Reminder: Our Black Friends are Exhausted

I have been listening to my Black friends, which is never enough. I have been trying to support them, which is never enough. I have been hearing and acknowledging that they are exhausted, emotionally drained, and in pain. They are constantly bombarded by images and videos of Black bodies being brutalized, attacked, killed. They are confronted with an over-saturation of media telling them that their lives do not matter, that their lives have no value.

Let’s talk about how constant violence, belittling and invalidation of one’s very existence is exhausting. Let’s talk about the harmful effect this will have on someone’s mental health.

As white people we consume media that perpetuates this like candy; we see it, we share it, we express a modicum of disgust and we move on. We need to be acutely aware of the desensitization that viewing these images and videos like a regular news reel can have on our outlook. If these videos portrayed white lives we would be hit harder emotionally, we would hesitate before sharing them like memes and we would be reminded of the horrors of the world we need to change as opposed to becoming jaded to yet another incidence of violence against a Black person.

A Black square wasn’t enough. We need to stand up for, advocate for an speak out for the mental health of Black communities. This is a war. War often causes PTSD. We cannot undermine the trauma and mental health impact of the ongoing racial climate on Black communities.

This climate is ongoing. Racism is nothing new and anyone who is more recently joining the fight does not deserve a pat on the back. I have learned to do better but deserve no praise for that growth. It is something that is necessary and should always have been a priority.

I wrote a piece a little while back about the mental health impacts of microaggressions. Can you imagine if being belittled and demeaned in your workplace will cause trauma, what grieving over a different Black person every other week will cause?

Black people have been grieving for weeks, months, years. It is not because it has recently come to the forefront that it only now exists.

This recent familiarization for many white people of the issues facing Black communities however is a double edged sword. We need to be a force in effecting change in a broken and racist system. That being said, we need to find our own way. We need to research how this system was built and what support it. We need to listen and elevate Black voices and experiences. We need to realize our place in this system and how it benefits us. It is not up to Black people to educate us, to guide us or give us a roadmap to helping and supporting. Black people are busy enough surviving, healing, minding their mental health, grieving. This process deserves space and respect.

If you are looking for tangible ways to help, there are many organizations that are worth donating to. One example is the Loveland Foundation. This organization provides culturally responsive therapy to Black girls and women. Professional support can be crucial to healing and managing our mental health. Find them at www.thelovelandfoundation.org.

Be there for your Black friends and family members and do not expect them to be there for you right now. It is their turn. You are not entitled to their trauma as education, you are not entitled to their views and opinions on every news story. To you, it is a news story but them it is life.

I spoke with a close friend recently who shared that she was hurting, she was afraid. She was wondering how she would one day raise Black children in this world. It hurts me to think that this is her reality but it is not up to me to be hurt, it is up to me to do what I can. Our Black friends are exhausted and it is not up to us to be exhausted too. We have the privilege of stepping away from this fight when it becomes overwhelming. They do not.

Educate yourself, seek out knowledge, become involved, consume and share media responsibly. It is up to white people to the work and better ourselves.

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© 2020 Valéry Brosseau, Toronto, Ontario.