Racial Healing - Licking Your Wounds
In episode six of Leading in Color, the Podcast, we interviewed Rashad Abdur-Rahman, Director of the Office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods. We discussed the need for racial healing and how we as a people have been repeatedly wounded by our system.
After this episode, we received many comments about how racial trauma has affected us as Black and Brown People. How, why, and when are we expected to get over traumatic experiences we’ve witness daily via the news and social media or have personally experienced.
The idea of being traumatized, wounded and in need of healing, is a disturbing and traumatic feeling in and of itself. I believe that we all need a counseling session to unpack the years of traumatic experiences that we have faced. From the day that black and brown men (especially) were born, they have witnessed the justice system disregard them as humans. If you were born in the 70s or 80s you escaped being born during the civil rights movement, however, the visual scars of more recent trauma plague your reality. You remember Rodney King being beaten in the street, you remember the riots that followed, you remember where you were when Trayvon’s murderer was set free. You saw how the system was willing to allow police officers to keep their jobs after killing Philando Castile. You witnessed the complete unraveling of trust between black men and the police. We have witnessed it all and we are traumatized and scared for our lives.
My husband is the closest black male in my life and every day he leaves the house for work, I wonder if he is next. In our conversations about our day and goals set for the week often he will say with a chuckle, “I hope the police don’t shoot me today because they think my grande latte was a weapon”. It's so much of a reality that the thought of being shot by police for being black is a laughable topic - we have laugh as an unhealthy coping mechanism.
Ava DuVernay produced the mini-series “When They See Us”. It is the true story of the Central Park 5. The series tells the story of the five boys - ages 13-16 who were tried and convicted for the rape and beating of a runner in Central Park. When Netflix released the film, social media and blog post were ablaze with mixed emotions about the film. Some who watched it filmed their reactions with tear-filled eyes, while others refused to watch it for fear of what they would see. All of the warranted and unwarranted emotion made me wonder if we are perpetuating our own trauma. Is seeing films that depict black and brown people being killed keeping us in a constant state of trauma?
Everyone I have discussed this movie with grabs their chest when they recount what they saw - it's their natural reaction. I heard an interview that Ava did on NPR and she stated that they had a counseling hotline available for the cast and crew so they could have someone to talk to about the film and what they were witnessing as they were recounting and making this film. After hearing her say that, I wondered if we all needed a session after seeing the film? What are we supposed to do with all of the emotions and sadness that we carry for these boys? We watched their lives get ripped from them. They will NEVER recover from the mental and physical damage done to them. Am I Next?
How do we heal when our wounds are constantly being ripped open? How does the healing process start and who can help me?
Here is the link to Heal Our Communities, a national organization who is providing hope to those who are seeking healing. I wish I had more hope for our future. Our past has scared me and left me damaged and broken. Every time I witness a glimmer of hope, I feel a wave of fear for what is to come. I started the post feeling optimistic, like I was going to provide insight on how to deal with your feelings but I need healing. I'm angry, saddened and scared.
If you have any suggestions on how to heal or trauma wounds please share them below in the comments!