Not long before Martin Luther King Day, local activists in Ferguson had an evening of self-care. The purpose of the event was to replenish them for the work that’s soon to come. It was no coincidence that this occurred so closely to a day honoring one of the most well-known civil rights leaders. This was preparation for the multiple direct actions and conversations occurring across the nation that would be centered on the legacy of Dr. King.
This is yet another layer of how I think about self-care; self-care is indeed “the work”. It is the work to keep pressing. The work of healing. The work of renewal. The work of replenishing hope. The work of restoring energy. The work of preparing for the oncoming warfare. And the work of “Ferguson Self Care” was executed effectively. I’m not just saying this because I planned it. This is based on the feedback of the beneficiaries of the evening.
Thanks to the generous amounts of donations, we were able to implement this event at the perfect location, which was the Regional Arts Commission here in Saint Louis. It’s centrally located which was a great help in keeping the traveling for the entire community even. A lot of people that have been apart of the movement are from various areas in Saint Louis (North County, U. City, Central West End), especially since a lot of the shootings have taken place across the city and at the hands of several different police departments.
Ferguson Self Care successfully encompassed different forms of healing: physical, emotional, and communal. The physical aspect was covered with the yoga class and the free fifteen minutes massages.
We began with a yoga class, lead by Angie Campbell of Thrive Yoga. The purpose of yoga was help people get relaxed and centered. The activists then moved to into fellowship and food because well…what’s an event without food? Which of course was prepared by our own, Mama Cat.
This led to further community building amongst us. This helped us provide emotional support for each other and develop strength as an activist community. It was great seeing everyone interact outside of the context of protesting and council meetings. Fellowship and yoga was a great way to start the evening. It allowed us to end with Behavioral Health Response. Because these activities preceded the group discussion, they served as a great way to get rid of some of the barriers that people may have had. You know the “ I know you but I don’t know you on that level to open up” barriers.
Behavioral Health Response led the group discussion, which was essential to the communal healing aspect. This is a non-profit organization that has been closely connected with the events in Ferguson. They provide mental health services free of charge for those in a crisis here in the Saint Louis area. The goal was to make sure that the activists in the community were comfortable and familiar with who was serving them, which is why having BHR present was vital. In the midst of the group discussion, activists were also offered foot soaks, because after all what’s relaxation if you can’t stick your marching feet in some warm water?
To end the evening, attendees parted with a “self care to go” bag. The bag included handcrafted lavender lotion made by our own Juilette, epsom salt, a notebook and a pen for those who consider writing an act of self care.
Long story short, the evening was a hit! It fills my heart with joy to know that so many people loved it and truly felt restored. The activists loved it and even stated that they look forward to more events like this. I certainly look forward to implementing more for them. Self-care is not just a one event, one time thing; it is a lifestyle, a revolutionary lifestyle. Because after all, this is political warfare.
Written and edited by Angel Carter, May 11th. All rights reserved. No reproduction of this work permitted without authorization. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. © 2015 Angel Carter