Since the incident of George Floyd’s killing by the Minneapolis police, many people started having critical conversations about racial violence and justice. The trauma of dealing with these issues for hundreds of years, like the people of color have, can be exhausting. According to Reina Gattuso, a Talkspace author, most people of color have experienced racial injustice. She states that her experience was mostly through her job. She is among the few black psychology professionals in a field where around 66% of professionals are white.
Barbara Herring specializes in working with people in the LGBTQ+ community, people of color, and white allies who want to understand racial discrimination and violence. Herring advises that people of color take below steps in their fight for racial justice:
Own up to the trauma
For the past few weeks, new stories about racism have dominated the nation’s headlines and have gained international recognition. The trauma and pain of racial violence started hundreds of years ago. People of color have lived through it in the U.S. Herring encourages everyone to acknowledge the pain and suffering caused by the hyper-vigilance and acts of violence they have experienced. While there are many negative languages surrounding victims, it is essential to acknowledge that it’s not your fault. Herring states that this is the first step towards healing. Trauma can look like sadness, rage, or numerous other feelings. She says that it’s okay to reach out for help and ask for support to aid the healing process.
When people take to the streets to fight for loved ones and their communities, it can be tempting to do everything without taking breaks. Herring reminds activists and people of color to take breaks and care for their mental and physical health. Taking to the streets for protests against a cause close to your heart is emotionally and physically tasking. This is incredibly hard for people of color who have lived under the fear of interpersonal violence and incarceration.
Herring states that it’s too exhausting to go out every day to protest. It’s therefore essential to take some days off to reset and boost your energy levels. Tired, traumatized, and stressed-out people don’t always make sound and reasonable decisions. Exhaustion and fatigue can escalate a conflict, which would otherwise have been peacefully resolved.
When you are focused on your cause, taking a break can make you feel guilty. You may be wondering if you could be doing more. Remember that white supremacy, although placed on your shoulders, is not your responsibility. Instead of pushing yourself harder beyond your capacity, focus on your talents and strengths. Use them to push for racial justice in the fight against racial violence.
As a person, resting is an integral part of your health and wellness- something most white supremacists try to take away from black people. Herring advises that it’s okay to stay home, sleep, rest, and do nothing
Be gently and compassionate with yourself
When fighting for survival, it is not easy to be tender and compassionate with yourself. However, Herring advises that it’s essential to keep your joy. Being joyful and exercising self-care are ways of challenging capitalists and white supremacists’ assumptions and traditions that people of color’s only worth is their value to white society and their economic productivity.
Everyone is prone to struggling with self-criticism; Herring states that she started feeling guilty for not taking to the streets; however, she reminded herself that providing therapy is also an essential part of the movement.
She advises activists to be intentional, do things that bring them joy such as taking a long bath, going to therapy, and talking to a friend or a loved one. The world will not always be gentle with you; therefore, you must be gentle with yourself.
For more information on Talkspace check out their social media, including Twitter which always has free mental health news and articles.