By Deirdre L. Jones-Lowman
At a time when Black America needed a superhero the most, we lost one during this season of COVID and social unrest. The loss of Marvel Comics first Black superhero, Chadwick Boseman a/ka The Black Panther left us shaken and stunned. Chadwick Boseman embodied Black excellence, Black enterprise, and Black innovation as well as the regalness of a Black King His skillful artistry and master characterization of prolific, historical figures in Black history, on the screen always left us wanting more. We were already grieving as a nation–pivoting to our new normal of work-from-home, home schooling, and virtual Zoom meetings and, grappling with our emotions and new social norms that are meant to protect and project normalcy. The Black Panther was the closest we had as a superhero.
Right now, Black America needs the hope of Barak Obama, the awareness of Colin Kapernick as well as reassurance that we were not digressing to overt racial injustice. We, as a culture, need to reconcile today with the fact that we will not continue to be victims of systemic racism or civil devaluation. Instead, Black America will take a page straight out of our Black history, by engaging in non-violent protests: kneeling, peaceful protest marches, and exercising our right to vote and continue standing up for our civil rights We must protect our civil liberties and orchestrate social change.
Communities of color have suffered unimaginable loss in 2020 due to social, health, and racial disparities. I surmise that most of the country, since March 2020, has experienced adverse emotions or exhibited multiple stages of grief. Did you know that there are five stages of grief? (Kubler-Ross, 1969). People who are grieving, do not necessarily go through the stages of grief in the same order or experience all of them (Axelrod, J.,2020). Examples of grieving in the year 2020 are listed below:
Denial and Isolation- It’s just a flu strain, it will be over soon. I miss my friends/family!
Anger— Defund the Police! Justice for Breonna! Say her Name!
Bargaining— I’ll wear a mask, but…
Depression— It’s a lot we are going through!
Acceptance— I am just adjusting to my new normal!
We also mourn the
- loss of employment;
- loss of leadership/governance;
- loss of life;
- loss of normalcy; and
- loss of personal liberties.
As a life coach, I have been trained in positive psychology—the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. Nonetheless, the mental anguish, social injustice, uncertainty, grief and loss can seem unbearable. Research has shown that the increased incidence of psychological difficulties in the Black community is related to the lack of access to appropriate and culturally responsive mental health care, prejudice and racism inherent in the daily environment of Black individuals, and historical trauma enacted on the Black community by the medical field (Columbia University Psychiatry, n.d.).
We are our own superheroes…deflecting, rising above, seeking justice, and displaying superhuman strength, resilience, and fortitude. When we get mentally tired, emotionally drained and fatigued, we cannot quit! We must ask and seek help from mental health professionals—it’s the only way to re-up our superpowers. Mental health is self-care and self-care is self-preservation. Blacks in America are demanding to reside in a world where Black lives, Black excellence, Black enterprise, and Black innovation matters.
With my arms crisscrossed over my chest and my head held high, Rest in Power, King T’Challah. Thank you for showing Black and Brown communities how it can be.
Deirdre L. Jones-Lowman is the Founder and Managing Director of the Pay It Forward Initiative Life Coaching and Mentoring Service LLC, a life and career management practice. She is currently a Ph.D candidate in Human Services Administration and has earned a Maters of Business Administration in Strategic Human Resource Management from Walden University. Deirdre is also an ICF Certified Professional Life Coach, self-care advocate, motivational speaker and contributing writer on mental health and wellness for women.
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Vance, T (n.d.), Retrieved from Google, Columbia University Psychiatry, https://www.columbiapsychiatry.org/news/addressing-mental-health-black-community
The Five Stages of Grief (n.d.). Retrieved from, https://grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/