The Emotional Toll of Fighting Racism

According to the APS, American Psychological Association, discrimination is a public health issue. According to the 2015 Stress in America Survey, people who say they have faced discrimination rate their stress levels higher, on average than those who say they have not experienced discrimination.


Chronic stress is the number one symptom when suffering racism and discrimination. Chronic stress can lead to a large variety of physical and mental health problems. Indeed, perceived discrimination has been linked to health issues including:

  • Anxiety
  • depression
  • obesity
  • high blood pressure
  • substance abuse
  • Low self-esteem
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Family and relationship interference/issues.
  • Financial and economical stress due to an inability to get promoted due to race.

Reading the stories of struggles among thousands of profound civil rights fighters, never had I once considered the massive emotional toll the fight against racism on the mind, body and soul.

I am currently in a battle and I spend nights up tossing and turning with anxiety. I get frequent headaches from built up frustration of having to wait out the legal process of proving I am being devalued due to the color of my skin. A common story stained in the fabric of America, will it ever end?

One thing I know is I must stay in the fight. I refuse to continue to be a runner. Running from one job to the next due to discrimination, moving from one neighborhood to the next to try to get my daughter into a decent school in a white neighborhood because improving schools in black neighborhoods appears to be out of the question. The only sub par solution is to bus our children to schools outside our neighborhoods because our schools lack, just like we do!


Our communities is our problem as if it’s not a part of America, as it’s a third world country. How is it that we pay taxes to a government hell bent on passing off investing in our communities as if we are not citizens?

Police brutality is an American problem, black poverty is a systemic, American problem, the violence in Chicago is an American problem fueled by poor education, high unemployment among black men being denied opportunities and systematic poverty riddled in every layer of politics and social class in America. Their is no black problems, there are only American problems so when are we going to demand they fix what they originally broken? The time is now.

Living in a state that is ranked #2 for the highest wage gap between blacks and whites is enough stress to keep most people who look like me up all night stressing about the rising cost of living and the plummeting wages. If not that it’s those long conversations over the phone listening to my family and friends vent about how they are underemployed.

According to their analysis of the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation data, in 2011 the typical white household had $111,146 in wealth, compared to $7,113 for blacks and $8,348 for Latinos.  –Washington Post

Their college degree is not an asset, it’s a bill that creeps up every month they are forced to pay, but the degree does not change the fact that despite our education we are still underpaid. How is it that the average black woman with a college degree gets paid less than the average white person with a high school diploma.

What did I go to school for? To collect debt? I am still seen as inferior, unqualified and not having enough experience. If it’s not that I lack soft skills, which are social skills. How is that? I guess it’s always something when you’re under the thumb of a racist, narcissistic regime.


The insidious, passive aggressive regime. The smile in your face but make sure you don’t move up in this place management. The cult of supremacy is raining down on me and I have no shelter from the storm. Hell, I don’t even want a shelter from the storm. I want to stay in trenches and ride this shit out like the loyal Floridians who stayed in Miami despite Hurricane Irma’s imminent destruction.

I refuse to keep running for the sake of my daughter, it’s time to fight! For the sake of descendant of slaves still unpaid for the services forcefully rendered from our ancestors. This looming wealth gap and what I have to deal with daily at work. The covert orchestrators in the back round at work making sure I don’t get nowhere fast.

Fighting takes it toll. Now I know the fear, anxiety and depression that comes with standing up to racism. The mental fatigue, the physical draining, the emotional distance from my family and friends.

They know I’m fighting a war the majority denies even exist. My people are like isolated soldiers fighting a war guerrilla style were we don’t even have the education or resources to come together and assemble a strategic defense against the economic crisis that we are drowning in.

By Janell Hihi Copyright@2017


Social Capital: It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know.

social circle

The concept of social capital and its contribution to success and well-being in a variety of settings has the potential for academic library outreach.

Research has found that those with extensive and varied networks of social relationships can benefit in myriad ways, including academic and professional achievement.

A connection has also been found between lower levels of social capital and negative effects on individuals as well as communities generally.

Unfortunately, I can count on two hands how many times I’ve been overlooked by an employer for a promotion because they decided to promote an employee that is in their social circle.

In fact, the sociological literature suggests that those with higher levels of social capital have greater social and economic opportunities. Following a Bourdieusian approach, we define social capital as the resources that are potentially available in our social ties. If your social ties consist of mainly poor people who match your economic status, you have no social capital.

I had the qualifications, but my college degree and ten years of experience was trumped by employees who had social capital with their manager/employers.

