Healing the Wounds of Racial Trauma
Racism is a “Normal” Part of the Black Experience
I had a White colleague message me not that long ago, asking me how my family and I were doing. We had not talked in a while, and so I was happy to hear from her. I told her that I was okay and asked how she was. She replied that she was reaching out to all her African-American friends to see how they were doing. I did not know how to respond. I felt offended, overwhelmed, confused, irritated, some kinda way all at the same time. A Black man laying between concrete and a knee has opened the world’s awareness. There is interest, conversations, and ideas towards change. While this feels hopeful if you are like me and think if changes are sincere or addressing the core issues.
Beginning the Process of Healing from Racial Trauma
– Historical trauma such as slavery, lynching
– Intergenerational trauma is the impact of institutional trauma on the body. For example, heart disease, or experiencing physical distress around White people.
– Persistent Institutional trauma such as white supremacy or colonialism
– Personal trauma such as witnessing violence in your neighborhood or sexual abuse
Experiencing negative feelings or thinking about events of racism is overwhelming. Taking deep breaths can bring our physical bodies to an increased state of calm. Square breathing is a technique that helps to control your heart rate and increase focus.
Take a break
Music only makes sense, because there are pauses. Without breaks, music sounds scary and floods our senses. It’s too much. We need to take pauses and breaks from the media. Media can be news, blogs, videos, social media posts, or any way of sharing information. Cell phones allow the world of access at our fingertips. We can experience trauma symptoms from too much media. Activities such as exercising or going for a walk can help add the needed pauses. It’s okay to abstain from different platforms, especially if they trigger strong negative emotions.
Honor Your Emotions
Anger, outrage, and grief are all normal feelings when experiencing racism. Give yourself space to acknowledge all your emotions. Simply naming your feelings can be powerful. Use a feelings wheel if you need help with naming that emotion.
For many Black people and people of color, we struggle to ask for help. We have become accustomed to pain. Things usually have to be “really bad” for us to realize that we need help. The thing to remember is, people who come to you for help feel no shame asking for it. When they need help, they ask for it, and they get it. You do not have to handle everything alone. Find a friend, family member, or someone you trust to open up and share how you are feeling.
Change takes time. Although peoples’ eyes are opening, it does not mean that everything will be perfect. We all have biases and unchecked ways where we may mistreat others. These are ways known and unknown. In the past, you needed to ask someone for forgiveness. We can practice gratitude by seeing what people are doing well. Do you have White friends who seem to understand? Or do you feel that family members are being more aware of each others’ opinions? You can thank them and express gratitude for their insight and thoughtfulness.
Other Counseling Services
We help people through a wide range of issues at our Cleveland Area Counseling Center. Racism can impact other areas of your life including marital discord, anxiety, depression, and self-esteem. We are happy to help you in your path of healing.