For many people of color, the fight for racial justice and equality is a lifelong struggle . . .
. . . but the effort required to constantly work toward social change can easily consume a person – especially when they continue to witness traumatic acts of injustice.
So in the video below, Eboni Webb, PsyD shares how she worked with an overwhelmed and exhausted client who felt the pressure to be involved in social activism. She’ll walk us through the exact language she used to help her client see how rest and self-care can be a form of protest.
Have a look.
And during the pandemic, we’ve also had so many cases like the George Floyd case. So many people of color brutalized, and she would come into sessions just completely overwhelmed, completely exhausted and not sure how she felt. Just worn out.
There was a part of her that really was like, “Should I go downtown? And should I protest? But is it safe to protest?” There’s just so much flooding. And, “I just don’t know how to feel about this. I don’t know how I should do this.” And then, just deep sessions of almost apathy.
And so we just took a moment. And this is what’s so important with this group, is that for so long when they have been disconnected and numb, and for many clients of color that are constantly being bombarded with things that we have been crying about in our community for decades, it becomes too much. It’s just this critical mass that really creates collapse. And that’s what I was seeing with my client. She was collapsing.
And so what we started to talk about was the need to rest, the need to not go into protest, but the need to practice self-care. As Audre Lorde, a really amazing black feminist would say, self-care in it of itself is an act of resistance. An act of protest. And I really wanted to ground her in this sense, that for so long as a people of color, we were not given the space to rest, and that our protests ultimately often ended in our lives. Perhaps what if the gift of our ancestors is to have the space to rest?
And I said quite practically, “How about instead of going for the protest, let’s go take a nap?” Let’s nourish ourselves. Let’s feed ourselves. Let’s hydrate ourselves. Let’s feel the goodness of our body that has cost the people behind us. Right? That we are afforded the ability to rest.”
That’s a lot of what I do with many of my clients that have been just kind of bombarded and overwhelmed, that are trying to get to activation, but just are so checked out and numb in their lives to just take time for deep self-care. And that self-care in and of itself is an action of resistance.
If you’d like to hear more about helping clients of color heal from the wounds of racial stress and trauma, check out The Trauma of Racism: Expert Strategies to Help Clients Heal.
It’s a new trauma training that’s free to watch – you just need to sign up here.
Co-hosted by Thema Bryant, PhD, this program features Shelly Harrell, PhD; Daryl Rowe, PhD; Beverly Greene, PhD; Howard Stevenson, PhD; Usha Tummala-Narra, PhD; Kevin Nadal, PhD; Anneliese Singh, PhD; Joseph Gone, PhD and other experts on treating racial trauma.
Now we’d like to hear from you. How might you use Eboni’s ideas when working with clients of color who feel overwhelmed by racial trauma? Please leave a comment below to let us know.