Written by Shalonda Edwards, LCSW (Partner of Tools for Success Counseling Service)
To be Black in America is to be a participant in a unique experiment. To have experienced trauma for generations even before your arrival yet born into space paid for by your ancestors’ blood, sweat and tears. Still there is a unique resilience in the Black experience that enables success despite strife, getting the bag even with baggage, and triumph even through the most substantial of trauma. This ability to achieve despite substantial hurdles and oppression is Black Boy Joy and Black Woman Magic personified and it is the essence of the Black experience.
It is worth noting, however, that racial trauma and oppression may often result in a lack of prioritization of one’s own mental and emotional well-being. This may present as overworking yourself, ongoing goal directed activity and prioritizing the needs of family, friends or other commitments ahead of one’s own wellness. This is often accompanied by pressure to be “strong” and present as well put together and discouragement from being help seeking or vulnerable. Ultra-independence in the black community allows one to be successful outwardly particularly with education, or career achievement even without ensuring your emotional and mental health needs are understood, met or prioritized. This can result in burnout, feelings of unhappiness or restlessness as well as feeling disconnected or stuck in general. Prolonged exposure to race-related trauma can lead to or exacerbate medical or mental health concerns such as Depression, Anxiety, PTSD or other life stressors.
Therapy, if utilized appropriately, can serve as a relief valve for many of these issues. Discussions about racial trauma with a culturally competent therapist can help you to feel validated, supported, and empowered. Additionally, therapy can help you learn skills to navigate any challenges you face, and to be more aware of and learn to cope with any of your own unhealthy behaviors, set more appropriate boundaries or care for yourself more appropriately.
Please contact us if you are interested in therapy to address any race-related trauma, micro or macro-aggressions, or feel the need to engage with a therapist of color or who is affirming to the experiences of Black people.