even after all this time, sade parham, chelsea rojas, and glynn pogue are still the same three black girls texting in a group chat.
by Joanne Xu
In 2018, the trio behind Black Girls Texting launched a podcast and social platform inspired by the contents of a very specific group chat with friends — the kind where tea is spilt, memes are shared, and feelings are felt. What started as a mere digital translation of those day-to-day text chains has quickly metamorphosized into an entire ecosystem of Black women supporting each other through the fiery, unforgiving underbelly that is 2020. (My words, not theirs, though the subtext of our conversation tells me that they would agree.)
I log onto Zoom with Sade, Chelsea, and Glynn on a day when another Zoom call is feeling particularly tedious. To my pleasant surprise, however, our conversation is far from that. In just an hour, it’s very clear that there is no difference between their on-air and real-life personalities. What you see is truly what you get. And in a time where all the smoke screens and rose colored glass in the world couldn’t hide how tragically lost we all feel, it’s nice to be greeted with a humble dose of honesty.
True to fashion and ironically enough, the resulting transcript is near verbatim of our time together — and what I imagine reads very similarly to one of their podcast episodes or text threads. Read on for Black Girls Texting’s thoughts on 2020, self-care as resistance, and the things we absolutely cannot give up on now — then head over to @outdoorvoices today for the first look at their brand new series “Wellness Wednesdays”.
The Recreationalist: I’ll start with this. How are you guys doing?
Glynn: I’m feeling very overwhelmed. I’m a school teacher amongst many other things, so I’m back in the classroom working in a new capacity that I didn’t anticipate.
Chelséa: There’s so much going on. I almost feel like I’m overproducing because of that pressure to be productive while we technically have more time.
Sade: I’m surprisingly pretty hopeful in these times. I think it’s like a ‘Could it get much worse?’ Which, it does every month. But, when you’re at a low, it makes you work harder. Not in the sense of the hustle, but to find that inner peace.
The Recreationalist: I can only imagine that having Black Girls Texting during this time has been pretty cathartic.
Glynn: Yeah, definitely. Taking a deliberate moment to have our Self Care Sundays, and now Wellness Wednesdays with Outdoor Voices, has held me accountable for setting up weekly time to take care of myself.
Chelséa: Agreed. I think I’m learning to value and label my own self-care as important. In addition to COVID, there’s all these things happening in the news, specifically to and with Black people. You’ve got to take care of yourself!
Sade: There’s been this big conversation about seeing more images of Black women smiling and enjoying ourselves. That feels so weird to do that during a pandemic, right? But if you don’t have those moments, then it’s so hard to do the other work that you’re meant to do.
Glynn: Agreed. The fact that we couple Self Care Sundays with conversation lets us to address reality in a way that feels safe. Especially that very first episode, almost directly following George Floyd’s murder. Hearing my friends speak about their emotions so honestly was a form of comfort.
When you’re at a low, it makes you work harder. Not in the sense of the hustle, but to find that inner peace.
Stress may seem like this ‘first world problem’, but it’s actually so tied to physical health. So checking in with yourself is pretty revolutionary.
On Rest As Resistance
The Recreationalist: That reminds me of this message that I’ve been seeing about self-care being a form of resistance.
Chelséa: I think that’s so true. We just have to take care of ourselves. Stress may seem like this ‘first world problem’, but it’s actually so tied to physical health. So checking in with yourself is pretty revolutionary.
Glynn: There’s a Black woman that runs @thenapministry and does these art installations that give people space to rest. Their whole ethos is that, especially for Black people, we’ve been taught that rest is something we weren’t allowed to take. I think our Western culture at large is always about continuing to work, ‘resting when we’re dead.’ I was even thinking how stark of a phrase ‘rest in peace’ is.
Sade: Oh my god, Glynn! I wasn’t ready for that.
Glynn: I know it’s dark, but I think, what would happen if we were resting actively now? Rest is literally resisting against a system that tells you to keep working.
Chelséa: When you don’t care that other people might judge you because you’re not grinding 24/7, but you just know what you need for you, that’s true self-love. That’s where I hope everyone can get to.
Glynn: Yeah. I’ve been trying to set boundaries as resistance too. I keep taking on projects because I feel like I have to.
Sade: Mmm, yes. That’s so true.
Chelséa: It’s also so layered. We talk a lot about privilege, and that weird feeling of guilt around self-care, being a person, and then being a woman, and then being a Black woman.
Glynn: Because the reality is that there are many other Black women that literally cannot afford to rest. I’ve just been so grateful. Like damn, my legs carry me to the places I need to go.
