Two recent studies reveal the physical toll that systemic racism has on African Americans. New research from The Family and Community Health Study as well as the American Psychological Association link race-related stress to accelerated aging among Black people. One place where racism is most often encountered is the workplace, and two Houston-based filmmakers have produced an award-winning documentary illustrating the mental and physical toll systemic racism has on Black people in the workplace.
TO BE US Productions—a Black-owned multimedia company– examined the mental, emotional, and physical effects of racism in the workplace in their debut documentary TO BE US: To Work. Founders Tosca Davis and Cedrick Smith interviewed dozens of African American workers about micro/macro aggressions faced in the job; their stories echo the findings in these recent studies.
“Much of the stress Black folks experience is from not naming their trauma as ‘trauma’. They’re also suppressing their struggles because there is no safe space,” says Tosca Davis, co-CEO of TO BE US Productions. “How are you supposed to begin healing if there’s nowhere to go or you’re afraid of retaliation? It takes its toll on the mind and the body.”
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