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Black Experts Say Stress Caused By Racism Is Lethal To Black People’s Health & Explains Why ‘Self-Protection’ Is Much Needed During These Times

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A global pandemic and violent cases of racism coming together could be a lethal cocktail for black people in America. Black experts break down how racism is literally killing blacks and how health disparities only fuel that fire. More inside….

These are troubling and unprecedented times we’re living in. And it’s been especially hard and detrimental to black Americans.

There’s a huge disproportionate death rate of black and brown people from COVID-19 with an overrepresentation of Blacks being hospitalized or dying from the virus. And according to Dr. Nadine Burke Harris it’s no coincidence.

"As a doctor and a policymaker, I often hear the question 'what is it about black and brown people' that makes us more vulnerable to the virus? That question infuriates me. Science makes clear how powerfully our experiences and environments shape our biology,” said Dr. Burke Harris - California's first surgeon general.

Dr. Burke Harris is a mother of twin boys age 17 and sons 8 and 4. Since she's aware of the statistics when it comes to health disparities between blacks and whites, she has dedicated her medical training and career to help reduce it.

In her essay [via NBCNews], Dr. Burke Harris said the images of masked protesters carrying "Black Lives Matter" signs are starkly juxtapose "the heroic efforts we are all making to protect our communities from coronavirus against our feckless efforts to curb the sickness of racism that has infected America since its birth."

"In those images is also a reminder that the disproportionate death rate of black and brown people from Covid-19 is no coincidence. It is directly related to the history of racial oppression in our nation."

"The way chronic stress and trauma gets under our skin and affects our biology was not being addressed. That's why it felt important to me not only to elevate the issue, but also to elevate the science," she said. "The science has been around for decades."

Jules Harrell, a professor of psychology at Howard University, shared how studies he conducted back in the 80s at Howard showed how racism had a direct effect on blood pressure. Even when black people were sleep, they carried that stress with them, causing their blood pressure to never go down while resting.

"We looked at cardiovascular effects — blood pressure and how hard the heart beats when experiencing some things such as racism. It's amazing how sensitive our systems are to this."

"There's something wrong with a society that causes people to carry this even when they sleep," Harrell said.

Today, acts of violence and racism are being caught on video and uploaded to social media, which spreads to the masses like wildfire. If a person is online a lot, they may end up replaying the violent videos, which isn’t good for one’s mental health.

 

 

Gail Parker, a psychologist and yoga therapist in Palm Springs, California, said black people MUST take time away from social media, rest and regroup before reengaging.

"You don't have to be a direct target of racism for it to negatively impact your physical and emotional health," she said. "People are experiencing secondary or vicarious trauma. Secondary trauma is the trauma of exposure to a racially charged event that leaves you feeling helpless and afraid and comes from seeing something overpowering. We are seeing this on top of the ongoing daily recurrences of racial events that cause us emotional pain."

"Black people have a group consciousness, so when we see a Black person being killed or abused on television or when we read about it, we identify with that person being abused and with their family," Gail said.

"Give yourself an opportunity to rest and recuperate before you re-engage," she said. "It's about self-protection. Secondary trauma is just as lethal to Black people as secondhand smoke."

Much needed gems.

What ways are you practicing self-protection and self-care? Tell us in the comments. You may inspire someone else to try your method so they can heal. We’re all in this together and we must continue to unite and defend each other to create a United States where we’re all seen as equal.

Photo: Dr. Burke Harris' IG

 

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