S2:E3- Wear Your Bonnet Grease Your Scalp
COMBING THE ROOTS PODCAST
By Ally Henny
Wear Your Bonnet! Grease Your Scalp!
Season 2, Episode 3
March 19, 2020
HENNY: This is Ally Henny and you’re listening to “Combing the Roots,” powered by The Witness – A Black Christian Collective. On this episode, I’m going to be talking about self-care. Stay tuned!
HENNY: Heyyyyyy! So on this episode, I’m talking about self-care. Self-care – that phrase – has gotten such a bad rap as of late. It was one of those things that – this cycle always happens in culture – where there’s a concept or idea. Most of the time, it has been around for a long time, and there’s like a segment, a specialized area or something of society where people might use a phrase, or might hold a certain concept or belief or idea, something like that. And then it kind of becomes mainstream. And so whenever it becomes mainstream, everybody’s like, “Oh, hey, it’s the Thing! Look at the Thing! Let’s talk about the Thing! Let’s have the Thing!” And then after it becomes a thing for a while, and after a certain segment of society gets ahold of it, and they start to really really dig into it, and – as my mom would call it – they start to wear it out, they start to wear whatever it is out. And so then there’s like this backlash against it, where people are like, “Oh my gosh, the Thing! No, we hate the Thing! I can’t believe y’all want to do the Thing.” And then people start writing think pieces and stuff. Like the super Black Millennial thing to do with this is to be, “OK, I’m going to write a think piece on why we shouldn’t think this way, why we should actually be doing this other thing.” And we’ve got to be all extra and whatever about it.
So self-care has become one of those things. So there’s a lot of like debate about what self-care is and isn’t. There are a lot of people who are like, “Oh, self-care, I hate that concept.” But the thing is that people have been taking care of themselves. That’s literally what self-care is: taking care of yourself. People have been doing that since, like, we’ve been here. Because it’s really hard for society to sustain itself if people aren’t taking care of themselves. Like, I mean, that’s just kind of basic life. Like, you do things to take care of yourself. But self-care, of course, is beyond taking care of yourself, just your basic needs. But sometimes, even for some people, you might deal with certain mental health concerns, and so taking care of yourself just at what most people would construe as like a basic level; for some people, that thing that might be basic for you, is like life-giving and critical for somebody else. Like they’re really, you know, surmounting like an obstacle, to be able to do that thing. And so whenever they do that thing, it’s self-care, to be able to do that.
And so self-care, like I said, I think it’s kind of gotten a bad rap, but it’s literally something that we’ve been doing for a really long time. I think where it gets the bad rap is that self-care – often people will use it to describe things that maybe for the majority of people aren’t self-care. And so it’s like, OK, you’re saying that you’re doing this as an act of self-care, but it’s really not. Because self-care – and I guess I should maybe unpack this concept a little bit for people, maybe, who aren’t really hip to what I’m talking about.
The concept of self-care, more or less, is taking care of yourself in a way that is different than your normal routine. Like, it’s outside of your normal routine. It’s something that, it might be above or beyond in measure, than what you would normally do for yourself. So, like, just for an example – and I’ll get into some other kinds of examples later in the show – but one example, for me, of self-care is detangling my hair. I have an afro – like I wear my hair in a wash-and-go on most days. And then my second kind of style is to put on a head wrap or whatever. Sometimes I’m wrapping my whole entire head; and sometimes I’m just doing like a band, just across my head or whatever. That’s kind of my second most-common style. And then the other style that I’ll do – I haven’t done it in a while – is kind of putting my hair up in like a puff or whatever, kind of doing like a puff; I guess like a “chunky afro” is what some people would call it, the kind of style I’ll do or whatever. But that’s kind of just what I tend to do with my hair. So because I wear my hair out a lot, I’m actually like super prone to tangles, and super prone to like, sometimes my hair tries to lock up on me. And it’s just a whole entire thing. I don’t always wear my bonnet. So I’m out here giving advice to people that I don’t even do myself. But it’s like I don’t even wear my bonnet, half of the time.
