Being a person of color (POC) living in a white community can sometimes feel overwhelming. Even if the community is open, accepting, and kind, there’s no denying some obvious differences and obstacles that you might have to overcome.
Then, of course, there’s the chance that your community isn’t as welcoming as they should be. That can cause a lot of stress and lead to crippling anxiety.
No one—especially a POC—deserves to feel anxious or worried because they’re living in a community that doesn’t look like them.
If that sounds familiar, take a deep breath. There are things you can do to manage your stress levels and make the most of your community without feeling so out of place.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to make your mental and physical health a priority. Self-care is more than just a buzzword. It’s a necessity, especially when you’re dealing with stressful situations.
Find little ways to reduce your stress levels each day. Some of the best forms of self-care include exercising, journaling, mindfulness and meditation, and talking with friends and family members.
By taking care of your mind and body, you’re less likely to let anxious thoughts and feelings consume your life completely. You’ll be more in control, and more likely to find a way to be a part of your community.
Find Your Social Circle
One of the biggest issues you might face when living in a mostly white community is isolation. That can be extremely detrimental to your mental well-being. Beyond causing stress and anxiety, it can lead to depression, physical health problems, and even a greater mortality rate.
If you feel like you can’t connect within your community, or you’re too anxious to, seek support from friends, family members, or support groups. You might have to visit neighboring locations to find a social circle, but it’s worth it.
You can also take advantage of technology. Join message boards, forums, and online social media groups for POC. You’ll feel comforted and connected without having to leave your home, and you might even get some insight on how to make your community experience better.
Create a Bridge of Connection
Living in a white community doesn’t mean you need to keep to yourself. If the neighborhood is safe and people are accepting, consider putting yourself out there. It’s important to be comfortable with your actions, but there’s nothing wrong with stepping outside of your comfort zone.
Consider joining a group within your community. Volunteer for a cause that’s important to you. Attend neighborhood events. Meet the people who live next to you.
One of the best ways for single-race communities to start changing and becoming more diverse is for POC to establish more roles within them. The more you’re willing to immerse yourself in white communities, the less likely it is they will stay that way forever.
Of course, if your community isn’t safe or welcoming, don’t put your physical or mental well-being at risk. If you ever feel unsafe where you live, it might be time to consider a move.
Finally, don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help if your anxiety is becoming too much to handle. A therapist can help you cope with the stress of living in a white community, and offer ways to manage your anxiety symptoms every day.
The hope is that things will eventually change. However, there are still some communities across the country that are strictly white, and it’s not always easy to “fit in” right away. If you’re struggling with stress and anxiety over your community, please feel free to contact me.
About the Author
Roma Williams is a Houston-based licensed marriage and family therapist, who is also licensed in the states of Georgia, Florida, and California. Her specialties and clinical interests are systems and relationships. Roma enjoys working with couples, including LGBTQ+ and those who live in polyamorous relationships. As an African American woman, Roma has donated time and efforts to causes championing black women and mental health. Roma also enjoys working with individuals on their relationships with themselves and others. Being a California native, and moving to the south in her adult years, Roma has had plenty of experiences that have shaped her cultural development both professionally and personally. In her spare time, Roma enjoys fashion, all things wine, and traveling.
If you are in Houston or in any part of Texas, Georgia, Florida, or California and are ready to work with Roma click here.