Black Americans experiencing collective trauma, sadness

Carlyl Pittman knows trauma directly.

As co-founder of Chicago-based youth organization Good Kids Mad City-Englewood, he lamented young community activist Delmonte Johnson over two years ago when he fought fiercely against gun violence.

He was also frustrated by the onslaught of stories of black Americans killed by police across the country over the past year.

First, Breona Taylor, a deadly shot black woman Last March at my home in Louisville, Kentucky.Then there was George Floyd, The killings of Minneapolis officers on Memorial Day have sparked worldwide protests. Just this week Dantelite, A 20-year-old black man was shot deadly by police officers during a traffic outage at the Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Only minutes from where Floyd died.And on Friday, Pittman spent much of the day planning a demonstration with other Chicago organizers to protest the killing of the 13-year-old police. Adam Toledo, He was a Latino.

“We’re always on TV, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and we see people who look like us being killed unaffected,” sponsored by the New Deal for Youth. Said Pitman, who is a person. “It’s not normal to click on a video on a cell phone and see someone killed, but it’s still commonplace for our people, our black and brown communities.”

Many black Americans face a collective sense of grief and trauma that is becoming more serious, with the loss of their lives by the hands of American police. Some see themselves and their children reflected in the victims of police violence, increasing the sadness they feel. Its collective memorial is of great concern to professionals and medical professionals who consider the cross-cutting of racism and various forms of trauma affecting the color community to be a serious public health crisis facing the United States. is.

The racial trauma that affects black Americans is nothing new. It builds on centuries-old oppressive systems and racist practices that are deeply embedded in the structure of the country. According to Dr. Stephen Niffrey, a licensed psychologist and coordinator at Spalding University’s Collective Care Center in Louisville, Kentucky, racial trauma is an identity-related experience for people of color due to racism and discrimination. A unique form of trauma.

“Many cities across the country recognize that racial trauma is a public health issue,” said health, including increased suicide rates in black men, life expectancy gaps, and post-traumatic stress disorders. Raising the above concerns, Kniffley said. “There is no other way we can explain, except for the unique experience of black and brown people, based on their identities, more specifically when they encounter racism and discrimination.”

Kniffley said that each generation of black Americans since slavery faces their own repetition of racism and discrimination that has manifested itself in the form of intergenerational trauma.

“We’ve basically told you about 10 or 15 generations of trauma boxes that haven’t been unpacked yet, and that’s a lot related to our biological and mental health. Is the cause of the problem, “says Kniffley. Trauma extends beyond police violence.

In a 2018 study examining the effects of police killings on black Americans on their mental health, researchers found that exposure of unarmed black Americans to their killings adversely affected black mental health. I found. Almost half of the black Americans who responded said through word-of-mouth or media that they had been exposed to one or more police killings of unarmed black Americans in their place of residence.

“The effect was only seen in blacks (Americans),” said Dr. Atheendar S. Venkataramani, one of the authors of the study and a doctor at the Penn Elderly Medical Center in Philadelphia.

Color of Change president Rashad Robinson said the trauma also created generations of black Americans with legitimate distrust of law enforcement. And many are experiencing even more emotional distress while watching the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who pressed his knees against Floyd’s neck.

“We have people with badges and guns that are supposed to be protected and served, but neither,” Robinson said. “To survive, we need to integrate into a system of brutal, brutal structures that are brutal to our lives, dignity and health. It has a collective and long-term impact.”

While much of the media spotlight on police killings affecting black Americans focuses on black men, it is important for experts to also emphasize misogyny, a misogyny aimed at black women. Is called. Black women experience misogynoir in various aspects of their lives and in connection with police violence. The #SayHerName campaign was launched in 2014 to raise awareness of the lesser-known stories of black women and girls who were victims of police. After Taylor’s death, Hashtag prospered again, prompting accusations of delays in justice in her case.

“As a mom, I’m always afraid of my son, and I’m heartbroken in this country over and over again,” said Amy Allison, who leads her. “How much, especially black women, who served the country from a democratic point of view, took voters to polls, and made many sacrifices to support the vision of peace and justice for all. I’m really wondering if I can take a lot.? “

Elendira Martinez, who lives in Chicago, said that the community in Little Village, a neighborhood of Chicago with a majority of Latin population, was traumatized not only by killing Toledo but also by gun violence and losing other children. He said he was hurt.

A 17-year-old girl was shot dead in the same neighborhood on Thursday night, just hours after the video of Toledo’s death was released. Martinez’s own teenage daughter was shot dead in Little Village in December.

“I just buried my daughter, and a month later I’ll bury this child who grew up with her. Mothers shouldn’t bury their children,” she said.

Some community organizations are working to combat trauma, said Aswad Thomas, head of the Security and Justice Alliance, which runs criminal survivors for security and justice. The group will announce the first ever National Crime Victim Agenda next week to address collective trauma.

“The tragic truth is that police violence is the most terrifying and visible symptom of the larger systematic question of how our public security system is designed, and we need to tackle it head-on. There is, “Thomas said. “But we’re hosting community vigilance and intervention groups, investing in moms and pop at the forefront of violence.”

Uzodinma Iweara, CEO of the New York-based Africa Center, said thoughts about what he and many other black Americans had experienced can provoke anger. He thinks of when he and his brother were stopped by the police. Or when his uncle was called a racial slur by police officers. And in each case how they prayed to bring it to life — an experience he thinks some white Americans deliberately ignore.

“We will need a real radical investigation of the roots of what America is,” Iweala said. “The United States refuses to admit that the United States is not a country free of black labor and blood, sweat, and tears. Until the United States evaluates their contributions, it cannot evaluate blackness as a living organism. Never. “


Stafford reported from Detroit. She is a national research writer for the Associated Press racial and ethnic team. Follow her on Twitter at Contributed by Noreen Nasir, a member of the Chicago-based racial and ethnic team, and Drew Costley of Arlington, Virginia.