Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Black Women and Wellness

I am reading Bell Hook's "Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self-Recovery." Anyone who knows me well knows that I am in recovery.

I am in recovery from growing up in a broken environment. I am in recovery from an eating disorder. I am in recovery from mental ailments. I consider myself in recovery.

Writing those sentences made me think of Geneen Roth's book "Women, Food, and God." She talks about this obsession with fixing one's self. Whenever I speak about recovery I have to remind myself that recovery is different from fixing. I need to make a space between those two.

Black women and recovery. Black women and self-recovery. Black women and wellness. Black Women, Food and God. I should write a book of the latter. It is so hard to talk about Black women and recovery. This is because by nature I want the answers. I want all the anwsers to all the questions that pertain to helping my sisters. I need to be able to heal my sisters. Me too! I need to heal me too but I would like to heal my sisters from the shit we go through. There is a very important statement in "Sisters of the Yam":

"Living as we do in a white supremacist capitalistic patriarchal context that can best exploit us when we lack a firm grounding in self and identity (knowledge of who we are and where we have come from), choosing "wellness" is an act of political resistance."

When I read this the other day it sat with me. It sat with me in a positive and a negative way. I felt like there was a connection and that someone finally understood but I also felt saddened that my desire to be self-actualized is a political statement. Getting well is so complicated by itself.

Because of my Blackness, everything I do is political. I am a Black, Bisexual Woman who grew up in poverty. Every move I make is political; an example, a story, etc. I wish it weren't. Maybe my wellness would come sooner if their wasn't so much that went with it.

I wonder when I will be well. I wish every sister I ever encounter and do not encounter wellness. I wish everyone wellness as a matter of fact. I will die if I do not become well. I may be physically living (or not) but I will be dead honey. Dead.

1 comment:

Black and (a)Broad said...

I hear you, sister. I also identify as a feminist, and I'm also abroad. My feminism has been informed by my travels and, more significantly, as a black woman. It has evolved into my mantra: defining myself in my own terms and on my own terms. I'm also from a broken home (as are too many black women) and grew up with mental illness - my mother's, not my own - and I thought those things defined me. So, I also went on a journey through self-recovery, which is indeed more empowering than fixing oneself. I felt compelled to recount my journey in my memoir "black and (A)broad: traveling beyond the limitations of identity", which will be released September 1, 2010, to inspire other black women, like you, to embark on their own journey. We need to do this for ourselves. If you get the chance, read my book. I'd love to discuss any similarities in our experiences. If you're thinking about writing a book about the intersection of black femaleness, food and God, I can only say, please, do it. Quickly! My website is