As we all know, the history of the United States stems from disturbing roots. Even today, racism remains an issue that we cannot ignore. I believe that it is important to educate myself on the reality of being Black in America – something that I can never fully understand. If you feel that same, please continue to read this blog! I feel strongly about the importance of listening to Black people themselves over other non-Black academics and researchers when it comes to this subject, so I wanted to share some essays and articles written by Black people.
Ta-Nehisi Coates’ 2014 article “The Case for Reparations” provides a glance into the harrowing nature of the Jim Crow era and argues the importance of providing reparations for descendants of slaves. This article serves as a shocking reality check on the current economic disparities between Black people and white people; disparities that can be traced back to slavery, a clear and massive disadvantage that continues to affect Black Americans. Did you know that in 2019, 30% of Black children were living in poverty compared to 10% of white children? Coates enlightens the reader on countries that have provided similar forms of reparations, such as Germany to Holocaust survivors. It’s bound to leave you wondering – why haven’t we done this yet?
From James Baldwin’s 1955 essay collection Notes of a Native Son, “Many Thousands Gone” poignantly illustrates the reality of how stereotypes. It also illustrates how disproven sciences continue to harm Black people in America. This line stood out to me, “The story of the Negro in America is the story of America — or, more precisely, it is the story of Americans.” “Many Thousands Gone” gives a painful but crucial look into the fears and anxieties that surround white peoples’ misconceptions about Black people. But it also shows how these misconceptions perpetuate racism today.
In “Just Walk On By,” Staples outlines the problems that Black people face in public areas. Particularly white women perpetuating the idea that Black men are dangerous to them. We’ve seen this time and time again, such as in last year’s case of a white woman calling the police on a Black person that was birdwatching in Central Park. The consequences can be devastating. I encourage any white woman to educate themselves on the harmful effects of – even subconsciously – stereotyping dark-skinned men in public spaces. This essay is a great place to start.
I Was Pregnant and in Crisis. All the Doctors and Nurses Saw Was an Incompetent Black Woman – Tressie McMillan Cottom
Racism in healthcare is an issue that I’ve really only just started to unpack. It is wildly important that we do and it has been going on for a very long time. Tressie McMillan Cottom’s heartbreaking essay illustrates Cottom’s harrowing experience in the healthcare system as a dark-skinned, pregnant woman.
Cottom’s experience isn’t uncommon – the US Department of Health has uncovered several examples of racial inequity in healthcare. For example, a 2016 study found that 73% of white medical students held at least one misconception about biological differences between races.
One of the most troubling yet most common false beliefs that white medical students hold is that Black people have thicker skin and less sensitive nerve endings, therefore naturally feeling less pain. These types of misconceptions can quite literally lead to Black deaths at the hands of white healthcare providers. That is something that we cannot allow to go on.
Sherri Williams’ 2016 article “How Does a Steady Stream of Images of Black Death Affect Us?” came in the wake of Philando Castille’s senseless killing by a police officer. Also in which Castille was shot point-blank during a traffic stop with his girlfriend and her young child in the car with him. Images and videos of this incident were widespread, in both social and mass media. The goal of this editorial is to illuminate the potential long-term implications of a constant cycle of images of police brutality against Black people.
Williams makes the case that being forced to watch these clips and see these images is traumatic at best for dark-skinned people. I believe this article is an important read for anyone hoping to educate themselves on the Black experience because it may encourage you to think twice before mindlessly sharing an image related to unjust Black death. Even if the intention is to promote awareness.
In 1985, a police helicopter released a bomb over the MOVE compound in Philadelphia. MOVE is a black liberation group that was founded in that very city in 1972. This tragic attack took the lives of 11 black people, including five children. The only surviving adult has steadfastly maintained that when MOVE members attempted to flee the burning building to surrender. The Philadelphia police began shooting in order to force them back inside. The MOVE bombing was horrifyingly recent and continues to impact Black citizens of Philadelphia. This article is thorough, informative, and painful – it’s an excellent read for anyone hoping to learn more about race relations within law enforcement.
These are just some ideas, I am no expert and I’m trying to educate myself more and more everyday. I hope this is a starting point. My door is always open. Although I am not a black therapist, I do have a referral source if anyone is looking for one in particular. Take care of yourself and others!