is on a loop. Every channel you turn is Charleston, Hilary Clinton’s run, Rachel Dolezal or Raven Symone’s latest dum dum comment. You may want to stay updated on the latest commentator’s points about Dylann Roof’s so-called mental illness, which will likely and rightfully piss you off, but you really need to give yourself a break. The news ain’t going nowhere but your sanity is itching toward a neon exit sign. Do yourself the favor and hide your remote.
2. Call your girl.
Your bestie’s been texting you, asking for the perfect time to call you, but you’ve been swamped at work. Now is the time to call her. You can’t fix racist, parasites in the world, but you can control and manage your friendships. You need them and your girls are experiencing the same real-time racist trauma you feel. Call your friend tonight and ask her how that date went. Talk about everything but the news.
3. Spoil yourself.
While that TV is off, you could also lose your iPhone. If you can’t bare to turn it off, silence it and draw yourself a bath. Break out those candles you’ve been saving and light them all Ella Baker-style. Pour in bath salts, oils and soak until your thighs wrinkle. If you find your mind still racing, turn on your favorite Spotify playlist, not that ratchet one, and chill out.
4. Have sex.
Not because his dick got hard when he brushed up against you in the bedroom while you were twisting your hair. Have sex because you need it. We’re talking about some hair-pulling, multiple-positions, screaming like you’re the only one in the entire borough, sex. Like our girl Frenchie says, “It don’t get you 40 acres and mule, it. only. feels. real. good.”
5. Don’t fall off.
Yeah, it’s all fucked up and tragic, but it’s also a distraction. We’re pretty certain it’s safe to say isms are here to stay, and you’ve worked too hard defying the odds to allow any of this to set you back. Stay on point, mind your calendar, every single appointment and don’t be late for work tomorrow. Why? Because you owe it to yourself, and every victim in Charleston.
What do you think?