I come from a long line of survivors.
Folks who, no matter what, always ended up alright. They may come out with battle scars, may come out with more lost than they gained but they came out. They shared their stories with those who came after them in hopes that their stories could inspire their descendants to fight a little harder, come out on the other side of the struggle a little better.
With such a long line of strong people before me, I’ve always felt it was my duty to make it through. To push aside whatever discomfort or weariness I had in order to make it through any situation. The goal was always to get through—no matter how bad the rejection or the anxiety or the micro-aggression—you have to get to the end even if you just wanted to do this:
It’s not until recently, almost ten years post-storm and all of no months since the latest slaying of one black person or another, I’ve become okay with checking out of a situation for my own well being. For so long I believed it was selfish to log off or turn off the tv because I could no longer consume the images and news of another Black person being gunned down.
In the weeks following Mike Brown’s assassination, I stayed glued to my phone. I stayed up at night keeping up with various activists’ struggles as they protested in our slain brother’s name. I retweeted every link I believed relevant and stayed glued to Twitter in order to make sure I was up to date on the latest event. I was so dedicated that I sacrificed sleep, peace of mind, and my overall wellness so that I could keep up with all the details of what was happening in St. Louis (which was fine for the short term). It would’ve worked out fantastic if I was simultaneously providing myself healthy outlets for the guaranteed anxiety and depression that followed being so involved in such a tragedy, even if from afar.
As a person who is not used to being drained by external forces, I didn’t recognize that I should’ve recharged. I should’ve taken more time to check my feelings about the onslaught of slayings of black youth that came to the public eye in August 2014. It was only after I was completely unable to complete one of the simplest of writing tasks for The ViP and had to legit just tell my coworkers something to the effect of “I don’t know what’s going on but I want to cry and I need to just leave for a couple of days and I’ll let you know when I can talk to folks again” that I realized all those months of staying glued to my phone screen and being so inundated with the Black Lives Matter Movement had become a burden.
It was also that moment that taught me it was okay to check out.
Every thing that is presented to us we take in. It weighs on us even if we don’t realize it. Since the start of 2015 I’ve been keeping up with social justice happenings at a distance. I check in just long enough to get an idea of what is going on outchea in these streets and then dip out because a worn out, tired, drained, damn-near-dead revolutionary is of no use to anyone.
This ducking for your well being shouldn’t only apply to the social justice arena. I’ve expanded it to most facets of my life, both professional and personal. So yeah when that one guy who every time you cross paths has a lecture on ‘why the youth aren’t getting justice cause they too busy bending it over for the 99 and the 2000’ decides he wants to stop by your office and have a conversation it’s completely okay go hit him with the ‘not on this particular morning Satan’ and carry on about your day.
Go on head try it out, bet you’ll feel better.
I’m not going to lie to you, it’s going to be hard at first. So often we are expected to be polite and make everyone around us feel welcome and comfortable but what’s the victory in every one around you cool maxing and relaxing while you over here drinking the pain away, or slain at the altar every Sunday because you always tired and stressed, or you stay side eyeing and resenting your friends and loved ones because they never stop to ask ‘are you ok, sis?’ People will take from you as much as you allow them to, many times without even consciously realizing it, but it’s up to you to set up boundaries and hit folks with the ‘oh okay girl, I’ll get back with you tomorrow…or the day after that…or never. K, bye.”
Plus there’s always my favorite retort: NO.
No explanation. No background story. Nothing. Just a simple “no” (or “nah” if you feeling extra hip and cool on this particular day).
“Bri, you wanna sit through this Youtube video that I know for a fact you’re going to find problematic and overall hate but I like making others miserable so I want you to suffer through it with me even though I’ve already watched 17.6 times?”
And so on and so forth.
You can’t control what goes in the world. You can’t even control how people respond to you. What you can control is how you protect and care for yourself even when it’s not polite or popular to do so. The greatest gift you can give to the world is your most woke, most enlightened, most good-vibing self you can possibly be. There is a time and a place for being strong and hunkering down but that time doesn’t have to be all the time. Trust and believe the same people draining you and weighing on you with all their burdens and stress will have absolutely no problem going ghost when they get weary…just sayin’.That’s all I got my youts. Let me know some of your fave ways to keep the peace when every thing around you is going haywire.
Love and peace and such,
Bri a.k.a. Brini Weenie b.k.a. Black Mamba
“Now then, why are you trying to test God? You test him when you put a heavy load on the believers’ shoulders. Our people of long ago couldn’t carry that load. We can’t either.”-Acts 15:10