03/20/2016 11:44 EDT | Updated 03/20/2016 11:59 EDT

Chiedza Pasipanodya On Racism And Self-Care

Experiences of discrimination force her to put her guard up.

Chiedza Pasipanodya

Racism is a reality for many Canadians of colour, and its effects can be damaging physically and psychologically. We asked Canadians to share their experiences of racism, self-care, self-love, and "paying it forward" for real change.

Chiedza Pasipanodya is a Toronto-based, artist, curator, minister and coordinating facilitator of the Rites of Passage program at Wood Green Community Services, a program in the GTA that links youth of African descent with community elders. Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Pasipanodya is involved in a number of projects focused on creating transformative spaces that bring together and engage marginalized groups.

What effect does repeat experiences of racism have on your well-being?

Mentally, it forces me to put my guard up and makes me think that I am unsafe and separate from the fold. Spiritually, it grates at my faith in people while also allowing me the opportunity to dig deeper in myself especially in harmful moments for a nugget of compassion — for [my]self, if not for others.

How do you self-care?

I use writing, taking long periods time to process by doing nothing at all, conscious breathing, I use crying, dancing and singing, talking to at least two friends about the experience and eventually I make art out of it to convert the hurt.

What is the relationship between self-care and working toward change?

The relationship is one of alchemy. By taking care of myself I am able to remind myself of how I deserve to be taken care of which acts as a salve for the wounds. Then I make art for private or public consumption, and this allows me to air out the remainder of the hurt.

Photo gallery Chiedza Pasipanodya See Gallery

This interview has been condensed from its original format.