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Normalizing the conversation about Internalized Racism

Internalized racism is the process of internalizing racist and oppressive beliefs by the oppressed, whereby the oppressed subconsciously take over these racist belief systems. This belief system can lead to self-hatred, neglecting your Black identity, and an urge to be accepted and prove oneself worthy to the oppressor. For example, this can manifest by trying to hide your Black identity and being ashamed of it.

Internalized racism is a result of systemic racism, which impacts diverse areas of life. This behaviour can stem from diverse past traumatic and racist events such as bullying in school or being insulted or harmed due to your Blackness. The forceful historical disconnection from our cultural roots, e.g demonization and stigmatization of traditions and spiritual belief systems, have also impacted the avoidance and degradation of the own culture. This can lead to valuing other cultures more, out of the fear of being associated with the negative stigma of the Black culture. Other examples that create internalized racism are:

🙅🏾‍♀️The lack of representation in school

🙅🏾‍♀️Beauty standards leaving out Black beauty

🙅🏾‍♀️The depiction of negative Black stereotypes

🙅🏾‍♀️Mainstream narratives neglecting the Black identity

🙅🏾‍♀️Inequality in career path

🙅🏾‍♀️Negative depiction of African heritage & customs (e.g. media narrative)

This leads to an internal conflict whereby the oppressed are conflicted and they start seeing themselves through the lens of the oppressor and thereby comparing every achievement and action by the measures of the oppressor's approval. 📚This internal conflict was coined as double consciousness by W.E.B Du Boi in his book "The Souls of Black Folk".

Internalized racism can have a negative impact on mental and emotional well-being, as one never fully unfold their true identity and their true authentic self. Furthermore, the oppressive state and mindset has subconsciously impacted every aspect of one’s life, where one might have a sense of inferiority to other human beings, which can lead to stressful situations like anxiety, self-harm, and self-neglect.

The first step to embark on a path of healing from internalized racism is awareness. 🧐The first step is to analyse what situation and moments in life that make you want to hide your Black identity in order to conform. 🤓Reading different materials about this subject, talking to family and friends is also helpful way to start addressing and dealing with internalized racism. 🗣One of the key stages to working through internalized racism is to look for professional help, this can be in the form of a life coach or a therapist who is specialised in this subject and can help you through it on a long-term basis (internalized racism can be deep-rooted, for some people it stems from childhood experience and trauma). Awareness and taking a step to show up as your true authentic Black self, no matter how you define it is the first big step in healing from internalised racism.

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