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Three 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.

This content is provided by University of Utah’s Accelerate and University of Utah Heath’s Resiliency Center in recognition of mental health awareness month.

Microaggressions 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.

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.

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.

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.

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


Jean Whitlock and Trinh Mai, “3 Steps to Healing and Resistance in the Face of Racism”, Accelerate University of Utah Health curriculum, Aug. 27, 2020. Available at: