The Emotional Costs of Consciousness & Oppression
I’ve been on a self-imposed sabbatical for the past week after feeling like I was on the verge of a panic attack for several days. No social media, no news, no events, just radical self-care. It was an act of self-preservation after I realized that my physical and mental health were being affected at a level that I was uncomfortable with. I’ve been exhausted the past few months, to the point that I often can’t keep my eyes open in the middle of the day and I get migraines, which I attribute to my inability to cry or release the pain my body takes in as I stay present with what is happening in the world. Trauma fatigue is a real and present danger when you stay aware of the happenings of this chaotic and often times cruel world where it seems more people are willing to hurl their pain at others than to show them even the slightest bit of compassion.
Despite my exhaustion and anxiety, I’m aware that it’s only a small fraction of what oppressed people feel on a daily basis. I feel like I have no right to claim trauma fatigue because of the many privileges that I have. I have the privilege of ease of access to therapists that share my skin color, gender and life experience. I also have the financial means to afford mental health services if I should need them and I also have a job which provides me with insurance coverage for mental health care.
Privilege is about having more choices and more opportunities. I realize it is a great privilege that I have to be able to withdraw from this work for even a brief period of time. Victims of oppression do not have this privilege, especially women of color who also suffer from historical trauma or intergenerational trauma. My mentor, Leesa Renee Hall, teaches that it’s acceptable for white people to withdraw from doing their inner work and dismantling unjust systems to reflect, but not to hide. We white people have a responsibility to stay in the fight against oppression because BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) and other marginalized groups must continue to do the work because their lives depend on it.
With my many privileges in mind, I’ve decided to find ways to support women of color who have to deal with more trauma and pain on a daily basis, just because of the color of their skin. There are many women of color who have long been supporting each other through mental health issues, trauma, pain and oppression. I believe it is the responsibility of white women to support the healing of women of color who have long suffered at our hands. For centuries we white women have chosen and continue to choose to align ourselves with white supremacy rather than our sisters of color. I encourage white-passing readers to seek out their own ways of supporting women of color, or to support the projects I’ve listed below. It’s the very least we can and should be doing.
Please note that I do not endorse or speak for the accountability of these projects and organizations. I offer them as examples of organizations and efforts to support.
If you would like to search for your own organizations to support, I’m including a search string below that you can copy and paste into Google. (I’m putting my librarian skills to work here.)
(black OR “African American” OR “native American” OR indigenous OR Latina OR Hispanic OR Asian OR transgender OR trans) (women OR womxn OR womyn) (“mental health” OR therapy OR trauma OR healing) (fund OR fundraiser OR donate OR support)
Organizations and Projects Supporting Mental Health Services for Women of Color
Therapy Fund for Black Women and Girls started by Rachel Cargle
Harriet’s Dream started by Catrice Jackson
Battered Women’s Support Services (For Indigenous women)
Anxiety and Depression Association of America (Asian-Americans are 3x less likely to seek mental health services than other Americans)