Race based trauma is real and we have been dealing with so much of it recently. It’s not as if it hasn’t always occurred, it’s just that technology has magnified it and it has become even more triggering. Last night I was on edge and cranky and short with my son, he is a sloppy mess so I can justify the picking, however it really had nothing to do with the fact that he sucks at doing the dishes or didn’t pick his shirt up off the floor. I mentioned to a friend that we pray daily as we all leave the house and how my son laughed saying I was going so hard last week when he left driving an X5 to head to school.
I fear him being mistaken for someone else, stopped and questioned because he is driving a BMW in a nice neighborhood (his school neighborhood) or him simply pulling over to use his phone and chill. This week we again witness video footage of an unarmed man, Terence Crutcher being shot and killed by those who were sworn to serve and protect. It reminded me my fears are not unfounded. Last night I was angry and haunted as West Indians say. The house was a mess, my hair needed washing, laundry needed folding and I had work to finish but I was paralyzed. I felt like a phony because I launched a site that promotes self-care and couldn’t get up to do the very things I needed to preserve my sanity and care for myself, shy of pour a glass of wine.
This is not the first time that this happened and it won’t be the last unfortunately so today I am functioning because I have to. This site was created due to the weight last years personal and societal problems had on me and the fact that many women shared with me their struggles and the need to support each other through pain. So let me share with you a few things that have been helping me and a few in my circle deal with race based trauma.
-Disconnect and Stay Away from the comments- The moment a tragedy hits it is so easy to fall into the black hole of never ending clicks. For many of us, myself included this can be triggering, all it takes is one comment or insensitive post leaving you ready to fight. I made that mistake last night and I know better. Put the phone down, close the computer, turn the tv off and walk away. You have a lifetime to prove how “woke” you are, your ‘wokeness” doesn’t go away because you decided to protect your spirit.
–Go To Your Safe Space- Your safe space can be a physical space or finding comfort in a person or activity that brings you peace. I remember when the Sandy Hook shooting happened I ran, I ran longer and harder than I ever had before, I ran and I cried and I came home and I started to deal. When thr Trayvon Martin verdict came in I took to running. Running, praying, and music ease my nerves so I try to focus on doing one of those things. For others it may be writing, yoga, meditation, sex, laughing and playing with your kids, reading, Netflix, or being with love ones. What ever it is that makes you feel at ease and safe go there, be there.
–Do Something- Many times we feel so powerless when a tragedy strikes, especially one that is race based and we have an urge to help. Some people might find healing in writing a poem, a letter to the family, making a donation to the family or an organization that is working to eradicate race based traumas. You can also go and volunteer at an organization for the day or a public school in a low performing area that needs support, boys and girls club or team. Sometimes any kind of action can help combat the feeling of powerlessness.
Break a sweat- According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers—and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.
Call your therapist or Find One- Therapy is still very taboo in our culture but has never been more necessary in times like these. We fail to realize that race based traumas can trigger PTSD, repeatedly witnessing and being forced to react threaten your physical and psychological well being and sometimes only therapy or support groups will help you to cope.
Talk it Out- Find your tribe, call your girls or guy and talk about what is hurting. Cry, shout, scream, let it out with someone who will be supportive and empathetic and more than likely be feeling the same pain.
Spread Love- I have always loved our boys and felt they were worthy of knowing that I “see” them. As I ran home this morning and told a young man picking out his fro in a car mirror “Nice Cut” the energy exchange was good for us both. He smiled and said thanks and I fought everything in me not to give him a hug and tell him he mattered (being weird I’m sure would do more damage than good lol). Offer a compliment to your sis who is rocking the hell out of that fro or who’s face is beat to the god’s, homegirl who is wearing that dress or bruh with the nice suit or shoes. Say hello or good morning as you walk past a stranger. Offer your seat to someone on the train or bus, offer to carry groceries to a car, tell the mom with the screaming toddler that she is doing a great job. Share good energy, spread love.
Find Solace in Natures Arms. Go outside and let the hot sun, cool breeze, frigid air, the magic of whatever season resides revive you and remind you that you are alive. There is some energy that only nature can restore.
Today I feel better and am ready to interact with the day. My son woke and dressed and we prayed before he left. I took baby girl to school and I went for a run, my run was weak but the sweat felt good and when I got home I washed my hair. I am alive and I am grieving the life of one I have never met, yet and still I am trying to be courageous and care for myself today. So as I rap up this post I am going to twist my hair and tidy up the house because that will make me feel loads better. I will then go back to work and continue with the day. Please take time to feel, process and care for yourself. If you have any other coping and healing mechanisms please share them below. If nobody else said it to you today you matter and you are loved.
photo credit: Dreamstime