Updated: Oct 1, 2020
Today is September 30th, in the tumultuous year of 2020. Only a few days have passed since the verdict in Breonna Taylor’s case swept the nation, and possibly the world. The news reached my fingertips as I scrolled past a multitude of memes blatantly disrespecting Black women in some capacity. I’m reminded of that feeling. Twitter accounts and fans of Tory Lanez wanting to be “devil’s advocates” and “hear both sides” despite the bullet holes in Megan Thee Stallion’s feet. I’m tired of being America’s punching bag and I’m ready for the greatest act of revolution Black people have the permission to complete: heal.
As a Black woman living in America, I have to convince myself every morning and every evening that my life matters. Because the media, the justice system, and some troll on the internet makes it very apparent that our society lacks empathy towards my gender and my race. To some, this statement comes at a surprise or at the very least may sound heartbreaking. But for those who identify in similar ways as I, this is just another Wednesday come and gone.
Black people and other marginalized communities are so used to combating atrocities that it is second nature. When injustices are displayed and utilized for clicks and media cycles it is no different than crowds of Romans gathering together to watch gladiators fight to the death. But what I love about my people is that we assemble like the Avengers. Each of us having our own role to take down an overwhelming enemy. The odds constantly stacked against us. Time after time, generation after generation we emerge victorious. With victory, however, there is an immense cost. BIPOC (Black indigenous People of Color) have casualties stacked to the brim. An immeasurable amount of lives lost. Furthermore, we have collectively and exponentially added to the well of post traumatic stress that plagues us when we have stepped off the battlefield.
When injustices are displayed and utilized for clicks and media cycles it is no different than crowds of Romans gathering together to watch gladiators fight to the death.
For some time, I was becoming desensitized to Black death. Whether it was the impact of COVID-19 on our communities, the contemporary lynchings taking place all over the country, or the viral videos of police murdering Black lives. Numbness is my favorite defense mechanism. Walls are what allow me to see a video of a Black man getting his windpipe crushed by the knee of a cop and go about my day with a smile on my face like an adorned painted mask.
I can’t place the single reason but Breonna Taylor and that verdict just… hit different. Perhaps it was because June 6th, 2020 was the largest day of protesting in the world’s history. This summer’s activism was catapulted by the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Maybe it was because she was sleeping and the internets found concoctions to explain her corpse away. This time I read the article announcing the verdict and took a breath; I decided my mental, emotional, and physical health was just as important as my life. Though numbness got me through each day of heartache, it would not help me sleep at night. Though my walls allowed me to fake the funk and go about my day, it inhibited the connections I had with my friends, family, and community at large.
I propose that the single most impactful act of revolution Black people can do is heal from our mental and emotional afflictions. Imagine what we can be capable of when we not only fight the external struggles and the immediate threats, but also the internal struggles and the threats that may inevitably plague our minds. Imagine if we fight to replace prisons with mental health facilities. If we recognize that drug problems are not crimes of the state, but disorders of the mind. That if we allow individuals to receive mental release in solace they will be less likely to seek damaging quick release. Take a moment and visualize how much further BIPOC communities would be if we could heal from the anxiety & depression that holds us back. These disorders are not our fault, but are microcosms of the microaggressions, and violence our communities face. I strongly argue that equality will never come to fruition until there is equality in the healthcare industry. Affluent communities have direct access to rehabilitation facilities, therapists and psychologists. They have access to more grocery stores with fresh produce. They have doctors who will believe them. A concept.
Imagine what we can be capable of when we not only fight the external struggles and the immediate threats, but also the internal struggles and the threats that may inevitably plague our minds.
Of course there are too many reasons to count with the obstacles that come for fighting for equitable healthcare. Many people do not have health insurance. Schools where our children spend their days are already operating on shoestring budgets and may not have the capacity to implement mental health initiatives. Not to mention the cities that need the most care and attention get the least amount of funding from things like property taxes.
Despite the blockades preventing us from from being able to “get over” the [insert historical f*ckery], we can start small. Families can begin to implement talking to our children about mental health in general. De-stigmatize the necessity to discuss what we are feeling and how we are processing everything going on. We can take breaks from social media, journal, and create small community circles for healing. These initial steps won’t break down the systemic barriers, but it can certainly begin to build anew.
My own goals are to be attending therapy regularly, and learn additional tools that will help me through anxiety, depression, and stress. I made a short video outlining how I am processing, and learning to cope with my own anxiety of injustice. There is a link to a workbook that I am currently working out of in the description of that video. It’s a journey, but I finally put my feet on the path.