So detangling my hair is like a thing. And it’s not – my hair’s not to where it’s just – sometimes it does get to where it’s super tangled, where – I might go through a season where it’s like “I don’t have time for anything.” Like, I’m barely taking care of myself at the basic level. So detangling, for me at least, is extra. I’ve tried to work detangling into my regular wash-and-condition routine. There’s probably people who are hair stylists who are listening to me, who are like, “Oh my gosh, what are you doing? Oh my goodness, no, don’t tell me this!” – and I guess you could just plug your ears. They’re probably turning it off now, like, “Oh my gosh, no, girl, she don’t take care of her hair. I can’t listen to this show anymore.” But anyway. So I know that my hair care practices are whack. I try to use good products, but I know that my hair care practices are whack. Please don’t follow my example of hair care, because I know that it’s awful.
But anyway. I don’t detangle as often as I should, and I don’t trim my hair as often as I should. And it’s something that I’m trying to rectify. But right now, that falls into the realm of self-care for me, because it’s above and beyond what I normally do.
And so I think that there is even like this unique expression of self-care that Black people have to engage in. And that’s actually why I titled this episode the way that I did, “Wear Your Bonnet! Grease Your Scalp!” Maybe if you’re a guy, it’s like, “Wear Your Do-Rag, Grease Your Scalp”? I don’t know if it’s like, “Wear Your Do-Rag, Brush” – you know what, I’m not into wave culture at all. Now, I like to see some waves. Don’t get me wrong. Like, some people get it, and it’s like, “Oh, you’ve got some waves, OK! I see you!” – but I’m not really, like, into that culture at all. I don’t really understand it fully. Like, one of my cousins was super into waves for a while, and he would just like sit around, and he would just brush his hair. And I’m like – he’d get water on his hair, he’d get some grease, and put some grease – and I’m just like, “Why? Why are you doing this? I don’t understand.” And so I tend to make fun of people who are involved in wave culture. That’s what I tend to do. But even though I make fun of it, you guys really do some awesome – y’all really do some awesome stuff with your hair. And it’s whatever. But anyway, I’m not sure what the male equivalent of “Wear Your Bonnet! Grease Your Scalp!” is.
And I guess I should say something about “greasing your scalp,” too. Because no, I don’t use grease. So don’t like write in to me and be like, “Ally, are you using grease on your hair?! You still using grease on your hair?” No, I don’t use grease on my hair. I haven’t used grease on my hair since like 2005, probably. I feel like it’s been since 2005. So no, I don’t use grease; I haven’t used grease on my hair in a really long time. Yes, I do moisturize my hair, I do moisturize my scalp, but I just don’t use grease to do it. I’ve been using the oils and the butters for a really long time. I’ve been using the oils and the butters while some of y’all were still using Blue Magic. So I’m kind of a little bit of a snob about that. But anyway, I was talking about greasing your scalp. It’s a figurative “greasing your scalp.” Now, I’m not going to shame you. If Blue Magic works for you, then do you. If Ultra Sheen works for you, do you. Whatever your brand of – if you still use grease on your hair, because I feel like that’s a thing, with the natural hair revolution – I feel like one of the things that we have let go has been grease. So like we let go of the relaxers, we let go of Dark & Lovely, or for me it was African Pride; African Pride was my brand of relaxer. But as we let go of African Pride, or Dark & Lovely, or – see, I can’t even tell you; those are the two brands that I feel like were available at the store, the whitewashed Walmart that I went to. Oh, Hawaiian Silk! How could I forget that? I think it was Hawaiian Silk, it was called, because that one had a unique smell to it. I can’t remember some of these other brands. And I guess if you’re still out here on the Jheri Curl train, you know what? I ain’t mad at you. If you still out here getting a Jheri Curl, you still out here going, and you rockin’ the Care Free Curl or the S Curl, or whatever it is – Hawaiian Silk might actually be – see, I’m going to go ahead and tell on myself real quick.
So I had a Jheri Curl, and I had a Jheri Curl for a really long time. Because that was my mother’s preferred style. And I used to be one of “Jheri’s Kids” – not Jerry like as in Jerry Lewis’ kids; I used to be one of Jheri’s Kids as in having a Jheri Curl. But anyway, that is like a super digression. That’s a super rabbit trail. Maybe I’ll have to talk about how I was one of Jheri’s Kids, because it was actually like a thing for me. But maybe you are still out here with a Jheri Curl. And no judgment, no shame; no shame whatsoever. And maybe the equivalent is using activator.
