Minority Mental Health Month

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.

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