The last few months have been overwhelming, haven’t they?. With the pandemic and the murder of George Floyd, it’s a challenge adjusting to the new normal.
First we find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic. The media and interwebs are full of contradictory information and conspiracy theories, and you could be excused if you’re not quite sure who or what to believe. You may have been laid off from your job. Or perhaps you’ve had to close down a business, Now there’s pressure to reopen, and many businesses and workers are facing a stark choice between earning a living and risking their health and even lives. Adjusting to the new normal would be difficult under these circumstances.
The African-American community has been hit harder by COVID-19 than any other community. But the murder of George Floyd highlighted another frightening issue. It’s one that the community has had to deal with every day for a very long time. A lot of people across the U.S. are waking up to the harsh reality of racism against the African-American community. But there is unfortunately some backlash as well.
Adjusting to the new normal means that every White person needs to examine themselves. We need to catch where racist or dehumanizing thoughts about people of color might be popping up. I have often done work on myself regarding my own racism. Racism isn’t inherent to us—it’s taught to us starting from early ages as children. And even as someone who grew up in a racially and economically diverse neighborhood, I realized that I still had to look critically at my often subconscious thoughts.
I’m still a work in progress, but I have made changes and will continue to do so. We are all the same inside, and race is a social construct—there is no genetic basis for determining race. But despite our similarities, this social construct of race has usually made the life circumstances for Blacks and Whites quite different. An interracial relationship I had many years ago with someone who had an otherwise similar educational and socioeconomic background brought that to my attention in a clear and surprising way. So it’s incumbent on us Whites to listen to Blacks without our own filters. We need to realize that we likely have had different circumstances. We need to put ourselves in the shoes of Black people so that we can see the changes that need to be made.
It’s normal to feel stress at this time, or feel like things might be spinning out of control. Some of the suggestions I made in the last blog post—limiting exposure to mass media and social media, and reach out to others—are still valid. And while not highlighted as much in the mass media, people are still struggling to pay rent and bills.
This is a time to highlight the good things that are happening. Many people are waking up. It’s easy to think that the world is full of uncaring and hateful people. Realize that people who are and being helpful to others don’t usually making the front pages of the news. Across most of Wisconsin, people outside often aren’t wearing masks. But realize, too, that you aren’t seeing the people who are inside right now and taking all necessary precautions for themselves and others.
And don’t be afraid to seek help from a mental health professional. For many people, these times can be quite triggering. Financial uncertainty is downright scary and its easy to feel alone in such circumstances. I do continue to offer sliding scale fees. My decision not to take insurance means that the only people involved with your mental health care are you and I.