But my whole point here is that sometimes taking care of your hair is a self-care practice. So that was maybe Number 1. But Number 2 is that we have a unique way of taking care of ourselves, as Black people. We have unique things; and it’s not just related to our skin and our hair type. Y’all know this. But just even being Black people in America, we have certain things that we have to think about. And we have to – if we aren’t careful, we can end up in patterns and cycles of thought and behavior that can be destructive, can be self-destructive. If we’re not careful, we can end up sort of like taking things into ourselves, taking things into our spirit, into our soul, into our presence. We can end up taking things into ourselves and taking things onto ourselves that are actually destructive.
And so self-care, in a lot of ways, can be an act of resistance. Self-care, in a lot of ways – in a society that tells us that we’re not worth anything – to actually say, “Hold up, I’m going to care for myself, and I’m going to do so in a way that I’m really taking a sense of intentionality to do so” – whenever society is kind of hurling all these things and all these ideas at you, it is actually an act of resistance. It’s activism, to do that.
So in the next segment I want to talk about this idea of self-care in the Black community, just a little bit more. See you.
HENNY: In the last segment I mentioned that self-care was a form of resistance. And I also talked about how Black people have a unique kind of brand of self-care, I guess, that we can/do/should – it’s all of it. But we have this unique brand of self-care that we engage in. And so in this segment I want to talk about that just a little bit more.
So, self-care – like I said in the last segment – I think that it is a concept that I would agree has been co-opted by mainstream culture. And so things that typically aren’t self-care for most people, sort of have become like this, “Oh, I’m going to practice self-care, bye.” And it’s like, well, no, you’re not, maybe, really practicing self-care, unless this is something that is unique for you, that is like a big deal, to be – like, for some people, I know that people who struggle with depression, that sometimes even like getting out of bed and taking a shower can be like a big milestone for them. Where, for a lot of people who don’t deal with that particular mental illness, getting up and taking a shower in the morning really isn’t a thing. Like, you do it; or, I guess, if you’re an evening shower person, you shower, and you do it when you want to do it; you do it whenever you’re able to do it. And it’s really not like this thing that is like, “Oh, wow, let me boost myself up because I took a shower.” But for some people who, their life circumstances makes that a thing, where taking a shower is a milestone for them, it’s a big deal and we should definitely applaud that. But a lot of times people take things that like really are just, no, you’re just doing something, like you’re just having fun, or you’re just taking time out for yourself – that’s not really self-care. Sometimes the concept can be kind of skewed, so it’s like, “Oh, I’m going out for ice cream. It’s self-care.” And I mean, sure, if ice cream is something that you never, ever really get to do, perhaps it could be self-care. Maybe there are certain circumstances or whatever, that it definitely like feeds and nourishes your soul in a way that maybe another thing wouldn’t. So yeah, I don’t want to discount that. I don’t want to discount that reality. But I also think that sometimes “self-care” just gets applied. Maybe the better way to say it is that the intent behind people’s self-care – maybe not the specific thing, but the intent behind it – becomes like this thing where it’s just like, “I’m doing this activity,” or “I’m engaging in a certain thing that I like, and so I’m calling it self-care.” But really it’s not self-care; it’s avoidance. I’m avoiding things that I actually need to do.
Or if it’s not avoidance, it’s, “I’m practicing self-care,” and it’s indulgence. So self-care becomes an excuse to overindulge in things. Because it’s like, “Oh, but this is self-care. Oh, but this is self-care.” Like eating all of this ice cream, this whole thing of ice cream, that was self-care. And then the next day, you’re like, “Oh, I got the venti pumpkin spice latte” or whatever it is that people drink from Starbucks, and “Oh, I did that six days this week; that’s self-care.” Well, I would say maybe, that’s not technically self-care, if that’s your reality, like you’re doing this all the time, that maybe that’s not self-care. Because your intent behind it is, “Well, I’m just doing this thing to kind of, like, I’m just indulging. Like I’m just overindulging.” There’s no reason on earth why I actually need to do this; like there’s no reason on earth why I need to eat three tubs of ice cream on three different days. Like, there’s no reason why I need to do this. I’m just doing it because I want to indulge. And so I think that that’s a lot of maybe what pushback against self-care is, is just a pushback against overindulgence.
