This has been a historic, gut-wrenching, emotional week. On a scale I’ve not seen in my lifetime, Americans are pushing back against the systemic racism that has infected our country since its inception. In muting my account this week to join the #amplifymelanatedvoices challenge developed by therapist Alishia McCullough and activist Jessica Wilson, I sought to both elevate the voices and lived-experiences of BIPOC and to take necessary space for examination of my part in white supremacy, as a cis-gendered queer white woman in America. I have shared before my feelings on the importance of white people addressing racism in our own families and social circles, and the importance of both anti-racist education, action, and personal accountability. It is also critically important that we as white folks don’t allow this to be just a trend, but an ongoing practice of showing up for justice and putting our money where our mouth is.
The pandemic has illuminated and exacerbated so many pre-existing problems—to name just a few: income inequality, racist and brutal policing, and the fact that, despite outspending other nations on health care per capita, Americans have “less access to many health care resources.” [source]
Because of these structural and pre-existing problems, BIPOC have been hit hardest by the pandemic. Despite comprising only 13-14% of the population, Black Americans account for 60% of deaths from COVID-19. [source] The collective grief and trauma experienced in this community is heartbreaking. In addition to necessary immediate reforms such as those recommended by Campaign Zero, we need to address the pervasive inequities of our health care system.
Just as police violence against BIPOC has been an ongoing crisis in America, there has been an ongoing crisis in our medical system. “Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women,” [source] and though 10% more likely to experience psychological distress [source], Black Americans “often receive poorer quality of care and lack access to culturally competent care.” [source]
The thing is, this is not news—in 2002 the Journal of the National Medical Association concluded: “Racial and ethnic disparities in health care exist even when insurance status, income, age, and severity of conditions are comparable. …These differences in health care occur in the context of broader historic and contemporary social and economic inequality and persistent racial and ethnic discrimination in many sectors of American life.” [source]
That’s nearly two decades ago, approximately as many years ago as I saw my first counselor.
Yup, I began counseling in my tweens! In fact, I’ve worked with multiple mental health professionals over the years— as a survivor of sexual assault I received trauma support, and as someone who experiences anxiety and depression, I personally have found CBH incredibly helpful. As with many things in my life, because of my white privilege, these services were readily available to me.
It was my last therapist that encouraged task-based hobbies to help with my anxiety, and one thing that has stuck is embroidery. Those who know me or who follow my personal account have likely seen my work, I “freehand” stitch a series of sparrows and skeletons, and while far from professional, I find the process really soothing.
So, here’s how this all ties together (no pun intended): I’m giving away this “Witches Against Racism” embroidery! To enter the giveaway, like the original photo on Instagram and privately message me a screengrab of your donation in any amount (give what you’re able!) to Therapy for Black Girls, an organization promoting the mental wellness of Black women and girls. I will announce the winner of the embroidery on the Summer Solstice, June 20th, and will then make a $25 donation to Therapy for Black Girls (posting receipts for complete transparency!).
Now, I recognize that philanthropy is only a bandage and what we really need is wealth redistribution on a massive scale (I’m looking at you, billionaires who have profited off this pandemic), but I have personally given as able to Campaign Zero, and want to do what I’m able for this cause as well.
I believe in the critical importance of mental health education and awareness for all, and that a commitment to radical self-care is meaningless if it doesn’t mean equity, justice, and care for all.