Vicarious Trauma – Jacket

I wrote a few weeks ago about the experience of some people suffering trauma by witnessing harm come to another. Reminding them of their own hurts and past experiences of pain. Writing about Rodney King and then George Floyd has opened the door to an even earlier experience with Stephen and his jacket.

Big or Little T Trauma?
Last week I wrote about the chase by police of me on my bike for reasons unknown. This week I wanted to discuss a first trauma. Yes there were others. The event was momentous as I had not been treated like this by anyone. I was about 7. It was summer. My friend ‘T’ and I were taking it in turns to ride my bike around the estate. The bike a black and yellow Cinzia, was my most treasured Christmas present! The bike was a sort of hybrid BMX.

Looking up.

Summer
It was another hot summer 1979/1980. We kids were not up to much. Playing around the blocks of flats, killing ants, making and firing peg guns at each other and at pigeons. Harassing each other for rides on each others bikes. Playing knock down Ginger. Asking about who’s going to the shop? Because those half penny cola bottle sweets were so tangy and sweet. Tangmere used to have it all. Something unknown to my 7 year old awarness made all of the shops shut and never re-open.

Intimidate
T had somehow met Stephen and been impolitely requested to give him a go of my bike. I believe Stephen had chased T and pulled him off the bike! Stephen was an older kid, maybe 10 or 11. He carried himself with some swagger. I can remember him (Stephen) pulling wheelies and doing long skids along the pavement. Treating (trashing) my bike in a disrespectful and in a way I found unapologetic in manner. Like the bike was his! I was angered by this. T may have told me what had just happened to him. I became livid I can remember. A thought I had was, this could be a case for the Red Hand Gang! But they weren’t around so, I could make this situation better all by myself.

Propulsion
I ran at Stephen and shouted give me my bike back! He ignored me and sailed past. I gave chase. Screaming. Shouting. Wanting. My bike back! We met at Martlesham or Croydon one of those housing blocks on the estate. Stephen had sneered a warning to others who were gathered earlier: “if anyone touches my jacket. You’re dead.” He, Stephen, serious, warned. Me oblivious and not hearing, ignored.

Martlesham and Croydon were 5, 6 or 7 stories high with garden units at their lowest housing level. Both blocks had little to no outdoor space higher up the blocks, unless you counted the landings. All of the housing blocks had double height under building car parks. Our show down (mine and Stephen’s) was to take place in one of the car parks – later. The estate had many outdoor green park spaces dotted throughout the collection of buildings at ground level.

Air Time on bike

Engagement
I think I shoved him in the back, or on the shoulder. Committing the mortal foul of touching his jacket. He had warned all who had cared to listen. But I shoved and he went ballistic. I believe that I started running before my bike hit the ground. Before Stephen started swearing. Before Stephen repeated he would hurt me after he managed to catch me. My feet took me away. At great speed. Fear is a phenomenally great accelerator. 

Distance
I ran. He chased. Back then aged 7. I was Nike. Fleet of foot. Good at bulldog, the running tag game. The 60m dash. The 100m sprint. But distance races I had not spent my time running. Now Stephen was quick too, and run as I might I could not lose him. He relentlessly gained on me. Swearing. I thought I could make it home, but his gallop closed down that line of escape. I turned away from racing home to Tangmere 119. To dodging between parked cars. Feeling that if I could use the cars to hide me I could evade capture.

Scared
I ran for my life. Petrified. I feared that Stephen would finish me. He had said just that! This was happening and whilst in disbelief, I ran. Who threatens who about a Jacket? A jacket! Possession and custody of things I understood on some level. I put my body in harms way to get my bike back. This need felt justified. Right. Believable. Stephen’s need seemed trivial, petty. Unjustified. Stephen wanted to hurt me because he viewed his jacket as sovereign. I had mistakenly entered sacred space. Spoilt thread by touch and so here we were. Lion and gazelle in a death defying race. I feared for my life and ran away to protect it.

Relief
He caught me under Martlesham and punched me a number of times. Head. Neck. Body shots. I wish I could tell you I took them all like a man and didn’t give him the satisfaction of witnessing a tear fall. I believe I cried from one side of the estate to the other. I cried up all the stairs to the top floor of Tangmere and when I got to my door which thankfully was opened by my mum. I went in and told her what had happened. She incensed. The bike left and forgotten where it lay. T later returned the bike.

