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This Black History Month, Let’s Use Self-Care as an Act of Empowerment

By Aisha Beau Johnson

The choice to celebrate Black History Month is an act of self-love. Our ancestors worked tirelessly to ensure not only freedom, but peace and peace of mind for Blacks across the nation.

Taking care of ourselves and our communities is part of a long history of Black self-sufficiency, one that deserves to be recognized alongside the icons we hear about each February.

Black History and Self-Care
In the early 1970’s the Black Panther Party was at the helm of the self-care movement. Experiencing civil unrest, police brutality, and societal injustice, they knew that Black communities needed relief and care from within the community. Self-care was a means of survival.

They created over 60 Community Survival Programs, which included free breakfast for children and testing centers for conditions that disproportionately affected the Black community.

In 1972, the Panthers held the Community Survival Conference where they shared empowering speeches, blood drives, voter registration, and gave away bags of groceries to families in attendance.

Female Panther leaders Angela Davis and Ericka Huggins began practicing mindfulness exercises, meditation, and yoga in prison. After they got out, they advocated for and taught self-care as a means of self-preservation while navigating unequal, traumatic social conditions. They knew that tending to our bodies and our minds is the best thing we can do to not simply survive but thrive.

This Black History Month, treat yourself and honor those who came before you by beefing up your self-love routine.

To get you started, here are three ways you can incorporate more self-love into your day-to-day:

Recite uplifting affirmations and mantras.
Recite uplifting affirmations each morning before starting your day. This not only makes you feel good in the moment, it also trains your mind to think more optimistically and can boost your self-confidence. To start, thy these:

Set better boundaries.
You may be feeling burned out right now, especially after many months of working at home. Our homes are our sacred spaces and now we open them up more regularly with calls and video conferences throughout the day.

Set proper boundaries and become more transparent about the hours you’re willing to be *on*. It may feel intimidating, but let your colleagues or boss know that you have a hard stop, or suggest picking up a conversation or submitting a project the next morning. Give yourself more time to unwind and recharge.

Prioritize rest.

Black-woman-led organization The Nap Ministry highlights the importance of utilizing rest as a form of resistance, and with good reason. When we pour into ourselves, mentally, physically, and spiritually, we are better equipped to share our gifts with the world.

This month, prioritize incorporating rest into your daily routine. That means true down time….lose the distraction of a phone in the palm of your hand, and instead give yourself the space to breathe. It’s important to give yourself permission to experience more stillness throughout your day or week.

Remember, self-care is your divine right.

Self-care isn’t selfish.


Aisha Beau Johnson is a blogger and speaker specializing in self-care for women of color. She hosts the self-love focused Re-Written Podcast.