Vicarious Trauma

I was 17 when the vicious attacks by LAPD officers on Rodney King were made and became a pre viral assault for global audiences. This was before the days of the internet. News was gathered from television news reports.

March 1991. This was my first year attending an art college in Wisbech Cambridgeshire. The Isle College was as far removed from the site of the brutal attack as I could safely imagine. Wisbech was then a small rural town.

Police and their brutal treatment of law enforcement towards Black, Brown and poor people – a frequent backdrop to the music I was listening to at the time – Public Enemy, N.W.A. and Jazz infused Hip Hop.

Understanding the double speak of systemic oppression

A First
The Rodney King event was something I had heard about but never witnessed! The video arrived in as raw a format as it could be filmed. A video 8 hand held camera – shaky – unfocused – capturing a seldom caught, or filmed spectacle.

Art Imitating
A friend at the time a fellow student, asked me the day after if I was okay? He a white male. A skateboarder. Aware of the hare-pin trigger reactions of police both here and there. His query stirred me. Back then I did not have the language, reasoning or capacity to make sense of Rodney King’s attack. I don’t now. His experience was unfathomable. Later that year I queued up to watch Boyz n The Hood. The film gave me a sense of context and framing to what I had been a naïve witness to earlier that same year.

This post is short primarily because other’s have words that are far more apt, powerful and relevant for this time. In our age of oppressive acts and fear based divisive ideologies. The Jury left the building a long time ago and aren’t coming back.

For women and men like George Floyd slain because a combination of conflicting factors have violently met. This systemic experience now calls for historic revolutionary unprecedented change.

Othello’s Children by Jose V. Pimenta-Bey
Deconstructing White Privilege with Dr Robin D’Angelo
Russel Brand with Dr Kehinde Andrews discuss White Supremacy
Whiteness on the Couch by Natasha Stovall
Hell you talm bout by Janelle Monae
When Black Death Goes Viral by Kenya Downs The Community’s Village
#howwefight It takes a consistent approach to change

Cover photo by Tyrell Charles on Unsplash
Inlay photo provided by PK of Diversity Space who sourced the image from: Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence 2005 Adapted: Ellen Tuzzolo 2016; Mary Julia Cooksey Cordero 2019; The Conscious Kid 2020. Originally shared by Michelle Gyimah & Ashanti Bentil-Dhue on their LinkedIn feed.

With thanks to Dr CW, ATPN, The Family Across the Miles Check in and Diversity Space for the videos and commentary.

14 thoughts on “Vicarious Trauma

      1. Same here, that’s why I look forward to reading your blog 😊
        Nop, not “there” anymore since October 🌚


      2. Thanks 😊
        Attended a couple of hand lettering classes (beginners calligraphy class) and basically need to put in more hours in a day, rather than a week – so a long way to go, but will get there eventually.
        Things are good, can’t complain – I’m fortunate to have a garden so been able to really soak up some sun over the past few days 😎


  1. Mr OP-F,
    The time for change is and I believe always!! Especially, when people and ‘things’ are in a ‘state’ of continuios bludgeoning to the ground.
    Those still standing and able to understand their predicament, should rise, and ‘raise merry hell’ down on those that have for too long held them down and kept pushing, and pushing faces into the ground until life was estinguished.

    Are we not ‘animals after all’. Take that in thee number of ways it can be interpreted.
    Thinking of the injured lion, now being surrounded by a pack of hyheinas; in pain, weary but still aware it has to fight, until its last breath.
    The lion, in the above situation and natural habit, will know and react to its ability and circumstance.

    Take the above situation. Not only is the lion injured and isolated from its ‘pack’,
    it also has one other paw caught in a man-made trap, and further to this it’s last meal had been from meat it had come across, and had eaten from it because it was hurt and tired from having to keep its ‘wits about it’.

    George Floyd and too many others!!

    The time for change is always NOW!!!

    To wait isn’t always sensible. Least when surviving one more day, only means you die tomorrow.
    Fight! Like the injured lion, it knows it isoutnumbered but, it will die trying. It is is nature, and it is so to leave trace that, Lion’s go down fighting.

    A little over poetic, I couldn’t help it. I responded as I felt the words coming.

    Liked by 2 people

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