Night Fades

Many – One
Lost in my mayhem of thoughts and sorrow. I was not out for revenge. I wanted the pain and the sense of defeat at being outrun to pass. The reason – I was fast and rarely beaten in a running battle! There was the curious case of Darren. I wanted not to remember the embarrassment of losing a fight to an older boy. I vaguely remember T trying to defend me either running beside as a distractor or getting in the way of Stephen. Stephen had singled me out to exact his vengeance. And so found – was punished.

Prey
The lion had found his prey and was set to claim his spoils. Remembering this painful memory does a number of things. I get to remember and release the pain that has been embedded in me for almost 40 years. There is also the courage to look at past hurts and witness the learning. I recognise that my experience of the chase trauma bears little resemblance to George Floyd’s murder or Rodney King’s assault. What I am doing is reclaiming my experience of terror. Providing an understanding of an unjust event and by doing so, allowing myself to relieve the experience of a trauma witnessed vicariously. It’s narrative therapy.

If
My want in writing this series is that you the reader come away with an understanding of the term Vicarious Trauma that is personally enhanced. That the resources below support compassion and a commitment to live within an anti-racist frame, and that you comment below on these thoughts.

Resources
Trevor Noah Explains the Domino Effect
Code Switch The Return of Race Science
Unlocking Us with Brené Brown Shame and Accountability
This American Life The Reprieve
Going Home song
How Can We Win Kimberly Jones

Images
Cover photo by Chromatograph on Unsplash City Skyline
1st Inlay photo by Joseph Chan on Unsplash Looking Up Block
2nd Inlay photo by Jean Carlo Emer on Unsplash BMX rider
3rd Inlay photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash Night estate

Vicarious Trauma – Police Chase

Last weeks post Vicarious Trauma – Revisited, invited me to remember a suppressed memory. The memory was filed in a box that is seldom reached for. There aren’t many files in this box. It’s in a room that is locked shut. Big thick padlocks and chain.

Labelled: Confusion and Pain Lie here.

1st Job
I remember an evening shift at McDonalds. Full of the usual fare. Me in the back room. Working my 7.5. Supporting the close down. Collapsing the boxes, re stocking shelves, getting changed and leaving Cathedral Square – Peterborough to make my 4 mile cycle ride home. Mum was alive then, 90/91. We all still live in New Werrington. I have either had a full week at College and am on a late shift mid week or am on an evening shift on a Saturday night. No main dramas. Some late night revellers asking for extra chips or a free burger.

Crime
The ride home was uneventful until the rain came. I am midway home. I have no lights on my bike. I am cycling reasonably fast. Traffic on the roads – light – mostly heading in to the city centre. I have crossed the dual carriageway over the footbridge leaving Dogsthorpe into Paston ridings. I am thinking of how the nights events were funny and silly. I have a hamburger hum about me. The grease fat seems to cloak me even though I didn’t fry food that night.

Police Cruiser

Sighted
I round the last bend before the slight downward hill from Gunthorpe into Werrington. I pass a police cruiser lazily heading away from Werrington. Reaching the footpath that takes me to the water linkway and on to my home, I chance a glance behind me and notice the police car ominously turn and head in my direction.

I don’t stop to think. It is cold. It is wet out. I want to be home. The police car picks up pace and blue lights begin swooping. The police car mounts the curb awkwardly and speeds across the grassy verge. I note the headlamps sweep in my direction. If I can just pedal hard I can make the distance to the bollards before they can catch me.

I don’t want to speak with anyone, especially to these officers. Not then or ever.

Chase
The police car revs and I sense them close the distance between me and them, in a short space of time. They drive over long grass. Not using the footpath. Attempting to short cut. I am not stopping. Neither are they!

If I can just get to the wooden posts infront of the bridge before they ram me off the bike I’ll be free. The car skids to a halt infront of the bollards. I sail through. I imagine I hear one of the officer’s curse. I am away. I have made it!

My trusty bike has aided my escape.

Reflex
I am elated and bewildered. They could not be chasing me to tell me about lights on my bike. What if I had fallen? What then?
What if they had caught me?
What then?

