“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare."
— Audre Lorde, A Burst of Light and Other Essays
For me, travel is not a luxury. It is not self-indulgent. It is, in fact, the best way for me to reconnect with myself, my thoughts, my ancestors and my ambitions. I have to unpack that for people who see travel as an act of excess and who may never have experienced the kind of liberation that it has brought me.
I’ve talked a lot about travel as a way to reconnect with brothers and sisters in similar fights around the world. I also have noted that it is a way to stay in touch with the land of our forefathers and ancestral mothers. But that reconnection — physical and spiritual — is not just an act of service, trust me, I need these interactions to stay grounded and self-aware. It takes revisiting these people, histories and experiences to be reminded of the privilege and power I yield and to remember to constantly use those platforms to elevate the myriad of voices of Black and brown people around the world.
I also recharge my energy in these sacred spaces of fellowship — where I don’t have to explain myself, where how I move in the world isn’t criticized into silence and assimilation, and where I can feel love and share pride with people who understand the microaggressions of walking this earth in this skin.
Fighting back often looks like Black joy. Being happy against all odds and in the face of all the oppressions that have been heaped on us sometimes looks like taking a break. Walking away from our computers, taking days off from work, stepping out of the rat race to take care of ourselves is a rebellion.
We deserve to rest, to feel whole. For some, that might look like a spa day. For me, that is a trip to the calm waters of the Caribbean sea. Neither of those excursions are about vanity. They are times to escape superficial deadlines and to live life on your own terms. I choose places where I’m not subjected to white gaze or fluorescent lights. Instead, there are approving head nods and sunshine. Voluntarily visiting different shores of the Atlantic can truly feel like an act of rebellion, because I know that there are many people who would have intended for us to only see these seas in shackles.
Self-preservation looks like finding community, no matter how far you have to go and how hard you have to cling to that bedrock. No matter how hard others might try to dislodge you from your sense of self, seek and follow that compass that drives you back to self-preservation. Find a space for you — whether it is in your living room, a drum circle in Congo Square or a traditional village in The Gambia.
Clear the energy, make the way for positivity to surround you and know that if good vibes don’t come to you, you can always go to them.