It is clear that the cultures of Black, Brown, and Indigenous peoples are incredibly significant because of how much white people fear them.Throughout history, cultural traditions have been used to mobilize groups of Black and Brown people together against a common threat—white supremacy. People of color have survived centuries of endless white violence and, at many turns, have used the power and reverence for our many cultures as a means to fight back. It is crucial that we preserve our cultural roots as much as we can, especially in these times when white supremacy and nationalism are so blatantly on display. White supremacists and nationalists have historically used the concept of “culture wars” to demonize people of color and paint themselves as victims, usually of some form of the white genocide mythos. Racists and xenophobes yelling at people of color for not speaking English, even threatening to call ICE, is one of the many hills they choose to die on. Their fear of other cultures—languages, traditions, religions, ethnicities, ideologies—is apparent in their actions, on both small and large scales. During the build-up to the 2016 presidential election, National Review’s Reihan Salam described culture wars as the “fight over the future of American national identity in the face of rapid and accelerating demographic change.” Culture wars are, more or less, a seemingly endless contention over who can and who cannot be considered a “True American,” with white, cis straight, conservative, Christians being the ones with the most ability to lay claim to this title and, therefore, also the ones with the ability to determine who else has access to rights in America. “In almost every case, these culture wars have been conservative projects, instigated and waged by people anxious about the loss of old orders and the emergence of new ones. Their anxiety finds expression first as a complaint about a particular policy, and second as a broader lament about how far the nation has fallen from its founding glory and how desperately we need to restore whatever is passing away.” —Stephen Prothero, Washington Post It is clear that the cultures of Black, Brown, and Indigenous peoples are incredibly significant because of how much white people fear them. Therefore, we cannot forget how our ancestors have used their various cultures as weapons against white supremacy, as tools to work towards their own liberation, and as mechanisms to cope in their positions as marginalized peoples. We cannot forget how the many children of the African Diaspora have used cultural traditions to combat and subvert white supremacist violences as they waded in the devastation of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Bois Caïman is where the seed that would grow into the 18th century Haitian Revolution and slave insurrection was planted. At this site, the organized resistance began to take form when a traditional Vodou ceremony was performed. Vodou is a religion and philosophy with deep cultural roots and significant meaning that was birthed in Haiti (once called Saint-Domingue) when an amalgam of religious beliefs were carried to the island with the ships harboring people stolen from Africa. During this time, Haiti was under French colonial rule. The island was rich in sugar, coffee, and indigo, which the enslaved were forced to harvest and maintain. Their revolution was a fight against the harsh labor, as well as the dehumanization and incremental genocide at the hands of the French colonists.
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Self-care that fails to address the full dimension of individual healing simply isn't enough.Self-care honestly gets a bad rep. There is a time for action and a time for rest, and our bodies and spirits need the balance of both to work their best. And while there's a space for self-care that incorporates face masks and bubble baths, the issue becomes apparent when self-care is only centered on addressing our appearances, rather than what truly plagues us below the surface. With self-care becoming more widely known, it's important that we understand the necessity of incorporating self-care that dives beyond the surface. Self-care that fails to address the full dimension of individual healing simply isn't enough. We know that self-care is important because, like other living things, we need to take care of ourselves before we can care for others. Marginalized people especially tire ourselves out, each day, by overextending ourselves out of necessity and survival. Running on fumes is normalized. And when so many of us commit the invaluable parts of ourselves to causes that go bigger than ourselves, we have to learn how to better prioritize our revitalization. But self-care as we know it seems to be misdirected. Its purpose doesn't come from simply feeling better at the moment, but in helping to normalize self-healing. Self-care is an important tool that teaches us what long-term self-focused healing can look like, but exactly what does that mean?
As Women's History Month rolls by, focus on our past, present and future. We have a lot to get done, but we are ready.We're creeping closer towards the end of winter and with it we say goodbye to Black History Month and a multitude of culturally enriching achievements — Ryan Coogler's "Black Panther", Janelle Monáe's release of two visual singles from her new album, "Dirty Computer", as well as the unveiling of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama's portraits by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, just to name a few — and we welcome Women's History Month to celebrate not only women's past achievements and our ancestors, but our futures as well. Needless to say, the past year has been tumultuous and we continue to grapple with the death rattle of oppressive forces. Patriarchy, white supremacy and other insidious forms of hatred are lashing out at us as we continue to push back and harness our energies to love and support each other as marginalized peoples. February was a time of self-reflection, internalization and laying the groundwork for manifesting our hopes and dreams — the past 28 days have been confusing, devastating and maddening but our resilience, anger and softness binds us together. This month we focus on our power, our power as women, non-binary and trans folks who are creating safer, stronger pathways for ourselves and our futures. Many of us here at Wear Your Voice are practicing witches, we use the energy of our ancestors and the earth itself to protect and nourish ourselves. Our self-care and ability to find ourselves in the midst of chaos has been essential since the beginning of humanity and it will continue to be that way.
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Our grandmothers have been using these earth medicines in this dual-task way since the earth first sprouted them. We pay homage to our ancestors. We recognize and give thanks to the ancestors whose names we know and those we don’t. We