This year has been traumatic in many ways.
A global pandemic, everything getting shut down, being quarantined, people losing their jobs, etc. However, if you’re black, all the traumatic things I mention above still apply, but so does enduring constantly seeing black people getting killed at the hands of police brutality.
Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Tony McDade are just some of the names of the black people who have recently been murder by police. For some in the black community, staying a distance of six feet apart in a global pandemic has not stopped them from getting murdered. People are still even calling police on black people during the pandemic for absurd reasons, which is also traumatic.
We cannot forget the white woman, Amy Cooper, in Central Park who called the police on a black man, Christian Cooper. He was bird watching, and asked her to remove her dog that already wasn’t supposed to be in that area of the park, according to the signs. She was frantically calling the police in a viral video, basically saying, “A black man is threatening me and my dog.” Which was not the real case. Her actions could’ve gotten Christian Cooper murdered.
Seeing the murders and false police calls against the black community, during an already collectively hard year is ridiculous, angering, tiring, and can also cause mental health issues due to racial trauma.
If you’re not familiar with the meaning of racial trauma, let’s look at this definition:
“Racial trauma or race-based traumatic stress, is the cumulative effects of racism on an individual’s mental and physical health. It has been linked to feelings of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideations, as well as other physical health issues.”
There is an alarming amount of black men and women who have expressed that they’re feeling scared, angry, tired and anxious worrying about if their black spouses, kids, etc. are going to be murdered next. Racial trauma is so serious that it can even cause PTSD symptoms from seeing the viral racially charged murders.
I’m infuriated because the black community already lacks mental health resources, understanding and support. Mental health issues are already seen as one of the ultimate weaknesses in my community. During a time where many black people are now experiencing mental health issues due to racial trauma, it’s extremely important that more knowledge on black mental health, resources and support are available.
I wanted to take the time to list a few ways the black community can take care of their mental health during this time.
1. Allow Yourself To Feel, And Express How You Feel
A lot of times we are taught to just be strong in the black community. Nothing is weak about the way you’re feeling right now. Trying to bottle up your emotions at a time like this just may not be ideal. Talking to someone about what’s going on — or even journaling about it, if you don’t feel like talking to someone else — can be beneficial.
2. Limiting Your Time On Social Media And News Channels
Right now the media is constantly talking about all the racially-driven events that are happening. Seeing it over and over can get mentally exhausting. Taking time away can be really beneficial for your mental health.
3. Meditation/Voice-Guided Meditations
Mediating to destress and calm the mind can be vital to your mental health. Culturally competent voice-guided meditations can also be extremely helpful right now.
My app, The Safe Place, a culturally competent mental health app for the black community, has a guided voice meditation on destressing after viral police brutality, and a section on self-care after seeing viral police brutality. You can find them both in The Safe Place app, which is free to download in the Android and Apple stores.
Supporting Each Other
I just want people to understand the seriousness of what’s going on right now. The black community has been experiencing racial trauma in America since our ancestors were brought over here as slaves. Not to mention after slavery you had Jim Crow, civil rights, hangings, beatings, bombings, etc. All of these things have occurred throughout the history of the black community, and here we are in 2020 still seeing modern-day lynchings.
It’s vital that black people get more mental health knowledge, support and better access to resources. Unfortunately, racial trauma is not going away anytime soon. So we must start paying more attention to it, and create the resources and change that’s needed going forward.
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