'You Don't Have to Know Somebody to Grieve Them': How Black People Can Process Collective Trauma and Grief

NYC-based licensed mental health counselor Alice Mills Mai believes the collective grief gripping black people in America right now is almost palpable.


From the killing of Ahmaud Arbery to the deaths of cultural icons like Little Richard and Betty Wright, “it’s almost like people didn’t even get a break to maybe process” what’s been happening, said Mai, who specializes in trauma and identity.

Feelings of hopelessness, fear and anger are all secondhand responses the founder of Centering Wholeness says people may experience after witnessing traumatic incidents like another filmed execution of a black person.


“We never see white dead bodies like on display. But for black bodies, we see it all the time,” she said. “It also is something that does something to our psyche to see people being murdered, people being killed like almost on a daily basis. People who look like you.”

In the video above, Mai breaks down how these series of recent high-profile deaths can affect mental health in the black community, offers some tips on how to process it all, and shares how we can work towards healing.

Jessica Moulite is an award-winning Video Producer at The Root passionate about dismantling unjust societal power structures and all things Black culture. She's also probably watching “Living Single.”


Rooo sez BISH PLZ

This piece was special. Thanks to the team who put it together. It went neither unnoticed nor unappreciated.