When extreme stress becomes a regular part of life, it can become toxic and hurt you.
Too many of us, living in oppressed, underserved communities, experience this kind of sustained traumatic stress. While our reactions are normal, they are caused by circumstances and experiences that shouldn’t be. Violence, poverty, racism, and oppression all hurt our peace of mind.
If you feel always on-go, but can’t focus. Or you’re always tired, but can’t get a good night’s sleep. You feel you need to hide your hurt and pain because you might be misunderstood. You’re not alone.
There are others in Philadelphia and around the world dealing with traumatic stress. What’s most important is that we are healing—and helping others heal—so we, our families and communities can thrive.
KHYLE ON PERSONAL TRAUMA: ”Trauma is a hole that's burned into the mind, burned into the heart, burned even into the soul."
“For me, trauma is any emotion attached to the loss of someone or something that transcends our way of thinking. The feelings never really leave, but it can become easier to cope with.”
SHARIF ON SYSTEMIC TRAUMA: "You can't address the sliver of individual trauma without looking at the larger picture of how this was all designed... People's spirit and psyche can heal, but we need the right conditions."
“A lot of people see police officers as robots. Like we shouldn't be affected by trauma...There’s that male bravado. Like there's nothing wrong with you...We ourselves have to be able to take that step and say it's okay to talk about it.”
KEN ON RACIAL TRAUMA: Racial trauma has damaged our communities.
We have the outside society—people who don't look like us, who don't want to understand, who are ignorant. They portray their fears onto us and then we accept them. And then we are afraid of each other.
We can't even exist in a space too close to each other because I got to always portray I'm the dominant one, because if I don't, I'm going to feel weak.
When I see another black male walking towards me and he got the mean mug on. I'm like, "Oh, what's about to go down?" instead of me being like, "What's up?" and acknowledging him, because he’s probably been ignored all day.
So, that's when the violence comes in. Because I'm physically hurt, I'm mentally hurt, I'm tired. I don't know how to express any of it.
In our communities we accept that as something that we do, but that's not true. That's not something that black people do. We are super lovable. We have so much culture and love and creativity and resilience that we can make the best out of some of the worst situations.
I have hope in Black people—in all people.”