I can’t tell you how much it angers me to have to be writing this right now.
Didn’t we just run with Maud last week?
And today we have to stand with Breonna…
It’s not that we don’t want to support our fellow brothers and sisters who are being gunned down in cold-blooded murder by the police, but it’s that we shouldn’t still have to.
This is 2020, and for many, the life of a black person is no more valuable than it was 200 years ago.
And it’s traumatic to be black in this environment!
While the rest of the world is responding with a variety of opinions that will likely further traumatize you, I’d like to offer a few mental health tips for handling the rage of loosing black lives to police brutality.
Just Breathe. Like with all bad news, learning of another police brutality against a person that looks like you can be so painful, that it literally takes your breath away. Take a moment to intentionally breathe and let your thoughts go in and out. Acknowledge and process the idea that you are upset but you are also safe with each breath that you take. This is important because the truth is, the reason that most of us are affected by this, is because either one of us could have been Maud or Breonna. By breathing to the tune of safety, we are recognizing and are honoring that at the very moment, we are safe, and this is necessary so that we can process our feelings of sadness (and do what we can about it).
Recognize the progress that has been made. I know it seems like it’s not much, because lynchings of helpless black men and women has occurred for centuries in our country, on a regular basis. But in today’s age, at least we have the support of having video footage, #blacklivesmatter support, and media outlets to express our outrage about our injust, justice system. While we stand in agreement that we should not have to consult these resources because racism should be a thing of the past, at least they are available to help spread awareness about these instances of the senseless violence against black people. Most states have some form of discrimination laws that they have been in place and most people believe that racism is wrong, even though it still happens. A lot of this is about education, and even though we should not have to educate, as it’s a person’s responsibility to educate themselves on social injustice issues, resources are available to utilize and spread awareness and fight injustice in ways that were not available centuries or even decades ago.
Hold your white friends accountable. We often talk about race, as if it is an issue that only affects black people. In doing so, we forget that our white friends also have a race. Not only do they have a race, but the white race is the race of power. And from any multicultural perspective, it is important that the person in power, whether the issue is race (white people), gender (men), religion (Christians), sexuality (heterosexuals) ect, those in power must recognize that not only does their power exist, but those in power have an obligation use it to speak about the injustices of those who do not have it. In other words, if you find yourself having relationships with white people, where it’s not safe to talk about racial injustice, it’s time to re-examine that relationship because it’s their friends and peers who are responsible for racist ideologies towards blacks. Though the conversation is sensitive, if they really care about you, they will take issue seriously as it relates to your life and well-being.
Advocate for social reform. This can be done in a variety of ways. Attending rallies, writing letters to governors, wear #blacklivesmatter paraphernalia, post on social media platforms, etc. These are all a few ways that you can fight racial injustice whether you are an extravert or not. The most important thing, however, is that you don’t just sit still and do nothing. In the words of the amazing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.”
Consult with your Faith. Sometimes when we are confronted with such overwhelming pain, we find ourselves feeling like we have to do something to stop it. On many occasions, we simply can’t, at least not in that moment. But for those of us who consult and a higher power, it’s through that power that change can occur. You see, faith is believing in something even when what you see tells you something different. It is through this faith that so many miracles have occurred and so much progress has been made. I know it can be hard, and overwhelming to keep praying and requesting for change and not seeing results, but it really only takes one decision to change the fate of the world forever. It requires that we keep diligent and trusting that something is greater than you that is at play and that it’s through this great force that change will come. It’s something that our ancestors have relied on since the beginning of time, and it’s something that we must continue to do encourage long change and results.
Speak with your children about racism. I’m a mother too, and one of the things I pride myself on the most is protecting my children from pain. But the reality of it is, if you don’t expose your child to racism, someone else will. It’s best if you take authority over the conversation so that they can develop the strongest sense of identity and pride within themselves. It’s a conversation that is very challenging, but it could very well protect your child’s life.
Hire a therapist. Police brutality and blacks is heavy stuff and it’s a lot to process. But you have support here at Black Marriage and Family Therapy Matters. If you would like to speak with someone about the overwhelming pain associated with losing black people to police brutality, please contact one of our therapists today.