Everyone needs emotional support. For some people, this truism presents quite a quandary when community spaces feel unsafe.
People of color (POC) experience our mainstream society in a unique way. They exist within a system that is often unfair. In some cases, it’s even rigged against them. There has been a lot of talk about white privilege and racism lately. Sadly, it’s more pervasive than we may wish to admit. However, one does not have to look for hate speech or bias crimes to see it in action.
Minute by minute, a POC is making small decisions about trust and safety. Will their community support them or let them down? Will the letdowns be conscious or unconscious? Either way, how can they (POC) get their emotional needs acknowledged and met?
What is “Emotional Support”?
As it pertains to emotional support, the care and sense of belonging people need are often demonstrated through:
It can be expressed in many ways. These range from physical to verbal to simply being present. People seek and find emotional support from many sources, e.g.
- Neighbors, religious groups, co-workers, etc.
Humans are social creatures. We need such support in order to maintain our overall wellness. Those of us who receive (and give) emotional support on a regular basis display a deeper sense of mental and physical health. Providing emotional support is a skill. It may come naturally for some folks but everyone can learn it. Still, a common obstacle to this learning process is the unspoken biases we encounter and internalize.
How POC Can Secure Solid Emotional Support
Friends and Family
This may sound obvious. But you can start by reaching out to those closest to you. There is more to people than they may initially let on. Test the waters. That in-law or neighbor may be the right place to begin.
There has been an upswing in activism lately. You may find solace among a passionate group of like-minded souls. By the same token, shared religious and spiritual pursuits can have the same effect.
Hobbies and Interests
Not everything has to feel so “serious.” Whether it’s basketball or chess or anything that interests you, a hobby can put you in contact with kindred spirits. The mere act of getting out of your house or beyond your social circle can shift your mood.
Some clichés exist because they are almost universally true. For example, you have heard platitudes about helping others in order to help yourself. Why? Because they work! This suggestion often intersects with activism.
This can take place in-person or online. Either way, the goal is to find a supportive environment. You may talk about similar experiences. You may share success stories. Wherever this experience takes you, it will empower you to speak honestly and openly.
When the Support You Get (or Give) is Just Not Enough
Bucking up against social dynamics can be a tough experience. For POC, you may become discouraged at how widespread and enduring it feels. For those trying to change their viewpoints, the blind spots may be too numerous. Both groups could use some professional guidance.
As much as you wish to be a supportive ally, the dynamics at play can get in the way. A skilled therapist can help you identify the patterns that hold you back. The more you know about yourself, the more you can give to those in need.
For POC, counseling is a safe space. It presents an opportunity to air out emotions in a supportive environment. The more you know about yourself, the better you are at finding the allies you need.
For both groups, it all starts with a phone call and a consultation. Please read more about job and career support. Let’s set up a consultation so we can discuss approaches to these sensitive relationship matters before we start on a path of healing.