Black Lawyers Open Up About Mental Health Struggles

Often times, there is a burden placed on leaders within our communities that is difficult to carry. From teachers to coaches to doctors to lawyers, Black leaders are expected to carry a weight that can often pull individuals down as they strive to take care of themselves and others. In a recent interview with KUSA, legal expert Whitney C. Traylor opened up about the burden he carries as a Black lawyer.

“I didn’t even realize I might be having mental health issues because I didn’t connect the dots and I feel that I am fairly self-aware and I didn’t realize it got to the point where I was crying randomly and frequently," Traylor said.

“For me, I had students, clients, or family and you can tend to put yourself to the side and not take care of yourself.”

Traylor also explained that he feels a burden as a Black lawyer working in a predominantly white space. In 2020, the American Bar Association reported that only 5% of lawyers are Black. However, Black Americans make up 38% of the prison population despite only being 13% of the U.S. population. Given the barriers that exist in American society, Traylor carries a weight on his shoulders every time he walks into a courtroom.

“I have been practicing for twenty-five years and I have never had a Black juror and I have had a lot of jury trials,” he explained.

“There is an additional pressure, I definitely think, if I don’t do a good job for this client, they will never hire a Black attorney again."

Unfortunately, Traylor's story is not unique. Over the last year, police brutality, political instability and economic suffering have caused symptoms of anxiety and depression to skyrocket.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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