I had no reason to stop.
The police had no good reason to chase.
But chase they did.
And flee I went.
Away.

Much like a dog after it’s chew toy, ball, stick thing. Thrown aloft. Thrown far and fast. Dog’s chase out of instinct.

It is possible the police chased me for much the same reason. Sighting a Black boy on a bike at a time when most young people were heading in to the city centre not away from it. The picture to them may have appeared wrong, strange, suspicious? There may well have been cause to chase and make enquiries.

From the moment they turned, the chase was on!

And this race, I was not under the circumstances – about to lose!

The Ever Growing

Two, One
The panic. The fear and confusion were unlike much else I had met before. There was the Stephen chase: aged 7. I’ll come to that experience later. The exhilaration of getting away this time was amazing.

I had been fortunate. Unlike so many others, sisters, brothers both here and there…

Vicariously
Watching films like ‘Just Mercy’, ‘Fruitvale Station’, ‘Do The Right Thing’ ‘If ‘Beale Steet Could Talk’ all have Black Men in unjustly familiar situations. These films appear to be in the abstract, distant, objective.

Not for me! As an empath, I am sensitized to feel each blow, every hate filled undignified look as though I suffered it. With these films I am often incensed and saddened. Their characters depict men pitted against circumstances beyond their control. That potentially either lead to their deaths or serving unjustified sentences.

Mark Duggan, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland – happen to bring the trauma of death and unlawful killing viscerally primed.

Leaving me
Looking for
Explanation, spinning,
Attempting to
Find balance.
Remaining askew.

Until…

George Floyd

Resources
I Can’t Breathe Again 2020 Poem
Black People Die in Police Custody
The Joys of Motherhood Poem
The UK is Not Innocent
Assumptions About White Privilege
Obioma Ugoala speaks about Anti Racism

Images
Cover photo by Fred Kearney on Unsplash
1st Inlay photo by Ashley Harkness on Unsplash
2nd Inlay photo by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash

Vicarious Trauma – Revisited

A few weeks ago I wrote a short piece in relation to an experience with Vicarious Trauma and gave a personal account of an experience relating to George Floyd’s killing and the Rodney King attack.

Make Plain
What was not explained was what vicarious trauma is. I will do here.

The experience for me then in 1996 was to see a man who I recognised as myself being beaten by 4 police officers. The reason for the attack appeared unjustified, unreasonable and extreme.

I saw myself as Rodney King. Being mistreated, handled in unlawful and in a grossly cruel way. The incident brought to my mind feelings of panic, feelings of loss and abandonment, sorrow, anger, bewilderment, confusion. Ideas that the world is unfair and dangerous. These earlier impressions have left me vigilant, aware, cautious.

Vicarious
As a counsellor/Psychotherapist/Coach/Supervisor the role is to support those who are interested in accessing guidance. Often clients bring painful experiences. At times their traumatic experiences maraud around the space we share, as if re-awakened like a Genie from a lamp.

‘Vicarious trauma is the emotional residue of exposure that counselors have from working with people as they are hearing their trauma stories and become witnesses to the pain, fear, and terror that trauma survivors have endured’

Hurt: 1000 Arrows

For many people the experience of knowing a negative event intimately as a person who has had that experience happen to them, or witnessed a negative event happen to another could leave that person suffering from vicarious trauma.

Circular
Any further events that resemble or are a reminder could result in the witness becoming triggered/affected by what they have been reminded of.

My link is George Floyd – Rodney King – my being chased by the police aged 17 – me being chased by Stephen on my estate aged 7.
The panic/fear response is still with me.

This is…

Resources
American Counseling Association – Vicarious Trauma
Criminal Knock and Announce Episode 143
The Stoop – Black on Air
The Infinite Monkey Cage – The Human Brain

Images
Cover Photo by Martin Reisch on Unsplash
Inlay photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

A Different Future

Equity in Dreamworks Inc

An odd moment arrived recently when reviewing the past few weeks of protests, stating the now ubiquitous ‘Black Lives Matter’. The movement, for me, blended with the ending scenes from the movie Kung-Fu Panda 3. The idea is somewhat out there, and will probably not land safely. If you have not seen the movie or are unfamiliar with the KFP franchise the idea will land ever more askew!

