Black Lives Matter and the Trauma of Police Brutality and Protesting (and me just getting it all out)

john-boyega-Justin Setterfield
John Boyega at Black Lives Matter protests in London. Photo by Justin Setterfield.

 

The last year of watching the news has been a new sort of serious struggle, from the Hong Kong protests last year, the fires here in Aus, COVID, and now the rightful protesting against police brutality against black people.
I was going to infodump/rant/express everything all in one post but I feel like talking about one thing right now is best.

 

More than ever before, I’ve been thinking about the trauma people of colour, especially black people, endure at the hands of authority figures, namely police officers; the people who are supposed to protect and serve the community they reside in. I mean, what I’m saying here isn’t anything new, it’s well established in black communities not just in the US, but here too in Australia and countless other countries where native people have been invaded, abused, sold, paraded as jokes, animals/barbarians while their cultures have been used as accessories. The historical equivalent of ‘chewed up and spat out’.


How can children entrust a police officer to come to their rescue when the people around them that look like them are treated as suspicious at best and a thug at worse?

How can disabled people live when how they interact isn’t ‘normal’ behaviour? There’s been a too-long-a list of police hurting and killing disabled people no matter the colour, and like many people have said before ‘when they’re finished with us, who do you think will be next?’.

While typing this (and possibly publishing on the same day) I hear about Elijah McClain who was killed because he had the blood condition, anemia, which makes one cold very easily. He was unarmed. He was black.

 
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This is him playing violin for kittens in an animal shelter.

 

No, this didn’t just happen; it happened last year, and the police officers are still working. It seems like the story was intentionally buried until recently.
The trauma his and countless other families have to go through, the re-lived trauma of families and friends of others who still haven’t seen any justice for their loved ones who were taken from then, and the people who witness a murder, like Darnella Frazier who filmed George Floyd’s murder, a woman who is being bullied for it? What is going ON?

 

It also made me think back to the Hong Kong protests of last year where approximately 2 million people – 32% of reported adults – are showing signs of PTSD. Police started using more violent means including the use of tear gas, rubber bullets, live rounds and even throwing bricks. The reason for the protests might seem different but violent tactics used by police against protestors sound familiar, doesn’t it.
There is also the undercurrent of paranoia amongst Hong Kongers that Chinese authorities will virtually identify them, compounding the trauma even more [currently can’t find the links I was going to post but will update when I do].

 

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 3.18.03 pm
Article from Wired.

 

The effects of trauma are long-lasting, and the trust has been broken for so long, how to you regain it? How do you heal?
We already know from past deaths that there is a race-based trauma founded in everyday discrimination and microaggressions and builds from there into anxiety, depression and grief, and that’s not even including the triggering and traumatising content of videos posted online.
There is also Acute Stress Disorder, which “could arise in response to exposure to a traumatic event such as threatened or actual violence.
I recommend the links I just embed and this one to really grasp the situation.

 

Would we have hit this fever pitch if we also weren’t in a pandemic? I don’t know.

Have we hit the limit of how much everyone can take? I like to hope so. It really does seem like the snowball effect of the white pride emergence and the devil-may-care attitude from authorities and positions of power has made people -white people- just how lawless it is. How not even footage of hate and violence hasn’t deterred people from their actions. “Consequences” is a word of a bygone era.
Thankfully now white people in particular (as well as every living person in the world right now) are seeing the callousness, toxic ‘brethren’ and misplaced loyalty, and the overspending the police force has.
To put it simply, this isn’t how you treat fellow human beings, no one should have been treated that way, and we don’t have to fear any race, just some people’s belief that they’ll for once be a minority and will be treated like they’ve treated others.

 

 

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It seems like from the COVID-19 pandemic sandwich between two huge movements on different sides of the world that there will be a global issue in terms of stress and trauma. It has already affected every day people protesting, people who have had loved ones die from the pandemic and were unable to be there when they were sick or even attend funerals, and medical staff that have been worked to the brink.

 

There’s going to be so much I’ve missed saying and I’ve jumped around everywhere, but I feel like what I’m thinking and feeling needs to get out there, even if no one reads it. It’s not for my own gain or a pat on the back, but if I’m to talk about disabilities and mental illnesses, I feel like it’s something to bring up even if it isn’t my own personal story.
Black people’s lives aren’t worth less, no one’s is worth less than my own.

 

 

Some really great articles I recommend for reading:

Someone asking on r/CPTSD how to protest while suffering from Complex PTSD: https://www.reddit.com/r/CPTSD/comments/gtcjtk/protesting/

Public Health Experts Say the Pandemic Is Exactly Why Protests Must Continue:
https://slate.com/technology/2020/06/protests-coronavirus-pandemic-public-health-racism.html

Donate to Chicago Torture Justice Center– provides trauma and recovery services for survivors of police violence:
https://www.classy.org/give/257847/#!/donation/checkout

How racist policing took over American cities, explained by a historian:
https://www.vox.com/2020/6/6/21280643/police-brutality-violence-protests-racism-khalil-muhammad

To stop police brutality, make it financially unsustainable:
https://qz.com/1864979/to-stop-police-brutality-make-it-financially-unsustainable/

How to address racism like the public health crisis it is:
https://qz.com/1865308/how-to-address-racism-like-the-public-health-crisis-it-is-3/

Americans’ perceptions of police drop significantly in one week as protests continue, survey finds:
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/06/06/americans-views-police-drop-significantly-amid-protests-survey/3159072001/

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