Let’s confront racism because it has a big impact on many of us

Racial and social injustice exists; unfortunately, a lot of us have to navigate it every day. Whether we have experienced it in our own lives or have just come to realize how prevalent it is in our society, it exists. All of us share the responsibility to confront, understand, and deal with these issues. As we see things unfold in front of us and even in events across the country and world, they all bear the unsettling truth that racism and social inequality influence almost every aspect of our lives and culture. How can we survive and continue forward in the midst of racism? A part of it is managing how we are responding to it. Working with a therapist to understand how our brains work, how our bodies respond to threat, and how we cope with these issues is important to make sure we can take care of ourselves in this war and grow in our self-awareness.

Repeated trauma from racism

For those of us that have experienced firsthand the horrible feelings associated with being punished for our skin color, this is not our first rodeo. The fact that we live in a world that attacks us because of our skin color is unexplainable. Racism can leave us questioning ourselves and our fellow human beings. This is where it can be helpful having a psychotherapist to unravel these feelings and the impact that this pain has on us. These experiences can lead us to respond in fight, flight, or freeze reactions or cause us to adapt with unhelpful behavior. It’s hard to understand why someone may judge or think less of us because of something we have no control over. When we are confronted with racism and inequalities, it can cause us to become emotionally wounded and therefore need to defend and protect ourselves. We also respond secondarily to seeing something on the news or in our social media feed as if we are experiencing the event ourselves. Many of our clients are experiencing acute stress responses, depression, and even rage. Therefore, let’s conclude that being treated equally should be a basic human right.

Experiencing and living with this reality in our society is a heavy burden. It’s too heavy, it’s unfair, it’s meant to keep us down or needing to protect ourselves and be guarded. This burden we live with shapes how we live, act, love, socialize, work, and raise our families. Our brains respond in primal responses to help us deal with and adapt in these moments. Our therapists’ utilized trauma-informed therapies and cognitive behavioral therapy to help clients make sure they are coping in ways that are healthy.

When will this end?

While many people want to believe all of this has gone away or that we “don’t have slaves anymore”- this isn’t true. Every day another video surfaces of a person of color being murdered by police. Our children ask hard questions and we lose sleep at night worried that our teen’s life might not be treated the same as their white friend. THIS is the reality for many of us. Understanding the impact that racism and social injustices have on every aspect of our lives is fundamental at this point. While for some, acknowledging this may seem too hard or impossible, for so many of us, it is the reality we live with every day. Our therapists know this reality. For all those that have to live this reality, our therapists make themselves available to listen and understand how these issues continue to impact your life.

Alicia Beltran