I read two articles recently that I think are profound! Research is now linking racism and microaggressions to PTSD similar to that of soldiers after war. WOW.
This is one of those things that we, as a community, know intrinsically but now there is scientific proof to back up the feelings we’ve had all along. And now there is a name and validation for it which can be a tremendous help in processing and understanding the impacts of something as life-altering as PTSD.
Here’s a quote from the first article:
“While the term [racial battle fatigue] is certainly not trying to say that the conditions are exactly what soldiers face on a battlefield, it borrows from the idea that stress is created in chronically unsafe or hostile environments,” said Dr. Jose Soto, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at University of California, Berkeley.
Williams builds on that concept, saying that many minorities experience lasting, cumulative effects of racism that could lead to the development of PTSD. “It was found that in many cases, such as soldiers trained in combat, emotional responses are only felt afterward, once removed from the traumatic setting,” she wrote. So, even when experiences aren’t immediate and earth-shattering, their effects can have the magnitude to cause long-lasting trauma.
The addition of factors like intrusion symptoms, persistent avoidance, alteration in cognition and mood, and hyperarousal and reactivity to the DSM-5 bode well for the treatment of patients experiencing race-based trauma, according to Williams.
And here’s a quote from the second article:
Black women, in particular, are generally perceived to be stronger than most other groups. It’s a kind of stereotype that so many of us have bought into. “Never let them see you cry or sweat,” used to be my mantra. Nevermind that I needed to cry, that my heart was about as soft as they come, that my sensitivity was part of who I was authentically and was meant to be gift not the curse I’d made it out to be; that I’d allowed people to tell me it was. Janie, in Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Are Watching God” explained it like this: “Black women are the mules of the world.” Mules carry everything on their backs. As much as folks can pile on, a mule will hold it all steady and push that weight along the path. So many of us all too often carry not just our own weights but the weights of others. But because we do so wearing the flyest white coat a la Olivia Pope or huge, albeit fake, smiles, no one believes that we are hurting.