Anger, frustration, disbelief, sadness – these are just some of the emotions I’ve been processing since the murder of George Floyd and other recent black deaths and their resulting protests. Equality, equity and justice are huge triggers for me and can put me in a tailspin in a hurry.
How to address this crisis and circumstance on my blog and social media has really been a challenge for me. I don’t want to say the wrong thing and I don’t want to offend anybody. And, quite frankly, being a middle-class white female in a largely white community, I have zero understanding what it must be like to be a person of color.
Over the past decade, I’ve really noticed how injustice gets my gander going. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around why it would ever be okay to harm someone, whether by violence, force, lack of pay or opportunity, verbally or emotionally. But it happens all the time.
For my part, I want to give people the space and freedom to respond how they need to within the law – whether that’s by protesting, posting on social media, talking with family and friends, or processing quietly. Everyone is allowed to take action as they deem is best.
From a mental health perspective, I can only imagine how traumatizing and trying life would be right now as a person of color. Furthermore, just like many other inequities, minorities face extreme difficulty accessing quality mental health services. According to NAMI.org, there are many reasons why. Some include:
- A lack of availability
- Transportation issues, difficulty finding childcare/taking time off work
- The belief that mental health treatment “doesn’t work”
- The high level of mental health stigma in minority populations
- A mental health system weighted heavily towards non-minority values and culture norms
- Racism, bias, and discrimination in treatment settings
- Language barriers and an insufficient number of providers who speak languages other than English
- A lack of adequate health insurance coverage (and even for people with insurance, high deductibles and co-pays make it difficult to afford)
The disparities often feel overwhelming. So, what can I do to make a difference in my life and community? How can I ensure that I treat everyone with equity and respect? What am I doing to teach equality and love to my daughters.
I believe it all starts within and by leading and modeling – what we say and do in front of young people makes a profound impact on shaping perceptions and behavior. I try to do the best I can to be accountable for my words and actions towards people. I’m definitely not perfect. I always try to be present and authentic with what I say and how I act.
We’re definitely in interesting times. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the last few months have been traumatizing for people of color and Americans as a whole who are suffering from discrimination, job loss, uncertainty, inequality and more. Life is not easy and is fraught with peaks and valleys. Be gentle on yourself during these challenging times and follow your heart and remember the only thing we can control is our reaction to people and life.