When it comes to Black History fast facts this year, “Get somebody else to do it,” like TikTok granny said. Usually I’m all for it, as Black History month has always been the cherry on top of a season filled with celebration. This year though, the thought of compiling “Who’s Who in Black History” articles is unappealing to me.
It feels pointless when on the day I pulled out my pen to get started, a video of a trained Staten Island police officer punching 13-year-old Kyonna Robinson, a Black girl, multiple times in the head is going viral.
To say the last two years have caused me to reflect deeply, acknowledge and address many angles of my own mental health is an understatement. I am facing some of the hardest battles of my life, but in terms of my mental thought process, there is one saving grace. That is knowing the grief, depression, feelings of worthlessness etc. which stem from these things shall pass. When it comes to being Black, however, the trauma is never-ending.
Racial discrimination, oppression, and prejudice are always waiting. The “when, where, and how” are unpredictable, and the toll is both psychological and physical. Never one to fold and knowing I am not the only one holding mixed emotions about what it means to be proud and Black, this year my focus is on highlighting sources of racial based traumatic stress, and their negative impact on the mental health of the Black community.
Race Based Traumatic Stress is a form of trauma experienced by people of color as a result of racism. This concept was introduced by psychologist Dr. Robert T Carter in 2007. Due to its pervasive nature it needs to be addressed.
This is because many people of color are masking, and high functioning while battling mental and physical illnesses such as anxiety depression suicidal thoughts and tendencies, persistent stress, rejection, abandonment issues, humiliation, insomnia, headaches, and the list goes on. While I will always advocate for justice and tearing down systems of oppression through educated conversation, in my heart of hearts I would love to see my kinfolk healing as individuals, as a community and beyond.
Epigenetics has proven that trauma can change a person’s genes and biologically impact the next generation. Trauma cannot be all that we leave our children to inherit. One cannot fix, what one is not aware of.
Addressing these problems will require us all to come back home to self. To stop any activities that aren’t productive, understand our personal capacity and to say “no” much more frequently. Also, to become comfortable with delegating tasks and walking away. We must prioritize radical self-care and be unapologetic about it. Let’s heal and live lives that we’re proud of.
Because if not now, then when?
If not us then who?
Happy Black History month!
A native of Phoenix, Arizona Aundrea Sayrie is a firm believer in the power of words, faith and a strong spirit. Her greatest desire is to encourage those around her to discover and honor their truth, and to passionately live on purpose.
Any views or opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Watershed Voice staff or its board of directors.