With all the media coverage on discrimination and the public outcry for political justice for people of color, I have felt all the more need to tune out and tune in. The hyper exposure to the constant acts of hate our people of color face can be overwhelming and the journey endless. In this fight, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious.
Anxiety is defined by Dictionary.com as, “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.” The feeling of nervousness can escalade into symptoms of sweaty palms, heart palpitations, rashes, paranoia, numbness, disengagement, adrenaline, and depression. As people of color, we are over aware of our placement in society, and the intersectionality of our social indicators that are unequally stigmatized become triggers of anxiety. Our identities that many times, hinge, on social constructs, can lead to “imminent events” and “uncertain outcomes,” thus we are uneasy.
I’ll always remember how my best friend’s younger sister cried in the back seat when her dad, who is a Black male, got a speeding ticket. She wept as the police officer approached the car, yelling, “Please don’t take my daddy away.” From an early age, we not only know “who we are” to this society, but the experience that comes with that. As people of color, we have experienced unhealthy exposure to moments when we are treated uprightly wrong and fearful of our wellbeing and life.
The growing coverage of our nation’s sins only compounds these probabilities because now we have a collective concern for our shared communities. It is even more overwhelming to think about all the varying marches--women, immigration, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ, AAPI, schools--we now have only more to be worried about and concerned. The positive benefits of social media shows the collective movement and empowerment of our people, which is a magical source of strength and power; this is not to be taken lightly. History has proven that when people come together and channel our pain, new births occur.
Though we are bombarded with the reality of discrimination in America, we also witness the spirit of mobilization and organizing that still exists. Yet, even in the midst of powerful optimism and community strength, we as individuals can have varying negative impacts from the over saturation of the media into our daily lives. We must adopt filters to cope with all the tragedies, yet process takes energy and emotion. Also, our process is never smooth. It is an exhausting journeying swaying from one pendulum of passionately invested and caring to dumbly apathetic.
Dr. Gilbert Gee, a profession in FSPH’s Department of Community Health Sciences, conducted a study in 2007 that showed the correlation between Asian Americans who reported being victims of discrimination were more likely to develop clinical mental disorders. To break it down, our society has positioned my best friend’s sister to be more vulnerable to mental health issues because of historical and systematic oppression of black men. Thus, any individual who possess a social identifier that has undergo mistreatment may need support in mental illnesses, such as anxiety. The research does not show the additional influence that the mobilizing around our communities can have on us. and experience feelings of guilt and high stimulation from the momentum of the culture.
So what do we do?
Wellness is priority: Self care is political: Invest in me time. Do what makes YOU feel good. Not who you are to society. Make this time your priority.
Intentional Breathing: Focus on your breathing. As you breathe, let every breath be a practice of being present. Learn to exist in your body without thinking. These pockets of nothingness can bring you a sense of belonging in a wider universe that the current country and apparatus we also exist in. Think 5th dimension.
Embrace the yin yang: Acknowledge all the current events and movements of our people. You don’t need to respond, just visualize the yin and yang. With darkness, there is good. And on this earth, even in the good there is darkness, The point of our life is to experience the fullness of it all. Hold all the tension and hope within you. Find your sanctuary in this balance--this is a peace that no one can take away.