Headline after headline, the same story: a black American dead.
And the ones before: Eric Garner, who couldn’t breathe. Philando Castile, in the car with his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter. Trayvon Martin, only a boy.
Scores of killings answered with acquittals. Now, as a pandemic rages, African Americans in communities across the country disproportionally devastated by COVID-19 are forced to bear witness to more deaths of black Americans.
The costs of these deaths ripple. When people of color experience racism, when they repeatedly witness racism, there is a profound emotional toll.
“The persistent pandemic is racism. That’s the pandemic. Recent deaths of individuals of color and the deleterious impact of COVID-19 on communities of color stems all the way from 1776,” said Alisha Moreland-Capuia, executive director of Oregon Health & Science University’s Avel Gordly Center for Healing, which focuses on culturally sensitive care for the African American community.
“The emotional and psychological impact of racism means acutely, every day, being reminded that you are not enough, being reminded that you are not seen, being reminded that you are not valued, being reminded that you are not a citizen, being reminded that humanity is not something that applies to you.”
Research shows racism has harmful mental and physical effects. They can result from a person experiencing racism directly – as a bird-watcher did when a white woman in New York’s Central Park told police he was threatening her life when he asked her to leash her dog – or vicariously, such as someone watching the video of Floyd’s suffering. [Continue reading…]