Keep Exploring

Ask A Therapist: Overwhelmed by People Reaching Out in Times of Racial Injustice

Boundaries, Ask a Therapist, Racial/Cultural Identity
3 min read

Dear Therapist,  I’m overwhelmed by white people reaching out and asking how they can help. How do I tell them to give me space?

Frame therapist Analee Phang weighs in...

Being a BIPOC person has been exhausting for decades (if not centuries), and some people are just becoming aware of that. Well, their recent lightbulb moment is none of our business.

Although these individuals may mean well, it is understandable that it can add another layer of stress for BIPOC people. It is like asking someone who's house is burning down how they can help. The answer is obvious and also, it's not a great time to have a whole conversation on fire safety protocols. So your feeling of overwhelm is completely valid. We shouldn't have to do the work for ourselves and for everyone else when it comes to racism.

In these situations it is 100% okay to ignore, block, or just say, "I need space." Just like we have dealt with microaggressions, being followed in stores, stereotypes, and much worse. They can deal with a little awkwardness and having to do their own research.

Ways to Respond when People Ask You "How Can I Help?"

If you feel the need to respond, try responding in one of these ways:

  • "I just need space to process my own emotions."
  • "Thanks, but no thanks."
  • "I'm too overwhelmed to help you, help me at the moment."
  • "Thank you for thinking of me, but I prefer you put your thoughts into action by donating to [insert your charity of choice] or doing your own thorough research on antiracism."

The ideal way to deal with this scenario is to take care of yourself. Turn off your phone for an evening. Spend time with those you love. Take a long shower. Or speak with your therapist about ways to handle any additional stress in your life. You deserve a break.


About the therapist: Analee Phang is a California based  LMFT, who works with multiracial identifying women on building understanding of their identities and relationships. Click here to view Analee's Frame profile and learn more about her approach and style.

Welcome to our content series "Ask a Therapist" featuring real user-submitted questions, and the follow-up answers from Frame Therapists. We believe that everyone can benefit from hearing how people, just like them, get through their struggles, learn and grow.

Have a question you'd like to "Ask a Therapist"? Submit Your Question Here

** This blog series is not suited for people who are in immediate crisis. If you are in crisis, please call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or contact Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.