Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Africana Wellness Week Promotes Self-care Techniques for Students

This week, Afrikan Heritage House hosted Africana Wellness Week to raise awareness about the importance of rest and self-care among Black communities. As an active participant in the Black community at Oberlin, I have always found Africana Wellness Week to celebrate the traditions and practices of Black self-care and to promote community. 

The week started with a session centering around natural hair oil. Titled “Oils for coils w/ Hippie Chemist” and sponsored by the Multicultural Resource Commons, the session allowed guests to create their own mixtures of oil. I stuffed mine with crucial herbs for hair growth, such as rosemary and lavender, as well as fenugreek seeds. Natural hair oils are commonly found to be incredibly beneficial when strengthening and nourishing hair. The ingredients and oils you use can make your hair thicker, softer, and shinier. During the pandemic, I dabbled with hair oils myself, and it was nice to experiment and create oils that I could use on myself again. I pulled aside Diawn Jones, the host of the event and an established and degreed chemist with a passion for wellness and holistic offerings. 

“My goal is for people to be able to care for themselves naturally,” Jones said. “So you should be able to go home, get some soap, a little bit of oil, and some essential oils, and make body wash [and] your own shampoo. We shouldn’t have to be dependent on buying things from companies.”

The next event was an A-House event, coordinated with the Bonner Center, that centered around sound bathing. The general goal of a sound bath is to create a state of harmony for the listener that helps clear negatives from participants’ energy fields. It is meant to be a full-body meditative experience, and I was happy to see it on the calendar, as I have done many sound baths myself. That evening, there was also an A-House coordinated movie night where guests could enjoy the movie Roll Bounce, which is often considered a Black classic. All of these events were heavily organized by Black students who stressed the idea of self-care for Black students at a predominantly white institution. 

“I did a sound bath event through the Bonner Center,” College fourth-year Wyae’ Stewart said. “Because Bonner does community service and we get training and enrichment hours for doing wellness events, it was a good way to tie it and bring it all together, and so that was fun.”

Wellness Week has always aimed to practice self-care and inform others of the types of self-care someone can learn. Self-care can mean many things, as seen in the diversity of events this week, but it is based on the practice of caring for the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of our lives. It is not the same for each person, and it is an intentional way of healthy living. This is reflected in the events at A-House, as the events this week are also actions that could potentially become part of one’s daily routine and lifestyle. 

“I think you place more value on things that you make,” Jones said when speaking to the importance of creating and self-care. “Or [something] that is handmade in general. Because, you know, there’s a lot of love and effort when it doesn’t go down a factory line. So, I think that is a huge part of it. It’s just like when you have a garden. You go, and you plant, and then you harvest. So, in theory, you’re planting this seed in yourself that you actually get to see your hair grow, or your skin glow, or your eczema clear up.” 

Wednesday’s event was a “wind down” day and was orchestrated with the help of AVI Foodsystems, who distributed CBD smoothies for students so that they could relax and enjoy the outdoors. Community members could be together and nap, talk, laugh, and enjoy each other’s company. A main part of self-care is investing in and caring for your relationships while acknowledging the labor it takes to care for others. Wednesday not only allowed people to recognize the benefits of relaxing with their peers but also the importance of having relationships that are based on self-care and acknowledgment of one’s needs. 

“Our continuous events throughout the year, like the barbershop truck and the massage truck, are generally very populated,” Stewart said. “Those are … big events that we’ve had, and students actually love those. And so it’s kind of fun to bring back what students love but then also add in some new flair so that people can learn, because at the end of the day we all like different wellness techniques. And so when we’re able to experience those on the campus, we’re able to actually know what we like and what can help us in the future.”

Thursday focused on art and crafting, as students were able to work on journaling, knitting, crocheting, and other artistic practices. Creativity makes us feel good about ourselves, and it also validates our ideas and abilities to create a physical accomplishment that we can hold on to. Friday will also highlight physical self-care as A-House will bring spa trucks and therapy dogs for students to enjoy in South Bowl. Students will be able to refresh themselves with furry companionship and new nails or hair. Africana Wellness Week will conclude with a large field day where students will be able to participate in games and enjoy food trucks and a complimentary snack stand.

“Throughout the years, Africana Wellness Week has definitely had an impact,” Stewart said. “A lot of students will say they feel refreshed or relieved afterward. And so, I personally feel proud of it. I definitely think that the school itself can take notice of this and start doing more to help with the funding for this event because it isn’t just the Africana students who are a part of this.”

Self-care is important and necessary for all individuals, especially those in minority communities. It is a tool for resistance for Black people, as it’s a practice that cultivates support, motivation, and skills that can combat systematic oppression and discrimination. This is why Africana Wellness Week helps us care for ourselves and better navigate the challenges in our lives. 

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