“A wealth of empirical evidence demonstrates that experiencing discrimination, especially when chronic, is associated with a myriad of negative physical and mental health outcomes, including anxiety, depression, traumatic reactions, and even psychosis.”
Remember there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to feel. People react in different ways to trauma, so don’t tell yourself (or anyone else) what you should be thinking, feeling, or doing. Check out this page on radical healing for additional resources.
Some suggested steps for coping/healing:
Don’t ignore your feelings—it will only slow recovery. It may seem better in the moment to avoid experiencing your emotions, but they exist whether you’re paying attention to them or not. Even intense feelings will pass if you simply allow yourself to feel what you feel.
Reconnect with people to the vibrant strengths of your ancestry and culture, helping people process the grief of past traumas, and creating new historical narratives can have healing effects for those experiencing historical trauma.
Reestablish routine. There is comfort in the familiar. Getting back—as much as possible—to your normal routine will help you minimize traumatic stress, anxiety, and hopelessness. Even if your work or school routine is disrupted, you can structure your day with regular times for eating, sleeping, spending time with family, and relaxing.
Put major life decisions on hold. Making big life decisions about home, work, or family while traumatized will only increase the stress in your life. If possible, try to wait until life has settled down, you’ve regained your emotional balance, and you’re better able to think clearly.
Avoid obsessively reliving the traumatic event. Repetitious thinking or viewing horrific images over and over can overwhelm your nervous system, making it harder to think clearly. Partake in activities that keep your mind occupied (read, watch a movie, cook, play with your kids), so you’re not dedicating all your energy and attention to the traumatic event.
Trust yourself, family, and close friends to support you.
Know that healing is a process, be patient with yourself.
The Asian Mental Health Project– founded by Carrie Zhang, offers a safe space for Asian individuals to engage in mental health commentary that centers on the needs of the Asian community.
Deconolizing Therapy– founded by Dr. Jennifer Mullan, a mental health support social movement, to make sure clients, especially queer BIPOC folks, had access to resources that acknowledge the legacy of racism and the impact of multigenerational trauma.
QTPOC Mental Health– founded by Dom Chatterjee. QTPOC Mental Health exists to “connect trans and queer people of color to resources, including each other, and create online and in real life support.”
The Loveland Therapy Fund– founded by Rachel Cargle, provides financial assistance, so Black women and girls have access to a comprehensive list of mental health professionals across the country that provide high-quality, culturally competent services during COVID-19 and beyond.
Therapy for Black Grils Thrive Tribe– founded by Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, provides therapy, an opportunity for the community, and direct access to resources. These days she highlights a range of COVID-coping strategies, including but not limited to pandemic-related anxiety.
Brown Girl Therapy– founded by Sahaj Kohlim, so that those who hail from immigrant backgrounds—especially South Asians, first-gens, hyphenates, and women of color—had a place to learn more about therapy and identity exploration.
The Nap Ministry– founded by Tricia Hersey, because living through systemic oppression is exhausting and the lack of rest experienced by BIPOC individuals impacts their physical and mental health. She wants folks to examine the liberating power of naps and believes that rest and napping are necessary for all that we hope to achieve, including resistance.
Inclusive Therapists– founded by Melody Li, FMFT, to create a place where individuals of a wide range of backgrounds could go to find transparent and value-based inclusive care. In an attempt to reduce the impact of COVID-19, they are offering reduced-fee virtual therapy or teletherapy.
The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation– founded by Taraji P. Henson, aims to increase access to mental health professionals in urban schools as well as in the public sector and reduce the prison recidivism rate through partnerships with other organizations. In response to COVID-19, they’re offering up to five free sessions to Black Americans who are dealing with life-altering stress and anxiety related to the coronavirus through the COVID-19 Free Virtual Therapy Support Campaign.
Latinx Therapy– founded by Adriana Alejandre, LMFT, a bilingual podcast and directory that aims to “break the stigma of mental health as it relates to the Latinx community while teaching self-help techniques, how to support oneself and their loved ones struggling with mental illnesses, and create cultural competency for other providers working with the Latinx population.”
Therapy for Black Men– founded by Vladimire Calixte, so men and boys of color would have a dedicated place to visit when seeking support for mental health guidance or professionals. In addition, this site was created to help strip away the stigmatization associated with men of color regarding therapy in their communities at large.
Get educated. Getting educated includes learning about the way that power, privilege, and oppression have impacted others’ lives, as well as your own. It’s not the job of marginalized groups to educate non-marginalized people on history or their experiences. The biggest mistake you can make is to ask BIPOC people to perform the labor of teaching you about what they are experiencing and how you should behave.
