The Impacts of Racial Trauma on the Mental Health of Communities of Color // Kenya Crawford

Picture: NY Times           
On any given day, you can turn on the news and be subjected to witnessing the murder of a Black body. Witnessing these gruesome and inhumane racially traumatic images can have substantial impacts on the mental health of communities of color. Furthermore, hearing these deaths gone unnoticed and rarely met with any convictions can ignite frustrations, sadness, despair, anger, and exhaustion.

What is Racial Trauma?
Racial trauma is one term used to describe the physical and psychological symptoms that people of color often experience after being exposed to stressful experiences of racism (Carter, 2007).

Effects of Racial Trauma on People of Color
After experiencing racial trauma, people of color are susceptible to fear and hypervigilance, headaches, insomnia, body aches, memory difficulty, self-blame, confusion, shame, and guilt (Bryant-Davis & Ocampo, 2005; Carter, 2007; Helms, Nicolas, & Green, 2010). The way in which people color experience the effects of racial trauma varies. Yet what is consistent is that when people of color experience racism more frequently, their symptoms tend to intensify (Bryant-Davis & Ocampo, 2005).

What you can do?
Many of the people who took the moment to read a blog titled, The Impacts of Racial Trauma on the Mental Health of Communities of Color, are likely to have some experiences with racial trauma. Therefore, instead of educating you on a lived experienced this blog hopes to highlights ways to preserve mental health.

Acknowledge. Dismissing and suppressing these emotions will not make them go away. Instead they will surface in other aspects of your life, many times in an unhealthy fashion. The first step is allowing yourself to feel. Regardless of what that feeling is, you are warranted an emotional reaction after witnessing a murder.

Self-Care. This has become a phenomenon that has gain greater attention recently. Yet to date so many people still struggle with finding a healthy balance between existing in this society and finding time for themselves. Take an hour out of your day to completely spoil yourself, you deserve it! Whether it is Netflixing, taking a walk, or yoga, use that time to recharge.

Seek Support. America has been referred to as an individualistic culture time and time again. For people of color, a community is paramount for our well-being. Find the time to seek mentors, community based organizations, or a just a space where you can be unapologetically you.

Therapy. No, I’m not just saying this because I work in the field. Therapy provides you a space to explore your emotions in a safe and nonjudgmental space. I’m sure talking to your best friend helps but their assistance is nothing compared to a trained clinician. In order to survive this world your mental health is of the utmost importance.

Remember we are RESILIENT!
As a community, people of color have proven our resilience time and time again. Regardless of the systemic oppression we face on a daily basis, we still find a way to thrive and survive. Our narrative will not begin and end with racial trauma. We are strong, melaninate, and beautiful!

Carter, R. T. (2007). Racism and psychological and emotional injury recognizing and assessing race-based traumatic stress. The Counseling Psychologist, 35(1), 13-105.

Bryant-Davis, T., & Ocampo, C. (2005). Racist incident–based trauma. The Counseling Psychologist, 33(4), 479-500.

Helms, J. E., Nicolas, G., & Green, C. E. (2010). Racism and ethnoviolence as trauma: Enhancing professional training. Traumatology, 16(4), 53.

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