The repercussion of suppressed pain from trauma within the black community is real and pervasive.
Often the narrative of the black experience in America is downplayed by non-blacks. The discrimination and racism that is experienced is not given the time and attention necessary to be able to move forward as a community. As a black woman, I think to myself and pray to Jesus asking how do we heal, how do we move forward when we are in a constant state of trauma? Any day of the week there is a different issue in the headlines because of racism. When do we take time to unpack our feelings of fear, insecurity, pain and confusion while trying to stay focused, motivated and up to par with everyone else who is not perceived in the same light? It’s so hard to juggle but yet so necessary that we deal with the reality of the way trauma effects our lives.
The explicit and implicit ways that systematic oppression is allowed to run rampant in this country impacts our health, finances, relationships, and honestly every aspect of our lives. From the surface we can wear a mask that hides our fears, pain and insecurities. Masks of education, financial security, or “I don’t care” but that can cause us to be disconnected and numb to the reality of our inner feelings. The suppression of our pain is dangerous. The pain of not being seen as equals to our white counterparts, the pain of being pressured to change our speech, alter our hair and style to fit into and be seen as relevant in mixed race settings harms us. The fact that going out to dinner in a certain area of town while being black can be a traumatic experience is ridiculous. These experiences are so common that sometimes we don’t realize that it’s not okay and is emotionally damaging to us. I don’t believe the black community has problems recognizing the acts of racism, I think we don’t take enough time to care for ourselves while experiencing them. These acts and messages impact how we view ourselves, God and each other.
Our emotional wounds are no different than our physical ones. When someone has a physical wound, a minor cut or scrape let’s say, they can simply put on a bandage and leave it for a few days and their cut will most likely heal on its own. But if we are dealing with a deeper wound, a wound that has hit a vital organ and needs more extensive care, we would not take the risk of ignoring it and neglecting to care for it properly. To nurture that wound, is the only way that lasting healing can occur. I believe we have this at times in the black community. We examine the emotional wounds of the black people as minor scrapes but do not give our emotional wounds the time and attention needed to properly nurture our healing. If we are not taking the time and energy to properly care for ourselves emotionally we take a big risk. Our minds and hearts are constantly infiltrated with negative stereotypes and images that are either overgeneralizations or untrue. While the image of blacks has evolved over the years, our collective societal image still comes up short. If we are somehow deemed as a “good” black, we still do not represent a part of the standard but the “other”. Because of this, many choose to overcome by striving to prove that they are a qualified equal. While that may be necessary for survival, it is unfair, stress-filled and a constant state of having to ensure that others see you and value you. I believe it’s necessary for us to mourn and make consistent space for Holy Spirit to help us heal individually and collectively.