The emotions of Black people in particular, and people all over the world were heightened as the horrific video of the heinous and appalling murder of George Floyd was played again during the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Public Policy Project and Environmental Justice Coordinating Council (PPP-EJCC) is providing an opportunity for Black people who want to freely talk about how they feel about the murder of George Floyd and share their thoughts about the trial of his killer as a way to cope with the trauma.
The trial has resurfaced the unhealed and deep-rooted trauma Black people experienced when we all first saw the video of a white police officer who “took the soul” out of George Floyd while he cried out for his “mama”.
The trauma Black people have suffered and still suffer at the hands of the police is older than America and continues unabated. A simple traffic stop results in the death of a Black man, woman or child too often. We counted 1944 Black lives lost at the hands of police between 2013 and 2019. That’s incredible, astounding, completely unacceptable, and yet all too real.
Watching a man die right in front of you and feeling powerless to do anything about it is devastating, mortifying and paralyzing. While one police officer murdered one of us, four other officers protected that officer from intervention by the community.
The trial was very difficult to watch. Most Black people were not optimistic that the former police officer will be found guilty regardless of how strong the prosecution delivers its case. History has proven us so. Now that the Chauvin was found guilty of all charges, many don’t believe the former officer, now convicted murderer won’t be punished in any significant way. In addition, the three former police officers who added and abetted Chauvin will stand trial for murder. With all of these deep-seated emotions Black people need to support each other like never before.
The guilty verdict is “A” victory, not “THE” victory we so desperately need. Change has not come as a result of this one guilty verdict. Black people continue to live with the unending trauma of the violence enacted against us by the police every single day.
Malcolm X once said:
- “If you stick a knife in my back 9 inches and pull it out 6 inches, that’s not progress. If you pull it all the way out, that’s not progress. The progress comes from healing the wound that the blow made. They haven’t begun to pull the knife out…. they won’t even admit the knife is there.”
We created a community listening and healing circle called (NDABA, a Zulu word for intense dialogue) -as a Safe-Space for Black people to talk about how they feel about the murder of George Floyd and police brutality. This is a space for detoxification and emotional release. A space for community to process feelings and experiences in a safe, supportive space. Our blackness is under scrutiny by a system that has pre-appraised the value of black life at zero.
The space is available via zoom every Monday from 6:30 to 8:30pm.
Each week we are joined by a retired police officer, a therapist, an attorney, a community elder, and Black youth. These individuals will be present to give perspective, answer any questions, and to offer opportunities for people seeking counseling or other support.
This is a space where we will listen without judgment, love without condemnation and question with purpose. We intend to live in truth, love and reality, not lies, hate, or conjecture. The healing of our community requires the experience of engagement itself to be healing.
What does healing require? We believe that it is critical to offer a space where people can hear directly from people who work in law enforcement about how the system is supposed to work. We believe people need to be in space in the presence of highly gifted mental health professionals who are part of our community.
All we want is the right to be human. All we want is the right to be protected by law.
All we want to do is be free and live in a world where anti-Black violence is not core to the operation of the systems, we are forced to contend with in a white supremacist society. We know that is asking for what is right and cannot tolerate being treated as though this simple demand is impossible to concede.
What does justice require? The American criminal justice system and its history as a weapon of white supremacy goes back to slavery. The first police were slave patrols. Police resources are over-concentrated in Black communities, making today’s police force a close approximation of slave patrols. They are there to keep us in place – in zones of economic and political marginalization – and to contain unrest so it is not harmful to white supremacy. We must heal in our communities to change our conversation with the systems that impact our lives. We need those systems to change their conversation with us, in full commitment to a future without slavery or oppressed communities of any form, anywhere.
We believe we are in a transformative moment, that needs transformative commitments so it may be used to transform society from norms of racial injustice to norms of deep racial justice.
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