Despite making up about one-fifth of the overall Black population in the United States, Black immigrants and their children are often neglected when it comes to the research and discourse around mental health or wellness. A new report from the Black Alliance for Just Immigration explores the disproportionate burdens facing Black immigrants, particularly women and femmes, and reveals the numerous overlapping factors that often contribute to poor mental health in these communities.
“Research is important when it’s heavily statistical,” said report author and BAJI Gender Justice coordinator Catherine Labiran. “But it’s the stories that really make things more personal and beautiful, and allow us to connect with the significance of people’s experiences.”
An overwhelming number of participants simply sought intergenerational discourse on mental health within their own families and communities—conversations devoid of shame or stigma. They especially yearned for the cis-heterosexual Black men in their lives to be held accountable for gender-based violence and misogynoir. Beyond self-care and culturally-competent therapy, researchers urged community care that works to challenge the superhuman stereotype common to Black women and femmes.
As immigrants, this is compounded by the issue of non-belonging. “We know,” she wrote, “that our liberation cannot be fully actualized while our loved ones are incarcerated. We know that our liberation cannot be fully actualized when our families are separated at borders. We know that our liberation cannot be fully actualized while we are unable to fully explore our genders and sexualities. We know that our liberation cannot fully be actualized while we are unable to freely discuss our mental health and receive holistic, quality, affordable care.”
To close out the report, Labiran and other BAJI researchers offer a straightforward list of policy-related and community-based recommendations to actualize such liberation based on their research.
Read more at ColorLines.com.