Imagine you’re minding your business at the gym, working out to get fit for the summer, when suddenly a manager comes up to you and says, “You have to leave”.
You ask him why. He says it’s because he suspects you snuck in and don’t have a membership. You assure him that not only do you most definitely have a membership, but you’ve been working out at the same location for eight years.
He responds by calling the police.
And the next thing you know, you’re grappling with feelings of shame, confusion and anger as you and your workout buddy get escorted off the premises of a club you pay $30 a month to attend just like everyone else who is in there trying to stay fit and maintain their sexy.
The only glaring difference being you and them is that they’re white and you, very decidedly are not.
This is exactly what happened to Tshyrad Oates a few days ago during an innocent visit to an L.A fitness in Secaucus, New Jersey, and every day when we scroll through our timelines we see more of these stories popping up.
They’re like daily soap operas where the person with the tan skin is always painted as the villain and people in the comments section say dismissive things like, “Well they must’ve been disrespectful or done something to deserve that,” even when the racially biased actions of those in power are clear as day.
Sometimes these viral videos end up in boycotts, sometimes they don’t, but one thing we seldom talk about is: the aftermath.
What does life look like on the other side of an incident involving racial profiling? How do we piece ourselves back together again when racism stops being a topic of debate and suddenly becomes a weapon to crash down on our heads in the most personal and invasive way possible?
Here are five ways to handle the aftershock in the best ways possible.
1Document what happened
We all know that when it comes to injustice, particularly in cases where allegations of racial bias are being made, it can quickly become a game of he-said/she said.
People lie, but raw footage doesn’t.
Whenever possible, film whatever you’re going through and how you are being violated. And, if that’s not a safe option, try to record it as an audio file on your phone.
This serves the dual purpose of providing you something substantial to present if you ever decide to seek justice, and also allows you to objectively play black the incident after itwards.
A lot of times in traumatic situations where we feel unfairly attacked, we black out. Everything feels like it’s happening either really fast or in slow motion. We shut down emotionally and go into survival mode. For some survival mode manifests as being completely still in hopes the situation doesn’t escalate, for others it involves a vocal burst of rage.
Regardless of which side of that coin you fall on – there’s a lot of valuable insight (and healing) that can take place when you are able to objectively watch the situation play out on video, after the fact.
For those who are prone to internalizing shame this can be especially helpful in showing you that what happened to you really was wrong and you have nothing to be ashamed about.