• La Shawn Splane-Wilburn, Family Caregiver

Fighting For Sanity Amongst Teachable Moments:The Framing of Racism In America - Are You Exhausted

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

“The problem is that my generation was pacified into believing that racism existed only in our history books.” - Chance The Rapper

If you’ve been following the “political commentary” on the Trump Administration, you’ve witnessed the antics of “reframing” racism or racist behavior. New buzz words have been created like:

  • “the current political climate we live in”

  • “rants”

  • “provocative tweets”

  • “passionate”

  • “patriotic & patriotism”

  • “strong” as in “…the President’s words weren't strong enough” (the words of Press Secretary Sara Huckabee Sanders when questioned why the President used “animals” to describe a notorious Mexican gang. According the the *Chicago Tribune Mexicos foreign ministry called the comment “absolutely unacceptable” in a formal letter to the US State Department.)

Everything but racism is being used to describe racism. Social media is one of the most powerful tools in “selective dissemination of information”. News moves faster than the breath an individual takes between completing a thought during a discussion on a live broadcast. Woven into preparation for appearing as a panelist for a segment on public networks is the perfect manufactured expression to be caught on the face of the individual that will create the next Meme in a Tweet-storm. Any topic, social movement, tragedy, celebrities public breakdown, or racist tirade is fair game. Mental Illness isn’t immune either, in fact it has been kicked, twirled, and swirled around to fit whatever narrative the author chooses. I would like to discuss how the new weapon in psychological warfare is possibly racism and how tired I am mentally as well as how tired you probably are too.

Since the current administration took offie in 2017 there has been an increase in anxiety in the country(probably globally as well), according to a poll by Radius Global Market Research commissioned by healthcare review site CareDash.com. **“Nervous Nation: An Inside Look at America’s Anxiety in the Age of Trump” a poll of over 2,000 adults aged 18 and older surveyed between March 23-27, 2017 said:

More than half of Americans (59%) report being at least somewhat anxious because of the November election results, with nearly three-fourths (71%) of Americans aged 18-44 reporting feeling anxious due to the results. Nearly two-thirds of Americans (64%) agree that Donald Trump as president is causing more people to have anxiety.

The current administration doesn’t have the market corned on affecting the country with racist rhetoric, this past week we have seen Roseanne Barr excuse her “Tweeting” a racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett, a Black Woman who was an advisor to President Barack Obama, by saying her “tweet” was the result of Ambien, a pharmaceutical prescription sleeping aide. She said she was under the influence of the sleeping aide when she composed and pressed the “post” button that read "muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.". As a result her show was cancelled, as the network felt her comments were, “inconsistent with our values”. I never watched the show so I can’t give you an opinion on it, but many reviews online were not in the best light saying some of the topics discussed on the show were along the lines of racist and xenophobic. Many framed the incident as a teachable moment. I wonder what was taught?

Within the same week Starbucks closed it’s doors for “Racial Bias Training” after an incident at one of it’s stores where a store manager called the police on two Black Men sitting inside waiting on friends, resulting in the men being arrested. Kanye West gave an almost two hour interview with “Charlemagne the God” a radio host where he shared where he’d been during his time away from social media, his family, his brand and his challenges with his mental health. The same evening during an interview with tabloid news interviewers he said “slavery was a choice”. Although the artist has a reputation for very controversial and provocative statements, the “slavery was a choice” statement was not received well, especially with members within the Black community. As creative and expressive as the artist has been in the past, it is my opinion that his statement may have been received differently if in fact he hadn’t been so vocal about a sitting President who used his campaign to spread and fan racial tensions and was using Twitter to post provocative and racial “tweets” including calling members of a notorious Mexican gang, animals and saying that NFL players, like Colin Kaepernick who kneeled during the National Anthem to raise awareness for police shootings of unarmed Black people, should “leave the country” if they didn’t want to “stand for the National Anthem”. There’s also the increase in Mass shooting this year alone on school campuses and the issue of the shooters being White and Male have been avoided by the President. Mental Health has gotten tangled in the political arena and attempts to use it as a political football to push forward party agendas. These current events and many more have been part of the news cycle regularly for the last year and a half, and almost seem to recycle themselves. Literally. I could go into the history of Racism in the United States and the impact it has had on the Black community up to this day, but by now everyone knows this, those that didn’t before this current administration took office know now.

Chronic emotional stress, PTSD, negative physical and mental stress, and heightened psychological stress are all words that are floating around the internet to describe the current state of the country. An article on Psychology Today titled, “ How To Cope With Trump Anxiety” gave readers tips to cope with their mental anguish over the current administration. News commentary, social media, and press conferences have all found ways to creatively walk around the issues of political instability, and heightened racial tensions that are stoked at will by the current president in office (circa: 2018).

Our country is in the midst of one of the most racially charged and psychologically challenged times that many of us have ever seen. People in marginalized communities are in a heightened sense of awareness because of the increase of public attacks by racist individuals spewing “Make America Great Again” and “get out of my country” just before being attacked verbally, or physically. Children have become targets for psychological torture as they are stripped away from migrant families entering the US by US Border Patrol Agents, instead of leaving the families together. One can only guess the amount of psychological trauma they will face as a result. The United Nations human rights office says it violates their rights and international law, according to an article titled, "Taking Migrant Children From Parents Is Illegal, U.N. Tell U.S." in the New York Times.

Racism lingers on in our country and although there are many good and conscious people fighting for justice and to eradicate racism it is still a ways to go. I read on Twitter, I wish I could remember where, that a wound must get darker before it gets better. Many of us may understand the process is long and difficult, especially after the sacrifices made by those in the fight for Civil Rights, it’s still a mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually exhausting process to get there. Hopefully more of us talking about it, writing about it, posting and tweeting about it will not only give hope to others to keep fighting and believing in a better day to come, but most importantly to know we aren't alone in how we feel. Staying vigilant and taking regular breaks from the news and social media will go a long way in our having a chance to recover from our mental exhaustion.


|* http://www.chicagotribune.com/sns-bc-us--trump-immigration-20180517-story.html

|** https://www.caredash.com/press-release/nervous-nation.pdf

Updated to add: The United Nations human rights office says it violates their rights and international law, according to an article titled, "Taking Migrant Children From Parents Is Illegal, U.N. Tell U.S." in the New York Times. (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/05/world/americas/us-un-migrant-children-families.html)

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