Sick and Tired: Strategies to Engage in Social Justice in the Community within an Unjust Society

With the multiple killings of black people at the hands of the police and the recent decision to not serve justice for the life of Breonna Taylor, it can be easy to understand how one might be tired of being tired in terms of seeking justice in the Community within an unjust society. Fannie Lou Hamer stated that she was “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”  So, how do we keep fighting the good fight and engaging in the “good trouble” as John Lewis encouraged us to? How do we take care of ourselves and create a safe space for ourselves and future generations? While there is no easy answer to address this, engaging in self-care while also exercising your rights may bring about that change that we all seek. Here are a few steps to consider:

Acknowledge how you feel. Too often, we are told to move forward. When we try to move forward without acknowledging that pain and loss, we permit that pain to continue to grow.  It’s okay and normal to get angry, sad, etc.-we, as a people have experienced countless trauma and thus may have immense grief that needs to be given attention. We must take a moment to reflect on that pain-to acknowledge the wrong so that we can start to think of the best ways to move forward.

Vote (both locally and nationally). While it can be difficult, not voting allows other people to decide who will make those decisions about the law, resources, etc. for your community and can impact a community for generations to come. While participating in national elections is essential, it is also crucial to know your local elected officials who will create the policies that may also impact you. Ballotpedia allows you to search for local candidates and their platforms online.  You can register to vote here.

Sick and Tired Community Chicago DefenderMake sure that you are counted. Once upon a time, not too long ago, black people were counted as less than one person and thus had even more limited say in the number of resources allocated to our communities. Ensure that this country knows that you exist, and you and your family deserve to receive resources just like others. If you haven’t already, click here to complete your 2020 census.

Mobilize your community. While it can be daunting to consider how much impact one individual may have within a lifetime, history has shown us time and time again that coming together can bring change to society. Coming together not only brings about change, but it can also bring about healing. The energy that we share as a collective and our diverse thoughts and talents can create a powerful force. This does not necessarily mean that you need to set up a social justice activist group in your community (although that could be helpful as well). Practicing ownership of a community by providing feedback to community leaders, such as your alderman, can be a part of that work. Connecting with churches or other community organizations to volunteer or suggest various community service projects can also help address the needs of the community locally. If you do not have connections to community organizations, consider starting with your own. Maybe create a family project that addresses a need within the community or have an event where you and friends can write letters to government officials ( you can learn how to contact elected officials here) or discuss how you are feeling regarding everything that is happening. There is healing in expressing one’s needs, and that healing (along with resources to support) can amplify within the community.

Above all, “if you are sick and tired of being sick and tired,” consider giving yourself a break. Hearing the constant racial injustice and inequities that we experience can be exhausting and feel disempowering. Turn off the news for a moment and perhaps disconnect from social media for a bit. If you choose to interact with social media, consider following community activist pages or other platforms that are engaging in social justice work. Engage in practices and rituals that rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit instead.  Remind yourself that you have rights, and you can choose what kind of “good trouble” you want to engage in. Even in moments where it feels all hope is lost, look for those reminders that keep you moving forward. Use that message that was perhaps intended to keep the black community disenfranchised, as an opportunity to propel us forward in this fight for equality and peace.

Chante’ Gamby is a writer and therapist passionate about social justice and empowering others to live their best lives. You can follow her on Facebook at Fringefam, Instagram@fringegram, or on her website,



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