Toronto is one of the few cities that celebrate all of August as Emancipation Month. It’s a time for celebration and contemplation, rejuvenation and reflection for people of African descent, and for those connected to us.
During August we get to take space to consider how far we have come and how far we have left to go, both in the year, and as a culture.
One of the ways we are reflecting at the BPAO is really prioritizing the wellness of ourselves and our members. We recognize that sometimes this is easier said than done. That is why we aim to serve as a reminder to Black physicians in Ontario and beyond, about the critical nature of health and wellness in Black communities, particularly in the case of those responsible for supporting the health and wellness of the broader community.
Here are three tips we are encouraging our members to remember this Emancipation Month.
- “The first law of nature is self preservation”
- We are a community of over-comers. Surviving horrific circumstances and strategic efforts to destroy us–both individually and collectively. The fact that we’re still here is a testament of our resilience and favour.
This resilience however, is not an excuse for self-neglect.
When we decide to live lives of self-neglect, we side with oppressors who have consistently undervalued and neglected our communities, needs, and rights.
In order for us to experience continued progress and development, we must ensure we’re taking the appropriate measures to care for ourselves, preserving both our physical and mental wellbeing so we can show up for the people we love and serve.
- “Rest is resistance”
- The jury is out on this one. Sleep Matters. Poor sleep is dangerous. In a culture (both western capitalism and western medicine) that devalues rest when it comes to work, choosing to build rest into your life is an act of resistance, and reclamation. Taking the time to create space for rest is a chance to remember your humanity. Corporate capitalism, with its roots in the plantation economy, saw Black bodies as machines, permitting minimal rest and medical attention, and only as a means to maintain their bodies for the purposes of labour.
Many Black people in this sector keep that same energy in their careers, overworking and being rewarded for doing so. Often, it is this commitment to labour and production that has led to career success, making it challenging to unlearn these habits. During this month and with what’s left of the year, we encourage all of our ambitious members to rest, knowing you’re participating in something deeper than some much deserved shut eye.
- There are 7 types of rest: physical, mental, social, creative, emotional, spiritual, and sensory rest. Enjoy some of each with the time you have left of Summer.
→ Recommended reading: Rest is Resistance: A Manifesto by Tricia Hersey
- “Community is immunity.”
- While this may not be literally accurate, research can confirm the health benefits of having a strong community and social support. It also confirms the dangers of not having it.
U.S. studies have concluded that the health risks of prolonged isolation are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Social isolation and loneliness have even been estimated to shorten one’s life span by as many as 15 years.
We also know that our communities have survived together as a result of our collaboration and shared commitment to freedom and liberation. Part of prioritizing our wellness includes strengthening our social ties, and personal relationships. This includes making time to show up for and get to know each other. The proverb goes: Be a friend before you need a friend. This applies to building relationships and networks within the community.
We hope you create the chance to really exercise the fullness of your freedom with what’s left of the season, and that you find yourself supported to continue the ever evolving journey toward liberation. While we enjoy the privileges of emancipation we must never forget that there is work left to be done, and that work isn’t always outside of us.
We will continue to encourage our members and communities to take the best care of themselves that they can. And look forward to seeing the fruit of each of your self-investments.
Take good care,
Cheers to Emancipation.