And then there’s also the element of just cheapening the idea of taking care of yourself. Because we all take care of ourselves. It’s how humanity has been sustained over all this time, has been us taking care of ourselves. So to make something like, “Oh, I’m doing self-care” but it’s like, but is that really self-care? Or is that just taking care of yourself?
Because the concept of self-care, the idea is taking care of yourself in a way that’s unique, and that is above and beyond what you would normally do. And it’s taking time out for yourself, in a context maybe where you wouldn’t be able to. And so I say that Black people, that we have a unique sort of take on self-care. We deal with a unique onslaught from society. And so there are times when self-care isn’t like this indulgent, “Hey, I’m just going to relax; hey, I’m just gonna chill, hey, I’m going to do something that is fun, or that makes me happy.” Sometimes self-care is like protecting yourself; it’s not just taking care of yourself, but you’re taking care of yourself by protecting yourself from the onslaught. And so sometimes self-care is saying, “Well, some Black person got murdered in their home this week.” And so for me self-care looks like not reading the news story. Or it looks like not watching the bodycam footage. Or it looks like whatever number of things that you do, not to avoid the topic, but to just say, “You know what? I can’t put that in my spirit right now. I can’t put Black death in my spirit, and so I am just going to take a step back and not engage with this.”
So a lot of times people make self-care into an indulgence thing, but sometimes self-care is about abstaining. Sometimes it’s about saying, “No, I’m not going to do this.” And where that becomes an act of resistance for Black people – and I think it’s especially for Black women – is that society already – American white culture – has this idea that like if you’re not working; if you’re not producing; like, we place a lot of value on what people can produce and what they’re worth. And then we tie people’s intrinsic value into how much they’re producing. So to say to society – because American society was literally built on the backs of Black people – so to say, “You know what? I’m not going to let the world build itself on my back; and so I’m going to take a step back and do something that takes care of me, and that centers me and doesn’t take care of other people” – this is something that, for Black women: we wear the cape. Like, we will wear capes for everybody. We are out here for everyone, for everybody. We’re out here for Black people, we’re out here doing work, taking care of Black men, Black children; we’re out here taking care of the Black community as a whole. We’re out here sometimes, some of us, on our jobs, our jobs treat us like Mammies. So we out here taking care of these white folks at this job, saving them, because they wouldn’t be able to get along without our wisdom, without our expertise, without the things that we have. And we often do that. And it’s often thankless. We often – we do stuff, we carry an emotional toll, we do emotional labor. We are often seen as beasts of burden, I’ve heard the phrase used; that we carry so much weight, and we carry so much for people. And we often are not remunerated for the things that we do. Or it’s not – like if a white man or a white woman were to carry the same loads that we do, they would be paid a whole lot more; they would be given bigger titles; they would be whatever.
I, for one, have experienced this in ministry. Many of you all know that I’m a minister. The Church has been where a majority of my work has been. And I can say this as a Black woman in ministry, that there were times that I was carrying the load for different churches, for different ministries, for different organizations. And not carrying the load like, oh man, I was doing every single thing conceivable to humanity; but I was doing a lot, and I was doing a lot more than what my title or job description entailed. And I’m somebody that, if it’s something that I enjoy doing, I enjoy it, and I do it to the best of my ability. I do it with all my might. And that just is how I am. I’m not that person that just is all in, you know high-energy on every single thing. I’m not that person. But I’m the type of person that if I really care about something, I will put in the time; I will do the work. I mean, I try to really perform with excellence all the time. And so I am often in situations, you can carry a high capacity, and can carry a load of stuff. And so, yeah, there were times that I would be carrying stuff in the different ministries and stuff that I would be involved in. And it wasn’t that I was like, “Oh, I’m angry about this.” Especially because sometimes, for me, I’m the type of person that in a situation, you just kind of, I guess, almost could be considered dissociation; but you almost kind of just – because you’ve got to get through it – you’re just, “OK, I’m just going to do this, it’s OK.” But then you look back and you’re like, “Man, how did I get over? How did I do all this? How did I carry all this? I don’t even know.” But you have the grace to be able to go through it. So I’ve been in that situation. And so I’ve looked back. There’s been times whenever I’ve looked back, and I’ve been like, “I am really carrying the load. I was really carrying the load in this situation. Man! Like, they should have paid me!” Or should have paid me more. Or, like, I really helped this organization, and man, like people were thankful for my work or thankful for what I did. But there’s not a whole lot – like, I see myself in situations where it’s like, “No, I really came in and really like saved y’all. I saved y’all time, I saved y’all money, I saved y’all whatever.” Because if I wasn’t out here doing this, this Black woman – and I’ve been in situations where there’s been multiple Black women carrying the load in organizations.
