Trauma from Anti-Blackness
Important content warning: This blog entry is written by a Black woman discussing anti-Blackness trauma and some of the contents may be triggering and re-traumatizing especially to members of the Black community. At the end of the blog there are resources to help cope with racial trauma, feel free to skip this blog and go to the resources below.
This has been one of the hardest pieces I have written. I have written many papers and speeches, but every time I sat down to write about the trauma from anti-Blackness, I struggled. I tried to write this blog for two to three months, and I have gone through an array of emotions. First there was avoidance, then I was all over the place trying to add too much, and finally there was a wave of grief. I realized my issue was not writing about anti-Blackness trauma but the trauma itself. Writing about my trauma as a Black woman. When I sat to write this piece, it was like putting an open flame to a wound that has not healed.
I wanted to accomplish so much with this blog. I wanted to try and explain the trauma that I have experienced as a Black person from years of discrimination, bias, racism, and hate. I was going to open myself up in hopes that the trauma in the Black community no longer goes unnoticed. I wanted to share that daily, I try to give grace even though it was likely the 20th micro-aggression of the day. I wanted to explain that I make room to discuss other forms of oppression when I specifically want to discuss anti-Blackness, but I understand that it makes others uncomfortable to talk about. I wanted to share the erasure I feel when society tells me that we are passed race issues in America, but I know my lived experience. I wanted to write this piece with the hope that maybe society would see Blacks as humans who are entitled to be cared for not to be feared, feel threatened by, or appropriated. I wanted the reader to feel and understand the trauma. This was going to be my love letter to the Black community, to say I will open my wounds so you can focus on your physical and mental health. To let the Black community know I see, hear, and feel them. To accomplish this in the way I initially envisioned, I would need to share things that I am not ready or prepared to share. So instead, I will share what I can and then provide information and resources on racial trauma at the end.
While writing this blog over the last few months there have been so many things that have happened that have made writing this piece more difficult. Tyre Nichols was killed, and his brutal death was played over and over for all to see. Then, of course, whenever there are police killings of Black people the media must dissect and discuss it. Black people are unable to just mourn and grieve. The folks in the media sometimes forget that there are people watching this and reliving their own trauma. My reality when watching the media coverage was pure rage and sadness because as a Black person in America, I knew the conversation would never get to the heart of the issue, which is anti-Blackness. It is not just anti-Blackness from White people but anti-Blackness from all people because we are all living in a culture of White Supremacy that has perpetuated these hierarchical norms based on race, and maintains Whiteness as the norm and standard and the devaluement of Blacks. We have all grown up with this socialization.
In addition to the frequent trauma from police violence and media coverage, there is trauma in my daily life. In the past few months my 10 year old son was punched in the mouth and called a n****r by a 6 year old. My son has been referred to as a slave. My daughter’s hair was laughed at and touched. How do I make my children proud of their heritage when they are constantly reminded of the hate? How do I help them deal with anti-Blackness trauma when I am still struggling with it?
The trauma is further compounded when you are not believed or gaslighted. Constantly explaining the trauma you endure to make others see, believe, or understand you. Hoping that one day your trauma will not be questioned or repeatedly put on display just so the rest of society can understand.
When asked what the title of this blog would be, it took me a while to figure it out. The first thought was “Black trauma” because that is largely what this piece is about. The trauma that Blacks endure from years of racism, discrimination, bias, segregation and hate. However, Black trauma just didn’t seem right because it is not necessarily the trauma of being Black but more precisely living with the intentional systems created in the name of anti-Blackness.
If Blackness was just attributed to the rich, unique, and diverse culture that it is, we would not be discussing the trauma of being Black. However, it is not just attributed to that but also linked to a legacy of systemic oppression, institutional racism and discrimination, exclusion, and hate. How can one thrive in a society with that attribution? By coping. Having strategies to help deal with the stress, anxiety and depression that can come with racial or anti-Blackness trauma.
It took me a while to figure out the toll anti-Blackness has taken on me. For so long I was merely surviving, putting on my armor to protect myself daily. The problem was sometimes I forgot to take the armor off to truly see who I am and who I have become. Now, although I still armor myself, I remember to not only take it off but to grieve and sit with the trauma. I get help when I am struggling, and use techniques to get me through a day or week. I remove myself from harmful situations when needed, and I am conscious of the need to address the generational trauma of anti-Blackness. I want to help my kids deal with their trauma in a supportive environment. I do this in hopes that one day my trauma, OUR trauma, becomes more important than other folks' comfort.
To get support to cope with racial trauma or anti-Blackness trauma, please see resources below:
Below are some resources that discuss racial trauma:
There are several scholarly articles on racial trauma through Google Scholar
Below are some resources on anti-Blackness