Here are my favourite snippets from this blog post by Jasmine Brown:
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde
When people of color are exposed to repetitive acts of racism (racism has been shown to be processed in our brains as trauma) a kind of post traumatic stress syndrome can develop. Race-based trauma can come in several forms:
Witnessing ethnoviolence or discrimination of another person, historical or personal memory of racism, institutional racism, micro aggressions, and the constant threat of racial discrimination (Helms et al., 2012).
This syndrome can be a response to any traumatic event and can be marked by an acute state of fear, anxiety, and hopelessness. If the acute trauma does not reach resolve, or is not diffused within a reasonable timeframe, it can develop into post traumatic stress disorder.If you are a person of color or an ally you need to evaluate yourself and your loved ones for signs of emotional and psychological trauma. If you already have a history or mental illness, you need to be extra diligent.
By continuing to enter online conversations, as important as you warrant them to be, you are allowing the bruise to be pressed on over and over. You are harming yourself if you do not step away and heal. These conversations are impacting your emotional and psychological well-being.
I think she explains it really well.
Now I’m going to admit something I’m not very proud of.
The only way I can understand these concepts is not by understanding racism and how it affects my friends of colour, but through my experiences as a woman in an androcentric patriarchal society. Sometimes I feel that if I could overcome my whiteness, if I could understand racism and have empathy for my friends who experience it, I could find some key to explaining to men how sexism is a constant weight that affects women every minute of our day. So I would stand up for people of colour and men would stand up for me and the world would be a fairer place.
I suppose this is a fantasy, and what I’m not proud of is that I don’t understand racism on a personal level. I only understand it in my own selfish way.
I am not perfect. I try my best. I am learning and evolving.