During this Black History Month, while we remember the leaders of the past, let’s not forget about our own well-being. Being Black in America is hard. It comes with built-in trauma that if left unchecked can be really damaging. For the month of February let’s make the conscious decision to add some self-care to our celebration of Black History. Our ancestors would have wanted us to heal from their traumas, not perpetually steep ourselves in their pain and tragedy.
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When the heinous video of the police beating of Tyre Nichols was released,
many Black people just couldn’t bring themselves to watch it. The post-traumatic stress from constantly seeing Black people killed by police has taken a serious toll on Black minds.
“Seeing things that happen like this to other people from your community broadly can have some traumatizing effects, especially if you’re part of a stigmatized or minoritized group that’s often dealing with trauma like this,” clinical psychologist, Monnica Williams told NPR.
Here are a few self-care concepts to consider for Black History Month.
Understanding Racial Trauma
Understanding racial trauma and how it affects you and your loved ones is very important. According to Mental Health America, Racial trauma, or race-based traumatic stress (RBTS), refers to the mental and emotional injury caused by encounters with racial bias and ethnic discrimination, racism and hate crimes. Experiences with race-based discrimination can lead to symptoms very similar to post-traumatic stress disorder, like depression, anger, recurring thoughts of the event, headaches, chest pains, insomnia, hypervigilance, low self-esteem and so much more. If you think you make be suffering from a race-based traumatic stress injury, find a racial trauma-informed therapist who can guide you through your emotions. Healing from racial trauma does not happen in a vacuum, so taking a community approach to healing is important. Healing with like-minded people can make the process so much more fulfilling
Finding Pride In Culture And Race
Black History Month is always filled with stories from the past that show our resilience and willingness to never give up the fight for freedom. There is so much pride in our past, but sometimes those stories get lost in the winds of time. This month take the time to honor some of those lost stories and reflect on their achievements. One of those stories is the tale of Henry “Box” Brown.
Henry escaped slavery by stuffing himself in a box and mailing himself from Virginia to the free state of Philadelphia. The brutal trip, which took 27 hours, almost killed Brown. But his freedom was more important, because what was a life without freedom?
Brown’s legacy is unparalleled. His creative and enduring journey led the way for the success of the Underground Railroad. He showed Black slaves all over the south that escaping bondage and creating a life outside of slavery was possible for Black people. He also inspired some famous magicians like Harry Houdini, whose coffin escape trick garnered worldwide recognition.
CLICK HERE to help you find some pride in culture and race.
During this Black History Month try your best to lean into charity. Giving back is a great way to explore self-worth and start to feel better about yourself. Helping someone in need instantly makes you feel better. Find organizations that cater to people you are passionate about and just give back. Feed the homeless, mentor some kids at a YMCA, clean up trash in the neighborhood, whatever you think you can do to lend a helping hand just do it. Self-care should always start with you, but it should also never end with you. Extend your olive branch to those in need and it will be returned two-fold.
Last but not least, don’t forget to love yourself all month long. Take the time to stare at yourself in the mirror. See your Blackness for the gift as it is. Self-love starts with understanding who you are. Many times Black Americans let the world around them tell them who they are, but no more. This is the year we take back our minds and we start by adding self-care to our celebration of Black culture.
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