Addressing The Uncomfortable Topic Of African Students Stuck In Ukraine
Survival mode is scary, but be sharp, resilient and fair.
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I read an interesting article titled “How We Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over” that explains the use of “toddler-brain” in times of crisis. I’m going to use that concept to delicately explain to Ukrainians everywhere why they are discriminating against Africans, even though it doesn’t make any logical sense to try to trap foreigners into a country they themselves are trying to leave. As recently reported by Blavity, thousands of Africans had been left to fend for themselves in Ukraine.
“In our stress, we tend to retreat to habits of emotional regulation formed in toddlerhood.” Dr. Steven Stosny explains. Right now, the world is watching, Ukraine, and it may seem like no one has done enough to help you but look up, the sun is brightening. Germany stepped up. America has stood up. Europe is standing up. Switzerland has ended decades of neutrality to stand with you. We, the world, understand that this is a senseless war. And anyone who goes after or pursues the satisfaction of a senseless war just to pump up their chest and say “I’m the best” is a narcissist. (i.e. Putin) So, be fair to each other, so I can support you. We are human beings at war, a senseless war. Remember who the enemy is. It is not us you are at war with.
As a Black person in America, it pained me to see the claims of discrimination pouring in. I am stunned. I openly advocated for the Ukrainians getting more aid before the opinion was popular and, yes, I know this is uncomfortable and, yes, I understand you are in crisis, but the point is, according to a Ph.D. holding psychiatrist, under times of stress human beings tend to resort to the habits formed in toddlerhood. To discriminate against Black people during a time of fear is disgusting and obviously “toddler-brain” in action. It’s a habit we must break.
We are with you. Pay attention, the world is watching. Stand up for your brothers and sisters in crisis. Survival mode is scary, but be sharp, resilient and fair. Be kind. Be determined to win. Don’t be racist.
The toddler brain is dominated by feelings rather than analysis of fact. You feel lonely, you feel threatened and you feel betrayed, so you start behaving like a child. The Psychology Today article is truly interesting and relevant to today’s events. After reading it, I thought about it for a while in my comfortable armchair — sun streaking into my sunny office, hot cup of tea in my hand, privilege seeping out of my pores. I thought of all the ways that I do the very thing I am condemning other people for. I checked myself as well.