And so I say all that to say that Black people especially – Black women especially – we carry such a load. And there is almost an expectation that, you know, we’re strong, we can do it, we can handle it. There’s just this expectation that exists that, if we’re not careful, we can end up doing like way more than what we need to. We can end up in situations that just are not healthy, and normalizing that as everybody’s experience, when it’s not really everybody’s experience. It’s your experience. Because you’re having to work twice as hard, etc., etc. I’ve not read the articles, but I’ve seen this headline kind of floating around here, like, “Working Twice As Hard Is Killing Black People.” And I’ve not read the articles to kind of know like what they’ve said, kind of what the ethos and the mentality and the research or whatever is behind this; but I definitely will say that there are aspects of that, that ring true. That we, us just working to succeed, it does take a toll. And I think that sort of, that particular type of headline, what some of the implications of such a headline or such a phrase – is that it can imply sometimes that it’s a choice. It’s not always a choice. Working hard, being a beast of burden; sometimes it’s not a choice. It’s what we have to do to survive. Because if we don’t take on the things in our workplaces; if we don’t take those things on, then our value is questioned. And then our work ethic is questioned. Even though there are people who are doing not even the same amount of work that we’re doing, who kind of get a free ride. They get the ability to be able to kind of coast, and kind of half-step, and do all this other type of stuff that Black people – especially Black women – that we just can’t afford to do.
So self-care as an act of resistance is saying, “You know what? Instead of working really hard, working myself to the bone on this; I’m going to take time out to do X, Y, and Z. I’m not going to answer my phone. I’m not going to respond to these text messages between this hour and this hour. My email is closed after a certain time of day,” etc. Sometimes it’s that. Sometimes it isn’t what we do – because sometimes our resistance, like I said earlier, it’s in what we don’t do. And it’s in us just setting a boundary. Sometimes self-care is setting a boundary and saying, “I’m not going to go past this line. I’m not going to work past this number of hours.” And those are kind of just certain kind of practices of self-care, general ideas and whatnot of self-care, that we have to carry, as Black people.
So in this next segment, I am going to talk a little bit more about some specific self-care practices. Stay tuned.
HENNY: So in the last segment I kind of unpacked this idea of self-care as resistance. In this segment, I want to talk about some of those practices of self-care.
So the name of this episode is “Wear Your Bonnet! Grease Your Scalp!” And I talked a little bit about how maybe some of that might look different – like maybe you’re not literally wearing a bonnet, or literally greasing your scalp. But there are things that I think that all Black people need to do in order to take care of ourselves – especially in this climate.
One of the first things that we need to do – for me, it boils down to our consumption of media. And it’s not just media, like as in traditional media, but it can also be social media. So I think an act of self-care that many of us – most of us; all of us, probably – need to engage in, is setting boundaries for our consumption. I mentioned in the last segment about Black death; that self-care sometimes is being the person that you’re not going to watch the bodycam footage. You’re not going to watch the dashcam footage. You’re not going to watch these different things that show up whenever Black people are murdered in the street. Or you’re not going to watch Black people be abused. And I think that is a good act of self-care. It’s very rarely, really, that I will watch videos or that I will listen to phone calls or whatever. Because it’s like, at the end of the day, I really don’t need to see it. I really just don’t need to put that into my spirit. I can read the account; I can read the summary of it – which, even that, in and of itself – that can definitely be damaging. You kind of know everything around it. But there are times whenever it’s just like, “You know what? I don’t really need to put that energy into myself.” Like, I just don’t need that.
But there are some times when I do. There are some times whenever I say, “You know what? I’m going to go ahead and just see what this person – this person lived through it. The least I can do is watch it.” But I’m very judicious about that. And it’s a matter for me, really, of practicing that emotional wellness of checking in with myself to see: Am I in a space that if something were to really – could this really be upsetting for me? Could trigger some things for me?