Listen more and speak less. If you are not part of the BIPOC community, it is important to listen to BIPOC voices first and foremost. Every group of people should have self-determination when it comes to defining a social movement and responses to injustice.
Speak out against racism. When you see racism rearing its head in your day-to-day life, say something. Too often, people of color are left holding all the responsibility for educating others and speaking up about racism, but racism is everyone’s issue. At the same time, avoid speaking for other groups of people (which can be inaccurate, reductionist, or even unintentionally condescending), and stick to sharing your own opinions and viewpoints.
Know the difference between intent and impact. It’s easy to recognize overt racism, but it can be harder to recognize – and therefore, to challenge – racism when it comes to good intentions. Allies recognize that well-intended actions can sometimes have an unintentional negative or hurtful impact. They are willing to listen non-defensively and try to understand the perspectives of people of color when they express discomfort, hurt, or anger.
Own up to your mistakes. If you are not Black, you will never understand the experience of a Black person, and it’s important to remember that. When you make a mistake, be willing to get called on it and apologize. Learn from it and do better.
Implicit bias refers to unconscious attitudes, reactions, and beliefs that affect our behavior and understanding. These biases are the foundation of stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination. Often we do not recognize our implicit biases or the ingrained cultural and social conditioning that can affect our decision-making and attitudes towards others. However, whether you recognize it or not, implicit biases disproportionality affect the lives of BIPOC persons. Learn more about what implicit bias is at the Standford Encylopedia of Philosophy.
Online Courses & Assessments:
Implicit Associations Test (IAT). Project Implicit was designed to provide the opportunity for individuals to assess conscious and unconscious preferences by measuring your reaction time in various tasks. Exercises have been created to measure possible hidden biases you may have regarding a range of issues and populations.
13th (2016)- “In this thought-provoking documentary, scholars, activists and politicians analyze the criminalization of African Americans and the US prison boom.”
LA 92 (2017)- ” “Previously unseen footage is shaped into a fresh and timely retelling of the 1992 Rodney King trial — and the verdict that sparked civil unrest.”
What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)- “Nina Simone achieved fame, fortune, and legend status. But she wanted more: She wanted equality.”
Strong Island (2017)- “The forces of family, grief, and racial injustice coverge in this Oscar-nominated documentary exploring the murder of filmmaker Yance Ford’s brother.”
Tell Us All (2017)- “It’s been decades since Brown v. Board of Education, yet American schools remain largely segregated. Some leaders are working to change that.”
Mudbound (2017)- “Two Mississippi families — one black, one white — confront the brutal realities of prejudice, farming, and friendship in a divided World War II era.”
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (2017)- “As she fights the tide of violence against trans women, activist Victoria Cruz probes the suspicious 1992 death of her friend Marsha P. Johnson.”
Becoming (2020)- “Join former first lady Michelle Obama in an intimate documentary looking at her life, hopes, and connection with others as she tours with Becoming.”
Moonlight (2016)- “In this acclaimed coming-of-age drama, a young man who grows up poor, black, and gay in a rough Miami neighborhood tries to find his place in the world.”
The Black Godfather (2019)- “This documentary follows the life of Clarence Avant, the ultimate, uncensored mentor and behind-the-scenes rainmaker in music, film, TV, and politics.”
Whose Streets? (2017)- “Told by the activists and leaders who live and breathe this movement for justice, Whose Streets? is an unflinching look at the Ferguson uprising.”
Sorry to Bother You (2018)- “In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, telemarketer Cassius Green discovers a magical key to professional success, propelling him into a macabre universe.”
If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)- “Based on the novel by James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk is a soulful drama about a young couple fighting for justice in the name of love and the promise of the American dream.”
Black Stories Presents: Your Attention Please (2020)- “Hosted by Craig Robinson, this three-part series explores nine black voices who are part of the next generation of excellence.”
I Am Not Your Negro (2017)- “Director Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished, Remember This House. It is a journey into black history that connects the civil rights movement to #BlackLivesMatter. It questions black representation in Hollywood and beyond.”
The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (2013)- “This six-hour PBS series explores the evolution of the African-American people, as well as the multiplicity of cultural institutions, political strategies, and religious and social perspectives they developed — forging their own history, culture, and society against unimaginable odds.”
Just Mercy (2019)- “A powerful true story that follows young lawyer Bryan Stevenson and his battle for justice as he defends a man sentenced to death, despite evidence proving his innocence.”