Why I Surround Myself with Black Digital Media as a Form of Self-Care
I use to be a dedicated scrap booker, now I create Pinterest boards, Instagram collections, and reblog mad photos on Tumblr. My first scrapbook was a collection of magazine clippings, fashionable models, black women, photos of me, words of affirmation, my family, receipts, tags, and other random pieces of my life. My love of scrapbooking has evolved to be mainly a digital outlet. But the basis for it remains.
I scrapbooked because images inspired me, colors, design, brown women, and anything I wanted to replicate in my life. My scrapbook was a reflection of my past, present, and future.
My memorabilia was a way for me to document things I wanted to hold onto. But I never looked at the psychological reasons on why I wanted to document, remember, and hold on to these images in the first place.
Art by Nita Mueth
As I delve into my potential research as a future grad student, I'm looking at black women's wellness. The nuance ways that we document ourselves as a form of self-care.
I see scrapbook as a way of putting something together, this could imply something is fractured? In the Spring semester, I began research on black identity and the double conscious.
The double conscious of African-American's internal conflict reconciling between their race (blackness) and nationality (American). My goal was to connect all people of color having to compromise their culture for their status in the mainstream society.
Although I'm never short of blackness in my life, I still feel the need to "protect" my identity from whiteness. The fact that I consciously think about (whether you believe I have to or not is irrelevant) is a problem for me. Why is it so important that I protect myself? Is this a learned behavior, an ideology I picked up being in the world? And while it was implicit in my youth, I suspect as a little girl, I somehow knew it was necessary.
In short, its because I see images of non-people of color in everything, whiteness is the default of everything. While this was an obvious reality that I've observed, not everyone sees it or believes this truth. I'm always interested in how certain realities trickle down (or up) in our lives in ways we may not notice intially. I was taught that what I see on television is not real. And yet, I still internalized the images. There's still a part of me that doesn't believe black people exist in all spaces. That's why I make a conscious effort to surround myself with the type of reflections I want to emulate, particularly identifying as a black queer woman.
This lends me to digital media as a form of self-love.
Actively seeking representation of myself and consciously surrounding myself with affirming images online and offline is an essential form of self-care. Be it illustrations, television shows, or movies, I follow all types of black media to stay connected. I love to discover scripted series which show black people as regular ass people and not through negative stereotypes. On television I watch shows like; Insecure, Queen Sugar, Atlanta, Being Mary Jane, The Chi, and Grownish. I'm also a huge fan of online web series like, Roomie Lover Friends, Hello Cupid, The Couple, That Guy, Awkward Black Girl, and First. When you're depicted as a caricature and one-dimensional being, its damaging. Especially when you see Becky in many lights. So, with my intentionality to submerge in imagery of black folks proves to have positive impacts on my self-esteem.
My physical scrapbooks have evolved to digital collages. I collect images that accurately reflect who I am and create layers to send myself a message:
And I don't need to change to fit into someone's box.
The individual illustrations, photos, and words I use in my digital collages are not mine. If you click on the image, you will be taken to my Tumblr blog, underneath each collage are links to each artist and photographer.