SAN DIEGO — Community activists have led protests and rallies for social change but have said this year hit differently. Faced with the challenge of COVID-19, on top of everything else, left many who are expected to be strong feeling anxious, overwhelmed and isolated.
“The world doesn’t see, I don’t think like the manic side of it, like where you’re in your head, your mind’s moving like a thousand minutes per second, you know, it’s just constantly going, going, going,” said Louisville activist Christie Welch.
Following the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, activists across the country mobilized movements.
“When you’re out there on the streets, you don’t feel protected, you don’t really you don’t really see the impact that is having on your body,” said Tytianna Wells, a Louisville activist, who wrote a poem for Breonna Taylor.
From Louisville to Minneapolis and even San Diego, community leaders say the felt the pressure.
“Really feeling the pain and the weight of two pandemics, not just mentally but emotionally draining but also financially draining which all contribute to your mental health,” said Aeiramique Glass Blake, Generation Justice executive director.
American Psychological Association says 59% of adults say they’re taking action against racial injustice, but the grueling work of activism takes a toll.
“Here’s the problem with trying to change broken oppressive systems, you’re out in the trenches. We’re living in a time in our country where a fellow citizen might kill you for what you believe,” said Portland activist Cameron Whitten.
Activist Tasha Williamson says it easy to lose yourself in this kind of work and Black activists seeking therapy has a stigma attached to it.
“We always have to appear strong, we have to look strong, we have to be strong don’t cry because girl if you cry, you are going to look weak. What goes on in the home stays in the home is how many of us were raised because that’s how our parents were raised and our grandparents were raised,” Williamson said.
Advocates often find talking out the problem can be a challenge when they’re typically the ones people turn to for help.
“It’s too difficult to just stack, stack and keep stacking eventually you’re going to be the one who has a breakdown and then you’ll be calling somebody,” said Rev. Shane Harris, CEO of People’s Alliance for Justice.