In 1961, James Baldwin said: “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious, is to be in a rage almost all the time. So that the first problem is how to control that rage so that it won’t destroy you.” His words still remain true. Finding a way to be okay, even better than okay, while walking through a hostile world is ongoing work when each day reminds us that we live in a cis-hetero-patriarchal, anti-Black world (nod to bell hooks). It’s written into policies and reflected in language, looks, and actions.
Black feminist scholars describe the systems that affirm this racial and social hierarchy as a matrix of domination. Forces of oppression are compounded resulting in a steep cost to those society has othered. Nonetheless, we’re taking this moment to remind our communities, and ourselves, that we can (and must) protect our health–physical, mental, and spiritual.
April is Minority Health Month. So we invite you to be “selfish” and to fill your cup first. Research on thriving and flourishing tells us there are at least six key areas of well-being worth investing in. They include your self, community, sufficiency, pleasure, relief, and purpose.
Kia Darling-Hammond, PhD, is associate director of educational programs at Stanford University’s Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education. She has more than twenty years’ experience as an administrator, researcher, teacher, consultant, and mentor in education and education-adjacent spaces. Kia’s scholarship explores the circumstances and beliefs that make thriving possible for Black LGBTQ+ and same-gender-loving people. Learn more at LinkedIn.
David J. Johns is the executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, the nation’s only civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS. An educator, public intellectual, federal domestic policy expert, and former executive director of the White House Initiative on African American Excellence, David is known for his passion, public policy acumen and fierce advocacy for youth. Follow him on Twitter.