Black women experience prejudice, racism, and other acts of hatred in our schools, places of employment, and homes — from our spouses, co-workers, and neighbors. We encounter high rates of domestic violence, rape, and homicide. We are disproportionately punished in schools. We are racially profiled and subjected to police brutality. 

We are incarcerated at more than five times the rate of White women and are three and a half times more likely to die during childbirth than they are. We are paid less than other women in the workspace, regardless of our degrees or experience. Our traumas run so deep, from generation to generation, that we often feel stuck. As if we will never find a solution. 

So yes, I drank, and if anyone were in my shoes, they probably would have picked up a bottle, too.

My drinking career began in college. I grew up in a pretty strict African Muslim environment. My parents didn’t drink or keep alcohol in our home. So when I went away for college and discovered alcohol, I loved it immediately. It made me feel alive. It made me feel acceptable. Ten years later, however, alcohol became my worst enemy.

Alcohol made me depressed and anxious, violent and angry. By the time I graduated from college, my tolerance had increased significantly. When I graduated from law school, my tolerance was at its peak. I was no longer feeling the effects of alcohol as easily as I did in the beginning, and I had to increase my intake by the liters. I didn’t know it then but my drinking habit had become a problem.

I searched on Instagram for sober profiles to follow, and I was disappointed in what I found. The lack of representation was cringy.

In 2018, I pretty much lost everything. I was a first-year attorney and no longer had a job, a vehicle, or an apartment. I spent most days and nights eating and drinking in bed at my parent’s home. At the end of the year, I was at my wit’s end. I remember telling myself that if 2019 was going to be anything like 2017 and 2018, I wanted no part. It was around that time that I decided to get sober.

Being the millennial that I am, I searched on Instagram for sober profiles to follow, and I was disappointed in what I found. The lack of representation was cringy. Soon after, I created Sober Black Girls Club.

While wellness should be accessible and inclusive to everyone, the profiles that I found back in 2018 made sobriety look like a luxury instead of a necessity. There I was, ready to throw in the towel, searching for some type of guidance, and all I could find were pages full of White women talking about how amazing their new lives were, fetishizing coffee, and doing yoga.

In light of the Black Lives Matter movement, organizations and corporations are searching for tools and techniques to make their communities more accessible and inclusive for all. The online (and offline) Sober community should take heed.

So how can you make your sober profile more inclusive? Let’s start with representation.

Include People of Color In Your Posts

Representation is important. It not only defines how people in society see and interact with each other. Doing so also defines how people see themselves.

When you include people of color in your posts, you make other people of color feel included. It reinforces the significance and importance of sobriety and paints a picture for your followers of color of what they can achieve with sobriety.

When you include people of color in your posts, you make other people of color feel included.

I also think it is important to include different narratives in your posts. Not everyone chooses sobriety for the same reason. You may have chosen sobriety in an attempt to live a happier life, while others may have chosen sobriety to live to see another day.

Acknowledge that Racism Can Affect One’s Recovery

I get it. Addiction can affect anyone but our history, background(s) and economic status affect the way we recover, and to deny this notion is weird. There is so much information out in the world to support it.

A 2018 study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund found that people of color are less likely to receive preventive health services and more likely to receive lower-quality care than White people. 

The reality is, just like our country’s criminal justice system, our healthcare system is also racist.

I completed my second legal internship in Binghamton, NY in 2016. While interning, I was also observing Ramadan — a month of fasting, praying, and reflection observed by Muslims. At that time, I wasn’t too far gone and was able to observe the entire month without drinking. 

On the second day of Ramadan, I received the nastiest itch of my life. The itch lasted for weeks. I went to four doctors and none of them understood why I was itching. Years later, I learned that the itch was a symptom of withdrawal. I was withdrawing from alcohol and none of the doctors I visited for medical assistance were able to help me. Now that I think about it, I don’t think any of the doctors I have seen over the last fifteen years have ever asked me about my drinking history.

This is just one incident that I feel displays the lack of care Black folks receive from health care practitioners. One day I will muster up the courage to tell the world how a doctor refused to sign my Physical Exam Form for law school because she thought I had Hepatitis B after she saw the antibodies in my bloodwork. 

Instead of inquiring about my vaccination record and realizing that the antibodies were present because I received the Hepatitis B vaccine as a child, this doctor thought that the only way the antibodies could ever be present in me was because I actually had the disease. Horrid.   

The reality is, just like our country’s criminal justice system, our healthcare system is also racist.

Donate to the Organizations Doing the Work

Whether working to eradicate racism and or supporting Black mental health and people, many organizations doing the work. Invest in any organization fighting the good fight, but invest in Black women more. Black women are the key to achieving social and economical change. At the moment, Black women are the most educated demographic in the United States. We are smart, innovative, and give a damn about what happens in society. We are leaders and dedicate our lives to change. 

Black women are the key to achieving social and economical change. 

These are just a couple of ways you can make your sober profile more inclusive. There are many other ways you can support and advocate for recovery for Black and non-Black people of color. Share content created by Black/POC sober advocates. Vote for leaders that you think will make a positive change in our healthcare system. Educate your audience about the struggles people of color face in recovery. Include anti-racism work in your recovery/sobriety journey.

Whatever you do, start now. 

Inaction in the face of racism is racist.