Trauma

With yet again an onslaught of stories about war waged against African-Americans in the news you might find yourself feeling some paranoia. There’s time I feel so worried that the chaos on the news will meet me right at my doorstep that I make myself physically ill. Any time a black man that I love leaves him home I’m afraid he’ll end up like George Floyd. I can feel my chest get tight at the thought of it.

I lay in bed and close my eyes sometimes only to see nightmares, imagining that my fate will be the same as Breonna Taylor’s. When I scroll through any of my social media platforms I know that I’m not alone in feeling this way. Many of us feel it. Just like with the Ferguson riots, just like after the deaths of Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, John Crawford, Philando Castile and many more.

So I want to tell you about this study done at the University of Pennsylvania about exactly how policy killings of innocent Black men affects our psyche when we see it in the news. Part of what the university researched is information from the Mapping Police Violence Project between years 2013 and 2016. They also used data about around 103,000 black Americans compiled from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

Take this quote from Yes! Magazine, “According to researchers, the incidents may contribute to 1.7 additional poor mental health days per person every year, or 55 million more poor mental health days every year among Black Americans across the United States. That means the mental health burden for African Americans caused by police killings of unarmed Black victims is nearly as great as the mental health burden associated with diabetes. African Americans have some of the highest rates of the disease, which contributes annually to 75 million days of poor mental health among them.

African Americans make up 13 percent of the U.S. population but they accounted for 26 percent of people fatally shot by police in 2015 and 2016. While the death of a loved one can be tragic for the family and community of any police-shooting victim regardless of race, the study reveals that there is a deeper trauma for African Americans, related to the victim or not.”

If you are having a hard time coping right now, don’t feel ashamed. This is hitting ALL of us hard. If you are feeling too overwhelmed and have been thinking about harming yourself, text ‘hope’ to 741741.

When you’re feeling down reach out to someone you can trust and talk about how you’re feeling. The numbers show that they will understand; that may be of some comfort to you. Also consider seeing a therapist. We have a list of Black mental health professionals in the area here.

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