And so that actually brings me to another aspect of self-care practices: there are lots of different self-care practices that kind of fall into certain categories. So I think you talk about mind, body and spirit. So there are self-care practices that we think of with our minds, like those emotional components that you avoid things that are – not like in this avoidance response; you just are saying, “You know what, I’m going to practice self-care by guarding my emotions and not indulging in that, not partaking in that, not consuming whatever it is.” Then there’s also the body, and that’s really kind of like the physical type of things, I think is often what gets labeled as self-care. So what has kind of become like part of the self-care craze is like, “Oh, I’m going to go to my favorite restaurant,” and whatever. Like, “I’m going to take a bubble bath. I’m going to sit back with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate” – whatever the thing is. And so it’s kind of like this physical act of something that you’re doing, and that gets labeled as self-care. And I think that’s what most people probably think about whenever they think about self-care.
And those types of things are great. I think that they are important. I that think they need to be done with intentionality. I think that indulging and self-care – sometimes it’s not things that are extra. Sometimes your self-care is literally, like, taking care of your basic needs. Like, self-care is “I’m going to drink water, and I’m going to make sure that I’m drinking plenty of water.” And so like being at an event, or being in a workspace or something like that, where maybe you’re under a lot of stress and there are a lot demands for your time and your attention, and you say, “I’m going to be intentional. I’m going to make sure that I’m hydrated. If I can’t control anything else that happens in this circumstance, I’m going to make sure that I’m hydrated.” Maybe it’s stuff like wearing your bonnet and greasing your scalp, that you are saying, “You know what, I really need to take care of my physical body, and so these are the things that I’m going to do.”
And then there’s the aspect of spirit. There’s the aspect of things, of self-care practices, that are good for your soul. I have never read any of these books, but there’s this – if I remember – there was this whole craze, back in like the late ‘90s, early 2000s, where there was this book called Chicken Soup for the Soul. Like I said, I have never read it. I feel like it was a white person thing. But I say that, but Oprah might have talked about Chicken Soup for the Soul, and maybe that’s why people were like, “Oh, Chicken Soup for the Soul!” I don’t really remember. I just remember – I mean, granted, I grew up around all white people, and I really felt like there were a lot of white folks who were just super invested in Chicken Soup for the Soul. So don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of it. Because, yeah, I have no idea how widespread it was, but it was definitely a thing for some people, where I was growing up. But the title – I think the idea is like, “Oh, your soul is getting chicken soup, and it’s getting nourished, and it’s becoming well” or whatever. Like, I think you have the ability to be able to think, “Oh, chicken soup for my soul; what would that be?” Well, there are some things that might be chicken soup for your soul. And maybe they’re regular practices. Because self-care things can be regular practices, can be things that you set your intention to; and sometimes they’re things that you treat yourself with.
But there are things that you do that are self-care, that it’s not really like – sometimes they can even be things that don’t really take care of the body aspect of it, and maybe don’t really take care of your mind; but they are things that make your soul kind of come alive, in a way. So one of my things – and this is so awful and problematic, that I’m even talking about this – so something that has been chicken soup for my soul, lately, has been watching “All My Children.” I will not talk about how I’ve been able to watch “All My Children,” but I have been able to watch “All My Children.” Because “All My Children” doesn’t come on anymore. It went off the air, I think, in 2013. My mom watched “All My Children” from like the time it first came on, until the end. She loved “All My Children.” We used to call it “Chillens,” and we would be like, “Oh, we’ll watch Chillens.” I mean, I grew up on “All My Children,” and then I grew up on the CBS soaps too – so “Young and the Restless,” “As the World Turns,” “Bold and the Beautiful,” “Guiding Light” – I watched them. And there’s a whole lot I could say about that. [laughs] But soap operas helped raise me. I think that soap operas helped make me a good writer, believe it or not. But anyway, that’s like a whole other topic.
So anyway, self-care for me recently has been watching “All My Children.” And I’m so embarrassed to admit this. Because I know that soap operas are just corny. I know that they’re awful. There are a lot of things – the time period that I’m watching from is from the early ‘90s, and there’s stuff that I’m like, “Yo, that is like a problem. How was this on TV? Why do you have this teenaged girl in a relationship with somebody who’s like 10 years older than her?” And like no, I mean they’re not like consummating their relationship; but still, that person, that just feels really predatory. I don’t even know. I’m not even trying to apologize for it. Trying to apologize for it would be like – I guess not apologize – make excuses. That’s the word I’m using. I’m not even going to try to make excuses for it; I’m saying like yes, it’s rat shit. There’s even been some racial things and I’ve been like, “Oh, my gosh, that is like racist.” Even in trying to comment on race, in like a positive way: this ain’t it, y’all. So definitely, maybe, “All My Children” is like my problematic fave. I don’t know. Don’t write me hate mail about “All My Children,” please don’t. Just let me live. Let me have this one thing.
