Actionable Steps for Therapists (And All Human Beings) In Response to the Racial Pandemic
We are angry. We are indignant. We are hurt. We are distraught.
We are united in pain, frustration, and a want for change. Centuries of cumulative trauma brought on by racial discrimination have spilled over into what we see today in streets across our country.
Social media, conversations, articles and op-eds are plentiful. All make the case for advocacy, for justice, for action. Those articles that provide some actionable steps for therapists, therapists-in-training, and the public encourage looking inward, understanding implicit biases, and committing oneself to be better each and every day. This is a necessary and important first step. For articles and questionnaires aimed at understanding your own racism: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_stop_the_racist_in_you
So, you’ve looked inward. You’re committing to keeping the discourse open. What now? What can we do to support our community, or act as allies to the community?
Seek out information from a wide array of reputable sources who can present facts around laws and systems, emotions around lived experiences, actions around policy, and so on.
Read research articles.
Read stories from individuals who are experiencing the pain.
Check out some additional resources on what you can do to better understand racism and oppression, and learn about being anti-racist:
Consider the avenues by which you’re gaining your information. Are you supporting black media? Have you looked for information on Blavity or BET? Elevate black journalism.
White People Speak to White People.
Use your knowledge and education to share with friends, family, students, clients, and so on. If you see or witness racism, covert or overt, step in. Use your knowledge and insight to educate others, pass on reliable and factual information, and encourage action from your community and peers. Be an ally to the voices of those who are often suppressed.
But Know When to Hand Over the Microphone.
Elevate black individuals’ voices when possible. If you’re on Twitter or Facebook, consider following leaders and everyday folks who are Black, Indigenous People of Color (BI-POC). Learn about their experiences firsthand as a way to better your understanding of different perspectives. Consider how your social media following may reflect a lack of diversity – who is following you, who are you following, and how can you surround yourself with people who may have different perspectives and voices than your own?
Retweet, share, and distribute information from people who get it, who live it, who feel it before sharing your own take.
Here are just a few black mental health leaders to follow on social media....
Dr. Juliette McClendon @drjuliettem
Dr. Chyrell Bellamy @chy_bellamy
Dr. Ayana Jordan @drayanajordan
Dr. Dani Hairston @adocnamedani
Dr. Thema Bryant- Davis @drthema
Dr. Alfiee Breland- Noble @dralfiee
Dr. Bedford Palmer II @DrBFPalmer
A small amount can go a long way. Consider donating to bail out protesters, or to black journalists’ mental health, or civil liberties lawyers and organizations.
Black Journalists’ Mental Health https://www.gofundme.com/f/black-journalists-therapy-relief-fund
This fund is designed to provide financial assistance for black journalists facing financial hardship who are unable to pay for the mental health support they need during this time. While publications ask black journalists — both freelance and full-time staff members — to put their lives at risk to report on racial injustices and embed themselves within the protests, they rarely provide resources for these same journalists to process the trauma incurred both on the job and in daily life.
More info: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/media/the-terror-of-wearing-both-a-press-badge-and-black-skin-black-journalists-are-carrying-unique-burdens-right-now/2020/06/01/2266a258-a414-11ea-b473-04905b1af82b_story.html
American Civil Liberties Union https://action.aclu.org/
Your gift will fund our critical work to protect voting rights, demand that vulnerable people in prisons, jails and immigration detention centers be released, and fight to ensure reproductive health care remains open and accessible to all who need it. Now more than ever, we the people means all of us.
Bail Project, Inc. https://bailproject.org/
The Bail Project™ National Revolving Bail Fund provides free bail assistance to low-income individuals who are legally presumed innocent, and whom a judge has deemed eligible for release before trial contingent on paying bail. We enable our clients to return home to their families and communities while awaiting their court dates.
Black Lives Matter https://blacklivesmatter.com/
#BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives.
George Floyd Memorial Fund https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd
This fund is established to cover funeral and burial expenses, mental and grief counseling, lodging and travel for all court proceedings, and to assist our family in the days to come as we continue to seek justice for George. A portion of these funds will also go to the Estate of George Floyd for the benefit and care of his children and their educational fund.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. is America’s premier legal organization fighting for racial justice. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans. LDF also defends the gains and protections won over the past 75 years of civil rights struggle and works to improve the quality and diversity of judicial and executive appointments.
Challenge People to Donate Money.
Create a ripple effect and encourage friends and family to donate money to an organization of your choosing, have them show their receipts, and match the donation up to a certain amount.
Offer Pro-bono Services.
As a therapist, as a lawyer, as a medical doctor. In whatever capacity, consider opening up your service to those who are being affected by racism and violence.
Support Local Black Business.
Particularly at this time when businesses are hurting from COVID-19 quarantines, show your support to black business.
A complete state-by-state listing of black-owned businesses: https://www.supportblackowned.com/aboutus
And for locals in South Florida, check out:
Learn more about the organizations that you belong to, your employer, your school, the journals you submit to, etc.
- What are this organization/employer/school’s discrimination policies?
- What are this organization/employer/school’s hiring and admissions policies?
- What percentage of individuals are hired or enrolled?
- What entities does this organization/employer/school donate to? Are any of these anti-racism? Do any organizations stand against or for my values and beliefs?
- What is the minority composition of the Board of Directors/Trustees?
- What is the organization/employer/school doing to speak out in the face of the racial epidemic?
- What is the organization/employer/school doing to foster meaningful conversations about racial issues amongst employees and students?
- What are the number of submissions, rejections, and publications from BI-POC for this journal?
Get People Registered to Vote.
The only way we’re going to create real systemic and actionable change is by ensuring that the people we elect accurately reflect our opinions, beliefs, and what we know to be fair and equitable treatment to all individuals living in this country. Use the visibility of social justice issues brought on by organizations and protests to create change.
When We All Vote: https://www.whenweallvote.org/takeaction/
“When We All Vote is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that is on a mission to increase participation in every election and close the race and age voting gap by changing the culture around voting, harnessing grassroots energy, and through strategic partnerships to reach every American. Launched in 2018 by co-chairs Michelle Obama, Tom Hanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Janelle Monae, Chris Paul, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, When We All Vote is changing the culture around voting using a data-driven and multifaceted approach to increase participation in elections. In the months directly before the 2018 midterm elections, When We All Vote organized 2,500 local voter registration events across the country, engaged 200 million Americans online about the significance of voting, and texted nearly four million voters the resources to register and get out to vote.”
Rock the Vote: https://www.rockthevote.org/get-involved/
“In 1990, music executives founded Rock the Vote in response to the censorship of hip-hop and rap artists. Our first partnership, with MTV, promoted the message that “Censorship is Un-American” and activated millions of young people across the country to exercise their rights and represent their interests. For thirty years, we have continuously adapted to the changing landscapes of media, technology and culture to breakthrough and empower each new generation.
More resources on getting votes: https://politicalcharge.org/2018/03/10/15-ways-you-can-help-get-more-people-registered-to-vote/
Show solidarity with your fellow humans and walk the streets. But do it safely with these articles:
Find more ways to support the community.
Cite This Article
Janvier, S. & Ellis, A. (2020, June). Actionable steps for therapists (and all human beings) in response to the racial pandemic. [Web article]. Retrieved from https://societyforpsychotherapy.org/actionable-steps-for-therapists-and-all-human-beings-in-response-to-the-racial-pandemic