Reparations As Self-Care
By: kuwa jasiri Indomela
Burnt out with approaching the noticeably ongoing oppression, especially those microaggressions happening in your community? Me too. I have exulansis-based fatigue.
As Amerikkkans, we have a chronic habit of shielding, and comforting oppressive peoples, and policies from their created atrocities. What many European-Americans fail to realize is that neglecting to call out an –ism keeps the focus on ignorance, and privileged domination instead of how the oppressed one(s) feel in the moment, and how to remedy their generational suffering.
This failure as a colonized society to listen, validate, and show up for marginalized identities is embedded in our story. From the lack of direct response during the call for Government Based Reparations palpable after the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade to repatriation of Indigenous Turtle Islanders, to Marsha P. Johnsons need for police accountability. This normalization to avoid self, and institutional accountability can be witnessed now as a call out culture that mainly puts the onus on marginalized folks to educate the privileged causing harm. Far more than most privileged folks can fathom.
This is how I came to be burnt out from exulansis based fatigue.
A contrast to the grueling labour marginalized folks are forced to endure are methods to bring about the Age of Harmony. We imagine, actively live out, and educate others about Community Based Reparations, a ritual newly added to my self-care practices.
“…we can designate, dictate and deliver change ourselves. Not wait for politicians to grant us our humanity.” –Sumudzi and Anderson, As Black As Resistance
To abolish harmful practices, we must start within ourselves and our social circle. We as a community must hold each other, and our collective spaces accountable for oppressive actions, and behaviours. Part of this long-term process is the Community Based Reparations phase. Community Based Reparations are led by a marginalized person/group. I find most learning happens when the privileged ones come up with some potential Reparations so they can embody what heartfelt showing up through using their privilege to better others is like. All involved in the process agree upon the Reparations, the speed in which they are completed, and live them out together.
Community Based Reparations aide the mental, physical, and emotional wellness of marginalized folks while offering privileged folks space for deep reflection, and to practice how to respectfully, and tangibly support those marginalized in their community. Within this practice privileged folks debrief with their own support network NOT with marginalized folks.
Self-care to me is taking the necessary moments to tend to my wellbeing.
On my desk are MANY lists of things I want to accomplish, or merely need to complete to continue living. Then I have lists of my wildest dreams that rarely receives any attention. In my personal struggle to stay afloat, what gets neglected are the deeper aspects of self that make me thrive, which may also be a symptom of assimilation. Having people complete Community Based Reparations gives me an opportunity to get these deeper needs met quicker. Ever notice how drawn out the process for Government Based Reparations is? A reason many people in the movement experience burn out and lack of self worth.
I personally attempt to focus the Community Based Reparations I receive on cultural activities I long to experience. I get much joy out of this, although having someone do Reparations on my behalf is emotional, and can be draining, especially when they lack occiholism. Finding ways to clearly express my needs to someone that oppressed me can be challenging, with personal rewards beyond my imagination, once communicated.
Currently I am in the midst of three individuals offering me Reparations. I find that fully completing this process with someone/group is necessary before moving on to the next. Recently in my close friend group a rhetoric of, “Does that need Reparation(s)?” is coming up. What a sweet sound. I like that privileged folks are thinking about how our interactions affect me, and realizing that we experience the same situations in VERY different ways.
Keeping the Reparations tangible is necessary to ensure follow through. When holding governing systems accountable Reparations of free and full access to education, a guaranteed minimum livable income, or access to and control of food sources, housing, and land for all descendants of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade is available, and currently being demanded by Black Lives Matter and similar liberation groups. Although these are totally necessary aspects of living they may be more challenging for someone in our social circle to accomplish for us. I ask my community members for Reparations such as helping with my chores, home business, delivering my groceries, paying for my African dance lessons, and a melanated tarot deck. If your social circle has accumulated or generational wealth perhaps Reparations of job opportunities, vacationing, tutoring for your child(ren), and job specific tools are available.
Completing Reparations is done from the depths of ones heart using a full spectrum of resources. Be creative. The journey towards equanimity in a relationship is noticing and aiding the needs AND desires of marginalized peoples, autonomously, and collectively. If you are an acquaintance remember the process of fulfilling reparations makes you an accountable being not automatically a friend.
In this model there are two types of Reparations.
1. Completing 8 Reparations is for someone, or a group in your community that has oppressed you, and you want to build a mutually beneficial relationship towards equanimity through them being accountable for their behaviours, and actions. To a privileged audience this may seem like a lot, to a marginalized audience this will never be enough. The 8 are meant to discourage -isms from happening again, while building skills for privileged folks to live a more genuine lifestyle. I recommend always asking an acquaintance, an organization, the government, or a group for at least 8 Reparations.
2. Fewer Reparations can be agreed upon when the –ism creator is someone who, in a respectful way, shows up for you often, and/or repeatedly during big moments of need, also known as a friend, comrade or accomplice. Even though this person or group is already woven into your life in a way that facilitates your growth, having a moment to recognize their actions, and behaviours with a willingness to do better, tends to wounds caused by oppressive conditioning.
Questions for marginalized folks to ask when considering 1 to 7 Reparations:
-What is the offense the Reparations are in response to?
-How much support/aide do you need in this and upcoming moments??
-How often does this privileged one show up for you??
-What access to resources does this privileged person have?From the answers the marginalized being chooses the amount of reparations to receive. Or so the majik goes.
“Bring [this] into your life so that you can dismantle the racism in the white spaces of your life that People Of Color cannot even reach. People Of Color, talk to your people about race. Examine and confront your internalized racism. Make space to heal and rejuvenate. Take care in your conversations, remember that you are dealing with real hurt of human beings. But be brave in that care, be honest in that care. These conversations will never become easy, but they will become easier. They will never be painless, but the can lessen future pain. They will never be rise free, but the will always be worth it.” – Ijeoma Olus, So You Want To Talk About Race
Thank you for valuing People Of Heritage and the work we do to keep our community in wellness. Donations are matched dollar for dollar and go towards cultural revitalization and spiritual tending.