We must say his name; George Floyd, and we must remember how he was taken from us through senseless violence. The tragedy of his death is exacerbated by our inability to safely grieve due to coronavirus and the resulting restrictions placed on our families and communities. His preventable death and the many similar racist attacks against Black men and women bond us through lived experience and the vicarious trauma of unrelenting exposure to racial violence.
Research has established that African Americans are at exponentially greater risk for health problems due to prolonged exposure to systemic racism, institutionalized discrimination, microaggressions and chronic stress. The cumulative effect of these issues creates a weathering effect on our minds and bodies, leaving us more vulnerable to disease and poor mental well-being. I want this to stop for us all but especially for our young people. Though we cannot always stop the physical violence perpetrated against us, I believe we can and must fight for our mental well-being. To do so, we must first name our experiences, then utilize coping tools, a practice we call active coping.
For children and teens, strategies include parental active curation of news consumption and affirming open lines of communication.
For adults, strategies include prioritizing your mental health, stopping continuous news consumption, using social media sensitivity filters and knowing when to reach out for help. During this time, it would be easy and understandable for any of us to yield to numbness, but we must resist by acknowledging that we are hurting and that we have the capacity to actively cope. While we cannot always physically be on the front lines, our fight for equality is ongoing and I want you to have the emotional bandwidth to contribute your gifts and talents freely and as you so choose.