Creating A Safe Space For People of Color To Heal
Trauma counselors recognize that for most people of color racism plays a significant role in creating trauma. That’s why it’s important that trauma survivors recognize how race plays a role in creating traumatic stress in their individual lives. Let’s take a closer look at how people of color are impacted by racial trauma and have a trauma recovery:
There are two broad categories of racial trauma, 1) racial discrimination and 2) racial harassment. Most trauma survivors experience these traumas together or in combination with other traumatic experiences.
Racial discrimination is a form of avoidance racism. An employer may refuse to hire a qualified African American or pay their Filipino workers less than their white workers. Anyone experiencing racial discrimination may be traumatized by the experience as well as suffer financial and social damage because of it.
Racial harassment is a form of racism that uses hostility to dominate a person or group. This hostility can be hard to detect or prove such as a dirty look or it can be more blatant such as a cross burning. But both types of racial harassment can be equally traumatizing.
People of color experiencing racial harassment and discrimination must recognize that these experiences can contribute to traumatic stress and delay their recovery.
Surviving Racial Trauma
Just like other traumas, racial trauma should never be played down as unimportant. Because racial trauma can be an ongoing experience in daily life, it is critical that you take action to protect yourself, heal yourself, and develop coping strategies that will allow you to reduce the effects of racism on your mind and spirit. Below are a few tips on how to recover and cope with racial trauma:
- Share your experience with others. Don’t allow your experience with racial trauma to go unnoticed. If you’re experiencing illegal racial discrimination or harassment, report the incident to the proper authorities. And in the case of subtle racial trauma, process the event with your therapist or a trusted friend.
- Keep perspective. Since racial trauma may be an ongoing experience, the effects over time can feel like a boulder weighing down on your shoulders. To combat the negative effects on your mental and emotional health, remind yourself that you have the right and ability to fight illegal racial harassment and discrimination through legal channels.
- Get help. When the stressful effects of racial trauma become too much, reach out to your trauma counselor who can help you process the event.
- Self care. Remember that you are not required to be a rock in the face of trauma, even racial trauma. When racial traumatic stress weighs on you, take the time to take care of yourself. Go for a walk, take a hot bath, socialize with loved ones, and do the things that will help you recover.
As you face the effects of racial trauma, avoid minimizing it and reach out for the help you need to recover.