Self-Care is my Political Tool

On Wednesday, November 9th, 2016, I woke up refusing to let the election impact me. In a matter of hours, I had completed chores, ran some errands, and had been looped into a conversation planning an anti-Trump rally. By 6:30pm I was sitting on a conference call, when all of a sudden I felt completely drained. After my call, I felt like I only had the strength to lie in bed, which is where I spent most of my time Thursday and Friday. In my commitment to not letting white supremacy stop me, I completely ignored my own needs for self-care, which resulted in overextending myself less than 24 hours after Trump was announced as the President-elect.

My time in bed was a moment of pause that gave me the space to think about what it means to center joy during these times of intense struggle. It’s not worth running myself into the ground for Trump or any other oppressor, so it felt important to find ways to center my own wellness and engage in collective resistance simultaneously. I was reminded of my favorite Audre Lorde quote, “caring for myself is an act of political warfare.”

Self-care for me has looked like spending time with friends and community. Last Saturday I spent the whole day with a close friend, starting with brunch at a local, Black-owned restaurant; followed by binge-watching Issa Rae’s new show, Insecure; and closing our day by going to a party thrown by Southerners on New Ground with door donations benefitting their work across the Southeast. It was so beautiful spending a day with a friend to center people of color and LGBTQ folks.

keisha-11x17-2Lately, I’ve been relishing the joy I find in experimenting with makeup, and researching how to make sure my products are Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) safe. I’ve also found happiness in having my own sanctuary of sorts in my home. The office that my girlfriend and I share serves as a space of healing that includes an altar, an adorable kitten calendar, and a board full of notes of gratitude. I have also filled this room with social justice artwork by artists such as Micah Bazant and Favianna Rodriguez and I bought this Black Trans Lives Matter poster by Micah that features Keisha Jenkins, a Black trans woman who was murdered last year in Philadelphia. Proceeds from the art went to her burial fund.

If you are interested in shifting your self-care to align with your activism, consider small acts like getting a dope “Water is Life” poster for your healing space and donating to the #NoDAPL legal defense fund, or take a relaxing bath using a bath bomb from Lush, which is a BDS safe brand. Considering doing something bigger? Spend time having fun with your friends and comrades by throwing a party or potluck that collects donations for your local abortion fund. There are so many ways we can center wellness while fighting for our liberation.

Header photo courtesy of Phoenix Rising Collective.

Quita Tinsley is a fat, Black, queer femme that writes, organizes, and overall is working to build sustainable change in the South. She holds a B.A. in Journalism with a minor in Sociology from Georgia State University, and is currently pursuing an M.A. in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from her alma mater. She is a member on the board of directors of Access Reproductive Care – Southeast, and is a former content creator for the The Body Is Not An Apology. As a femme, feminist, and queer Black woman, it is through her lived experiences and complex identities that Quita has come to believe in the power of storytelling and the validation of lived experiences.

Quita Tinsley is a fat, Black, queer femme that writes, organizes, and overall is working to build sustainable change in the South.

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