Essay: Self-Care in the Age of Social (Media) Justice

by Danielle Moodie-Mills /

I have to admit that for the past week I have been struggling—struggling to find something positive to write about. I’ve spent a considerable amount of my time as of late covering the injustices of the world and you know what? It’s beginning to take its toll on me.

Over the weekend I decided to take a break. I gave myself permission to take a day off from following the news like some hopped-up journalism junkie and do something else—you know, what do they call it? Ah, yes relax.

I sipped tea, read a magazine from cover to cover and disconnected. Then foolishly on day two of “operation unplug” I decided to log into Twitter and see what folks were up to—big mistake, HUGE. The image that came barreling down my feed was that of McKinney, Texas police officer Eric Casebolt, kneeling on the back of young black girl clad in a bikini.

To say that the image felt like a violent visual assault in the midst of my “news diet” would be an understatement. I kept scrolling down my feed and the picture of this young black girl with her head being pushed into the grass by this police officer kept multiplying, as did the size of the knot that was forming in my stomach. All I could think was—no, no, not again. Not another black child becoming a hashtag.

Then, like a glutton for punishment, I started frantically clicking links, which brought me to the 7-minute video. I watched the video much in the same way I watch horror films—with my hands partially covering my eyes. After seeing the video of Eric Garner’s last breaths, I have refused to emotionally scar myself again. I’ve never witnessed anyone dying in real life—and to watch Eric Garner’s life being choked out of him…there is no video I wish I could un-see more.

Related:McKinney Cop Eric Casebolt, Who Pulled Gun on Teens at Pool Party in Texas, Resigns

Thankfully, the worse case scenario didn’t transpire in McKinney, but watching this officer wave his gun at a group of black children attending a pool party like he was playing “cops and robbers” was beyond disturbing. As Damon Young wrote recently, “we can’t teach these black kids not to be black,” so what are we supposed to do?

What made these black children worthy of such treatment—while a white biker gang that was gunning down people in broad daylight, was deemed worthy of the “benefit of the doubt” by police officers despite blood in the streets?

If we don’t occasionally take a break and log off from the mayhem, we will not have the wherewithal to continue fighting for our right to swim, walk to the store, walk down the street, to exist—to be black without provocation.

With each image, video, protest, and hashtag featuring a bruised, beaten and/or lifeless black body—I feel a piece of me breaking apart, my sanity being tested. How much more can we all take before we are driven straight into madness?

It is necessary to our self-preservation as black people that we take time to care for each other and ourselves during these exasperating times.

Let this be your permission slip. It is OK to log off from the pain and suffering for a few hours or entire days and allow your body to reset and recharge. It doesn’t make you a bad person or bad activist or terrible black person if you need a reprieve from the brutalization of our community.

If we don’t occasionally take a break and log off from the mayhem, we will not have the wherewithal to continue fighting for our right to swim, walk to the store, walk down the street, to exist—to be black without provocation.

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