Unity Looks Like
Ubiquity Accepted

Unity
In the final scenes of Kung-Fu Panda 3, a village of pandas step forward after defeating a marauding wolf pack and put out there paws to save the hero, Po.

Demonstrating
The scene clearly demonstrates the now common idea that in unity, a great wrong can be put right. That a Black and White hero can defeat a Demi God! Inviting a village/world to heal long held wounds and restore itself to a bright and limitless future. The idea has long been held. The story has also been told since human beings have walked the earth.

Together we stand. Divided we fall!

Touch
With Po (Hero) in the spirit world, feeling the hands/paws reaching out and lifting him up. Po gains the strength to be able to put up a good fight and defeat the misguided power seeking Kai. Does this concept sound familiar? World leaders current and past be warned…

Switch
Kai interestingly resembles a buffalo with dreads and his baritone voice denotes a person of African-American heritage. Possibly increasing the diversity representation in the DreamWorks cannon of films and simultaneously complicating my relationship with the synergy of good and bad, black and white, up and down dyad.

Support
There is mass celebration and delight amongst the villagers, once Po returns. Evil has yet again been defeated by Po aided by the furious 5 and the Panda village. To save the One, The Many must unite.

Silence as Weapon
Apathy Harms

Evolve
The moment of blending for me, is the recognition of the callous murder of George Floyd and the laying of hands for Po in KFP3.

For me, evolution can be experienced amongst us (the human being). A global recognition of the myth of White Superiority has begun.

And in protest against the systemic factors insisting that White Supremacy is the natural order of how the world is always to be.

What has been experienced by the many, has been one of finding Unity. At least for a moment in history. Seeking justice for George Floyd after the pandemic is also about finding a way to restore – make what has been centuries of old wrongs – right for and with Black people at the helm. Globally.

The Tao Haiku
Without opposite
Warm, Cold, Up, Down, the journey,
Possibly never

Resources
Kung-Fu Panda 3 Ending
The American Lie https://youtu.be/2roWLzrqOjQ
History of White People – Nell Painter
Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos – Dwight Turner

Images
Cover Photo Photo by Devon Divine on Unsplash
1st inlay photo by Chris Henry on Unsplash
2nd inlay photo by Karimi Karagania on Unsplash


Kim Evans of Kaemotherapy

Kaemotherapy

The Luddite and The Technological Savant discuss supporting Black Lives Matter

Meeting Kim online was a serendipitous moment. She has a prolific Instagram posting regimen with sayings, providing instant support to over 900 followers. I wanted to interview her as she appears to have her fingers very much on the pulse of what the nation is looking for – A smart experienced therapist who can be available in a range of formats to provide those seeking help with immediate relief and guided support.

Full disclosure, Kim has also recruited a team of therapists to provide 4 hours (up to 6) of free counselling for Black people in the UK. I am one of the counsellors recruited.

I wanted to know what inspired Kim to develop the concept of providing free counselling for Black People and then put the idea to the public for Kaemotherapy to be crowd funded? A quick calculation informed me that the provision will deliver over 40 hours of Free counselling and counselling workshop experience for Black people in the UK. Which I think/believe is incredible!

MO: Hello Kim, thank you for agreeing to doing this interview. 
Kim: Thanks for having me.

MO: So we have known of each other for a little over 2 months. Mainly commenting and referencing each other’s Instagram posts through the CoViD19 experience and I wanted to know a little bit more about you. We have spoken a few times whilst you were finalising the plans for the 40 hours of Free counselling. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Kim: I live in South London, studied in Nottingham.
I’m a Person-Centred Psychotherapist, Body and Trauma specialist,
I help people move forward from trauma they have experienced.
And support individuals to understand the intricate relationship between mind and body.

I have experience of working with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse and supporting BAME clients through racial trauma. I’m passionate about…

Fighting racial inequality and supporting black communities with their mental health. I have a private practice but I’m fully booked at the moment. 

Like Michael mentioned I’ve been offering online counselling and raising funds for that. It’s so we can support black individuals impacted by recent events and the exposure of racial wounds with the BLM movement. 
Check out my page 🙂 @Therapy_with_kim

A first collab
An outcome of one conversation between us


MO: Your instagram is fire. The posts lift me every time I see one, I am not sure if it’s the smile, the words, the image of the plant or the combination. What brought you to want to provide counselling?
Kim: Aww wow thank you so much. It’s interesting because I realised once I started to produce my own content rather than reposting other peoples stuff I got more followers and feedback. I think it’s about people understanding my values as a practitioner and getting to know me a little more. Also, I strangely muse on things at night when I can’t sleep, that’s when the best content comes to me.

