The Ministry of Black Women's Self-Care:
Setting Free the Suffering Servant
I began this work as a Black Woman in my late 40’s. Single mom for 25 years. Domestic Violence Victim/Survivor. Sexual Assault survivor. An awareness and commitment to the importance of self-care over the past 6 or 7 years has, literally, saved my life.
There is a particular ideology that is taught and touted when self-care is mentioned. While some of the pampered care that is almost automatically considered is valid, I’ve come to understand a few things that have made the concept of self-care more palpable to me:
1) ‘Self’ is a relative term.
2) I have the right to define what ‘self’ is to me.
3) No one methodology is going to work for everyone.
4) Every ‘self’ should have access to care in the ways that are most effective for them.
With each of these factors in mind, a personal history that supports this understanding of both need and an individual definition of self, and a social justice lens that causes me to consider the realities of inequities as it pertains to access, availability and ability, I find it important to think beyond expensive getaways, spa trips, typical support groups, exercise and making space to have ‘alone time’.
In the ways that I engage Black Women, I am mindful of the many truths that we carry and the identity markers we bear that are not our own. I am mindful of the ways we have been defined and the fact that many of us have been so socialized to believe these identities to be our own that we do not challenge them but instead live into them, often to our detriment.
Communities of Black women connected to Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, NC, Union Theological Seminary, Duke Divinity School, Bennett College, Kiwanis Club of Providence Montego Bay (Jamaica, West Indies) and Resource Center for Women in Ministry in the South (RCWMS) have begun this self-care journey. Why not gift a Black woman in your life with the opportunity to participate in the monthly gatherings, hosted by RCWMS? These spaces are unapologetically held by Black women for Black women, centering Black women's voices and are designed based on the needs specified by the community actively engaging the service.
This work, for me, is a work of self-love, communal love, Womanist Ethicism, it is multi-generational, multicultural and is not finite, but is instead as infinite as the beauty in the Blackness that we share. I believe it is possible to unlearn the behaviours that have taught us to be the suffering servant in all things. Through scholarly and interpersonal research, community interaction and reflection I have come up with tangible methods towards this unlearning and towards a hermeneutic of reclamation of Black Women’s humanity, our divinity and our wellness. It is my desire to unpack this life’s work with you!