As if being Black in America wasn’t already hard, the recent instances of police brutality have turned an even brighter spotlight on our pain.

Being both Black and a woman brings about a heightened struggle that was recently explained in the ESSENCE Townhall on Black Women and Trauma, hosted by relationships and wellness director Charli Penn. When asked how Black women deal with trauma in the workplace, psychologist Dr. Sherry Blake explains that triggers, for us, are at every turn.

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“I can’t think of many settings where we’re not triggered, work being one of them” Dr. Blake says. “With that said, its the little things sometimes. Its subtle comments. It’s the responses you get. It’s the constant struggle [that says] you have to be more and better. You have to achieve more. And you look around to your counterparts, and of course, that’s not the same measuring stick for them. So we get triggered and reminded that we’re black, not only by skin color, but by others’ reactions around us.”

Dr. Sherry goes on to say that racism is embedded in American culture and that the best strategy for us is to learn how to shield ourselves from absorbing these negative interactions. “If we soak it all in and hold it in, we start believing what they say and we can’t afford to do that,” she says. “In spite of the rage and anger, we know who we are. We have to be able to tell ourselves, ‘we’re only going to respond to those things that we know matter.’ What people say is very painful, but what is it they’re doing and what are we going to do with that?”

See the full discussion above.


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