Repeatedly watching police videos of Blacks being gunned down and brutalized by cops for no reason other than the color of their skin is not only traumatizing to the families and friends of these victims but can cause trauma symptoms among the general Black population. This is a form of second-hand trauma or vicarious trauma.
Second-hand trauma can occur when an individual indirectly witnesses traumatic event. Typically, second-hand trauma is experienced by professionals such as nurses, doctors, social workers, and firefighters. However, with the increased exposure of traumatic events through social media, it is being experience by the general public. Media portrayal of these traumatic events can illicit strong emotions in individuals and can lead to trauma like symptoms. These symptoms can include, but are not limited to, hypervigilance, hopelessness, fear, anger, cynicism, survival coping, and guilt.
The increased exposure of police violence and brutality against Blacks has caused the Black community to experience anger and outrage. Black mothers who have no direct link to police violence fear for their sons and daughters lives every day they walk out of the house. As a Black community we are fearful of our lives every day. We are hypervigilant when in the presence of law enforcement. We are tired of being used for target practice and no one being held responsible. We are fed up with innocent Black lives being stolen for doing normal, everyday activities. As a community, we are vicariously experiencing these heart-wrenching and traumatic events.
Recent events in Charlotte, NC in which Keith Lamont Scott was killed while waiting for his son to come from school and in Tulsa, OK where Terrence Crutcher was killed for his car been broken down have received a lot of media attention. The video of Terrence Crutcher shows him calmly walking to his car unarmed then he is shot. This image has been ingrained in the minds of many inciting trauma like symptoms. The details surrounding Keith Lamont Scoots’ death paints a similar image. These are only two example of ways far too many Blacks have been brutalized and murdered by cops this year alone. It leads many to ask the question “when will this end?”
All lives can’t matter until Black Lives Matter!