The Women Change Worlds blog of the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) encourages WCW scholars and colleagues to respond to current news and events; disseminate research findings, expertise, and commentary; and both pose and answer questions about issues that put women's perspectives and concerns at the center of the discussion.

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Social and Emotional Learning During COVID-19 Crisis: Equity Lens Reflection

Social and emotional learning during COVID-19This article was originally posted by Karen Craddock, Ph.D., on April 17, 2020, on The Wellness Collaborative.

While we manage the day-to-day, sometimes moment-to-moment, shifts during this global pandemic, it is sure to have implications on how we navigate the array of feelings and interactions we encounter in every aspect of our inner and outer lives. This process involving managing emotions, setting goals, showing empathy, building relationship, and making constructive decisions, otherwise known as social and emotional learning (SEL), is especially poignant now. Raising awareness of how these skill sets and competencies intersect with interpersonal, situational and structural inequities is even more so…

Pain of exclusion

In my blog article on the social-emotional, neurophysiological pain of racialized exclusion and strategies to remain resilient, there is discussion on how pain is perceived and received across racial lines. Particularly relevant is mention of the well documented racial empathy gap that occurs for people of color, especially in healthcare settings as well as in education. This is important to keep top of mind during this COVID-19 crisis in light of emerging national data revealing the glaring disparities occurring along race for both contracting and dying of the disease, as well as getting access to testing and treatment.

What is clear is that the pain of racism occurs both directly and indirectly. So as communities of color hear and experience more of these disparities, even while not surprising, the impact is felt whether target or watching from the sidelines. Already strategies of resistance have been activated among people of color to buffer and recreate in the midst of this, which includes a call for increased awareness and action by all. Furthering these strategies to remain resilient will be crucial for the long haul calling for intentional awareness to stratified privilege, disrupting inequities, supporting affinity networking, and deploying collaborations with resources of all kinds.

Staying physically distant and socially connected

While we adhere to vital mandates to stop the spread of the virus which can require quarantine and separation, it is important to be aware of language that indicates social or relational disconnection. We are wired for connection and thrive mentally, physically, and emotionally from being in healthy relationship. The limits of the terminology have recently come forward and will likely continue.

Inclusive language that encourages staying socially connected in safe ways is vital. This means honoring the diverse personalities and profiles of individuals falling along the spectrum of introvert to extrovert by making room and opportunities for everyone to find comfortable and necessary methods to stay connected without assumptions of “one size fits all”. By using the term physical distancing it also forces us to look at the range of physical settings people are in while braving this storm. Thus, it is even more important to address the implications and remain aware of the physical constraints and necessities that are realities across the country and for so many.

A current context in the climate of COVID-19

It is not unusual that during times of extraordinary crisis that prevailing stressors become worse. For communities already chronically marginalized by race, ethnicity, gender, class…an increase in volume, intensity, and impact occurs. In addition, a climate of crisis also heightens awareness of social, structural, and systemic inequities. Over the past few weeks we have experienced COVID-19 hit our communities and we are beginning to hear stories and see data that brings this point to a head.

From physical appearance to physical location, the ugly truths of marginalized existences are coming to bear. An African-American man living in Boston expressed this tension in a news article describing the risk and worry he has of being a man of color wearing a facemask to prevent illness while fearing for his safety due to bias. We see the economic intersectional realities during this public health pandemic across many communities and how it is specifically playing out given the disproportionate rate of pre-existing and socially influenced health conditions among communities of color. And sadly rates of domestic violence and abuse are likely spiking especially with quarantine and stay at home recommendations and mandates in place. The backdrop of the growing rise of suicide among Black youth sharpens the need for paying attention to the mental health needs of us all right now and especially within communities of color.

As educators and practitioners of SEL it is vital now more than ever that we remain vigilant in our efforts to defeat COVID-19 while staying aware of how its impact is inextricably tied to issues of bias, equity, and wellness. It will require and invite opportunities for self-reflection personally and professionally that center cultural fluency, emotional intelligence and agility. Before us is a call that compels intentional, active, and inclusive engagement within affinity networks and with racially culturally diverse thought-partners and leaders to seek and create solutions for much-needed healing.

