I have a very anti-capitalist, sustainable, long term kind of idea about self care and that is: think about holding your privilege as dear to you as the places you are oppression. My oppression as a person of color is where I need to find community: I need to find other people of color. As a queer, genderqueer person, that’s where I need to find queer, genderqueer people to build community with because we can carry each other. Building community with other people with the same marginalization is a huge part of sustainable self-care.
I hold privilege in that I’m a citizen, college educated, and Christian, and that is where I show up for people. That's how you will get out of a pity place, martyrdom, and out of a place of hopelessness. Your privilege is your power to make things better. I’m a cultural Christian, I’m college educated, and a citizen, so that means I show up for undocumented people. I listen and try to get them support, I organize and show up for people. When it comes to being Christian, when I hear anti-Muslim things around me, I step up and say, "That’s not cool. Lets talk about it", because it won’t impact me in the same way it would impact someone who is Muslim. As a college educated person, I can share what I learn with people, not as I’m better than you but share it as, this is what has helped me. This privilege is minute compared to some middle class, white, able-bodied. It still is something, I can do something for somebody else.
Being really honest with people, when something doesn’t feel right, I tell them. I’ve been dating people again and that really great to be able to say, this doesn’t feel right, I need to step out of it. Rather then falling into a relationship, being too afraid to hurt the other people’s feelings. So that, has been sustainable, because I do believe that taking baths, getting my nails done, I mean I wear eyeliner, so when I feel down, I’m like maybe I’ll buy some purple eyeliner. But not just thinking individualistically, in the capitalistic society, self-care is taking care of yourself, individually. You are an individual you only take care of yourself. I have a different world view, I was not born in the States and because of that I’ve gotten to really critique this individualistic view of self care, what about showing up for other people, how is that not self care? It can be seen in many different ways, Mia Mingus talks about people with disability showing up for others in the way that they can. Those who are physically disabled can be there and show up for people emotionally and those with mental health issues can show up for someone in a wheelchair. Maybe gets them around an issue on the sidewalk or call ahead of a restaurant to see if there is wheelchair accessibility. And these are the things we can do for each other. I’ve had this conversation before to include ableism into everything I do, and I think that mental health anxiety and addiction are apart of disability because I have to ask for specific access needs.
Now that I’ve been sober, my goal is not to drink or use drugs. While I’ve been sober, I’ve heard all kinds of theories about addiction and one of the most resonant theories is that it is a bond deficiency. So if you build significant bonds, you can drink and use normally, but if I think about it, what does that mean? If I believe that it is no mistake that so many family members are drug addicts and alcoholics, and as an indigenous person that it is a form of genocide and that I don’t want to participate. In Mexico, drug wars, people are dying over this shit, in inner city people are dying over this shit, I don’t want to participate in that. Why is it that all the liquor stores are in neighborhoods where black and brown people live, it’s no mistake. I think it’s a real form of trying to get people who the country already doesn’t care about, into prisons, I believe it’s all very connected. So I refuse to be apart of that, so I live a sober life. I’ve been getting tattooed as part of my self care. As an urban Indian, I’ve had to relearn parts of my culture along the way and reconnecting to my culture, and white people can do this too, connect to your culture. That’s real, in the U.S. theres this idea if you’re white, you have no history, thats why white people when you talk about slavery, they’re like get over it, it was 400 years ago, and if you’re saying that, it’s because it didn’t effect you. Epigenetics is a real thing, like we inherit trauma, your momma’s trauma is your trauma. If your family survived genocide, rape, and had to escape to the mountains, these are my people by the way, they had to convert to Catholicism, for fear of death, and then they come to the states where they are being treated the same way as when they were being colonized. I have had 500 years of traumatic genocide that I’ve inherited as a person of color, an indigenous person of color, so no, don’t tell people to forget about their history, learn about your history, and if your family members had slaves, own it, and if you have money from it, give it to others who don’t. In April I did work with the trans-justice funding project and that was started by a white woman who inherited money from her family and if was from slave money. It was old money, old money is slave money, just to be clear. And she was going to give it back to the people most affected. So she started an organization to give it back to black, trans youth. And that I believe is self care, community care and that is showing up and being real. And I think that is anti-capitalist, social justice based self care. And everything else, is do things for yourself, say no when you want to, I still take baths and go to the spa and i get sweeties, and I still do these things that are individualistic, but I never ever let go of the community.
And that is sometimes missing in conversations about self care, In a real white centered community, it happens in Seattle all the time, they want to leave the conversation because its getting uncomfortable, if it’s uncomfortable, thats where you need to take care of yourself, can you imagine, if you’re a white person and you hear about race for the first time and you’re uncomfortable, imagine living that way. You can’t escape being a person of color. That’s why working on white fragility is such an important piece for white people. And part of my work is telling them that they have privilege and that they should work on it, working on it means actually doing something about it, and saying I’m sorry and not melting when people tell you you’re racist or you did something hurtful. Also don’t say you’re an ally, see that as an action, the moment you see yourself as an ally, you think you cannot make a mistake and as soon as you do you leave the movement and leave the people. I make a lot of mistakes, I’m also not black so I need to work on anti-blackness. I need to show up for black lives matter I have a lot of friends who do the work with me, we talk about anti-blackness, I have black friends, I ask them, what does it mean to you, how can I show up for you. If I need to go to an event with you and something happens how do you want me to support you. If I go out with somebody that’s black and they’re getting weird looks and I say stop looking at my friendsI want to know if they think that t’s going to be condescending, or if they think that’s supportive, because every situation is different. And thats why we have the relationships to understand the nuances, because relationships, they’re apart of self care. Building those relationships that keep you accountable to your values, my values are to equity and justice based and so my self care will be too and my community care will be too.