Jan Robinson Flint Standing next to a Sojourner Truth plaque

A Note from Jan

Greetings Black Women for Wellness people,

It has been a long week, ending with new beginnings, May Day. May Day is an international celebration of workers, or perhaps better stated a day in recognition of workers. COVID-19 has caused us to really look and see workers in our environment. Grocery store workers, child care workers, farm workers, bus drivers, beauticians, teachers, many of the folks who are quite essential to our lives but often overlooked, under appreciated and generally taken for granted. With work now deemed essential and non-essential, and that determination closing businesses, we are starting to feel the impact of small business on our economy. This week, Black Women for Wellness was writing a proposal to continue our work with the beauty professionals in our community around toxic chemical exposures. Seeking out and in having conversations with some of those professionals, it sunk in how hard our community is being hit by this virus. The beauty industry is an annual billion-dollar industry, manufacturing, marketing and many layers including those actually laying hands on your hair. One person put it to me in real terms, “I went from making $500 per day to $0 with the closure of my shop.”

The beauty industry is an economic pillar of the African American community. Because its viability is dependent on Black dollars, those working in the beauty industry have a measure of independence. Our first millionaire rose from the beauty industry (Annie Malone, Madam C J Walker). They supported the boycott in Alabama giving fuel to the Civil Rights Movement and have sent many a Black child to college. I am not sure if we recognize this threat to African Americans from the COVID-19 pandemic. On this May Day, let’s celebrate our essential to us Black workers. Those pillars of our community providing financial stability, independence, flexibility and culture. Those with history, track record and investment in our lives & livelihood. Send that hair stylist, barber, braider a tip and let them know you will see them soon as you can.

Entering week 7 (or more) of sheltering at home, and now the warm season is approaching. Check your utilities bill and have a conversation with that company. If you're going to cook, then cook your meals in the morning while it's cool out. Turn off the heat (for those cool nights use blankets). Now might be the time to switch up your routines, change work spaces, change walking route, find new recipes for the food in your home. Have you read all your books? Book exchange with friends or neighbors, read what they have read and engage in conversation on those books/magazines. Tired of television, great tune in to radio, podcasts and dust off your old CD collection.

Next week is Mother’s Day, so gather pictures, you may have time, and put together a collage of pictures from the mommas in your life. Community mothers, foster mothers, aunties, cousins, nosey old ladies who gave you hell but set you straight, ancestors, icons, all those women who have shared wisdom, example or influenced your life, bring those pictures together in one place. Stay tuned cause we have a few Mother’s Day activities to share with you for those pictures. Wellness Wednesdays on the way, but in the meantime Happy May Day.

Peace,

Jan