9 ways to cope with racism and trauma
July 09, 2016 at 2:00 am
In times of terror and trauma, not all of us have the capacity to fight. In times of terror and trauma, justice, working within the political system and advocating for fair legislation can begin to feel very intangible.
What is tangible, however, is the pain and trauma that I witness in myself and those around me. In a report on the Trauma of Racism, the McSilver Institute at NYU states, "the trauma of racism refers to the cumulative negative impact of racism on the lives of people of color. Encompassing the emotional, psychological, health, economic and social effects of multigenerational and historical trauma, trauma of racism relates to the damaging effects of ongoing societal and intra-social-group racial micro aggressions, internalized racism, overt racist experiences, discrimination and oppression within the lives of people of color."
For anyone looking for ways to combat the mental and emotional effects of recent news, see 9 ways that you can help yourself and your community combat the trauma of racism.
1. Take care of yourself and encourage those around you to do the same.
Eat well. Practice Yoga. Breathe. Meditate. Racism doesn't only effect our psyche but our physical health as well: "The theory of historical trauma has been used in examinations of disease prevalence and health disparities linked to traumas inflicted upon historically subjugated groups, positing that populations subjected to long-term, mass trauma—colonialism, slavery, war, genocide— have a higher burden of disease than others" (Via McSilver)
2. Create safe spaces.
Even if it's just you and your close friends, be in community with people that you can speak comfortably around about how you're really feeling.
3. Don't guilt-trip yourself or those around you for "not doing enough."Disillusionment is real and its okay to not feel ready to be on the front lines
4. Be mindful of the images you digest.
Steer clear of watching police brutality videos, turn off your autoplay settings, and take breaks from social media.
5. If you have access to mental health resources, use them.
Try the Black Therapist Network, or AfricanAmericanTherapists.com for list of black mental health practitioners.
6. Spread the word about access to free mental health resources.
7. Exert your energy in healthy ways.
Go to the gym, take a boxing class, release anger and energy that might be building up from all the negative information you're consuming.
8. Keep up with cathartic habits.
If its making music, painting, drawing or writing, keep doing what makes you feel alive.
9. Search for inspiration, even when it feels like there's none left.
Listen to Maya Angelou's poetry, read a James Baldwin essay, remind yourself of where you come from, how resilient you are and what you have overcome.
Do you have additional ways we can help care for ourselves and our communities? Share them in the comments below.