top of page

What is Racism?

Race and ethnicity are social constructs designed to categorize people who appear to share common features. Even though the words race and ethnicity are often used, they have been disproven scientifically and shown to be designed for racist practices.

Racial Trauma

Racial trauma, which is also known as race-based traumatic stress, is the set of consequences that occur when a person of color deals with racism and discrimination. It captures the varied psychological, mental, and emotional harm that is caused by witnessing racism and discrimination and by experiencing it firsthand. When Black, Indigenous, and people of color encounter racism and discrimination, it has a strong negative emotional impact, and may be similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In the case of racial trauma, PTSD can occur after an individual person faces harassment or discrimination, or it can occur by witnessing it. Negative events that are heightened by the image with explicit images contribute to uncertainty about safety and add to existing distrust of people.

Racism is pervasive and negatively impacts the psychological and emotional wellbeing of Black, Indigenous, and people of colour historically and present day. It is not an isolated incident that occurs once; it permeates the culture, affects nearly every area of a person's life, and leads to re-traumatization again and again. Racism and discrimination play a significant role in social determinants of health such as disparities in education, employment, income, social exclusion, healthcare, housing, and food insecurity.

Racial trauma manifests itself in different ways such as: low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, imposter syndrome, avoidant behaviours, hypervigilance, flashbacks, difficulty concentrating, internalized racism, increased reactivity, and nightmares just to name a few. In addition, the trauma of witnessing police brutality leads Black, Indigenous, and people of color, particularly Black people, to fear police, which can in turn be dangerous if they find themselves in situations where they need to rely on police assistance. While depression and anxiety can be symptoms of PTSD, they can also exist on their own. Both have strong negative impacts on a person's well-being and daily life.

Racism can also make it more difficult to access treatment for mental health conditions that stem from racial trauma. Finding community and communing with others can help you cope with racial trauma. Storytelling is one example of how Black communities have found collective healing from racism. Practicing self-care is another way to cope with the microaggressions and daily stressors. Educating oneself regarding your history as well as understanding the root of systemic racism and oppression will help create a stronger sense of self and identity. Seek trauma informed therapy from a therapist who is aware of societal issues pertaining to racism and discrimination. They must also be culturally informed and willing to discuss racism, power, and privilege.

Smiling for the Camera
bottom of page