Black People’s Mental Health Is At Risk Consuming Race-Based Violent Videos Online
We watch our people killed by police right from our smartphones – and white supremacists are even live-streaming their murders! We want to stay “informed,” but is watching this racially violent content actually doing us more harm than good?
Listen to Live Hangouts, Tahyira Keeps It Too Reel, a podcast covering Black mental health by a first-generation millennial.
When a white supremacist walked into the East Buffalo grocery store, he was live-streaming his gruesome attack online. And he’s not the first to do so.
The violent killing played live for two minutes before moderators stepped in, but it was quickly downloaded and shared for millions to view. Experts say that social media companies too often take a hands-off approach to content moderation, and could be doing more to block violence from reaching so many people. This is especially important for us: viewing anti-Black violence online is severely harming our mental health.
Studies show that exposure to videos of race-based violence causes depressive symptoms and post-traumatic stress disorder. These findings are complex, because we often share violent content to help hold police accountable or to “stay informed.” White supremacists continue using technology to spread their hate far and wide. We cannot control their actions, but we CAN control how we receive the news. Protecting our peace is crucial to our liberation!
Here’s My List on How To Ward Off Bad Vibes Whilst Being Woke:
- PROTECT YOUR PHYSICAL SPACE – too many times we seek comfort in places of default meaning if given an option, this wouldn’t be our choice. As we work, attend classes, and live our lives as Black Americans, always be mindful of your physical safety. We are not afforded the privilege of protection based on how we look so it is imperative to keep yourself safe. The Federal government has put forth resources. Domestic Violence Support | The National Domestic Violence Hotline (thehotline.org)
- KNOW YOUR HISTORY – if you’re angry ya aint woke, and when you’re woke you aint angry. Let that be our generation’s call to action. They already painted our entire history in America against us. We, as the new-age storytellers are already setting the records straight. I was raised to understand education and knowledge as a tool to fight off ignorance. That is still a real thing. What has happened is that due to depression, the lack thereof hope, folks have given up on fighting because they got a little tired. When we get tired, we need to normalize resting and not quitting. Our ancestors were beaten into submission, we need to educate our way out of oppression. LGBTQI | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness
- FIND COMMUNITY – humility helps me to find new spaces to fit in. You have to humble yourself and be the raw version of who you are to find like minds. Be real about it. The more we find community, the more we feel at home, as depicted in the hit animated movie, Encanto. Mental health is that string that ties us all back to the slave ships. As Beyonce most famously said, we all have to find our way back. Community in my life has come from white establishments who understand what has happened here. There are trying to help level the reparational playing fields. We are Black business owners. It isn’t a myth. Remember, you are apart of a bigger movement that’s sparking all around you, all you have to do is to find your lane. NIDA Clinical Trial Locator | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (nih.gov)
- BE AN AGENT OF ACTION – so this one really hits. When I attend a march, there’s a tangible energy in the air when we chant. “RISE UP RISE UP FOR ABORTION RIGHTS FOR ABORTION RIGHTS!” I share everything on social media to bring attention and the best type of feedback is always, “so what’s marching going to change?” Nothing. It only serves to inspire the minds of those agents who are going to take action. Before attending the Repro Rights march last month, I had already told my abortion story publicly in an attempt to stop what still winded up happening. Going to the march brought all of my efforts into action, you can hear people saying the same things I said in my interviews, so instead of crying, I started smiling. Never been told cynical to fight yourself or the lives of those you love. RAINN | The nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization
- STAY OPTIMISTIC – when you stay on top of the news these days, it’s hard to find a positive prospective. Find comfort zones, like I did with my music, to tap out. Find a hobby that really takes your mind to the most euphoric levels, soberly. That’s also dance for me. Taking time for yourself personally is the best practice for replenishing yourself. Silence is golden. Happiness can be found in tears. Strength is given to the ones not trying that hard to act strong. You got this. I remember they called me crazy for smiling for no reason. The reason is I wanted too. https://youtu.be/3N_ZnUPruL8
- GET HELP – therapy dear friends, also not a myth. Talking to a professional after high school should be more discussed than what college major you’re going to try out first. The pandemic showed us how powerful decompression can be. We need to give our bodies time to recover both from physical injuries and mental injuries. The gap after high school is an understandable one but it may also be that one relationship that made you lose your spirit, it could be that toxic work environment you finally walked out of, or it could be just watching what happened to Breonna Taylor. I just started watching the new Pretty Little Liars, Original Sin on HBO Max, and the storylines are hitting. It takes me back to my high school and all the unprocessed crap that still lingers. Will I ever tell my dad how I really felt when he left? Did I internalize the abuse I got from my mom because he left? Heavy on the emo but through fictional characters we find comfort because I went to therapy and I went back a few weeks ago. Let yourself be real with yourself and then take that reality and be kinder to yourself. It’s the human experience. understanding_child_traumatic_stress_guide_for_parents.pdf (nctsn.org)
- LOVE MORE – love lives on through us and it is the testament of why our mental health took all these years to catch up with us truthfully. We are strong. We aren’t superhuman. Love yourself, love your skin, your naturalness, love that you can be a chameleon and bring forth different personas, love your fuck-ups, love your swag, love your defaults, love the fact that you know the reason they didn’t hire you was because you’re Black, love the empowerment of coming from the mud, love the street mentality that you got from the hood, love on all of the sauce dripping down through the melanin from your ancestors, and love your race, the human race. When I sit in on meetings with When We All Vote and working with various other grassroots organizations, it is clear how I look makes the difference around America. Let’s show them what we are made off. Racial Empowerment Collaborative (REC) (recastingrace.com)
About Tahyira Savanna: Tahyira is a lifestyle journalist and writer. Her interest includes human stories and introspection. She interviews everyday people doing their part to make our world a happier place.