Burning: Inside and Out

Experiencing personal racism is exhausting. It’s on the news. It’s in my mail. At work when I get some. It’s even in my family.

As I navigate this heat,–let’s call it Traumatic Racial Stress Syndrome, because that’s what it is–it’s as if the land around me is burning. The air is choked with its gritty scent. My home and possessions are threatened by active danger.

My retreat is to a place within where I have learned to cool my embers with the balms of healing. Even so the heat, smoke and flames are always at the door. They wait at the supermarket. Lurking in the woods is commonplace. Don’t even think of getting your brows done.

This is what it’s like to be a Black-Skinned Woman in 2020 America. It’s hot all the time–fires burn on every TV show. Every dinner party is laced with it. My actions are never good enough. I must learn my place or pay the price. I wear my papers on my skin: I do not belong.

Edissa completed production of a short documentary September 2020 and submitted it to several film festivals. She’s working on her next film and hiring a new Contributing Writer for Karma Compass.

Unlearning Oppression (Lesson 16): See’s Parable

One day, a rich and powerful White Woman invited a Black Woman from her church to work at her Famous Nonproffiting Feminarchy because she had demonstrated her character. During the Black Woman’s interview she was asked questions that did not pertain to the job, and most of the interviewers appeared to be angry or unhappy. She smiled and answered all the questions politely and with a bit of humor. Perservering through the Institutional Gatekeepers, she became a loyal and hardworking employee. Generous with her time, resources and support, she got to know the eight women where she worked four days a week, (not five). After two years, they seldom included her in conversations and sometimes snickered as she approached their groupings. When she left a meeting briefly, she returned to inexplicable hostility, which she valliantly attempted to ignore in order to participate. That summer, at their annual Professional Development Training, the White Facilitator attributed all the negative personality traits of the type to this Black Woman, while reserving all the positive traits of the same type to a White Woman across the room. The Black woman ran out on the second day of training, weeping. No one followed her out. No one checked in with her. A week later, this Black Woman believed she would eventually win over every woman in their small team, so she stopped at See’s Candies during her lunch break to buy dark-chocolate balls and mints, a favorite combination of the women in her office, but which she herself didn’t eat. In a sweet email, the Black Woman explained that she had left a special treat for everyone in the kitchen. At five o’clock, the Black Woman stopped in the kitchen to wash her mug and noticed that all the mints and all the chocolates were gone, but no one had thanked her or mentioned her contribution. The End.

Lesson 16: Learn how to identify and interrupt Microaggressions when they are enacted near you. Use the resources below and your accountability group to unlearn microaggressions and reduce instances of their harmful effects on Black, Indigenous and Latina women in your workplace.

EFT Tapping: A Vaccine Against Microaggressions

We may be occasional targets, but we don’t have to live our lives as victims. We need immunity from the ills of stress caused by behavior, environment and other people. While we can’t always control those things, we do have personal power to shape our destinies. Like what understanding a growth mindset can do negatively stereotyped people, tapping can transform one’s bearing in the world. It’s certainly not a cure for the –isms of this world, but it can help us fortify ourselves against the harsh realities of daily life. Oppression and microagressions are everywhere. We may not know how to name microaggressions when they happen, but we always know when we’ve been hit by these subtle bigotries: tiny insults, slights, small physical or psychological attacks that leave us asking ourselves, “What just happened?” The benefits of EFT Tapping if you are a person of color, or in any marginalized group, can be enormous.

Let’s first examine why microaggressions are so harmful. Unlike blatant acts of bigotry and oppression, microaggressions are often difficult to define, deflect and interrupt. They’re also are a big problem because of the way the cumulative effects of microaggressions manifest like PTSD after years of a person being subjected to them.  The Atlantic, in a recent article, confirms the impact of racism on people of color. It reports that “discrimination raises the risk of many emotional and physical problems. Discrimination has been shown to increase the risk of stress, depression, the common cold, hypertensioncardiovascular diseasebreast cancer, and mortality.” Not only do direct acts of discrimination cause these problems, but the article goes on to explain that even knowing that one might encounter racism can lead to a heightened stress response. Boy, do I know what that’s like firsthand, having experienced physical sickness at the approach of a designated encounter, such as work or a meeting with a person who regularly committed microaggressions against me. Many of the diseases associated with microaggressions are a direct result of chronic stress, which breaks down our bodies, system by system. Read the article for yourself:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/03/how-racism-is-bad-for-our-bodies/273911/

Working in toxic environments, with racist people or even well-intentioned liberals who can’t seem to stop microaggressing against us, can really chip away at our well being. Therefore, it is EFT Tapping that can help us remember the fundamental message that needs to be programmed in us: one of total and complete self-love and self-acceptance. We need to be able to love ourselves in such a way that we are able to see and accept the love that is offered to us when it’s present, and to be able to seek out positive experiences and environments to offset the negative ones. Conversely, we can also see and accept when we are not getting what we need to thrive and be happy. Tapping can give us the courage to change our circumstances. Here are some of the affirmations I have used to help counteract the poisons of microaggressions and overt bigotry in my life:

  • I am a good person. Good things happen to and for me every day. I love myself fully and completely.
  • I am fully protected by light and love from any acts of microaggressions and oppression. I love myself fully and completely.
  • I am a gifted _____. My contributions are appreciated and acknowledged. I love myself fully and completely.

Obviously, these affirmations have no direct impact on the people who may be doing the harm. They merely strengthen the individual, helping us to see ourselves positively without internalizing the harmful messages being communicated to us.  This positive self-image creates a lasting energy.

The tapping can also be used to distress after an unhealthy encounter. It can help to return your heart rate to normal, providing clarity for reflection. I’ve often had to run to the bathroom at my previous job after meetings in which I was subjected to microaggressions and overt discrimination. I would tap myself into a calm and centered place, so I could return to the situation with dignity, and sometimes armed with the ability to interrupt and address the problem that same day without having to take the bad stuff home with me. There’s a great video on the Mercola website that teaches how to talk yourself down after a particularly egregious incident (Watch it here: http://eft.mercola.com/). This type of tapping works great if you’re thrown off balance and are feeling vulnerable; it’s essentially emergency triage. It is not the type of tapping that I’d recommend for daily practice. Unfortunately, some of us go to work places where we need to heal after every interaction. In that case, a new job, a new focus in your life might be necessary.

Preventative care can help get you through the battle grounds with minimum damage. The greatest danger from microaggressions is the cumulative effects of chronic stress, the stuff we don’t want to take home if we can help it. EFT Tapping can be a kind of vitamin against assaults, allowing us to deflect and fortify ourselves against routine attacks that would otherwise undermine our peace of mind. Tapping can help us be more resilient when confronting difficult situations, allowing us to bounce back to the clear and strong center of our identities. Knowing who you are can literally save your life.