Exploring my Racial Trauma
Being a black woman is one of the most intimate parts of my identity. It defines the way I’ll be treated and thought of on first glance. Regardless of who I actually am inside, some people will only see what is stigmatized of my skin and gender. This creates a constant stressor for me as I maneuver my way around the world. I never realized how much racism has impacted me growing up until I moved out of my mom’s house and into the adult world.
I’ve always been surrounded by black people. It became an intention to have black people in my support circle as my environment was more saturated by white America. I found necessity in having black friends to share our experiences with microaggressions to feel sane in the external chaos. Texting:
“Girl, why did this white lady just clutch her purse as I’m walking past her minding my business?”
“I got knotless braids over the weekend and as soon as I walked into work they started touching my hair and asking me how it grew so fast…”
“This guy that I liked told me that I was pretty for a black girl.”
“Tell me why these two girls in my class felt the need to fact check all my answers with the teacher in the group activity? And no, they weren’t white.”
All of it builds and builds until you can’t breathe anymore. I’ve had countless anxiety attacks throughout my life but I never really understood the depths to them. My anxiety is rooted in a fear of feeling unsafe. When I am the only black person in a room, it feels dangerous. If anything were to happen, such as a missing personal item or an assignment of an unwanted task, I would be the first name on the list.
Over the years, I’ve found life to be easier if I just silence myself and tread lightly. I mean, my blackness speaks volumes enough, right? I became the stereotypical quiet girl who spends most of her time alone. At some point, I grew to love living in the shadows. It felt safer that way. Not being too visible protects me from potential scrutiny. But as I have moved across country to the west coast, I’m alone in a new way that exposes me. I don’t have my community out here, I rarely encounter any black people and I’m often the only black person in these new spaces. I feel suffocated and emotionally shackled knowing that my peers will never truly understand why I can’t breathe.
I’ve had therapists in my life who overlooked my racial trauma as a normal response to a daily stressor. Nothing about this is normal though. I ponder about this topic often as I am currently in a graduate program to be a therapist. The only successful treatment I’ve received is somatic therapy; allowing my body to process instead of talking about it. Yet, I still find difficulty in the idea of “being okay”. I’m not sure what that looks like and if I’ll ever be in a space where I will be “okay”. That is something I’m at peace with rather than the thought of faking that I am “okay” with racism. I’m learning that there is peace with admitting your true emotional stance.
I have to be intentional and gentle with the way that I handle me. Self-care runs deeper than hot baths and face masks, I have to provide a safe space to cry, scream and ask for help. It is fundamental that I have other black friends in my circle because I need to feel understood. I need a big hug from someone who loves me at the end of the day. I need my emotional support cat with me at night to cuddle so that I’m reminded that I am loved. I need to create a fruitful environment within myself to speak up and defend my peace. I can no longer be silenced, it’ll only kill the very essence of my being.
Affirmation statements: Blackness is meant to be loved, nurtured, protected and flamboyant. I am deserving of softness and ease. I belong in every space that I step foot in. My beauty is amplified with my melanin. Nothing is off limits to me.
Coping Activities: 5 minutes in child’s pose at the end of the day, walking when feeling overwhelmed, tapping meditation, breathing exercises while you’re on break, writing down everything that triggers you throughout the day and burning it when you get home
Freestyle from my diary:
Am I delusional for wanting your love
-ing love and attention on me like the wind flows through your kinky locs the world hates
But I love
I love the flaws that criminalize you to be the villain in every circumstance you breathe in
Or can’t breathe
I love you through the pain I feel because I am you apart from the eyes that seek our skin as dirt they walk on
And feeds their soulless bodies with fruit filled with our tears
I love you even when you refuse to show me the rose you would rather give to the girl with less…
I still love you because I’m the only one who really knows how to say your name
The only one with the lens to see you for who you claim and not what they deem you to be
How many times do I have to say “I love you”
For you to understand my deepest despair for your lost life in the hands of those who will never find you in their intentional blindness
I love you, I’m here for you, I know you, I see you, I hear you, I need you, I plead for you and who is there?
I hope this resonates with those who need it… ❤
Follow me on twitter @withmothernk! :)