Black Excellency in a Time of Racial Trauma
By Taylor Lonas
In countless homes across the country, African American parents are raising their children to be
hardworking, strong, and ever persevering examples of “Black excellence”. As members of a
minority community, there is no question that the problematic lens of society never fail to
perceive the Black community as less than; less knowledgeable, less motivated, less
deserving…and the list goes on. As a result, it is engrained into the minds of our youth that the
only way to get ahead in life is to work twice as hard as our non-Black counterparts. This process
of showing up and contributing twice as much effort as the next person while navigating biased
classroom curriculums, recurring microaggressions, economic disparities, and the systemic
racism of society is not only expected but is praised as “Black excellence”. What happens when
this expectation of ceaseless excellency cannot be maintained? Why isn’t survival in the midst of
daily racial trauma enough? Superhuman capabilities should not be the minimum standard for
In many cases, these expectations are not only burdening, but negatively influence the mental
health of the Black community. In fact, studies prove that racial minority groups experience
higher levels of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Alongside the cultural
stigmas associated with mental health, individuals of minority ethnic backgrounds and racial
identities consistently receive subpar care and limited access to health coverage. Because of
these inadequacies, July was designated “National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month” in
2008. As we continue to muster the strength to march through this month, take the time to
discuss mental health with your loved ones to raise awareness of the obstacles preventing our
community from receiving care in times of need. And the next time you post about
#BlackExcellence, consider including “small” wins in the conversation.
Turning in your course assignments on time… is a win.
Having a productive conversation with a therapist… is a win.
Returning home to your family safe and sound at the end of the day… is a win.
To be Black excellence is to cope and carry on in a society that was built on the backs of our
ancestors. It is about being able to navigate the necessary spaces that consistently exclude us and
yet build spaces of our own where we can come together to live, laugh, and love.