North Texas Daily

Much needed mental health check…for Black people

Much needed mental health check…for Black people

Much needed mental health check…for Black people
July 06
10:41 2020

In the past month, the Black Lives Matter movement has garnered attention from all around the world, and it has been unlike anything I have seen in my lifetime. Since its founding in 2013, based on the acquittal of Trayvon’s Martin murderer, George Zimmerman, the message of the movement has been spreading to different areas around the world. In 2013, it was at the forefront of people’s minds, especially Black people. In the years following the story of Martin, the movement was pushed to the “back burner” of people’s minds, mainly people whose lives were not impacted by the systemic racism that exists within this country’s justice system and has for years. But not all. The fire from Martin’s death was dimmed. His story became a symbol of pain and suffering for Black people, but just an old news story for everybody else.

In the years following Martin’s tragic death, a heart-wrenching number of Black people have been murdered at the hands of the police, and time after time these officers faced little to no consequences for their actions.

In the weeks following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of police officer Derek Chauvin, social media was and continues to be flooded with updates on the officers involved, their trials, protests fueled by the death of Floyd, riots, and more stories of Black people dying. Stories that are not receiving as much attention as they should be.

I want to put you in the shoes of a Black person, if you are not one, just for a little while. You turn on the television to watch your favorite show on Channel 8. Oh wait, you can’t. Why? Because the news is covering the case of yet another slain Black person, live, just as they have been doing. Everyday…for the past few weeks. You turn off the TV and log into social media on your phone. Surely there is some social media site that is not being spammed with pictures, videos, news articles, etc., every second of the day. Wrong again. #GeorgeFloyd, #BreonnaTaylor, #AhmaudAubrey, is trending on every platform, and if it is not them it is another story that fits the pattern of theirs. Because that is what it feels like this has become. A pattern. This movement, this cry for help from the Black community seems everlasting, and at times hopeless.

Black people have been screaming for their right to live and to be treated like everybody else for centuries, and truthfully, we are tired. We are tired of being pacified by small performative actions taken by companies to show they are against racism. All we want is a fair justice system, and the freedom to feel like our skin is not a target.

I saw a post on Instagram while scrolling through my timeline. In the post, she said, “is it just me or is social media extremely overwhelming right now?” It was a couple of days after the death of George Floyd, and she was white. A white girl was overwhelmed by the media outlets covering the deaths of Black people at the hands of police. Imagine how tired we are? Attention white people, you can turn the phones and television off to get away from the news for a moment. We, Black people, do not have that privilege. I can turn off my TV, and my phone, and all my devices that connect me to the world, but I can never disconnect from this skin I am in.

My Blackness does not go away whenever things become “extremely overwhelming.”

My Black brothers, sisters, friends or whomever you may be, do not feel an ounce of guilt for taking some time for yourself during these troubling times. I know how defeated I feel when I get on social media or turn on the news and see people who look like me in the headlines every single day. And it is not like they have done anything wrong; they were simply existing while being Black and for that reason alone, their life was not deemed worthy. It hurts me to feel like this. Not only must I be in fear of my life when stopped by the police but even when I am in the “safety” of my home, in my bed asleep at night, doing nothing, committing no crime against anyone.

So, take a break. Take all the time you need, there will be no judgment. Not from your counterparts. We are in this together, and we need to have our mental health in check before all else, otherwise, we might not have enough of us standing tall to take on this fight.

Featured Illustration: Olivia Varnell

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Peyton Jones

Peyton Jones

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