What Is Self-Care: Reclaiming My Black Girlhood

Written by
Aliyah Young

Self-care is radical in today’s world, especially for black women and girls. Many black women and girls do not have the opportunity to adequately take care of themselves. The archetype of the strong, independent black women is beautiful and worthy of praise, but it is one of the only positive models for black women and girls to look up to or embody, which leaves little to no room for vulnerability or growth.

 
This is my altar; my personal monument. Brujéria is my way of connecting with my ancestors and my people’s culture. This is my healing space. This is where I decolonize myself and become the woman I aspire to be. Take this as a sign to take care of you first, however that may look like. I implore you to take time for you, you deserve it! (Photo courtesy of the author)

This is my altar; my personal monument. Brujéria is my way of connecting with my ancestors and my people’s culture. This is my healing space. This is where I decolonize myself and become the woman I aspire to be. Take this as a sign to take care of you first, however that may look like. I implore you to take time for you, you deserve it! (Photo courtesy of the author)

 

As activists, our jobs are incredibly taxing; we tell the untold stories and fight the arduous battles so others don’t have to. As a Black girl artist-activist, a Girl/Friend, and a Monument Lab Fellow, I am working to call attention to Rekia Boyd and all of the other missing and murdered black women and girls from Chicago. Rekia Boyd was a young black woman who was murdered by an off duty police officer at Douglas Park in Chicago. During the summer of 2018, in remembrance of Rekia Boyd and all of the other missing and murdered black girls in Chicago, we hosted “The Visibility Project: Black Girls Takeover Douglas Park.” We created a space for Rekia to transform Douglas Park into a safe haven and a space for healing using an altar, public art, song, and dance. As black girls, our very existence is radical and profound. Black girls in Chicago taking over that park with our bodies and our art shifted the dynamic and created a temporary monument for the entire neighborhood to enjoy and to heal. We were reclaiming the space and providing healing for ourselves and the community. This work and this event, in particular, have taught me that self-care is not a luxury, but a right. It is more than face masks and bath bombs, it is the ability to mend oneself and to grow. Activism is selflessness bound within one’s own trauma and life experience.

We need to have love, compassion, and empathy for ourselves. We need to nurture and care for ourselves. We deserve to care for ourselves. The relationship we have with ourselves is one of the most important relationships we will ever have. We have to love ourselves first, take care of ourselves first, and fight for ourselves first.


Monument Lab Youth Fellow

Aliyah Young is an early high school graduate from Oak Park River Forest and is currently working toward a B.A. in Anthropology and Africana Studies at DePaul University in Chicago, IL. Aliyah is a spiritual leader, and has led a MeToo youth convening with her peers to discuss and strategize ways to center Black girls in the MeToo Movement in the city of Chicago.