Racial Trauma and Social Media

On May 26 I made this Facebook post  “So in the past 3 days we’ve had a color redacted woman kill her autistic son and blame it on 2 black men. We’ve had a color redacted male youth pastor get robbed while soliciting male prostitutes and blame it on being kidnapped by 2 black men. We’ve had a color redacted liberal progressive call cops on a black man and say he was threatening her life because she asked her to leash her dog ,and a black man was killed by cops in Minneapolis. The cop kept his knee on the man’s neck and suffocated him to death. But we are the scary thugs? Oh ok.”

Since that time (two days ago for the record ). A black man has been killed by the cops in Tallahassee ,  A white man in Minneapolis racially profiled a group of  black entrepreneurs at a private gym. The Minneapolis protestors  have been gassed and shot with rubber bullets while white armed protesters have stormed capitols with no consequences,

A riot is the language of the unheard

-Rev Martin Luther King Jr.

What I have noticed is that Black people seem to be “breaking down” more often from this racial trauma.  I have seen people rationalizing why they feel their death would be more important if they are killed. I have seen people struggling on how to approach their young children to prepare them for being black in america. I have gotten so many inboxes that people are just traumatized and constantly triggered. I myself am traumatized , mad, upset, sad, hopeless, unsure of how to even process this . 

As a psychiatrist who specializes in treating trauma the first step would be to remove the person from the traumatic situation. However,  as a black person in America (or anywhere in the world, lest we think racism only happens in america ) . There is no removal.  Not only is there no removal, but because of the internet/ social media we see more and more incidents and have less time to recover between incidents. 

This constant onslaught is almost unbearable . So how do we bear it ? How do we continue to see this day after day and still work , care for our children, let our children be children, let ourselves be human ? It seems an impossible task!
I’m not going to discuss how to tackle racism in this post. That isn’t my purpose today. But I do want to plug my dear friend who has a racial trauma healing course for Black, White, Asian, Indigenous , all people. . Dr. Alauna Curry approaches racial trauma in a refreshing way to lead to healing .  Check her out here.

What I do want to discuss is how black people can take care of themselves in the age of constant racial trauma through social media and the news.  What are some things we can do to lessen the effects of racial trauma? This is obviously not an all inclusive list, but something that we can use to help us get through this . 

  1. TAKE A BREAK IF YOU NEED IT. We do not have to watch/ read/ listen to the constant barrage of traumatic images and articles. Yes we need to bear witness to what is happening. Yes we should be aware of what is happening. But we are allowed to take breaks. We are allowed to go offline. We are allowed to ask people not to tag us in these stories. We are allowed to not watch videos of people who look like us being callously killed. 
  2. THERAPY: If you can find a therapist who is well versed in racial trauma to help you get through life as a black person. DO IT. 
  3. MEDICATIONS:  Using medications to treat the systematic devaluation of black people is obviously not the best answer,  however if your anxiety , depression , fear, anger is making it hard for you to function. Medication can help. Yes, it is a bandaid. I fully realize and acknowledge that, but it is a band aid that can lessen the pain and help you function. It is a tool that can be used. Utilize it if needed. 
  4. SUPPORT: Having your tribe is paramount. Yes, I purposely used tribe. We (People of African descent ) are tribal people. . Black people throughout the globe put a lot of importance on family . Whether the family is blood or made. Lean on your tribe during this time. Other people who understand our feelings and what we are going through to provide support is important.
  5. HUMOR: Black people have always used humor to cope.  One of the things I do when I am overwhelmed is start a meme thread and ask people to “spam me “ with funny memes. Does it take away racism? Of course not. But it does get me to breath for a second. To smile. To release needed relaxation endorphins. . 
  6. MEDITATION/ PRAYER:  The effects of meditation and / or prayer (if you pray) can not be understated .  There are many apps to introduce meditation. My favorite right now is called headspace, but I also recently started using an app made by POC for POC. It’s called Liberate and it seems excellent. It even has meditations specifically for racial trauma!!!!
  7. DOING SOMETHING: Whatever that means for you . Rather it’s donating to the NAACP or other organizations, marching, protesting  or speaking out. 
  8. DOING NOTHING : If you are overwhelmed. Doing nothing is perfectly ok too. Just Surviving is ok .

Are there other things you are finding helpful during this time? Please let us know in the comments? Let’s help each other survive!