There are so many things I want to write about, with regard to the interview Meghan and Harry gave with Oprah which aired on Sunday.
You’ll see these musings over the next few weeks.
Today, I’m focusing on the big picture – the pervasiveness of racism.
Racism is Pervasive
Let’s take in the fact that as racialized people, people who are black and people of colour, racism follows us everywhere. No matter the status, or the position we hold.
And the impact of racism is devastating. As we have heard, Meghan told Oprah she thought of ending her life. Doubly devastating is that help was requested and refused.
There is a reason Ontario passed an act to recognize Black Mental Health with a day.
If you’ve been with me for a while you know how I feel about special days and months, but they do serve a purpose of shining a light on issues and identities that need our attention. Hopefully this light stays on past the month or the day.
Black Mental Health Awareness Day
The first Monday of March is Black Mental Health Awareness Day.
“Research confirms a correlation between racism and mental health, suggesting those who witness or become the target of anti-Black racism throughout their lifespan, may experience an adverse affect on their physical and mental health as a result.”
You can read more about the day and hear people’s stories here.
Catalyst released a series about Emotional Tax that employees who are BIPOC face at work. This report is helpful in noting that workplaces are often experienced very differently depending on the colour of our skin.
Thanks to systemic racism and its pervasiveness, this same emotional tax, and the same differential experiences, happen outside of work too. Which further impacts resilience, self-esteem – and mental health.
So, we shouldn’t be surprised that Meghan Markle has experienced racism, and that it has had a real and negative impact on her and on her mental health.
Add the lack of support by the “Institution”, and the particular context she has been living in, and it makes it even more devastating.
Given what we know about the intersection of marginalized identities like “race” and income and poverty, consider also that there are many for whom support is not accessible. Also, often mental health support is not relevant or cultural competent. What if, for example, you are experiencing stress related to racism/systemic racism and your health provider doesn’t understand the correlation? What kind of care will you receive (or worse, are you experiencing further microaggressions – invisibility, dismissal – and racism from someone who is meant to be providing care)
Next week we’ll explore why we shouldn’t be surprised by racism in the monarchy.
In the meantime,
PS – My book (Being Brown in a Black and White World – conversations for leaders on race, racism and belonging) is launching next month!
If you’re not getting my Inclusion Insight already, add yourself to the list here. Be the first to hear when its launching to get a copy for $0.99!
(c) Annemarie Shrouder 2021