#BlackGirlHealing: “Caring For Our Bodies Is Revolutionary”
“When Black women walk, things change.” Proud Houstonian, Sharon Watkins Jones, knows this GirlTrek motto is pure truth. After losing an aunt to diabetes and her paternal grandmother to congestive heart failure, Jones realized just how important walking is to the health of her family and for the fate of our country. Here she shares with BlackDoctor.org how she became a walking revolutionary.
Self-care is revolutionary. Word.
That GirlTrek motto speaks to me in my own language. I’m that Sojourner Truth-quoting, Mary McLeod Bethune-loving sista who won’t submit my DNA to Ancestry.com for fear that my results won’t directly connect me to Harriet Tubman. I just gotta be related to a slave who resisted, cussed, fussed and walked, (not ran) away from slavery and took all her friends and family with her to freedom. As light-skinned black and militant as I wanna be…that’s me.
My love affair with GirlTrek began, unsurprisingly, on the Edmund Pettis Bridge, during the re-enactment of the Selma march. I had my mom, my daughter, my niece, my bestie and her mom with me and we felt powerful and connected to the Black sisterhood collective in a way we hadn’t in a long time. It was glorious.
We walked and talked to each other and the hundreds of GirlTrekkers on that journey and realized that in order to reach the broader goals of freedom and equality in our respective communities, we needed mental and physical strength for the task. We needed to fortify and preserve our health and wellness. We needed to make sure our cups were full enough to pour from.
“We will not go gently into that darkness of diabetes”
While walking, in Selma, I reflected on the ailments in my family that had taken away loved ones from me too soon. I had lost an aunt who was as close to me as a sister to diabetes at age 57; and my paternal grandmother, whose body and mind were otherwise strong, succumbed to congestive heart failure in her 80s.
As I watched my daughter walking hand-in-hand with my mother, the revolutionary nature of reclaiming our health was made crystal clear. We give so much to our families, our communities and our nation. In a world that spends a lot of time and effort tearing down Black women and the families we raise, caring for our own bodies is revolutionary indeed. How dare we make our wellness a priority when the world views us as disposable?