Committing to self-love whispered quietly in your mind is all you need to ground yourself in the work.Self-love is a term that's honestly gotten a bad rep. Maybe it's from buzzing around social media for so long without committing to the work of unpacking what it really means, but there's a lot of confusion on the role that self-love plays in our lives. It's more than a fun buzzword — it's the starting point for all of the love that we feel and connect with others in our lives. It all begins with self-love. So what exactly is self-love? At its simplest terms, self-love is, well, love that you have for yourself. But where most people go awry with this is seeing self-love as a destination that they need to reach. Creating conditionals for yourself — if I lose weight or finish this class or change whatever it is about myself that is holding me back — isn't the way to build a strong self-love. The love that we all desire and crave already exists in ourselves, no conditions necessary. As corny as it may sound, the following is the trust statement we could learn about self-love: self-love isn't a destination, it's a journey that we embark on, and every day we make the choice to take another step. Even in romantic relationships, making time to center self-love is important. Too often we can lose ourselves, our identities, the core of who we are in exchange for how good it feels to be part of a partnership. But who does it serve if we create a hierarchy of importance between our identities as self-loving individuals and loving romantic partners? Both are important. If we want to incorporate more love into our relationships, no matter what form they take, we have to start with a strong foundation of self-love. There's no other way around it.
When we invest in each other, we invest in our collective futures to rise above the oppressive systems that affect all of us. We’ve all heard of the Mark Zuckerbergs and Steve Jobs of the world — but both groundbreaking founders
What happened to Chikesia Clemons shows how dangerous it is to be a Black woman doing anything at all.I haven’t watched the video of two white police officers assaulting 25-year-old Chikesia Clemons at a Waffle House in Alabama; part of my self-care practice is not subjecting myself to images of violence against people who look like me. Let white people who don’t believe in institutional racism watch it and get an education—I don’t need to see it to know it happened. However, the video illustrates the misogynoir that exists in the country and how dangerous it really is to be a Black woman doing anything at all. When Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks, the outrage was immediate, and the company announced that they would be closing on 29 May for a company-wide racial bias training. When video emerged of Clemons’ attack, Waffle House said they agreed with the police action taken, and that was that. Even with video depicting the violence that she endured, the reaction elicited a pathetic “meh.” There was no justice. No immediate interviews. Just a video of a Black woman being brutalized and circled around the internet for the voyeuristic pleasure of others who consume the brutalization of Black bodies and the abuse of Black women. This is common history though. The bodies and lives of Black women have always been something that was considered up for consumption by any and everyone. From Sarah Baartman, the so-called “Hottentot Venus”, to Aunt Jemima smiling back from boxes of pancake mix, the pain and service of Black female bodies is expected and goes without comment. In the culture of white supremacy, we are seen, automatically, as unruly. We are not women in the same sense that white women are seen as women. We are seen, perhaps better explained, as female, a sexual object at times but more so as a receptacle of white supremacist culture’s fetishes. We exist to receive and serve so when we step outside of that role, as Clemons did, as Sandra Bland, Korryn Gaines, and Amia Tyae Berryman did, we are brutalized, we are killed. And the problem isn’t just police officers, it’s the society we live in.
White feminists identify so strongly with The Handmaid’s Tale because it is a show about white women in slavery.[CW/TW: This essay contains extensive discussion of reproductive violence and some mention of sexual violence.] Reproductive rights is a subject that is central to the politics of white feminism because it is the second most prominent fight that it has historically engaged with, the first being voting rights for white women. It has always been understood as advocacy for the right to birth control and access to safe, legal abortion options as part of one’s ability to plan pregnancies and families on one’s own terms. In short, for able-bodied and able-minded white people, it has been primarily about the right to not be pregnant. Considering the historical context of eugenics, scientific racism, and certain state-sanctioned violences, reproductive justice for non-whites would largely be quite the opposite. For many, it would instead be the ability to bear and nurture one’s own children without government interference or barriers created through white supremacy and systemic oppression. In the dominant social conversation about reproductive rights, issues specific to people of color are often omitted or simply glanced over. This is why the term Reproductive justice was coined by a group of Black women in 1994, to specifically address the needs and concerns of people of color that are routinely left out of the conversation. The Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective known as SisterSong defines reproductive justice as “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.” Black women and other people of color creating our own terminology is so necessary because white feminism has a reputation for ignoring oppressions until cis white women become affected by them, and reproductive violences are no exception. The popularity of and discourse surrounding The Handmaid’s Tale is indicative of this neglect. Based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel, the series and its subject matter resonate with those who work to combat rape culture and support bodily, sexual, and reproductive autonomy. The systematic sexual and reproductive violences on the show terrify those who view the story as a future dystopian (im)possibility for whiteness, when it is in fact a historical ghost for Black people who were enslaved. Distinguished by their red robes and white bonnets, Handmaids are forced into slavery, repeatedly violated, impregnated, and made to give birth to children that are immediately taken to serve the interests of others. Essentially, The Handmaid’s Tale depicts cis white women stripped of the ability to bear and nurture one’s own children without government interference or barriers created through white supremacy and systemic oppression. This is a position that they have never seen themselves depicted in, and it terrifies them.