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Taking Care of Ourselves and Each Other in Hard Times by Deepa Iyer

Deepa Iyer on the effects of the Trump Admininstration's shock-and-awe form of governing, with resources for getting or staying physically and spiritually healthy.

Almost ten months have passed since the inauguration. Are you exhausted?

For many people, the daily barrage of rhetoric and policies that strip us of our basic human rights is taking a toll. Some of us are mentally drained from hearing about the executive orders that criminalize our own communities, and new stories of hate violence every week. Those of us who have been part of racial justice movements throughout our lives are experiencing the direct and indirect trauma of bearing witness, documenting stories, and organizing our people.

Assata Shakur, a Black revolutionary, wrote in her autobiography: “I believe in living. I believe in birth. I believe in the sweat of love and in the fire of truth and I believe that a lost ship, steered by tired, seasick sailors, can still be guided home to port.”

We may be tired and seasick, weary of navigating the frenzied waves that threaten to topple us over. And forcing ourselves to get up each day and do it again, or dismissing our fatigue with flippant references to self-care will not sustain our well-being in the long run. Our resistance cannot survive entirely on grit, determination, and resilience to get us through the onslaught of bans, walls, and raids. We cannot rely on mental health days, vacations, and spa appointments – which are only available to activists with financial resources in the first place - as the solutions to vicarious trauma.

So, how do we practice community care in this moment? How do we supplement our self-care to include practices that connect our pain, fatigue, and traumas with others? How can we create safe spaces to speak about the emotional toll of bearing witness, documenting, storytelling, and organizing? How can we make cultural and institutional changes in our institutions and movements to attend to vicarious and direct trauma?

Here are a few resources to get us started. I’d love to hear your ideas for community care to sustain our movements for the long run.

*In September, on the 16th anniversary of 9/11, I wrote an essay that speaks to the trauma that many activists who have been working on post 9/11 issues carry with us. You can read the essay here, or listen to my podcast on the same topic here.

*Melissa Harris-Perry abandons the notion of self-care in favor of squad care in this piece at Elle

*Healing Curation provides activists and organizations with offerings to sustain their well-being.

*Check out the book, Trauma Stewardship, and the work of the Trauma Stewardship Institute

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