August 30, 2021
If you don’t identify as BIPOC, it’s like that you haven’t. In society, we often ascribe wide-sweeping assumptions about the grief process. As a result, we’re less able to take into account the reality that all grief is not created equal.
Caitlin Forbes (https://www.baby1stnetwork.org/news/blog-how-do-we-address-black-grief-compounded-centuries-racism-loss-and-trauma) writes in her blog:
“For over 400 years, [Blacks] have had to navigate a system that is stacked against people of color—a system defined by institutional racism that privileges White people, upholds White supremacy, and promotes discrimination and social injustice.”
Like it or not, this is the truth about life as a Black person.
Non-BIPOC folks have navigated ways of living unbridled by historical racism and other unsightly social over- and under-tones. Further, these realities underscore differential and arguably, more complex, grief responses among Black people.
Along the same lines, here are a few more stark data:
These data reflect a disturbing pattern, one that has existed for over 50 years since passage of the Civil Rights Act.
Think about this for a moment. Again, Caitlin Forbes notes:
“… we must take a long look at the historical and contemporary experiences around death in the Black community and recognize that, because of these experiences, Black grief is unique. [It] has been compounded and exacerbated by racism and discrimination, beginning in enslavement and evidenced in nearly every race-related news story we see today.”
I can’t help but flash back to 2020, a year that could’ve been a blur, had it not been for a global pandemic and the deaths of more innocent Black Americans. In addition to the loss of lives due to COVID-19, Black persons experienced the additional burden of grief and trauma. On top of this, we recognized the exacerbation of physical and emotional health outcomes as a result.
The devastating situation surrounding George Floyd’s death catapulted my mind back to other innocent Black persons from the distant and not-so-distant past. This, in turn, provoked an array of overwhelming memories. The result … complex trauma mixed with complex grief.
Unfortunately, all grief is not created equal.
Taken together, non-BIPOC individuals must anchor Black grief. This represents a vital step in reducing oppression.
Caitlin Forbes asserts, “when White grief is the assumed norm, bereavement support is also based on the White experience. As a result, the unique implications of Black grief are never addressed, and Black individuals are never given an equal opportunity to grieve and heal.”
As a Black woman, this, I know, will be appreciated and better received.
Friend, I welcome your thoughts and reflections.
As always, I’m glad you’re here!
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