A different kind of stress

Being Black in America is not only hazardous to our health, but can be a death sentence for some.
Protesters
Photo courtesy of April Kigeya
April Kigeya (second from right) at a downtown demonstration in late May along with Brandice Hatcher (far left), Maia Pearson (second from left in back), Mahalia Pearson (second from left in front) and Joe Maldonado (far right).

By April Kigeya

Being Black in America is not only hazardous to our health, but can be a death sentence for some. The recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others have brought to light what we as black people have been experiencing for years: heightened stress, fear and anxiety. Black mothers and fathers have the added responsibility of talking to their kids not only about the global pandemic that we are experiencing, but about how they should respond when they are stopped by the police; how to navigate an educational system that sometimes seems to be working against them; and how to interact in a world that too often judges you by how you look before you even speak.

When you add that to the generations and generations of untreated trauma that we as a people have endured, there is no wonder we are hurt, tired and even angry. That being said, we still have to be there for our children, our community and ourselves.

Everyone who knows me, knows that I am not good at practicing self-care, as I often feel guilty about taking time to myself. If I sit down on the couch, I am scanning the living room to see what needs to be picked up, thinking about the laundry that needs to be washed or what we are going to eat for dinner the next day. But I have learned to do a few small things that allow me to relax at the end of a stressful day or week. Baths have become my new best friend, and I make room for one at least once a week. I have also started taking a few minutes each morning to center my thoughts and be mindful and appreciative for what I have.

My hope is that one day I will get back to working out daily and cooking protein-rich meals every night, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

April Kigeya is a guest columnist to Madison Magazine. She is the special projects manager for the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, outreach specialist for the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health’s All of Us Research Program, and communications and operations director for Urban Triage Inc.

Click here to read more stories about how we coped with stress during coronavirus.