A video surfaced last year that brought up the idea of African Americans being able to call off work simply for being black. It was suggested that instead of calling into work for being sick, blacks could call in for “being black.” The whole idea makes someone reflect on a long accepted stereotype that black people are mentally strong and can handle anything. There’s some truth it. Our ancestors survived slavery; our grandparents lived through the Civil Rights Movement and even Jim Crow laws. But there’s already evidence that targeted police brutality and other forms of racism has taken a mental toll on African-Americans. In 2016, African-Americans get anxiety driving to work more than they would stand on a 300-foot ledge.
And so, the question becomes this. When there are disease outbreaks, there are warnings and trusted cures from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). If mental illnesses are also a disease, then why aren’t there counseling efforts for African-Americans who are exposed to racially driven violence?
Research already shows that there’s a need. According to the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, there was a mental impact on blacks during the 1992 riots in Los Angeles. Eight months after the riots, researchers called victims and found that the impact was much worse in the heavily black communities in South Central, L.A.
The truth is, no one can watch a man bleeding from several gunshot wounds and walk into work the next morning like nothing traumatic happened. Still, many African-Americans have to, raising a bigger question about whether blacks are desensitized to brutal violence. A Dallas gunman who killed five police officers during a Black Lives Matter protest is an excellent example of how everyone doesn’t deal with public tragedies the same. The shooter said he was mad and hated white people. Perhaps the murders of Sterling and Castile put the gunman over the edge and talking to a psychiatrist beforehand would have calmed his mental state.
We’re wrong to suggest that African-Americans can suck it up and go pray about it. Research shows that seeing violence firsthand can mentally scar an individual. According to The American Behavioral Scientist, racism has an effect on mental health. The research proves why employers should offer to counsel for racially driven violence. While many workplaces are diverse, you don’t know what kind of ignorant or insensitive comments you may hear at the water cooler that could set you off.
Written by: Deprina Godboldo, Staff Writer, Modern Domestic.
Sources: Google Scholar abstracts
Williams, David R., and Selina A. Mohammed. “Racism and Health I: Pathways and Scientific Evidence.” The American behavioral scientist 57.8 (2013): 10.1177/0002764213487340. PMC. Web. 17 July 2016.