People are angry. And rightfully so. There is much to be angry about. Let’s start with a short list of recent things: the murder of Mike Brown, the funding and backing of genocide of innocent people, the murder of Eric Garner, the withholding of water from residents in Detroit, gentrification in Oakland, Ca and Brooklyn, NY, the murder of Ezell Ford, the sentencing of Marissa Alexander, the murders of John Crawford, Zoraida Reyes, and Tiffany Edwards, just to name a few.
Oh, and let’s not forget about slavery, the stealing of indigenous land, street harassment, systemic racism, glass ceilings, community violence, Oscar Grant, the policing of bodies, Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo, patriarchy, white supremacy, cultural appropriation, gender inequity, sexism, ableism, impingement on freedoms, stealing of rights, the prison industrial complex, the school to prison pipeline, colonization, gas prices, lack of healthcare, bad drivers, ignorance, and a host of other things. Again, a short list. These are just some of the things I notice as I scroll down my facebook timeline that people are angry about. We have a lot to be angry about and this anger is valid and real.
Anger is a complex emotion. It is layered and powerful. It has associations with many other difficult emotions including guilt, shame, hurt, sadness, disappointment, envy, and resentment. Have you ever been so outraged that you didn’t know what to do? Or so disgusted that you knew you had to do something? What did you do? What do you do? Anger is not one of those emotions that bides well. If it sits, it festers. It grows into a big ball of hate, despair, hopelessness, and resentment. There are some emotions that we can simply feel, like happiness. You can feel happy and not need to do anything else, but simply enjoy that feeling. Or sadness; It is not always necessary to do something with our sadness. At times it is, but there are times when it’s fine to lay in the bed, play some sad tunes, and wallow in the “woe is me.” But anger is different; it requires action ( most of the time). To simply feel anger without subsequent action can be harmful. Anger can manifest in our bodies as illness or disease. It manifests in our relationships as spite and mistreatment and it manifests in our environments through violence, division, and apathy. We need to do something with our anger. To avoid being harmed and harming our loved ones and the world around us, we should take control of this emotion. This could be a crucial step in breaking the cycle of continuous trauma, rage, and hurt.
Here are a 4 things to do with your anger:
1. Understand it
Understanding where our anger comes from is an important step in channeling it. Right now, it seems obvious where it comes from: all of the injustice in the world. Michael Brown, another innocent life was just taken with no regard. This is true, but there is more. There are generations of rage coursing through veins and deep, deep festering wounds that many of us walk around with everyday. Expressions of anger are often discouraged or not tolerated, especially Black expressions of anger, so we keep it in. We’ve kept it and it’s events like these that jarringly remind us that we’re still mad. It can be a painful process, but thinking about and reflecting on all the things that we’re hurt by, disappointment by, and saddened by can help in knowing why we’re angry and where we want to put that anger.
2. Express it
Scream about, write about it, talk about it, use your voice. Your feelings are real and valid, as is your voice. Let your voice be heard and your feelings be known. Don’t let it consume your thoughts or your body. Express your anger so that it can be moved through and used. Again, anger rarely serves a purpose in sitting, but it can start movements and revolutions if it is acted on.
3. Move through it
Don’t stay angry or let anger stay in you. Figure out how you can move through this emotion. You may need to forgive the one who upset you, or express the anger about what is upsetting. Perhaps some self care might help move through it. Just be sure to release it and not let it consume you. Remaining in an angry disposition for too long is harmful and unhealthy.
4. Most importantly, USE IT
There is power in anger. There is a physiological response that causes your body to react and move when you’re infuriated. You might tremble, or yell, or punch something. Use this power in you to create change. Do something. Organize or donate to those who are organizing. Organizations like Million Hoodies, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, and World Trust are doing the work. There are hundreds of other organizations that are just a google search away. Join them. Continue to speak out and share stories. Continue to record police officers and other injustices on cell phones. Let this anger inspire you to want something different and better. Don’t be silenced or defeated. March, protest, and resist. Share your personal stories. Continue to start conversations and dialogue. Unite and work together in anger. Let anger fuel productivity and change. We should be doing something with our anger. We can use this power to demand safety and justice.
What are you angry about and what will you do about it?
Video from Youtube.