Courtesy of Scientific America
Published 7/20/2019 | Reading Time 2 min 36 sec
By Deon Osborne, Senior Writer
Now more than ever, taking care of your mental and physical wellbeing has become just as necessary as defeating white supremacy in all its forms.
Whether its negativity on social media, intergenerational trauma from racism, or the rise of white supremacists in the streets, loving yourself is the most powerful defense against these threats.
A typical day might start with checking your phone for updates and breaking news. But with research suggesting that prolonged social media use can lead to depression, letting it be the first thing you see every day may put your mental health at risk.
According to a 2018 study out of the University of Pennsylvania and published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, using less social media — than you usually would — significantly decreases feelings of depression and loneliness.
There’s enough stress in making sure you’ve got a roof over your head and food in your belly, without having to start your day by comparing your life to those of your friends or to be the first person to share the latest article spelling doom for our planet.
The morning sun brings more positive energy into your being than Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat combined.
We live in a time when the president of the United States can tell four minority members of Congress to “go back” to their own countries with no repercussion from the American people. For White Americans, this may be the first time in recent history that they’ve felt threatened by their own leaders. Yet, for Black, Brown and Native communities, the trauma from the racist rhetoric out of the White House runs deeper than a tweet.
Not only has research proven that structural and individual racism negatively affects African American health, leading to the onset of illness, but that pain can also be passed down from one generation to the next. That’s according to the U.S. government’s National Center for Biotechnology Information in a 2013 study titled Transgenerational Consequences of Racial Discrimination for African American Health.
From infant and maternal mortality to asthma and high blood pressure, Black Americans already suffer from higher risks of disease.
Trauma passed down from the American slavery era, lynchings, Jim Crow, and segregation, coupled with the constant racism spewing from neighbors, strangers, coworkers, newspaper editorials and political leaders results in a toxic pool of negativity that can drown a person in a dangerously depressive state of mind.
This makes validating oneself, instead of seeking approval from others, crucially important. Breaking the stigma around seeking mental health treatment can save lives.
Knowing your self-worth can mean the difference between uplifting others and allowing others to bring you down to your darkest depths of existence.
Aside from suicidal ideations, community violence and drugs, no other adversary threatens the physical wellbeing of Black, Brown and even White Americans more than white supremacy.
You know there’s a problem when the president’s own FBI director classifies white supremacists as a “persistent, pervasive threat” to the American people.
Most recently, FBI Director Christopher Wray told members of Congress in late July that the majority of domestic terrorism attacks this year have come from white supremacists.
It almost sounds like a twisted Dr. Seuss book: We have racists in the Tulsa County Courthouse, racists in the White House. Racists on the streets and racists with the police.
No one person can eliminate racism from American society, so the most important way to fight is by knowing when to stand up and when to lean on others.
Not everyone can attend every protest. Sometimes, enjoying yourself, friends and family is the most revolutionary thing you can do in a society that seeks to degrade your happiness, detain your body and eliminate your soul.
In short, preserving your self-worth, progressing your personal goals, and protecting your inner-joy is crucial in fighting the threats that emanate from negativity and white supremacy.
Deon Osborne was born in Minneapolis, MN and raised in Lawton, OK before moving to Norman where he attended the University of Oklahoma. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Strategic Media and has written for OU’s student newspaper the OU Daily as well as OKC-based Red Dirt Report. He now lives in Tulsa, where he works at a local youth shelter. He is also a former intern at Oklahoma Policy Institute.