Black people, I’m not going to demand you reblog a thing. Nobody needs to add the condescending “why doesn’t this have more notes!” thing to anything I write. Nobody needs to add the inaccurate “no one ever discusses this!” to my posts that have 25K+ notes and 500K-1M+ page views over years. Ever. I have zero demands on using Black hypervisibility as some sort of clarion call for endless labor regardless of your mental health status or even interest to do so at any particular moment. Your awareness is not contingent upon others’ arrogance to demand performance of “awareness” (even when other fellow Black people demand such a performance). I’ve had enough.
You do not have to trigger yourself into “proving” you are a real “activist” by hyper-consuming Black death via State violence day after day, especially since it is the most violent myth that said perpetual consumption is necessary for “awareness” of what you are already aware of, no less. You can take a break to value Black life. You can value Black life as radical praxis, actually. You do not have to center non-Black people over your own survival to “prove” your “progressiveness” while tolerating their anti-Blackness and erasure as their “praxis.” You are not their microphones. You do not have to tolerate microaggressive/abusive and violent White allies when you feel safer and healthier being away from them. There is no solidarity/allyship where there is anti-Blackness. I know people on Tumblr/Twitter/Earth think Blackness is in a perpetual state of arrears where our labor and our very bodies as representative of labor/products/services are all we are worth and what we perpetually owe them.
I am truly tired of Black bodies, Black labor and Black hypervisibility being viewed as a resource to be excavated and consumed by non-Black people. If you make a blog that is all goddamn selfies and that is every single post, I am here for it. My blog is different. It has 4200+ posts where 1,200+ of them are long form writing or specifically essays and they’re all personal because oppression is not some “abstract” theory I heard about; period. Because the things that interest me as a person–Black women’s music, art, style, culture–is what the hell I want to write about as well. Perhaps 20 of my posts are of my own image. So? That is my choice. A one-person, personal blog, still. Not a resource to be excavated by plagiarists who rabidly search my archives and think they’re going to plagiarize their way to “liberation” (where “liberation” really means “institutional acceptance/status/money via the exploitation of others”) while consuming Blackness and specifically the scholarship of Black women for their sustenance.
Do you know that the first act of self-care for us as Black people might be recognizing that we deserve to be cared for in the first place? Seen as human? Especially Black women. Because we more than anyone encounter the idea that our only “worth” as people is finite and measured by how much people can use and consume us. And by self-care, I do not mean solely consumption in a capitalistic sense (though that is not non-Black people’s place to critique how you self-care, especially since many of them refuse to examine how anti-Blackness shapes their perception of what is “hyper-consumptive” or “capitalistic,” and how comfortable they are with Black people suffering), but simply realizing that you can say “NO.”
“No, I won’t consume specific images of Black death on a permanent media loop as everyone uses our bodies to further their careers.” Or “no, I won’t co-sign using Black bodies as rhetorical devices to recenter non-Black people.” Or as a Black woman/Black LGBTQIA person, “no, I simply do not want to attend a particular community event this evening about State violence since no one does anything to secure my safety from intraracial street harassment or sexual violence while there.” Or, “no, you cannot use my content to further your career as you slander my actual methods of discourse on social media.”
“No” is radical self-care. Self-care is not selfish.
Anyone who actually values your humanity will respect that you have a right to boundaries and to care for yourself, not just because it makes you more effective at the work you do when you do it (hello; think this would be obvious to the people making demands in the first place), but because you deserve care. Don’t only exist. Live.
Related Posts: “Why Aren’t People Talking About This Anymore?!” - Media Gimmicks and Hypervisibility Or Invisibility, Post-Mortem Media Violence, Black Women, Online Space and Boundaries, Epistemic Violence, Erasure and The Value Of Black Life