KAEPERNICK, TERENCE CRUTCHER, AND MENTAL HEALTH
Photo Credit: ESPN
Welcome to the annoDRight blog!! This blog to hopes to give you A (n)Nod in the Right Direction! But, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?!!??!? Well, What it means is that at least once a month, I spend time just answering questions. Questions related to sex, sexuality, mental health, and how occurrences in the nation and around the world can impact all of the above. Questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On to the Next Thing! I am writing this entry on September 22nd, but you won’t see it until my website launches in November. As you will get to know, AnnoDRight is all about the intersection of mental health, sexuality, education, with a focus on people of color, specifically African Americans. That means that this blog is a place for learning about how to help your own stuff like dealing with stress, getting more info on sex(uality), and a place where some of this will be discussed in terms of Black folk. DOES THAT MEAN I’M NOT WELCOME BECAUSE I’M NOT BLACK?!!?!?!? NOPE! You, whoever you are, whatever your ethnicity, are more than welcome! Everyone can have the opportunity to learn and grow, together. Maybe with further understanding, we can all achieve a bit of growth. Not only do I hope that you can learn from me, but I also hope to learn from you as well. So, without further adieu let’s get to some of the subject of this entry:
KAEPERNICK, TERENCE CRUTCHER, AND MENTAL HEALTH
For some people, the idea that a football player, a man shot and killed, and mental health could have a connection, would seem absurd. However, for those in the know, the connection can be very plain to see. Kaepernick took a knee during the National Anthem to protest the slaughtering of Black men in the street by the hands of police and sparked a debate on what constitutes disrespect and what makes peaceful protest. While we may all have different feelings and opinions about what it was truly, and we are entitled to that opinion, it cannot be denied that it sparked a conversation...and quite a few accusations. Then, what seemed like days later, the internet was flooded with videos, and news stories about the very thing Kaepernick was protesting, the unnecessary death of Black men by police. The crime: having a broken down vehicle. Crutcher’s wrongful death, is another in a long line of death by the hands of officers who report fearing for their lives. I am not here to debate the rightness or wrongness of being scared on the job, or the to speak specifically about this occurrence. This post is about the mental health effects.
Like so many others, Crutcher’s death was met with hashtags, videos, and commentary. While this can help people to learn about what occurred and get the various opinions and supposed next steps, it can also lead to trauma. Black folk and people of color, already have a lot to deal with, as far as the stress of being a person of color in America. Research already shows that race related stressors have a negative impact on a person’s mental state and their body. That is not to say that being Black is bad for your overall health and wellbeing, but rather that the overt and covert racism, prejudice, and tom-foolery in this country can take its toll. Even in knowing that, just being in your body and experiencing personal, social, and structural racism, it doesn’t stop vicarious trauma. Hearing traumatizing stories and being traumatized to some effect after, is usually linked with counselors and therapists, who create a relationship with their clients and then hear their stories, but what about the stories that go viral? What about the videos and pictures, and stories, and commentary, and even the silence of friends and “supporters?” All of those things can impact you and your overall mental well being.
People, regardless of color and ethnicity, can be and likely ARE impacted by all we see on the news and in our newsfeeds. HOW? We can feel anger, guilt, sorrow, fear, irritation, and a multitude of other emotions. How can those things affect? Maybe you are more snippy with people in your place of work. OR you could be more reserved and cut yourself off from people at work or home. Startling more easily. Not being able to sleep or oversleeping. Eating too little, or eating too much. Feeling sluggish and tired and unable to be as productive. ALL those things can negatively impact your overall health, and your ability to maintain good standing at work. WHAT CAN I DO? Take care of yourself!! That will look different for different people. You may need to try cutting off the TV and reducing your use of social media. Taking a break from the constant commentary and the looped videos can, for some, be all they need. For others, you may need a break, even from work. To that end, you can Call In Black. It’s okay to ask for and take a mental health day (this goes for POCs and non-POCs). This is not a time for errands and such (unless that’s how you take care of your mental health). This is a time for processing your feelings. Feeling the funkyness of those emotions, accepting them, and letting them go. It’s not a time for gorging yourself on all the commentary. It’s a time for release, and maybe, if it’s therapeutic, a time for action. Taking care of yourself is of the UTMOST importance. If you do not take care of yourself, you cannot take care of others, or take care of business.
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