The political climate lately has greatly triggered my childhood experiences of racial hostility in the South. The ongoing cases of suspiciously harsh and even deadly treatment of people of color by police, the killing of 9 black people by a white supremist, the rallying of support for the confederate flag and then Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant position – all these recent news happenings have exacerbated my PTSD from racial violence while growing up brown in the South of the US.
One particularly traumatic episode (described in the post “Opening Pandora’s Box“) has been reenergized by the vitriolic rantings of Trump against Latino immigrants. However idiotic and senseless, the fact that he has large margins of support from conservatives and is given such airplay in the media makes me very nervous. The general anxiety associated with living in hostile territory has come back and nightmares/flashbacks of old racial violence plague my nights. I have such a visceral reaction to his polarizing and defamatory statements about Latino immigrants that I find it hard to discuss it rationally and casually with others. His scapegoating of an entire group of people fans the flames of an already dangerous climate of reactionary racism and conservatism. I’ve been on emotional high alert for feeling unsafe for weeks. It has added to my mental health challenges of late.
It’s hard to be affected like this in modern society, where you have to interact with mainstream (read “white”) culture so much. People of color, amongst ourselves, are talking about it, but I notice very little talking about the effects of these events in the predominantly white circles I move though. I did make a point to raise this issue in a support group I attend. I was the lone woman of color and while it was uncomfortable to talk about it it with people I did not think could relate to my issue personally, it was powerful to have them hear me and witness the pain that I live with as a result of racism. It was part of my healing and I am grateful I took the chance to be vulnerable with these women. There was a time when I would not have let them hear about or see my pain around that subject. This is also how I feel when I see white allies in the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.
I know there are so many victims of racial hate crimes living with PTSD and trying to navigate the minefield of racist events in our culture. I wish for all of us to have access to healing in the form of therapy, friends, and righteous laws. I wish for our nightmares and bad memories to fade away and be replaced with a wisdom that spurs us on to create a vibrant future. I’m proud of our battle scars. We make up the resistance to the status quo and we remember what must not be forgotten, both for ourselves and for the nation. This is what I need to remember when I feel isolated in my PTSD reactions. I have now created a life where I can speak my truth and have it witnessed and acknowledged with support. And that is a great balm for old scars.