Last year, the police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd led to a racial reckoning. This year, those traumas continue to ripple through Black communities.
Though high-profile Black deaths such as Taylor’s and Floyd’s can make racism seem episodic, decades of data show racism is structural, interpersonal, and omnipresent, exacting a profound physical and emotional toll. Racism is associated with a host of psychological consequences, including depression, anxiety, and other serious, sometimes debilitating mental conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder and substance use disorders, mental health experts say.
Psychotherapist Resmaa Menakem says not only must Black people cope with present-day traumas, but they also carry the effects of intergenerational trauma, which impact individuals and social groups in myriad ways.
Arline Geronimus, a professor of health behavior and health education at the University of Michigan, uses the term “weathering” to describe the way chronic stressors – which can include interpersonal microaggressions and institutionalized racism – erode bodies. In humans, life-threatening stressors activate a physiological stress response. The problem is people who experience discrimination have that response chronically.
Read more at USAToday.com.