Racism, Riots and Resilience


The 25th May , 2020 was a tipping point for the world when George Floyd was brutally murdered by Derek Chauvin a White police officer in Minnesota for allegedly using a counterfeit bill . Derek Chauvin was found to be kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for over 8 minutes as he continually  declared ‘ I can’t breathe ‘ whilst crying out for his mother. This murder follows a catalogue of injustice , murders and racism globally from the police forces highlighting the dehumanization of the black race.

Th brutal death of George Floyd ,Ahmaud Aubrey ,Breanna Taylor ,John Duggan, Stephen Laurence, Belly Mulinga along with the  windrush scandal highlights the pervasive micro and macro racism  that exists. Many Black Individuals have encountered  micro-aggressions, interpersonal racism such as discriminatory views and beliefs, institutional and structural racism for hundreds of years with its roots in colonialism and slavery.

The Black lives matter movement was established in 2013 and responded immediately with global organized protests to  mobilized society to fight for justice and equality . In the midst of a pandemic an uprising occurred as Racism is a far greater pandemic which has been swept under the carpet for too many year but the time is always right to do what is right ( Martin Luther King) and this fuelled the response from all ethnic groups.




The Protests were inevitable and necessary  as the US government and police were sluggish in arresting the officers  responsible for the death of  George Floyd  however the protests and pressure resulted in the arrest of the Derek Chauvin and other Officers. Protests can help Individuals to foster a sense of community and action which can have a positive impact upon the mental health of those Involved  . However conversely it can also  have a detrimental impact on the psychological wellbeing of an individual by increasing  feelings of anger , symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder , grief and  depression.

Research suggests that the Metropolitan police are four times more likely to stop a black person when driving than a white Individual which confirms what we already know that the police are racist and this is having a detrimental impact on the physical and mental health of African and Caribbean Individuals. Resilience is required in the midst of the storm and to successfully navigate adversity, this can be accomplished and developed by :

  • Emotional Awareness – enhancing emotional awareness is critical in building resilience as this positions you to understand  what you are feeling emotionally, triggers and antecedents to emotional fluctuations whilst facilitating you in  being able to succinctly articulate this. It’s important to identify your triggers to your emotional changes as this will assist with self-regulation . Emotional awareness can facilitate those experiencing racism in bouncing back as they are able to effectively connect with their network, family, friends and community. Emotional awareness will enhance Individuals interpersonal effectiveness and can be developed by establishing a daily routine of journalling which is known to improve emotional well being, provide an opportunity for positive self-talk .
  • Emotional Self-regulation – regulating your emotions is critical in resilience as it provides clarity which is important  when experiencing adversity, discrimination and racism. It is important to accept distressing emotions such as anxiety and anger  whilst utilizing strategies to minimize the impact upon yourself. Mindfulness, compassionate thinking, reframing negative beliefs, controlled breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation exercises are effective strategies for emotional self-regulation.
  • Social support and community – Establishing and engaging with a robust community is important for building resilience as it’s an opportunity for vicarious learning, a safe space to express gratitude and to gain support which is critical in resilience. Social connectedness and community is important in building resilience and this can achieved through gaining support from family, friends , your community and allys.

If you would like to gain more insights into building emotional resilience connect with us  on  social media, sign up to our mailing list and listen to Rivers to Resilience podcast which is available on spotify.


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Martina Witter

Resilience Specialist & Trainer I Health and Wellbeing Consultant I Accredited Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist I Podcast Host :Rivers to Resilience  I Author of Resilience in the Workplace:  From Surviving to thriving in the workplace, in business and as an entrepreneur (2019)