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Going Beyond the Bullet: Grand Jury’s Decision in Michael Brown Shooting Takes Aim at the Psyche of the Black Community

Lesley McSpadden (wearing sunglasses), the mother of Michael Brown, consoled after hearing verdict

Lesley McSpadden (wearing sunglasses), the mother of Michael Brown, consoled after hearing verdict

As Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson walks away a free man, members of the Black community are left feeling like an “endangered species”—while it seems America’s so-called justice system has continued to empower white officers who are gunning down Black teens.

The decision by the grand jury was no shock, but the pain that filled the guts of Blacks all across the globe was still just as hard to bear.

With every ruling that protects a white police officer who has shot and killed an unarmed Black man, white police officers are empowered and Blacks are reminded of their value, or lack thereof, in the eyes of America’s justice system.

“We’ve seen this over and over again,” Terrie M. Williams, the author of “Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting” and co-founder of The New Legacy Leaders Project, said back in August when Brown was fatally shot by Wilson. “Where police brutality, directed primarily toward Black men, often renders the community, collectively and individually, into an extreme state of shock…it affects our men, our women and our children.”

In a short span of time, the country has bid farewell to New York father Eric Garner who was killed after being placed in an NYPD-prohibited chokehold by a New York officer; Savannah resident Charles Smith who was fatally shot by officers who claimed he suddenly brandished a weapon while in handcuffs despite several police putdowns; the 22-year-old Walmart shopper John Crawford who was shot by police after holding a BB rifle in the store; 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was killed over the weekend by Cleveland police because he was holding a toy gun, and many more.

In all cases the police officers involved were not charged with the death of these Black men, or decisions are still pending, with many experts doubting that any serious charges will come.

 

Black men and women are left questioning their value in a country that seems determined to break them down physically, emotionally and psychologically through racist institutions that ensure a Black boy will spend more than 20 years behind bars for shooting a police dog (17-year-old Ivins Rosier in Florida) while a white police officer will walk away without so much as a slap on the wrist for killing an unarmed Black teen.

“They only want to see us in two places – in the ground or in the cell,” said Bradley Warren, a 26-year-old Georgia resident who participated in more than 5 demonstrations for Michael Brown before the grand jury decision was announced. “So what you have is people asking themselves, ‘How long does this keep happening until I believe it’s true? If I am allowed to be slaughtered like an animal, maybe I am an animal.’ It’s not that cut and dry but it’s a psychological issue.”

Officer Darren Wilson no indictment Warren went on to say that, “They killed one boy with a bullet and another thousand with the message. We’re just an endangered species.”

It’s the type of message that has been perpetuated throughout American culture and convinced people of color that they are the “others” simply looking for a space to occupy in the land of those whose lives actually matter to the justice system.

“I remember in high school the question was, ‘Why are all the Black people sitting together,’ ”  recalled Dr. Dawn M. Porter, a board-certified child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist who has been practicing medicine for more than two decades. “But when you think about it, why are all the white people sitting together? You aren’t coming over to our table. It’s like it’s their world and if we aren’t in it then we are the ones being separatists…It’s American history. You talk about Black history as something separate.”

In the midst of these trying times, however, it is important that members of the Black community realize they do not have to continue on in silence.

Even in the wake of a tragic death and an all but too familiar feeling of a lack of justice, there is indeed a bright side to what is happening across the nation.

As Williams explained, the way to redefine strength in a community is to embrace emotions and let those cries of pain and for justice be heard.

“We often confuse being ‘strong’ with being silent,” she said. “True strength lies in knowing when to ask for help, when to let the tears flow, when you are overwhelmed. The death of Michael Brown is one that has taken a great toll on our collective psyches… no time for silence.”

It is through that sense of unity that Brown’s legacy may live on and have a powerful impact on the future of what was supposed to already be a “post-racial” America.

media targeted in Ferguson on fly zones

Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images

“This was more than just this verdict,” explained Dr. Porter. “People started talking about the issues that are really there that everybody has kind of been afraid to talk about.”

Now that the grand jury’s decision has been made, Dr. Porter just hopes that the Black community doesn’t let these types of global conversations die down.

“Often times we aren’t brought to the table or if we’re at the table we can’t speak,” Dr. Porter added, as she explained that Black people are raised in a society that encourages them not to speak out about matters of race and discrimination.“Sometimes we feel like, ‘Ok if I say something then I’m going to lose what I have or it’s going to be taken the wrong way.’ We are always feeling like we are a guest here.”

In order to combat this sense of otherness that plagues Black people across the globe, Dr. Porter said that it is just as important to rebuild our own communities with our own hands as it is to continue pushing conversations about racist institutions in mainstream media.

“So I think what really has to happen for our Black community is to find ways to strengthen our Black males through healthy – emotionally healthy – lives,” Dr. Porter said, before mentioning that many Black people will not seek help for the type of trauma and mental angst that can be caused by constant bouts with racism and discrimination. “We have to help our Black men become more resilient against these challenges of being faceless.”

 

What people are saying

13 thoughts on “Going Beyond the Bullet: Grand Jury’s Decision in Michael Brown Shooting Takes Aim at the Psyche of the Black Community

  1. Marcus Matthews says:

    Man, these series of events may be a tipping in the black community.

    It's making things clear that we are not in a "post-racial" society, despite having a black president. Actually, race relations seem to be getting worse, not better…

  2. Arcy Sone says:

    Brothers and sisters Join us on black facebook http://www.bragse.com we need to organize brothers and sisters. These people don't like us and I think it's time we start taking care of each others more. http://www.bragse.com is a start and I think we should all join in. We have to separate emotionally and we need to build and run our own community. Join us http://www.bragse.com , see you there. Peace

  3. Bwire Vincent says:

    The president is not Black.

  4. Marcus Matthews says:

    Bwire Vincent Huh, so are you saying Obama is white or some other race???

    If Obama is not black, then what race is he?

  5. Nat Turner says:

    Marcus Matthews He's biracial/mulatto. A black person comes from a black father and black mother. Obama came from a white woman. He's just as much white as he is black.

  6. Arcy Sone says:

    Check out this video brothers and sisters https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mc4WKfrx0hE
    this brother did an outstanding job and join the black facebook http://www.bragse.com

  7. Arcy Sone says:

    Marcus Matthews Obama isn't black for now but he'll be back black just like O.J and Bill Cosby. You do sound like a coon though talking about post-racial society. Their society don't include us get that in your head bruh. Join us on http://www.bragse.com

  8. Marcus Matthews says:

    Arcy Sone Calling someone a coon ain't gonna get nobody to join a movement…

  9. Bwire Vincent says:

    Marcus Matthews To add on what Nat Turner, says, people like Obama are used as bargaining chips, by the racist to make him look non racist. It happens in Hollywood all the time, when they give bi racials, roles meant for Black people.

    White america refuses to acknowledge it's Black half (bi racial), Blacks embrace them (bi racials), with both hands. Unfortunately, by doing so, Blacks wind up playing right into the racist's hands.

  10. Arcy Sone says:

    Marcus Matthews I didn't call you a coon brother. I said you sounded like one. You know damn well Obama ain't black. The man endorsing the killing of black people here and in Africa with Ebola police violence and the lack of jobs and opportunities for us. Even Eric Holder couldn't stand that shit n quick. P.S. The only puppet work I'm willing to do is God work and right now he wants me to get my people out of the struggle, and I think people like me and you can save our people from the curse. Do your part brother and I know you can tell our brothers and sisters the truth to save them from the illusion. Peace

  11. Ama Nwaifejokwu says:

    Where or how can I get that complete list of the victims of police violence?

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