• Drew Smith

Rejecting Racism is Essential to Supporting Health and Wellness

So let me start there. The pain and trauma that are perpetrated by the violent systems of racism and White Supremacy must be unequivocally rejected and combatted in thought, speech, and action. The agonizing, senseless murders of Xiaojie Tan, Delaina Yaun Gonzalez, Daoyou Feng, Yong Ae Yue, Hyun Jung Grant, Soon Chung Park, Suncha Kim, Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz, and Paul Andre Michels follow a year of escalating hate and violence targeting the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, which is further preceded by a much lengthier history of inequity and oppression which must be reckoned with and stopped.

Racism, in its many horrifying and insidious forms, attacks mental, physical, and spiritual health through complex and interconnected systems which actively demean and dehumanize, while also reducing access to forms of support that have the power to uplift and fortify those who are marginalized and oppressed.

These systems, it must be said, manifest in seemingly endless variation as they intersect with misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and ableism, among others. This dizzying matrix pervades our housing, medical, occupational, and social systems, which often contributes to a sense of hopelessness in combatting them.

To purport to stand for accessible, meaningful pathways to health and wellness without acknowledging this and actively committing to change it (while also knowing I will err in this process) is simply impossible. It would also represent a total abuse of unearned privilege afforded me as a function of my Whiteness, which is shielded, elevated, and advantaged by the systems of White Supremacy.

Having listened to members of the AAPI community, and in particular those who have contributed to the discussion within the fields of art therapy and mental health, a number of resources have been highlighted after last week's tragedy in Georgia:

Asian American feminist antibodies (it's Zine): https://static1.squarespace.com/static/59f87d66914e6b2a2c51b657/t/5e7bbeef7811c16d3a8768eb/1585168132614/AAFCZine3_CareintheTimeofCoronavirus.pdf

-With gratitude to Miki Goerdt, Clinical Social Worker& Board-Certified Art Therapist for sharing this resource.

The Asian American Psychological Association: https://aapaonline.org/

The Asian Mental Health Collective, who's mission is to normalize and de-stigmatize mental health within the Asian community: https://www.asianmhc.org/

In ongoing solidarity with the AAPI community and resolve to contribute to anti-racist systems in the pursuit of equitable health and wellness.

-Drew Smith