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Choose You, Sis -Radical Self-Care for Women of Color

Updated: Dec 16, 2022

By Aneesha Perkins, MA, LPC

Before Women’s History Month comes to an end, we wanted to highlight the foundational elements to thriving as a woman, yet some find difficulty in practicing – radical self-care. So, InnoPysch interviewed GiShawn A. Mance, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist and assistant professor of psychology, in addition to Misty Cranston-Bates, LICSW, a behavioral health therapist and psychotherapist to provide insight on the matter. Grab your journal, some sticky notes, and check out what they had to say:

1. How do you define radical self-care?

Dr. Mance: Radical self-care is centering your well-being to allow yourself the space, energy, compassion, love, and healing needed to be your best self. It is the process of decolonizing concepts to allow self-care and self-preservation which coincide with collective care and healing. Radical self-care is a form of protest against the often loud and oppressive expectations that one must be tired, overworked, or overextended to be of value.

Misty: Radical self-care includes consistently prioritizing self-care, challenging internalized capitalism, and establishing boundaries when other people's internalized capitalism gets in the way. Additionally, self-care is experiencing joy without restraint, taking care of yourself for you versus for the purpose of production, and being with people who nourish your soul.

2. How can radical self-care help women of color?

Dr. Mance: Radical self-care prioritizes one’s needs. It is elevating one’s emotional, spiritual, physical, and relational needs to be fully available in other domains. Black women are often the primary caretakers of their families, households, and communities. Coupled with health disparities, pay inequity, and standards of beauty and womanhood that exclude them, Black women are often overworked, undervalued, and dismissed. Thus, radial self-care helps women of color by prioritizing a holistic approach to care while releasing toxic and unrealistic expectations.

Misty: As a womxn of color, radical self-care means making every effort to disconnect from white supremacy culture. Having breaks from white supremacy culture is crucial for our physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional health.

3. What encouragement would you give to women balancing multiple roles who find it challenging to prioritize self-care?

Dr. Mance: As a wife, mother, daughter, therapist, professor, administrator, I wear many hats and the demands are exhausting. I used to feel guilty when I took a day to rest knowing I had a long to-do list. I began to schedule my rest days so that I could truly enjoy them rather than feeling like I “lost a day.” I soon realized that focusing on myself was not “losing a day “at all; it is essential if I am to be present for others I must first show up for myself. When you make room to radically take care of yourself, others will learn and make room for your new boundary.

Misty: I would encourage self-care by asking these women: “What big or small things can you take off of your plate today, this month, this year?

4. What are 3 ways to practice radical self-care?

Dr. Mance:

  • Be intentional – incorporate at least one self-care strategy into your daily routine that you can accomplish each day.

  • Set Boundaries – Identify your limit and create strong boundaries that honor you. If certain relationships are draining, then limiting or releasing such relationships is an act of radical self-care.

  • Say No – Oftentimes we find ourselves saying yes to people, places, and things that do not serve our health, purpose, or goal because we feel obligated or guilty about telling someone no. Radical self-care is evaluating the root of these emotions and narratives that accompany them and rewriting the narrative to incorporate self-care is essential to accepting that no is indeed a complete sentence.


  • Schedule and self-prescribe periods of rest

  • Establish a list of what brings you joy and make an effort to do these things

  • Listen to what our bodies needs

5. Do you have any final thoughts on radical self-care that you would love to share with us?

Dr. Mance: Protect your peace at all cost. Be radical in your care for yourself. You and all that you bring to this world are needed. You are important and we need you, so please take care of yourself without any apologies or explanations. You are worthy and deserving of self-care.

Misty: I just cannot stress or underestimate the importance of self-care for womxn of color. We carry so much, we do so much for others, we are often forced to self-edit, we often work multiple jobs, and we constantly navigate so many systems and layers of oppression. This is not to say that there are not so many wonderful things about being a womxn of color, but we are prone to depletion. We need to restore ourselves with rest and joy because we simply cannot afford not to.

Radical self-care is the ultimate pathway to learning how to deeply love one’s self in a way that combats the stressors women of color experience daily. The wonderful aspect of radical self-care is that you get to define it for you. Radical self-care is not about perfection, but it is about committing to your wellbeing. It is a journey…a compassionate one.

Let us know in the comment section what radical self-care means to you.

About the Interviewees:

Dr. GiShawn Mance is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Howard University and Licensed

Clinical Psychologist. Her scholarly work focuses on community-based mental health for

adolescents and young adults exposed to trauma. Her clinical specialty areas include adolescent mental health, complex trauma, and mood disorders.

Currently, Dr. Mance partners with charter schools and community agencies in Washington DC to examine, trauma and coping for Black youth. Her Youth and Communities Research Lab recently completed the Emerging While Black Study which investigated race-related stress and psychological symptoms amongst Black emerging adults. Dr. Mance has contributed to the national dialogue on

race and mental health as a guest on WHUR, NPR, the Washington Post, and

Misty Cranston-Bates, LICSW (she/her/hers) is a queer black-multiracial therapist. Her private practice is based in Boston. She works with adults across the lifespan. In addition to this, she works as a Behavior Health Specialist at Fenway Health; a health center that addresses the needs of the LGBTQ+ community.

At Fenway Health she started a group series centering on the needs of LGBTQ+ Womxn of color. Misty holds a master’s in clinical social work from Smith College School of Social Work. At Smith College, she completed a thesis that explored the personal narratives of black women as it relates to the sociopolitical context of afro-textured hair.

Misty’s areas of specialty include intersectional identity exploration; anxiety; depression; bipolar

disorder; relationship and attachment dynamics; and supporting clients in accessing joy and rest to heal from burnout.

Misty is a relational cultural therapist who draws from psychodynamic approaches. She is trained in

liberation health theory as well as cognitive behavior approaches (CBT). Through a social justice lens, she helps individuals establish a balance of coping and resisting. For more information on Misty Cranston-Bates, visit:

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