Racial Trauma is real.
In today’s society, social media has evolved into much more than just means to stay in touch with friends and family. More often than not, news outlets and citizen journalists are sharing bits of breaking news on public platforms that reach the masses with just one click.
Though we have come upon an era where the sheer amount of black pride that radiates throughout the black community is heartwarming, the constant fatalities that people of color face across the nation is overwhelming. Whether it be from mourning families, on Twitter, Facebook, Periscope, Tumblr, etc, watching coverage of the (often graphic) instances of brutality against people who look like you, your family, and your friends proves to be nothing short of traumatic.
When people of color are exposed to repeated acts of racism, it has been shown that this trauma can lead to post traumatic stress syndrome.
Like millions across the nation, the recent deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile pushed me beyond my limits. Each incident was caught on camera, and I couldn’t help feeling like I was at that corner store and in the car with each victim. I went to sleep in tears, and woke up in the same condition. I was brought to the brink of emotional exhaustion.
Your personal mental health, and or state of being, is always an important element to consider. However, during these times especially, it is imperative for black people to pay attention to the signs and practice self-care.
Here’s a list of ways to decompress.
1. Turn of audio play on social media pages.
When the latest video of police brutality appears on your timeline, you DO NOT have to watch it to gain an understanding of the incident. The videos that virally circulate are often gruesome and unedited, exposing viewers to a severely graphic scene. Sites like Facebook and Twitter do have an autoplay setting that users can adjust and turn off.
Huffington Post broke down the steps to the process below:
Simply adjust your settings on Facebook, both online and on the app, by selecting “settings,” click “videos” and switch video autoplay to “off.” After going into your settings, press “data” then “video autoplay” and “Never play videos automatically” will be the last option. On Instagram, just tap the settings icon in the top-right corner of your profile and switch the autoplay option to off.
2. Ignore the negativity.
The internet is filled with people who are not shy to share their differing opinion. Though it feels like they took the time out of their day to attack you specifically, do not give them any of your time. Especially when the issues involves a racial tragedy, turn a blind eye – for your sake. Let’s face it. Trolls will be trolls.
3. Log off.
Log off. It’s okay. I know the desire to read up or watch an incident unfold as it happens live is tempting, but it is important to not overwhelm yourself. Take some time out for yourself to unplug, and stay away from any medium that can possibly trigger negative emotions. There should be no feelings of guilt for being aware of your emotional tolerance.
4. Seek out healing spaces.
Whether attending a vigil or rally, there is a sense of comfort in communal support. Finding a space that offers an opportunity to vent or shed light on current pressing issues can be extremely soothing.
5. Process your emotions.
Take the time to truly consider how you feel. When consuming violent images almost daily, internal stress can build. Don’t allow those feelings to bottle. Find healthy ways to vent, whether that be through writing, visually expressing, or even communicating with trusted family or friends. Social media is not the only outlet.