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Black Americans live in collective trauma, grief

Carl Pittman knows immediately from injury.

As a co-founder of the Chicago-based youth organization GoodKidsMadCity-Englewood, he mourned the loss of Delmonte John Onson, a young community activist more than two years ago, for what the teenager fought fiercely: gun violence.

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

Initially, there was Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was fatally shot last March in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. Then there was George Floyd Floyd, whose commemoration of the Minneapolis officer’s murder sparked worldwide outcry. Just this week, 20-year-old black Downt Wright was fatally shot dead by a police officer in downtown Brooklyn, Minnesota, just minutes after Floyd died. And on Friday, Pittman spent most of the day protesting with other Chicago organizers to protest the killing of 13-year-old Adam Toledo, a Latin American police officer.

“We are constantly turning on the TV, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, we see people like us being killed without repercussions,” said Pittman, organizer of the New Deal for Youth. “It is not normal to see someone being killed by clicking on your video, however, it has become the norm for our people, our brown communities.”

Many black Americans experience a collective sense of grief and trauma that deepens with each loss of life at the hands of the police in America. Some portray their children as victims of police violence, raising their grief. This collective mourning is of great concern to experts, medical professionals, who see racism as a crossroads of colored communities affecting different forms of injury, a serious health crisis facing America.

The racial trauma that affects black Americans is not new. It is built on the racist practice of centuries-old oppressive systems that are deeply ingrained in the fabric of the nation. Racial trauma is a unique form of trauma associated with the identity of people of color because of racism and discrimination. According to Dr. Steven Nifley, a licensed psychologist in Louisville, Kentucky, coordinator of the Spalding University Collective Care Center.

“Many cities across the country are realizing that racial trauma is a public health issue,” Knifley said, citing health issues such as rising suicides among blacks, life gap gaps and post-traumatic stress disorder. “There is no other way we can explain that, except for the unique experiences that brown people have based on their identity, especially when they encounter racism and discrimination.”

Knifley said that each generation of blacks has faced its own recurrence of racism and discrimination since slavery, expressed in the trauma of generations.

“We have, in fact, passed on 10 or 15 generations of trauma boxes that still need to be packaged, which contributes to many of the biological and mental health problems we have,” Knifley said. trauma exceeds police violence.

In a 2018 study examining the mental health impact of police killings on blacks, researchers found that the effects of unarmed black American police killings had a negative effect on black mental health. Nearly half of blacks surveyed said they had been killed by one or more unarmed black Americans in their home state, either orally or through the media.

“This effect has only been found in blacks (Americans),” says Dr. Atheander S. Venkataraman, co-author of the study բժիշ Physician at the Penn Presbyterian Medical Center in Philadelphia.

Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, said the trauma was caused by generations of skinny Americans who have no confidence in law enforcement. And many are further traumatized by the trial of Dina Shavin, a former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck.

“We have a whole bunch of people with badges and guns who have to protect, serve, nobody does,” Robinson said. “In order to survive, we must integrate into the system a cruel structure that is cruel to our lives, our dignity, our health. It has a collective և long-term impact. ”

Although police killings of blacks in the media spotlight are mainly focused on black men, experts say it may also emphasize masculinity, the masculinity of black women. Black women use a velvet hut in various aspects of their lives, such as police violence. The #SayHerName campaign was launched in 2014 to raise awareness of lesser-known stories of black women and girls who have been victimized by police. The hashtag flourished again after Taylor’s death, sparking accusations of delayed justice in his case.

“As a mother, I’m always afraid for my son, ‘my country is being broken up by this country over and over again,'” said Amy Allison, who heads “She People.” “It really calls into question, especially the black women who have sacrificed so much to serve this country in terms of democracy, to bring voters to the polls, to preserve the vision of peace, justice and justice for all, and more?” »

Chicago resident Erendira Martinez says the small village community in Chicago, which has a Latin majority, also suffers not only from the Toledo killings but also from the loss of other children at gunpoint.

Just Thursday, just hours after the video of Toledo’s death was released, a 17-year-old girl was shot dead in the same neighborhood. Martinez’s own teenage daughter was shot dead in the village of Pokr in December.

“We just buried my daughter. A month later we are burying this child who grew up with my daughter,” he said. “No mother should bury her child.”

Some community organizations are working to eliminate trauma, says Aswad Thomas, head of the Alliance for Security and Justice, which runs Crime Survivors for Security and Justice, which has more than 46,000 crime survivors in Latin America. : Next week, the group launches its National Crime Victims National Agenda to address collective injuries.

“The tragic truth is that police violence is the most horrific, visible symptom of the biggest systemic problem of how our public safety system is being shaped. We have to tackle it.” “But at the same time, investing in mothers on the front lines of violence, hosting community-based intervention groups.”

Uzodinma Iweala, executive director of the Center for Africa in New York, says she sometimes gets angry at what she and so many other Americans have felt. He thinks about the cases when the police and his brothers stopped the police. Or when the officer called his uncle a rascal. And as in any case, they prayed that it would be possible to make it alive. Experiments that he thinks some white Americans voluntarily ignore.

“We have to do a really thorough study of what America is all about,” Iveal said. “America refuses to accept that America is not a country where there is no black blood, no sweat, no tears. “As long as America does not value those investments, it will never value the SS as a lifeline.”


This was reported by Stafford from Detroit. He is a national investigative writer with The Associated Press’ Race and Ethnicity team. Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Kat__Stafford. Nari Nasir, a Chicago-based Race and Ethnicity team member և Drew Costlin in Arlington, Virginia, contributed.



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