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  • Writer's pictureDé Bryant, Ph.D.

Part I: Cirrus or Cumulus: What do clouds have to do with anything?

“I'm too busy to look up!! Have you even been paying attention to what's happening to us out there?!" My sister in the struggle asked this in response to my wondering what type of clouds she preferred. The look on her face warned that unless I explained myself this conversation would be short because what did wispy streaks of clouds (cirrus) or puffy cotton ball shaped clouds (cumulus) have to do with the state of the world today?

We had been discussing the relentless parade of violence putting Black and Brown bodies on the line every hour of any given day. Supremacists commit extrajudicial killings, their atrocities emboldened by an ideology, referring to Jim Crow and segregation as "a time when America was great." This worldview is not news to any person growing up Black in America; however, in these times the narrative had been weaponized. Narratives conflate social issues and criminalize Black people while absolving white supremacists. All aspects of our personhood – physical, psychological, and spiritual – are under blatant attack.

An essential fact about stress and burnout: mind and body are linked. We have the science that proves it: cortisol, serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine are all directly related to emotions. When stress, the physiology, meets emotional state, the psychology, under prolonged and extreme conditions the resulting crash is called burnout. The corollary in communities and neighborhoods is devastating inequities (the physiology), manifest in anxiety, depression, rage, and hopelessness (the psychology). If we are not intentional about healing, the crash is next.


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