Image by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona

Racism is A Public Health Crisis

Racism is a Public Health Crisis. Racism hurts the bodies, hearts, and psyches of everybody. It is particularly deadly to those against whom it is employed which historically and currently is people of color. Many studies have shown that racism wears on the bodies and spirits of those who have been categorically and systematically oppressed. Living in a society where one is regarded as a second class citizen, as disposable labor, as a "terrorist" a "thug" or as undeserving of safety, support and joy is a significant and prolonged source of toxic stress for people of color that is difficult to escape in America. Toxic stress causes physiological changes in the body such as high cortisol levels and high blood pressure which lead to many other serious health conditions such as kidney disease. Communities of color have higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety, lower birth weights, and more. This is due in part to the effects of toxic stress on the body and lowered access to compassionate preventative healthcare.

Racism similarly hurts those with more power and advantages.
Individuals with more relative social power are taught to tense up, to be afraid, to distrust, to disregard others, to believe that some deserve life more than others- these impulses and ideas hurt us. It hurts us to shut down our capacity for compassion. It hurts us to cope with this dissonance by numbing out.

Being White or Brown or Black is inherently neutral but the ways some communities have used other communities is not neutral.

Olympia Community Acupuncture is dedicated to ending this destructive legacy. It can be done. We are dedicated to healing the harms caused by the genocide of Indigenous peoples, the African slave trade, the Holocaust, the exploitation of Asian and Latinx immigrants, the pitting of poor Whites against neighbors of color, and the rise of White Nationalism. This healing takes generations acting together and we might not see great changes in our lifetimes but the work is always worth it. Racism can be unlearned and undone. It takes practice and support. Mistakes will be made because stumbling is part of the process. It takes changes in legislature, in institutions, and in all of us individually. If you want to unlearn racism, here are some resources that we have found helpful.

This article, about how the idea of Whiteness came to be is a great place to start: Click here. The author offers many workshops as well through the organization called White Awake. AntiRacist work for White people is Not feeling bad for being White, it's about understanding our various histories and how some of our European ancestors were harmed throughout European history and in the process of coming to America. Unable to heal from past traumas, European settlers acted out trauma and learned behavior onto Indigenous peoples and enslaved Africans which was a sad and terrible way to start out time here on this continent. In order to have better relationships between White People and People of Color, we White folks need to address our traumas and let go of some of our learned behaviors, attitudes and preconceived notions. Again, this article, very beautifully explains this history and why we benefit from learning about it. 

Sandra Kim's class for people of color interested in healing from living in a racist society: Click Here.
Sandra Kim's class for white identified people interested in healing from living in a racist society: Click Here.  

Workbooks:
Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem 

A more expansive list of Anti-Racism Resources: An open-source resource for white people and white parents wanting to dismantle white supremacy. Available at: bit.ly/ANTIRACISMRESOURCES