In the wake of the recent shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, as well as the police officers who lost their lives to a sniper attack in Dallas, the impact of violent death has left the nation reeling.
As we collectively watch the news and various forms of social media, we cannot escape the graphic, violent, and unsettling images of African-Americans being slaughtered before our eyes.
Those who wish to escape it by not watching the news are confronted with it online. Those who look at the videos deliberately or inadvertently are witnessing acts that can have an impact on their psyche.
On Monday’s edition of NewsOne Now, Roland Martin spoke with Dr. Kevin Washington, President of the Association of Black Psychologists, about the stress, trauma, and mental toll videotaped violence is having on the African-American community.
Dr. Washington explained how Blacks and others respond to trauma: “People have different responses to stressors.”
Washington continued his detailed explanation of Black trauma through a dissection of the term ‘post-traumatic stress disorder.’ Dr. Washington said the stress African-Americans feel began as a result of slavery. He said, “We can have post-traumatic stress disorder – post-slavery.” Though African-Americans are no longer in bondage, it does not necessarily mean “we’re beyond the trauma” of enslavement.
“If we’re continually experiencing the trauma over and over again, it is perpetual,” said Washington. According to Dr. Washington, there are studies that detail how traumatic experiences can be passed down through generations.
The president of the Association of Black Psychologists added African-Americans could very well be experiencing persistent, systemic trauma. He added, “We can even talk about it in engaging in therapy with someone who is experiencing trauma day in and day out from a variety of sorts such as economic deprivation, political disenfranchisement, and this idea of police brutality.”
In speaking about what drove the Dallas police shooter Micah Johnson over the edge, Dr. Washington said, “People have different breaking points.” Though he does not advocate violence, Washington said, “I am suggesting that we all respond in different ways.”
Dr. Washington told viewers some individuals become intellectuals in response to traumatic situations, some self-medicate, “and some take up arms.”
He then addressed the root of the trauma being experienced by many African-Americans across the nation in response to the violence we see playing out before our eyes and said, “Our issue is that we must express this idea that at some level, the response that has to be taken must be able to address the issue, and the cause is the idea of supremacy, oppression, and we all need to find ways to resolve that issue.”
Watch Roland Martin, Dr. Kevin Washington, and the NewsOne Now panel discuss the impact of the trauma African-Americans may be experiencing as a result of recent videotaped killings in the video clip above.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty
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