Loss of Black icons can impact mental health

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Posted at 6:00 AM, Sep 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-05 06:58:10-04

NORFOLK, Va. – The deaths of Black icons this year, including actor Chadwick Boseman, civil rights leader John Lewis and basketball star Kobe Bryant, have had a deep, emotional impact on the Black community.

Famed psychiatrist Dr. Dion Metzger said those feelings are justified.

“We have to look at it as being traumatic, the loss of such iconic people in our time,” she explained in a conversation with News 3 This Morning anchor Jessica Larche.

"[The movie Black Panther] was such a movement for us. For [Black people] to be on screen as superheroes, it was celebrated,” Metzger said. “In terms of the roles that [Boseman] took, Jackie Robinson and playing Thurgood Marshall, he was a superhero to us in terms of what he represented on screen. So, even with our superhero falling, it doesn't mean that the superpowers are gone in terms of his impact on our race and on the world.”

Metzger said losing Boseman, Lewis, Bryant and several Black people at the hands of police in 2020 can be a lot to process mentally.

However, she said focusing on the lessons we can learn from their lives can put our grief into perspective.

“Think about [their] wisdom and trying to absorb some of that wisdom,” Metzger said. “That's what they would want.”