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By Christine Henderson
The color of love is not blue ever, because that trust bleeds black.
Yet another mother called on in her child’s moment of fear. A child yearning for the one person and place that they feel solitude and hope. In that moment, a hope for a mother’s love is hope for safety.
Another mother falls to her knees grieving in prayer… No words can comfort the community from the visuals of the bullies in blue violently kicking and violently stomping one of their own. Don’t tell this mother “a few bad apples” and not address the many bad policies. Let’s not attempt to express thoughts and prayers when actions show counter.
I continue to play back in my head the cries of a young boy just wanting the pain to stop. It was when he called for his momma, I also cried for George, for Sean, for Michael, for Tatiana, for Alton, Emmet, for all of the Black people who died alone and afraid at the hands of a system built to uphold White supremacy.
Tears for Tyre as trauma continues
I cry for all who fear that very moment when the blue and red lights flash behind them, for those that cringe when sirens roar and for the many that pray when those in blue approach. I feel it too. The palpitations and then the breathing, scanning the rearview in angst but trying not to look suspicious or nervous. What shows up for me in my fear triggers judgment and suspicion to others in power.
Their lens is seen through training and tactics that are not trauma informed. Their suspicions point to guilt as much as conspiracies hold truth. It’s these policies concocted from systems rooted in supremacy and their good ‘ole boy styles of justice reimagined. They are filled with barbaric ideals, yielding harmful solutions embedding futuristic trauma. Those who benefit are often protected, violence in the open with no persecution.
A camera on his chest doesn’t protect me from this very moment, it just tells the story during the chaos in the aftermath. “Innocent but Black,” ‘not my headline’”. So whisper to God, hit record on the phone then roll down the window. I don’t want anyone crying out for me tonight, I just want to make it home. Historically, we all don’t always make it. That’s our community’s story, our collective trauma that disrupts our sense of safety.
A mother calling on community
In this time of sadness I call on my support team and gather my people, a healing space encompassing peers in the trenches that are constantly addressing violence and harm inflicted onto our communities. I seek their knowledge and guidance on how to navigate my own pain and trauma in these triggering moments. These defenders don’t wear badges or battle the blue.
They are creating true safety by preventing violence in the first place, showing up for healing and to meet needs in the immediate aftermath of violence, and organizing together to shape new institutions and systems that are community centered.
Advocates and activists like LaKeesha Eure, Director of Violence Prevention in Newark, New Jersey, reminds me that police and community work is challenging. “Cruelty like this takes any progress several steps back. We have to show up for the community because their pain is often ignored or misunderstood.”
Nicole Scott, Executive Director of The Bridge, Baton Rouge, LA, a mother like myself, stressed the need to continue to try to educate and protect the youth within the community. “I worry for my son every day, you do this work knowing that our kids struggle with so much and it hurts that we have to train them just to stay alive in normal everyday situations.”
The love and fear of a mother
As I sit here and I write to relieve my pain, my anxiety, my thoughts, I can’t help but worry about my own son just one exam away from getting his permit. I giggle as I see his big bright smile saying he passed the exam, “just have to take the four-hour drug and alcohol test mom.” My smile trembling just to stay put, in that moment my body surges with joy overwhelmed by fear. A proud mom stepping into yet another point of stress and anxiety. Now I add the traffic stop to the list of fears. May his brown skin be protected when red and blue approach.
So we must remember to let the mothers know that we love their children, too. Let the young people know that their “defiance” reimagined is “activism of purpose”, and let our brothers know that our prayers protect them.
Today I lift up my community and encourage everyone to create the spaces necessary to show up for each other. Check in with a friend, reach out to your loved ones and make sure they’re okay. Once again the harm is inflicted and those that are harmed have to do the work towards healing. May our communities find peace in these moments of sorrow and grief.
Christine Henderson is Senior Manager of the Equal Justice USA Trauma & Healing Network, which supports communities and their grassroots leaders in addressing trauma in transformative ways that promote healing and create systemic change.
Extremely moving and beautifully written! Thank you for sharing what many of us feel, but don’t have the words to express.
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