Racism and discrimination are part of our society whether we want to admit that or not. Although racial discrimination is prohibited by law and the constitution, the reality is much different. The problem lies in society’s lack of willingness to truly embrace different ethnicities and races. So how to deal with racism and the things that accompany it? We will try to give you some guidance on how to tackle this matter on a day-to-day basis.
People of Color of All Ages Have to Learn How to Deal With Racism
People of color and other marginalized groups realize, from their early childhood, that the problem of hatred and race discrimination is more profound (and we can feel this on our skin every day) than in just exercising our rights (which is often proven we cannot do). Yes, we have rights (and boy, did we fight for those rights throughout history), but is this enough? What are rights if they are not implemented or if they come with fine print and riddled with double standards? Why do we have to prove and pursue our rights all the time if our society is tolerant and anti-discriminatory?
How do you explain to a little boy or girl that if someone is bullying them because of their skin color or ethnicity, they have rights and that everything will be reported and sanctioned when the reality is oftentimes different? Can this heal the scars left on their soul? Is it possible for young children to report every racial microaggression? Will they even tell their parents? Probably not. They will learn to accept harsh reality and learn how to carry their identity throughout life. Yes, there will be reports, and they will learn to stand up for themselves, but these kinds of traumas and scars will follow them into adulthood and develop into deep-rooted self-doubts and a negative self-image. This is often the reason people of color, and especially women of color, develop various anxiety symptoms. Unfortunately, these often go ignored and untreated for a long time, as psychological issues among minorities are often considered taboo, with black women and depression being a prime example.
What Is Race and Gender Inequality – Intersectional Discrimination
Women of color face intersectional discrimination, which means we, as women of color, face racial discrimination just like men of color, as well as gender-based discrimination as women. The term intersectionality was created by civil rights activist Kimberlé Crenshaw. It means that women of color, throughout the course of their life, face discrimination based on both their race and gender, which isn’t necessarily a sum of the two, but a form of discrimination in its own right. Their identities overlap and create this unique form of discrimination specific only for this marginalized group (in this case, women of color).
How to Handle Racism on a Day-to-Day Basis
Dealing with discrimination on a daily basis causes constant stress to an individual. Stress can lead to various physical and mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, obesity, and substance abuse. Even if we don’t experience direct overt attacks, microaggressions and systemic racism can cause the same damage as open discrimination. Snarky comments of a coworker or exclusive behavior make you feel unwelcome in a group or place. Even comments and actions that stem from ignorance rather than hate can have a similar effect. Here is some advice to help you cope with discrimination in your daily life.
Find Your Inner Strength and Clear Your Mind
Focus on your values, beliefs, your strength. Remind yourself how valuable and remarkable you are. Confidence and self-assurance are hard to achieve when you are faced with discrimination daily. Focus on reminding yourself that you are talented and qualified in your field of work and that you deserve all the achievements you have made so far. Clear your mind and try to calm yourself down. As we mentioned, dealing with discrimination causes a lot of stress. It can increase your blood pressure, so try to breathe and listen to your body. Later on, you can think about how you want to respond with a clear mind.
Find a Support System – Friends and Family
One of the problems of being discriminated against is the internalization of other people’s negative thoughts about you, even if they are all false. You might start believing that you are not good enough. Talking about these issues, sharing your experience with people with similar experiences, and seeking emotional support from your friends and family can help you realize your value and reframe these negative beliefs.
Don’t Hold on to Racist Comments
When exposed to discrimination, we often have difficulties just shaking things off. Don’t hyper-analyze this experience, and don’t reenact the situation over and over in your head, thinking What could I have said differently or how could I have acted differently? This rumination will only make you feel worse. People who ponder on negative experiences and feelings report more stress and often even experience anxiety attack symptoms. So instead of doing this, try to learn how to calm yourself down and, in a more relaxed atmosphere, figure out the plan of what you will do in similar situations in the future.
Here, therapy can be really helpful. If you are wondering how to choose a therapist, especially for these issues, it would be better to share these feelings with someone who can relate to the same type of discrimination as well. You can find African American counselors, go to Asian therapy, find therapy for Latinx, or women of color therapy in general. Either way, the right counselor for women of color will give you some self-care ideas for women and teach you how to deal with stress caused by racial discrimination.
Deal With Racism With Us – Black or Women of Color Support Groups
You don’t have to seek support only within your circle of friends and family. You can join support groups or organizations. Despite one of the many bad impacts of social media, the main advantage of today’s world is that you can find these groups online. Connecting to these people can help you figure out how to cope with discrimination and maybe give you some insights you haven’t thought about.
How to Deal With Racism in the Workplace
Women of color and black women in the workplace know how hard it is to make their way in the world of men and privilege – the corporate workplace is a fertile ground for work stress, racial microaggressions, gender-based discrimination, and mobbing. As we mentioned before, women of color face all that at once. Dealing with prejudice in a workplace produces a lot of stress and fear for that individual. So how to cope with this? There are some mechanisms you can implement depending on the situation:
- Informal approach – talk to your employer and ask for a mediator to try to resolve the problem.
- Formal approach – Go to the HR department and file a formal complaint through the official employee grievance process.
- Take legal action – If push comes to shove, you can always take legal action against the coworker in question, and even the employer due to their failure to act.
What Happens if You Don’t React
Well, to put it simply, nothing will happen in the particular matter nor the broader picture. If not sanctioned and condemned, this racist behavior will continue not only toward you but also to all different individuals. As a victim of long harassment and discrimination, taking a stand and reporting abuse is a challenging and hard step. No one is saying that you are obliged to report an attack or abuse, only that you need to reach out to someone to talk to, regardless of this is a therapist, friend, or employer. Our advice is to react, don’t hold these feelings inside, reach to someone who can help you overcome this problem, and eventually report it.
How to Deal With Racial Discrimination Traumas
When we talk about women of color or black women and mental health, we can not ignore the problems of racial and gender discrimination, as they are often at the root of the issue. This is why it is important to work on these traumas on time, especially with a therapist who can address these issues. For example, if you can, go to therapy for Indian women, a black female therapist, or another therapist of color you can relate to.
You are probably wondering: Does therapy work? What will I be doing at my first therapy appointment? Don’t worry, many people feel this way. What is important to know is that going to therapy is the best way to deal with any kind of trauma, especially traumas that are so intertwined with our identities and self-awareness and what makes us us. So don’t be afraid to reach out for help and find professional counseling for women.