Social capital is when your supervisor or managers decide to promote a person based on personal relationships. Even if you have a higher level of education, higher performance stats and years more of job-related experience, that means nothing when it comes to a friend hooking up another friend with a job.


Unfortunately, it is not illegal in the workplace. What is unfortunate, however, is how employers try to hide the obvious by questioning your ability to do the job. When they tell you that you were not chosen for the promotion, they offer what they call “Constructive criticism,” by saying things like you do not have the leadership skills for the job, or they think you need work on your “Personal Brand.”

It’s all bullshit, and as much as I want to tell them to FUCK OFF, I can’t. I’d like to just be direct and tell them the following:

“Look, I know you hooked up your friend for the promotion and my qualifications had nothing to do with your decision not to promote me.” 

In a perfect world, things would be fair and just. This world isn’t perfect nor is it fair or just. It is corrupt and for anyone who believes if they just work hard, get a degree and show leadership skills that they will get a job or be promoted strictly on work ethic is truly disillusioned!

Let’s add gender and race into the scenario and the obstacles are almost insurmountable.

It is tragic how social capital economically isolates people whose parents and ancestors are poor and lack generational wealth. I came from a low-income family and I was the first to graduate from high school and college out of 6 siblings! My parents didn’t graduate from high school either.

My parents were poor and had a low social status, my grandparents were also poor with a low social status and the list goes on addressing generations of poverty caused by slavery, Jim Crow and general exploitation of the poor.

How can I compete with a Jessica who comes from a middle-class family and her parents know many other middle to upper-class people that will allow their daughter to work for them mainly through social connections? I am no competition despite my fancy college degree because I lack the social capital. There are different types of capital, and social capital plays a huge role in determing life success.


I once believed that it was my fault. I thought that I wasn’t presenting myself good in interviews or maybe I should turn that Bachelor’s degree into a Master’s Degree and I’d have a better shot at succeeding. That was far from the case.

I was good enough to be promoted. I was smart enough to perform all job duties. I had more than enough experience. What I didn’t have was social capital.

How do you get social capital if you come from a lineage of generational poverty?

The most effective way to stop the unfair advantages people who have social capital have over those who do not is by getting involved with politics and changing employment laws. There is no way more effective than creating a law that makes this practice illegal. If we do not act politically on this matter, we will see the income and opportunity gap widen even more as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

You can marry into a family with social capital if you’re lucky. People with connections like to marry other people with connections, so the likelihood of them considering you for marriage is slim to none. They don’t look at marriage purely from a perspective of love and compatibility. They also seek a partner who has something to bring to the table.

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Lavar Ball just created a show because he refuses to wait on Nike to give his son a shoe deal. Since Lavar Ball has no social capital despite the money he can invest from his son’s basketball career, he lacks the manufacturing connections to get a good deal creating a shoe. As a result, he can’t compete with Nike or any other shoe manufacturer with social capital and he had to sell his shoe for $495 because it cost him an arm and a leg to create the shoe. Yvette Carnell with Breaking Brown News brought this great example to my attention.


Byron Allen is another example of how wealth with no social capital can stop you from succeeding. Bryon is a billionaire who is suing Charter Cable for discrimination. Calling it an historic ruling, Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios Networks, Inc. (ESN) announced today that Federal District Court Judge George H. Wu denied Charter Communications’ Motion to Dismiss ESN’s $10 billion lawsuit against Charter for racial discrimination in contracting, in violation of Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. §1981.

Now imagine if Byron wasn’t black and he had social capital with the elite, majority white media and TV network corporations? There would be no lawsuit, he would have easily gotten a seat at the table.

For information on this lawsuit visit:

Even if you get the financial capital to create a business, the monopolies that are set up in America automatically locks you out of succeeding and competing with existing corporations who have elite social capital.

Another way to get social capital is to try to form friendships with people who have connections maybe by attending networking groups. Don’t attend networking groups with people on your socioeconomic level. Network with people who are far ahead of you financially who can benefit your advancement.

It is very to difficult to try to enter closely knit and well established social networks of people who have a higher social capital than you do. By all means, try to enter these groups but be aware of the odds that are stacked against you so you do not feel bad about yourself if you are not able to enter their elite social circles.

Yvette Carnell with Breaking Brown, Enlightened me to the meaning and devastating effects of social capital on African Americans and poor people in the United States.

Please check out her website at:

Also check out her very interesting, and insightful show on Youtube! Follow the links on her website to check out her Youtube show which airs live on Youtube Mondays & Wednesdays 9pm Eastern Time/8pm Central Time.

By Janell Hih