How You're Affected by Racism as a Person of Color
When you're a non-white person in America, you're faced with different types of racism. Black, Asian, Hispanic, Latinx, Indigenous, Desi, Middle Eastern, Pacific Islander, or multiracial are classified as non-white. Non-white people are all people of color.
In a research, 61% of Americans said there's still progress needed to be made about racial equality. 39% claim that the US already made enough changes for the people of color. While these rates are gathered annually and debated on, people of color are dying because of overt racism.
HOW ARE YOU CONNECTED TO ALL OF THIS?
Some people create a hierarchy based on complexions — the lighter the skin, the better you are. Ideas like these incite types of racism. Out of the people of color, Black Americans have the highest death rates. It's mostly because they're subject to types of racism that escalate into violence.
If you're part of the people of color, it matters when you talk about it even if you're not in the group that's being oppressed.
As part of the people of color, every POC cluster has different comforts and privileges. Overt racism from people and systems like the justice system varies. It's because of your race's history in America. Over the years, movements from different people of color helped which led to the privileges that you now have.
PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF RACISM
1. ANTI-OTHER PEOPLE OF COLOR
It can be challenging to have conversations with your specific race. But, it's important to talk about how racism can happen within people of color. Asians have deep inherent views that are anti-black and anti-Latinx; Latinx communities were known to perpetuate anti-blackness in communities to climb the social ladder.
Just as you think people of color should be united, they're divided. This is because of internalized racism. When you are exposed to overt racism and other racism types, you develop resentment towards your race or other people of color.
Putting other POCs down so you can feel better about yours is a common coping mechanism for people of color. This behavior eventually promotes racism directed at the people of color you're belittling. The action you're doing is part of the problem.
2. HIGH RISK FOR MENTAL ILLNESSES
Those who experienced severe types of racism are known to experience severe psychological distress. This type of distress, when left undealt with, progresses into a mental illness.
In a VicHealth study, 40% of people of color who experience 9 or more incidents of racism recorded severe scores of psychological distress. They concluded that preventing different types of racism to people of color can reduce the risk of mental health problems like anxiety, PTSD, or depression.
PHYSIOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF RACISM
1. PHYSICAL CONDITIONS DUE TO STRESS
To some people of color, overt racism and other types of racism happen daily. When the threat of danger is regularly present, it's hard to stay calm. Anxiety can cause stress. Regular stress can turn chronic, and it can affect you physically.
A negative side effect for people of color who are subject to overt racism is chronic inflammation. Inflammation is your body's way to protect yourself from a health threat. But, if you've felt threatened over a long period, your body won't repair the damage since it cannot distinguish the real threat anymore. This eventually causes cardiac failure, an immuno-compromised system, or other chronic illnesses.
2. PEOPLE OF COLOR DEATH RATES SPIKE UP
When different types of racism are dismissed, it can escalate to violence that can lead to death. As a person of color, if you turn a blind eye to another person of color's death, it isn't a question of one's race but one's humanity. Closing your eyes to the oppression felt by other people of color won't help; This amplifies racism and helps increase racist behavior.
Racism can lead to death or a person of color's quality of life. Oppression clothed as racism can be so traumatic and intrusive that it can also lead to suicide.
WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT
As part of the people of color, it's important to understand that you're not the only group that has to deal with racism. How you act towards a different race affects you too. You are part of the people of color - whether you're Black, Asian, Pacific Islander, Hispanic, Latinx, or multiracial. What happens in any colored racial cluster can happen to you.
It's important to talk about racism in your cluster, unlearn 'anti-other person of color' views, and set advocacies that can help others unlearn racist behavior. You can be an ally and support other people of color. You can make a difference.