Sade: Yes, Glynn! You’re always like ‘why are you so happy? Like what the hell?’ [Laughs.] But it’s like, I woke up today. And for the most part, everything’s good.
Chelséa: And that’s a self-care practice in and of itself, right? Just being grateful to wake up.
Shop Sade, Chelsea, and Glynn’s full Outdoor Voices looks here.
The Recreationalist: How would you describe your trio dynamic?
Sade: I think like oldest, middle, youngest sisters. The oldest takes on the brunt of things and is more serious; the middle is the middle child; the youngest is kind of wild. I’m not going to say who’s who …
Glynn: But you have to!
Sade: But what if you don’t want to be that child! Regardless, I think that dynamic helps us work like a well-oiled machine.
The Recreationalist: Given that dynamic, how do you take care of each other?
Glynn: I’m a Sagittarious, Chelséa is a Capricorn. I have a lot of earth in my chart and so does Chelséa, so we’re the two grounded earth people in our dynamic. We approach conversations with a little more softness. Sade is always the tough love girl. Her love is very methodical in that way.
Sade: Oh? No, I’m kidding.
Chelséa: Part of that is just being three girls from Brooklyn. We’ve had to relearn certain things, like softening yourself with your friends. But I think we’re evolving.
Sade: I think we can be even better in the way that we support each other, because we’re all really independent. So someone might mention not doing so great, and we take a moment to ask if they’re good, and then we get back to work. But taking the time to just kiki on the phone instead is important. We’re not the experts on having self-care down.
Glynn: We keep saying we need a Black Girls Texting retreat.
Sade: Let’s make it haaappen!
On Showing Up For Yourself
Glynn: For me, self-care is for sure about physical rest. Laughter, just being with people I love, can be refreshing and resetting. I think there’s rest to be found within community.
Sade: I second that. We all have 9–5 jobs, the podcast, there’s so much going on in life. But sometimes you just have to take an hour for yourself. Like I sat on Glenn’s roof the other day just read the words of Michelle Obama because I knew it would make me feel good.
Glynn: Right! Like sometimes watching a trash show makes me feel good. For a long time, I think I wanted my self-care routine to be me getting up everyday and meditating for 20 minutes, and then doing an essential oil practice, and all this kind of stuff. But that just ain’t me all the time.
Sade: I’ve realized that I just need to take time with my brain. I’d say I’m more emotionally reserved, so I don’t like to sit in my sadness. But journaling allows me to get it out on a page and then it’s done. My favorite thing is to come back to an entry and be like, ‘Girl, you were going through it and that person wasn’t shit, but now you’re having a good day.’
Chelséa: I saw something on Instagram that said ‘If you’re not speaking it, you’re storing it.’
The Recreationalist: How do you keep that restful space from being too bingeful? Or do you?
Glynn: I … don’t have an answer for this. I’m a pretty indulgent person, so I’d love to hear what the girls say.
Sade: I am too, so I don’t know!
Chelséa: I mean, I enjoy a list. You can’t build Rome in a day. So you have to break your day up. You’ve got to recharge like your electronics.
Glynn: [Laughs.] I love that.
The Recreationalist: I asked because I’m curious for myself.
Sade: Yeah, we don’t know either.
The Recreationalist: You mentioned earlier that wellness is something that’s found a lot later, if at all, in a lot of marginalized communities. What have your family’s generational wellness journeys looked like?
Glynn: I grew up understanding that self-care was working, working, working until you’re about to collapse, and then taking a break.
Chelséa: It’s different [from mine]. The generational gap is clear. My mom and sister definitely make fun of me for taking more time for wellness than they think to.
Sade: I’m very privileged in that my mom emphasized self-care for us. Therapy for us as a Black family was a very open thing. I feel like in the same way that you go to the gym, you have to work the muscles in your mind. And it’s nothing to be ashamed about.
Glynn: It’s a process for sure. Even thinking about our history in this country, it’s always been about work from the very beginning. So our self-care is a reclamation of a human right, in a way.
The Recreationalist: Wow.
Chelséa: Rest is kind of a privilege. There are some things that other people can take a break from and step away from — we can’t. It is a reality that there are other burdens, for lack of a better word, that we just have to deal with.
Glynn: That’s a great point. Caring about Black and Brown lives? Those are things you can’t take a rest from.
Even thinking about our history in this country, It’s always been about work from the very beginning. So our self-care is a reclamation of a human right, in a way.
Written by Joanne Xu
This interview was edited for clarity and length.