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Emily Izzo, U of U Health.
3 Steps to Healing and Resistance in the Face of Racism
Mindfulness can be an act of healing and resistance for Black, Indigenous, People of Color who confront microaggressions as part of everyday life. Mindfulness educators and social workers Trinh Mai and Jean Whitlock provide three steps to build mindful self-compassion for BIPOC.

Healing as resistance

icroaggressions are often referred to as death by a thousand wounds. They are a form of systemic disrespect that foster inequity and can have serious impact on physical and mental health. They are, for those who identify as Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) a part of everyday life.

It will take the collective action of every individual to eradicate bias and racism to promote the well-being of all people. And while we hope for continued commitment to this collective effort, we still have to confront the wounds inflicted daily in the workplace.

We offer three steps to build mindful self-compassion that can be a practice of healing and resistance for BIPOC. These steps have been adapted from the three elements of self compassion by psychologists and researchers Kristen Neff and Christoper Germer.

1. Mindfulness – name it to tame it; feel it to heal it

Take a moment to just breathe. Acknowledge your experience and emotions in the moment. Are you feeling hurt? Humiliated? Angry? Name the emotion you are experiencing. Our natural habit is usually to resist or to fight feeling vulnerable and other challenging emotions, especially when others are also minimizing our experience.  

When we acknowledge what we are feeling we honor our experience and regain control of our emotions. We can analyze and problem solve after we have cared for the wound. 

2. Shared humanity – you are not alone

Remember you are not alone and allow yourself to feel what you feel.

For those experiencing social injustice, Black, Indigenous, People of Color — other BIPOC folks share your experience. Your ancestors, family and friends understand. You stand with others in your struggle.

3. Kindness and compassion

Treat yourself like a good friend would. We are often hard on ourselves, especially during stressful situations. We can reduce the impact of racism by caring for ourselves: ask yourself what is needed right now. Offer yourself words of support and encouragement. Bring a warm touch to the parts of your body that hurt. Take a walk, call up a friend. When you are calmer, you can reflect or talk with a trusted person on how you would like to respond, weighing the consequences of different options. Seek the resources you need.

Individual Consults — receive support from allies and BIPOC therapists. Referrals to BIPOC therapists in the community also available. 

Resources for healing and resistance

U of U Health Resiliency Center provides a host of general well-being resources, tailored individual and group services, as well as facilitates crisis response services.

  • U of U BIPOC Check-in & Support via Zoom
    In response to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 and racism, this is a space for BIPOC people at the U to check in, connect and, support one another.

    Thursdays, weekly, 12–1pm
    Join Zoom Meeting
  • COVID-19 Well-being Resources webpage provides quick contact into and a comprehensive list of resources available right now to U of U Health employees.
  • BIPOC U of U Health Employee Resources webpage provides a comprehensive list of resources and support services for U of U employees who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.
  • Anti-Racism Resources for U of U Health webpage provides anti-racism resources for individuals and teams to actively commit to eradicating bias and racism to promote the well-being of all people.

The U of U Health Office of Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion provides programs and resources as well as ongoing activities and events that promote an inclusive climate.

The Office of Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action and Title IX (OEO) exists to ensure a fair and equitable environment for all to pursue their academic and professional endeavors. OEO provides training for faculty, staff and students that can be customized to meet specific team needs. Contact OEO if you need to file a report of discrimination. 


Trinh Mai

Director of Mindfulness Programming, Social Worker, Resiliency Center & Wellness & Integrative Health, University of Utah Health

Megan Jean Whitlock

Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Good Talk Therapy

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