It can be hard work staying happy as a Black woman in America, but well worth the effort. Regardless of any narrative that the world has, it’s important you always stay connected to yours; it’s the blueprint for the goals and aspirations you have. And you won’t accomplish these goals if you’re not resting, choosing good foods, treating your body well, or giving your brain reprieve from the information overload that has become our culture. I’ve narrowed my peace-protecting strategies to three main areas:
First, I ONLY tune into what will nourish me when it comes to entertainment. I allot 5% of my media consumption time to news and world events, but the other 95% is nourishing content. Informational podcasts, motivational TED talks, old Les Brown speeches, or Brene Brown’s Netflix special. The majority of the systems in the United States were not made with Black women in mind, so everyone’s “default” is not always conscious of us and how our point of view might impact our reception of certain content. This is especially relevant in entertainment; one example is the movie Norbit. I know it’s old, but it’s an example I’m sure many can recall or point to due to it having been released 14 years ago. Eddie Murphy cosplays as several different characters in Norbit, similar to how he did in The Nutty Professor, to critical acclaim. And, good for Eddie. It’s his career, not mine. I’m just not a fan of anyone cosplaying as anyone else, especially if it means fewer roles for Black actresses who struggle to find work. I didn’t like it when Zoe Saldana did it for Nina, either.
Next, I maintain a habit of writing down my triggers as I experience them. I can’t always, and sometimes these “notes” end up being on my phone, but I try to record them somehow. Being triggered can mean a lot of things – if it’s jealousy, that probably means I see something someone else has that I want but I don’t have a plan for how to get for myself. Being triggered could also mean I’m encountering behaviors or patterns of narcissism I’ve been burned by before. Getting as clear an answer as I can, while also avoiding similar scenarios (gotta protect my peace and all) so that I don’t have to be triggered unnecessarily, is the goal. Writing down triggers as a mean for tracking them and reflecting on them helps me.
And lastly, I tune out any people who don’t offer support. On the surface, this sounds like I have no tolerance for people who don’t think exactly the same way I do. That’s false. Instead, what I mean is that I only make room for the people who understand it is not okay to cause me harm. It is not okay to speak to me in reckless ways. GTFO with your gaslighting. Narcissists need not apply. I can receive all people in their wholeness, but not if they can’t do it in return, and this is regardless of how many years we’ve been acquainted, or if we share familial DNA.
In short, I maintain my happiness by drawing strict boundaries for myself and how I will interact with the world. If it’s a forum that I know treats Black women and girls recklessly – in image, in print, in the comments – why would I go over there? I’d much rather learn yoga, a new language, or a new dance before I do that. 🤷🏾♀️(583 words)