The Heartbreaking and Enduring Trauma of Anti-Black Racism and Police Brutality
Joint statement from the Black Mental Health Graduate Academy and the African and Caribbean Mental Health Concentration.
In June 2020, the Black Mental Health Graduate Academy shared its first statement about anti-Black racism and police brutality. As we begin 2023’s Black History Month, the words of the previous statement has sad resonance as we embark yet again on a discussion about America’s enduring deadly and casually cruel assaults on Black minds, hearts, and bodies.
As we absorb the blow of Tyre Nichols’, last three words, which were ‘Mom. Mom. Mom,’ we know we must maintain an exhausting vigilance because the next trauma will predictably arrive before the wounds of the last have stopped bleeding. It is shameful that we are made to enter a celebration of the foundational role of Black people in this country’s success with our hearts crushed by reminders that our country’s enslavement and oppression of Black people is still alive, even if transformed.
As Tyre’s murder reverberates, some who remain ignorant to the critical concept of implicit negative racial biases, including internalized prejudices are likely confused and uncertain about how to understand and emotionally respond given that the perpetrators in the latest disgusting act of police violence were Black men. What needs to be understood is that 400 years of White supremacy along with the deliberate and systemic devaluation of Black people has been internalized by us all. One’s skin color does not negate the absorption of hate and disregard for Black people. White supremacy remains enmeshed in the social DNA of us all and therefore its destruction or its maintenance is dependent on us all.
The Black Mental Health Graduate Academy, the African and Caribbean Mental Health Concentration, and the Center for Multicultural & Global Mental Health invites the WJC community to work towards the elimination of White supremacy within our psychological and mental health fields. Within our academic and professional spaces, still lives the pernicious unconsciously internalized lies about Black people’s intellectual inferiority, aggression, and dangerousness. These lies have been effectively cultivated over generations to deliberately reduce our humanity and stifle the empathy of all, including allies from other racial/ethnic and cultural backgrounds, who are needed to fight for true equity and inclusion. We welcome this righteous fight.