MO: How long have you been practicing as a counsellor?
Kim: I’ve been practicing for 5 years now.

MO: How do you go about counselling? What approach do you take? You might have to explain that for someone who is not too aware of the many different styles of counselling.
Kim: My foundation is the person centred approach.

Fundamentally, person centred theory asserts that tensions between our external and internal worlds create psychological distress.

How that manifests in my practice is focusing on the autonomy & choices of the calient and helping them to develop their voice (message, desires, needs), delving deep into their subjective experience this may often include cultural and social contexts.

For example, if family culture or a country of origin plays a part in their self image and to what extent they want that for themselves.

I’ve also recently integrated some body work, meditation and body scans to support regulating my clients’ nervous system. This works well with anxious clients and clients moving forward from traumatic events which have let them numb or hypervigilant.

21st Century Mental Health Workshop

MO: You laughed at the word luddite when I was asking for technical support a few weeks ago, and you mentioned you studied at Brunel, what course did you study there?
Kim: Yes because it reminded me of my industrial revolution module in my second year of university. The rebellious workers adverse to industry advances smashing up machinery, scared they’d lose their jobs. I studied undergrad History and love it. My passion for my community was fuelled further when I studied the slave trade.

MO: Why this approach (Person Centred) and not one of the many other styles of counselling?
Kim: I just love and it fits with who I am and the values I hold as a person. Empowerment (voice choice) and redefining oneself to be flexible with lived experiences, has been part of my journey but I also have seen how its supported clients from different backgrounds and with various mental health issues. I did a bit of Gestalt training and I sometimes utilise attachment theory as part of assessments. 

MO: I know this is going to sound like I am interviewing you on Instagrams’ behalf, but what has lead to you putting the work in to display your services on Instagram, not twitter or facebook?
Kim: For the separation from my private space I have loads of friends on Facebook and I’m not that familiar with Twitter. I recently got a twitter account though, add me @therapywithkae 

MO: With your most recent campaign, providing free counselling and workshops for Black people what has been the response from the community?
Kim: The response has been amazing I’m so happy. I just wanted to help in some way as I was so angry with what was happening (still is). Loads have people have supported financially and all the counselling slots were taken up in a matter of days. Goes to show how needed it was at this time. 

MO: How did you go about selecting the therapists on your poster?
Kim: They were colleagues I studied with and therapists I’d made connections with since returning to London. They are all culturally competent, passionate about the cause and from different backgrounds. 

MO: What do you hope will be the outcome for the community?
Kim: For Black people to seek out and utilise the resources they have out there. Mental health awareness and support to be embedded in our families. For the ‘Work harder’ ethic to connect to emotional and psychological well-being as well as finance, academia and other definitions of success.

MO: Are there any plans for a similar initiative to be repeated again?
Kim: Yes definitely!

MO: How has advertising free counselling supported your business?
Kim: Perhaps you could answer that one Michael?
MO: I would have to say that I am being contacted a lot more as a result of my link to the Kaemotherapy offer. So thank you for that.

MO: Lastly you mentioned that you are soon to launch a podcast, can I ask what it will be about?
Kim: I have been featured in 2 podcasts recently which were a lot of fun to be a part of. I want to develop one and have a few ideas for a podcast. As with most things in life tt’s just a matter of having the time to develop them. I know that currently podcasts are a great way to promote an idea, and set yourself and your business as an industry expert. I am interested in doing that. Definitely.

A few challenges that are ever present

MO: Thank you Kim. I look forward to listening to these and what you later produce for a podcast. Now to turn the tables and ask, do you have any questions for me?
Kim: I do have a few. What made you want to be counsellor?

MO: That is a great question. I wanted to be an artist/architect/interior designer. At the age of 20 I lost my mother to cancer and that had a big impact on my original plans. A few years were lost trying to make sense of life and then became a youth worker, basketball coach and then a learning mentor.

