Thoughts from Dr. B: #racialtrauma is real
Over the past several years, there has been an increased awareness of the every day discrimination that occurs in the lives of people of color, especially those of people who are Black and/or of African descent. Some people have been surprised by these harsh realities, as there seems to have been an assumption that our society is beyond racism or has ascended to some sort of post-racial fantastical nirvana. If no one has told you before, please know that racism still exists within the fabric of American society. It may look different, but it is real.
Racism has a detrimental impact on those who are victim to it. Some of the residual effects can negatively influence mental health and well-being. Despite not being in the DSM 5, many have come to acknowledge that racial trauma is real. It may be difficult to wrap your mind around, but in my experience, there are some common markers and symptoms of racial trauma. Symptoms can be similar to that of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and can include depression, hypergivilance, fear and anxiety. This may happen when driving on the road and seeing a Black person being pulled over by police. It is not uncommon for the heart to race, breathing to become shallow, and fear to set in. It may also happen when entering a space that is predominately White and wondering if it is a safe space. It is evident in those times when you awaken and are too emotionally exhausted at the necessity of having to navigate the world as a Black person. It can be noted in the various feelings of outrage, sadness, numbness, and confusion when confronted with the barrage of news stories showing the violent murders of Black people by some individuals within law enforcement.
Racial trauma is not specific to Black individuals, but there is research that notes the specific symptoms of certain mental health illnesses Black people experience as a result of race based stress. If you experience any of this, please know you are not alone. Your feelings and experiences are valid. And yes, it is exhausting. We all deserve to feel safe in the world, but the reality is that many people do not have the privilege of that safety.
Talk to someone. There are people here to listen. - Dr. B.
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Check out this link for more references: https://www.counseling.org/news/aca-blogs/aca-member-blogs/aca-member-blogs/2017/12/12/mental-health-and-the-current-times-racial-trauma
Check out this link for therapists: therapyforblackgirls.com