Racism, the trauma it brings, and “the hill we climb”


Racism is something many people struggle with in their lives. While we have been talking about the situation for many many years now, not much attention has been brought to the mental effects of racism.

Racism is the belief that races have distinctive cultural characteristics determined by hereditary factors and that this endows some races with an intrinsic superiority over others. In simpler terms someone who is residing in a different cultural area than their heritage. When most people look at racism for the first time they see it as very “black and white” quite literally in the term. However, racism is not just associated with African-American people but also Mexican, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Mandarin, Cuban, Caucasian, etc.

While there is much attention being brought to the physical and abusive side of racism, there is also the mental side of the situations at hand. The mental side can be stimulated through either trauma. The more you are informed of the past as well as what’s going on in our world today if one is a person of color (POC).

At the presidential inauguration, youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman read a poem she wrote called “The Hill We Climb.” In it, she states, “We, the successors of a country and a time, where a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.”

She is explaining that the dream to achieve might exist, but it has not been fully realized yet. But perhaps its on its way. Something as simple as the color of your skin should not dictate the kind of person you are, what you can accomplish or who you become.

With everything that has happened, not only in the last year but since the beginning of racism, a POC coming into the world today can be traumatized by hearing what has happened to others like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

However, we have the ability to have a voice and to bring awareness to these situations. Trauma can also come out of them because many situations are recorded in our world today. While it is very helpful to bring awareness to the situation many may not realize how that could affect those in the future.

Many people of color struggle with their mental health due to uncomfortable situations they are placed into when someone chooses to be racist. For students, this is something they come to struggle with daily and for most of their lives.

Most students have a hard enough time trying to keep their mental health good trying to juggle school, work, siblings, maintaining a social life, and getting everyday tasks done. For POC, one can also include the casual (or intentional) use if the racial slurs, feeling out of place, and increasing anxiety as they get older about making sure they don’t seem like they’re doing anything wrong to keep themselves from getting into life-threatening situations.

It is a problem that affects everyone everywhere. Help bring awareness to what’s going on around you.