Karen Craddock, Ph.D., is a visiting scholar at the Wellesley Centers for Women. As an applied psychologist, her work centers on issues of equity, wellness, leadership, and partnership. Her studies on psycho-social functioning have included explorations of race and gender intersectionality, models of optimal resistance and resilience, social and emotional learning, emotional intelligence, and the neuroscience of inclusion.

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‘It’s Not in Our Head’… and yet Pain is in Our Brain:

Pensive looking woman of colorWhy Racialized Exclusion Hurts and How We Can Remain Resilient

Going into your home while Black, waiting in a coffee shop, playing with your child, styling your hair, swimming, cooking, flying as a doctor while Black…living while Black. And as such, being subjected to undo questioning, demeaning and sometimes life-threatening reactions  - you name it, we have seen it. And we feel it…which means our children do as well.  A starkly sobering example in recent weeks with the news of a 9 year old Black girl who committed suicide, no longer able to cope with the racist taunts she faced from peers at school.
 
Each of these widely known and growing incidences of exclusion, harassment and race-based violence impose criminalization of everyday behaviors onto people of color and others in marginalized groups.  These attacks have and continue to have a cumulative impact that injures psychological and physiological well-being. Evidence regularly grows about the impact of racial trauma and race-related stress on our emotional and physical health. What may not be as widely known is how racialized exclusion and violence show up in the brain.

Our neurobiological network is wired to connect. Which is why... Read full article on EmbraceRace.org

This article was originally published on EmbraceRace.org and is shared with permission. Karen Craddock, Ph.D., visiting scholar at the Wellesley Centers for Women, is an applied psychologist, action researcher, and strengths-based practitioner. She is director of Strategic Initiatives & Network Engagement at Embrace Race.

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Stopping the Pain of Social Exclusion

Everyone Needs to STOP the Pain!
Everyone Needs the Pain to STOP!

“Hands up!” The universal symbol of surrender, sign of protest, and signal for self-selection to take action. All of these are integral in stopping the pain of social exclusion.

Human beings are built to function physically, emotionally, and spiritually in supportive groups. This simple fact has recently been supported by neuroscience research and helps explain why individuals and groups of people that are marginalized or socially excluded often suffer from higher levels of chronic health problems and shorter life expectancy.

SPOT Social Pain Overlap Theory1: How and Why Social Exclusion Hurts All of Us

Being part of a group is so critical to humans that our nervous system literally uses the same alarm (the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex) to register the danger and distress of physical pain or injury AND social exclusion. This neuroscience finding requires that we stop bifurcating pain into physical and emotional and start realizing that pain is pain and that social exclusion and marginalization are forms of violence that impact individuals and whole groups of people.

Social Pain forms – Covert and Overt

Social pain occurs in a number of different forms, some obvious, some not so obvious. The not so obvious may be hard to see, they are insidious like the background noise or the air we breathe. They are chronic assumptions about who we are and what our interests, strengths, and weaknesses might be. They are assumed by others and attached to our identities such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender.

These subtle daily attacks or microaggressions can have devastating short- and long-term impact. For example, Native or Indigenous Americans constantly having to combat broad assumptions about cultural sacred practices, misuse of regalia, offensive displays of imagery in athletic team mascots, or even the ongoing challenge to defend one’s very existence.

The obvious forms of social pain are glaringly obvious, often flagrant and extreme. Black men and women being stopped by police, detained or harassed, and imprisoned at sweepingly disproportionate rates compared to White people; too often resulting in violence and even murder.

Both the subtle and blatant forms of social pain emerge together and take place across a range of areas including reliable public safety, access to and quality of healthcare, education and jobs, affordable sustainable housing, and more. Both institutional and personal marginalization is the bedrock for social pain to occur in all of its many forms.

Psychological Resistance to Marginalization

What we know is that people who have been and are being marginalized have always pushed back in ... READ FULL ARTICLE>>

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Views expressed on the Women Change Worlds blog are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the Wellesley Centers for Women or Wellesley College nor have they been authorized or endorsed by Wellesley College.

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