WE ARE TIRED: Racial Battle Fatigue and Trauma –

Dr Yansie Rolston

We have all read and heard the news over the past two months about the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affecting Black Asian and Minority Ethnic people (BAME). To BAME people the huge gap in health outcomes was always evident, but to many others the disparities only became obvious by the numbers of BAME health care workers, bus drivers, and other key workers who sadly lost their lives to COVID-19. 

The shocking statistics led to a vast number of conversations, panel discussions, meetings, surveys, one-to-one chats, webinars, texts exchanges, interviews, workshops, blogs and social media postings. Yet, the Government considered it acceptable to censor the Public Health England Review ‘Disparities in the Risks and Outcomes of COVID-19’ omitting key sections including the voice of those people with lived experiences, and recommendations made.

BAME people already know that structural discrimination and racism exists, so attempting to exclude those facts is fooling no one. It only serves to reinforce what we know already – that institutional racism is like a nylon thread woven through the very fabric of society, and that there are people in positions of authority who are afraid of tugging the nylon. 

Recent events in America has pulled the nylon. It is unravelling. Witnessing the heart wrenching images of the final moments of the life of George Floyd – a Black man who was murdered by police sent shock waves throughout the world. Police mottos are “To Protect and Serve” but the vast majority of black people have no faith in that motto because there are too many instances of police officers not protecting or serving, but taking lives and telling lies.

All of this takes its toll mentally, physically and spiritually. Black people are tired! 

We are tired of negative press, tired of health inequalities, tired of micro-aggressions, structural and institutional racism, tired of being asked where we are from or why our food smells the way it does, we are tired of having to explain Black Lives Matter vs All Lives Matter, tired of waking up in the morning worrying that someone may accuse you of a crime you didn’t commit, tired of being the only black person in the Board room, tired of comforting our black children and grandchildren because someone called them the N word, tired of being stopped and searched, tired of being by-passed for promotion, tired of being told to “go back to your country”. 

WE ARE TIRED! WE ARE SAD! WE ARE SCARED! WE ARE HURTING!

Black people are struggling to cope with Racial Battle Fatigue and Trauma (the symptoms are similar to PTSD). Racial Battle Fatigue and Trauma causes deep emotional and psychological distress and many people are in need of support, but this is where the health inequalities raises its head again, because black mental health and wellbeing is not mainstreamed, and culturally appropriate service provision is lacking.

Black people are tired – From the moment we are born to the last breath we take we are having to fight for equality. To those allies who posted a black square on #blackouttuesday I ask you, what next? What are you going to do to address some of the issues that are making us tired, sad, scared and hurt?

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