According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, “Despite being currently five to six generations removed from slavery, the trauma of enslavement was so severe that it implanted a psychological and social shock in the minds of Black people. Current generations still carry the scars mentally and socially. In addition to knowing that this is the history of Black people in America, the systemic racism that has remained in place since the end of slavery has resulted in ongoing racial trauma and injustices to Black people, such as racial profiling, voter suppression and overrepresentation in the criminal justice system. Enduring constant prejudice, discrimination and bias takes a toll on one’s mental health. “
Amen. Yes, it does.
Whether you are a Black person who has ancestors who survived the slave trade in the Americas, or you are a more recent African immigrant to the shores of the United States, I would argue that our treatment today in this society is still based upon the remnants of slavery. Therefore, many of us carry “scars” that are mentally traumatic; and our minds and bodies take the toll.
Every day when I read or hear certain news subjects, although the topic may be shocking or new for some, it appears to be the same injustice I read about yesterday, but it has a different date, victim, and location. I give the article a mental eye roll, I may send it to a friend to receive their cyber-eye roll (can you believe this?), and I try to continue my workday and not be impacted by what I just absorbed. Was anyone surprised of the sham interviews Brian Flores endured to become an NFL coach? I have been on dozens of sham interviews. What about selling your house while Black, and getting a lowball house estimate/offer? Oh, you didn’t remove any signs of being Black from your house when trying to sell it? What about not getting the proper medical care? Does your doctor listen to you and treat you effectively? I will not speak for anyone else – but I am tired. Very tired.
As reported by U.S. National Committee for UN Women, Metropolitan New York Chapter in the article, “How Black Womxn are Overwhelmed by Trauma amid a Mental Health Crisis”,
“Black womxn are faced with a mental health crisis like none other – and many are facing it alone. With the onset of the pandemic, Black womxn disproportionately faced greater strains on financial, physical and mental health yet are expected, through pernicious social constructs, to be pillars of strength…This trauma is often bypassed by psychologists today – who are still overwhelmingly white (just 2% of U.S. psychiatrists are Black, of all genders) – a frustration for Black women trying to get their voices heard and needs met. “
For many reasons, Black women carry an extra burden. This is sound statement and no need for debate. So, please keep these actions in mind while taking care of your mind and body:
- Surround yourself with good people, develop a good support system of people with whom you can share your highs and lows – who can encourage you and offer sound advice.
- Walk. Get fresh air. Go for a drive. Drink water. This will help clear your mind and give you the strength to go back into the arena and fight the good fight once again.
- Seek professional help – and if possible – someone who looks like you, cares about you, and listens to you! If you are grieving, sad, or depressed – why continue to suffer without help? You will learn things about yourself that only a professional can help you see. I must return to #2. This will help clear your mind and give you the strength to go back into the arena and fight the good fight once again.
- Educate ourselves on ALL the history, to provide the framework to understand where we are TODAY.
- Call it. Call out and identify mistreatment and injustice, and if you are not listened to, then your next steps must be carefully planned. Step wisely.
In the end, I celebrate my entire history every day, by trying to live and do right by my parents, grandparents, and all my ancestors before me. We must continue to overcome because of them.
 National Alliance of Mental Illness, https://www.nami.org/Your-Journey/Identity-and-Cultural-Dimensions/Black-African-American