Roanoke neighbors, mental health professionals discuss minority trauma

Roanoke Valley News

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Black Americans nationally and locally are undergoing a level of trauma as tragic current events continue to play out daily.

Deneen Logan Evans, the co-owner and clinician at Mosaic Mental Wellness and Health says that the conversation of explaining these happenings starts at home.

“As a responsible, informed, Black parent, that’s something that you have to start preparing your children for at very, very early age,” Evans said. “And not to the point of, be careful because people are going to be out to get you, but being proud of who they are.”

This is a conversation typically had in minority communities specifically.

“Our kids have been isolated, so where they would probably be in school and have access to counselors and teachers to help them process, or one another, now they don’t have that,” she continued.

She says that stress could begin to show up through physical symptoms.

“Stomach aches, a lot of children have stomach aches, those sympathetic problems like that. Obviously, we talk about nightmares, and terror, and anxiety.”

Grant Gravely has experienced the anxiety firsthand.

“It’s like your heart is pounding, you’re cold, your body is shaking and all these things are going in your mind, thinking ‘oh my God, oh my God,’ you know just seeing it because you don’t know how you’re going to be treated.”

He says he was an adult before he learned how to deal with that stress.

“I grew up in the church, a Baptist church and you were taught to take it to the Lord in prayer, talk to Jesus about it, pray about it, so that’s just what you did, you know?” Gravely said. “Therapy wasn’t really talked about in my family or other people that I knew in my community.”

Gravely has never been arrested or even received a ticket, but as an openly gay Black male, he alters how he carries himself, or code switches during certain interactions.

“Bass in my voice, a little bit more, trying to tone down myself, because I don’t know how they’re going to react with me being gay as well too, so that’s two things I’ve got to worry about.”

According to Gravely, that worry is even greater now.

“I honestly do worry for my children. I worry for the community and I worry for just all of us, you know all of us Black and Brown people in this country.”

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