“I felt a little guilty about not being on the front lines,” said Ammie K. Brooks, LSW, a therapist with the Black women-centered Sista Afya Community Mental Wellness. When we spoke, the uprising against racist police violence, sparked by the killing of George Floyd, had been raging for more than a week. Brooks had been taking appointments all day with some of the young Black women who make up the bulk of Sista Afya’s clientele. “At the same time, this is the front lines,” she said.
Brooks is right. Since the coronavirus pandemic swept the United States in early March, the country has been in a crisis of care. Women of color, who are disproportionately likely to be essential childcare workers, health workers, and service employees, have been at the front lines of the crisis, even while Black people experience the highest death tolls from the virus.
Following the police killing of George Floyd on May 25, a community already experiencing heightened grief and economic hardship now contends with renewed trauma from racist police brutality. “The mental health of my community, with all these different traumas, is falling apart,” said Camesha L. Jones, LCSW, founder of Sista Afya.