“I feel so sad, hopeless, and powerless. What can I do?”
Racial trauma is painful precisely because it can leave us feeling this way. Though there has been renewed attention recently on the often unequal and horrible treatment of Black people and minorities in the United States, this problem has existed since the very beginning of the nation and the hypocrisy and conflict between claiming to be a nation of liberty and freedom while millions of Black people were enslaved. Change can feel slow, especially when getting there is so painful and when you are the one being brutalized. However, racial conditions in the U.S. have changed for the better over time, while it is also true that we are still struggling with some of the same issues as many, many years ago. Though it can feel daunting, there are ways you can take action to make change.
Taking action to help yourself or others, educate yourself or others, or change systems can be healing experiences because they give people a sense of agency and power back in their lives. Here are resources to help you consider how you might take action against racial trauma. Know that it is okay if you have to take a break from action because you need to recharge and heal. When you are ready, there will still be time for you to contribute to change. Don’t forget change isn’t always huge or celebrated. Thinking that way keeps people from acting for social justice and change. The problem is TOO BIG when we think that change has to be MASSIVE. As one of our CAPS staff likes to say, “I’m not MLK.” You don’t have to do things like Dr. King to impact change in your life, the lives of those around you, or the communities you are part of.
“Don’t Call It Rioting” – Changing the language of protest and resistance to oppression makes inequality harder to ignore, dismiss or justify. Challenge the way media portrays African-Americans, people of color, and race.
“Put Down Your Phone” – How Social Media (or any media) can increase trauma
We Are – Durham Organization working on anti-racist education
Educate Yourself – White people can work to be anti-racist and less fragile, and anyone can work on supporting racial equity. Have conversations with your children about race. Step up 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice
Dismantling Racism Works (dRworks) is an extensive online resource to help individuals and society reform systems of oppression, privilege and power and work toward safer spaces and more equity and justice within society.
Resources on identity-based caucuses:
- Why People of Color Need Spaces Without White People (The Arrow)
- Tips for Creating Effective White Caucus Groups (Craig Elliott)
- Building an Effective White Caucus (Roots of Justice)