The Trauma of Bearing Witness

Back in the 1980s, Howard University psychology professor Jules Harrell took racism to the lab to see how witnessing acts of racism affects blood pressure and cardiovascular events. He found that Black people may even carry the stress of racism in their sleep, NBC reports.
That research focused on the “meanness and inconvenience” of racism—but it couldn't compare to the blatant brutality soon to be revealed in the beating of Rodney King—and now the homicide of George Floyd.
The rise of social media means that high-profile killings of Black people replay on a loop, disseminating waves of secondary trauma.
Psychologist Gail Parker’s advice: don’t watch. “It's about self-protection. Secondary trauma is just as lethal to Black people as secondhand smoke.
Proper mental health care is also key. But frequent misdiagnosis by non-Black doctors and a dearth of Black mental health professionals are yet another health disparity that needs addressing, NPR reports.

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