But yeah, so self-care – “All My Children,” sitting back and watching Erica Kane in Pine Valley, showing out – that’s something that allows me to be able to connect with a story, that isn’t my own story. It’s connecting with people that aren’t people that I have to do anything with. And I can just sit back and kind of check out, in a way, and just kind of be like, OK. I’m not living in the fantasy world, so to speak. But it’s something that helps me relax. And something that I’ll actually say about soap operas: my mom watched soap operas. Like I said, she was super invested in “All My Children.” And we also watched “Loving;” we also watched “Generations,” when my mom discovered that. That was like a Black soap opera that came on NBC in like the very late ‘80s, early ‘90s, which was very short-lived. It was only on for a few years. But anyway, like, we were invested in that. And then my grandma – she watched soap operas every single day. And I would stay with my grandma every day. So I would see soap operas every day. We’d watch them whenever I was home from school, whatever. My grandmother would also tape the soap operas for my aunties, because my grandma and my aunties, they were all invested in CBS soaps. They loved “The Young and the Restless.” They loved “As the World Turns.” Like, that was their stuff. So my grandma would tape the shows for my aunties, and then in the evening time – like sometimes it would be after school – whenever my aunties would come home from work, my grandma would play the tape, and we would watch the stories.
And something I realized about those stories: yes, it’s a bunch of rich white people. Like, most of these soap operas – especially when you’re talking about the ‘80s, and then in the ‘90s they started to get a little diverse, but still, it was still like super-duper white – and there’s something about watching these rich white folks, these just white folks, and watching their lives and watching whatever, that really provided an escape and a haven for Black women to be able to retreat. So I think about my mom, you know, I think about my grandma, I think about my aunties; they were just living their lives as Black women, and the onslaught and stuff they had to deal with in their time. And I think about the onslaught that I deal with in my own time; and them soap operas are a retreat.
And so your self-care – I took so much time talking about “All My Children,” not really justifying why I watch “All My Children,” because, I mean, it’s none of your business – but just saying, like, be able to engage in a practice that nourishes your soul, that people aren’t – like, sitting back and watching your shows – maybe it’s not “All My Children.” Maybe you’re watching something on Netflix. Maybe you’re watching something on HBO. Because we all have our stories. My stories, before I started watching “All My Children” again, my stories was “Downton Abbey,” which ain’t nothing but a bunch of rich white folks doing white people stuff. And I know; don’t write me about it. But just being able to have that space that – it’s not always a fully safe space, because sometimes there’s stuff on there that can be like “Oh my gosh,” like, whatever. But then also it’s like, I’m just not going to get too deep about it. Like, yes, I know that some of the shows I like, the casts, there’s stuff that’s super problematic or whatever; but you know what? I’m using this to turn my brain off. So I don’t care. Y’all can fight the battle. Like, “This is Us” – I don’t even think I’ve watched all of the third season of “This Is Us,” because I’ve been too busy with school and stuff. And I definitely haven’t started the season that began in the fall of 2019. Definitely have no idea; I’ve been avoiding it so I can watch it. But I know that there’s stuff that is extremely problematic with “This Is Us,” that is extremely problematic. And I know probably a lot of people who are like, “’This Is Us’ is problematic,” and blah blah blah. And I’m like, “Listen. Y’all can fight that battle. I’ma watch Jack n’em. I’m just gonna do it. And I’m just going to turn my brain off. I know that Jack and Rebecca are problematic, but I know that – I know that Randall is problematic; I know that they – I know. I know that there’s a lot that’s problematic about it. But I’m still going to watch my show.
And so we just have to have those practices. We just have to have those moments and that space where we can take care of ourselves. Wherever it is that we can say, “You know what, world? You know what, society? You’re not going to make demands on me right now, because I’m taking care of myself.” So let me go watch my stories. Peace.
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