Race-work, Race-love

Archive for August, 2014|Monthly archive page

Racial Battle Fatigue and the Race Worker

In Uncategorized on August 18, 2014 at 11:04 pm

I woke up feeling very depressed this morning. For over a week we have heard horrific details about the murder of #MikeBrown by police officer #DarrenWilson; I have read and heard about friends and others who have been tear gassed because they were protesting peacefully and #Ferguson police have no clue how to build trust among their people.

And I felt helpless.

I am sure I am not alone. My roles as an educator and RaceWorker remind me of my work in this world – to educate people about race and racism. But sometimes this doesn’t feel enough.

There is such a thing called racial battle fatigue and to put it simply this is the emotional and physical effects people of color feel when we experience cumulative racist events. These effects are necessary to take care of – and not ignore.

I woke up this morning and forced myself to exercise. Thirty minutes of crying and exercising and I was reminded of one my participants from my research who explained that people who experience incidents of racial conflict must engage in a practice of self-care (I hope to write a chapter about this in my dissertation).

So I continued to exercise.

Then, I picked up readings by Professor Derrick Bell and reminded myself that this is BlackAugust. I also did some research on an AfroEcuadorian freedom fighter (Alonso de Illescas) from the late 1500s. I engaged in these acts of self care because while I continue to educate my students and those around me about race and racism, I may also be called one day to protest and fight. And when that day comes, I must be physically and emotionally ready to serve our people.

I write this message because I know some of you are experiencing similar feelings. I know the racial battle fatigue is real. So I urge you to engage in a practice of self care – because you may be called to engage in a difficult conversation with friends or family about race and racism or you may be called to organize a meeting or write for a magazine explaining this moment in our history – when every 28 hours Black people are killed at the hands of an armed official; when Brown men and women are detained and deported every day; when Black and Brown students are being pushed out of the academic pipeline; and so much more to list.

How do you practice self-care? Will you be ready when called to action?

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