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Making Time for Healing in the Face of Injustice & Inequality - By Nana Apenem Dagadu

The lilting sound of the alarm wakes me from uneasy sleep. 6:30 AM.

Despite it being a Sunday – typically a day of rest, I am disoriented and tired from an awfully long week of homeschooling and teleworking. I dismiss the alarm and roll over, three times. 6:45 AM.

I tell myself, “do your devotion first, get up out of the bed, lots to do”; but procrastinating again, I scroll through the barrage of bad news and division in the US and globally, and feel heavy from bids for social connection from family and friends via the apps on my phone. My fingers move along in auto pilot; my mind not really processing any of it. I just feel tired and in no mood to connect with anybody. Also, I still have to get dressed ahead of the kids waking up, figure out breakfast, and work through some school deadlines today. Fortunately, thanks to our cleaning company’s hard work the previous day, the house is clean. One less thing to count on my weed-like do list. 7:20 AM.

I am dressed but shoot, the kids are up! What am I doing for breakfast?! 7:40 AM.

The noise is incessant. Who did what to whom now? Somehow two-minute activities like brushing teeth take forever and require my time and energy to monitor but activities that require my help somehow end up being done independently (with more mess than seems possible). 8:15 AM.

Yogurt, granola bars, milk, and strawberries save the day. Set them up for backyard play. I wonder how long they will last. 8:47 AM.

Another alarm goes off jolting me to the need to prep to be on at the Forefront’s Zoom Healing Circle call. 8:50 AM.

Finally, time seems to simultaneously stop and speed up at an undesirable rate. 9:00 AM.

I wondered whether non-members would show up and how it would go. We had planned the Healing Circle for just over a couple of weeks, an organic flow from our bi-weekly meetings thinking through our work plan and the current events that had us slogging through a pandemic and conversations on racial injustices around the world. A complex mix of questions, frustrations, listlessness, passion, fighting spirit, and hope. Once I logged in, I felt some of my excitement creep back in. At the end of our time reviewing at the Forefront’s mission, learning about structural racism’s and gender bias manifestations in the US, Kenya, and the UK, sharing our own experiences and reflections through poetry and various art forms, I came away with two lessons.

In the face of injustice, Black women are a force with which to reckon. In moments of individual pain and difficulty and in suffering specific to our different geographic locations, it can be easy to feel alone or detached. Here, I saw and heard women from all walks of life and based in at least 5 different countries pulling together to verbalize their trauma – current, historical, individual, and group-based. I felt less alone amid echoes of my personal and professional struggles. Where we could have settled in victimhood, however, we moved from acknowledging hurts and grief to affirming our worth with sincere introspection and even some humor. We passed around ideas and other support groups for working towards and achieving justice at individual and collective levels. For this reason, I pitied those who would cross paths with any of us or try to mute us in the coming days, weeks, and months. They would face an invisible collective rather than individuals.

Black women need to defend our own self-care by any means necessary. Even as I celebrate our push towards collective action, I am gripped by our traditional reluctance to care for ourselves as we bear social movements forward. Several people expressed how hard it often was to stop – we are needed and don’t always have the luxury to step away and we also don’t want to appear selfish. Instead, we wear our resilience like armors to defend the people, places, and values we love even when they may be the very things conspiring to harm us. As we shared our varying stages of confidence and positivity in our healing journeys, I got tips for caring for myself and vowed to practice at least two (disconnect from the news for a day, do one kind thing for yourself every day) more consistently. Learning to rest well and often – even in the most impossible circumstances within these systems of oppression and abuse – could be the difference between falling apart before our work is complete and succeeding in making radical change out there.

As the call wrapped up, I re-imagined how prioritizing my own well-being could look and caught up with one of the founders of at the Forefront. 11:06 AM.

211 views3 comments


Laura L Bryant
Laura L Bryant
Aug 07, 2020


You make this parenting and pandemic thing all look so easy. I don’t envy Moms right now who are loving and parenting in the time is the Covid 19 and social pandemics. Well Done Nana!!


Yla Eason
Yla Eason
Aug 07, 2020

Wonderful reflections, Nana!


Lovely!Black Women lifting Black Women! That's what it is all about! Nice piece!

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