These roles all seemed to naturally fall into psychotherapy and support at an adolescent level. I studied my first introductory course to counselling at Morley College and then jumped ahead of myself to do a Masters at University of Greenwich. That turned me into an integrative counsellor

Kim: What would your advice be for people wanting to do counselling especially men?
MO: Do a bit of research about the course you are thinking of beginning. What are the parts of the course that most appeal? Ask a range of counsellors, or former students of that course about their experience.

Find a mentor to support your learning journey. BAATN offer a great mentoring programme of support for students of therapy. I would also advise for anyone interested in joining this path to become a counsellor/psychotherapist, to begin resolving their affairs of home, job and of the heart as best they can.

The course is going to pull some hard truths out of you. Having a solid home team is going to be at times the best thing to have spent time investing into. Counselling courses can be life changing in both necessary and dramatic/dynamic ways.

For men I would advise to be aware that counselling and psychotherapy is a profession that many women have made a great career in Esther Perrel stands out as an example of a global success. Being on a course potentially could be the first time that a male may encounter being in a minority.

Welcome the learning. Try to listen more. Aim at understanding – Always. The Patriachy exists and we have played a role in it’s continuance. The question for me is what are we men going to do to revolutionise and deconstruct the imbalance? I grew up with 3 sisters and realised that life whilst hard, had potentially more unfairness for them.

Kim: How have you found the workshops so far?
MO: The 1st one was wonderful. I will complete the 2nd this evening on the 9th of July and the 3rd and 4th on the 16th and 23rd of July.

They are all free and look at Mental Health in the 21st Century. The workshops as you are aware as you attended the first week, are interactive and less about me talking at attendees and more with attendees.

I have found them useful and interesting to be a part of a learning experience. Many topics are discussed in just over an hour and I send to participants the presentation slides with useful follow up materials to support a person with their onward journey.

The following weeks discuss: Goals and Reducing Distractions, Reviewing Progress and Implementing new growth strategies.

Kim: What made you want to participate in the free counselling project?
MO: The death of George Floyd in May 2020 and the vicious attack on Rodney King 20 years prior deeply affected how I viewed the world in which I lived.

When you shared your idea of crowd funding free sessions for Black people with me, I think my answer YES was said almost like I was saying yes to myself 20 years ago.

Vicarious Trauma is a difficult thing to recognise or make right when an event viscerally takes over a persons wellbeing. Knowing that you would be helping Black Women and Men recover through 1 – 1 support and with workshops, looked like a courageous and affirming project to be a part of. I am glad that I have. I have met some wonderful people through the programme, who all seem ready to begin their therapeutic journey.

4 Week Workshop 21st Century Mental Health
4 Weeks worth of discussion and thought

Kim: What can we expect from the next free sessions/why should they join?

MO: The workshop Mental Health in the 21st Century began as a conversation had with you a number of weeks ago. The workshops will cover How to manage the deluge of information we are struggling under from a vast array of sources. How to reduce imposter syndrome and what steps to take to continue the work to change habits.

How to Focus and get shit done instead of eternally thinking and thinking and thinking about doing things and not getting them done, which causes a degree of fatigue and leads to impatience and frustration and then a sense of defeat that leads to dis-ease.

The other workshop topics look at Focus, Goals, and Reducing, reviewing Implementing. The aim of the workshops as you know as an attendee are to support fresher ideas and improve ways to live in a World that is moving and changing at an incredible speed.

Kim Explains the support on offer for Black UK residents.

The workshops are a culmination of thoughts I have had, fascinating discoveries I have gained from podcasts and articles I have listened to or read and a range of life experiences that I simply cannot keep to myself.

I’m like that child in the class room, arms pumping the air, waving frantically at the teacher or TA to call on them, bursting with ideas to tell the class or at least mildly entertain them with. Something that that kid knows, potentially is helpful but the class just aren’t ready to hear yet.

Yeah that’s me.

Resources
Keeping Clients At The Centre Kim Evans BACP Training
How to Cope With Racial Trauma ft Kim Evans MSc
Linktree @therapy_with_kae

Images
By Kim Evans of Kaemotherapy
Slide Presentation by M. Opoku-Forfieh

Perfect Storm: Endings, New Beginnings

The events of the past few weeks coincide with events over the past few months. They appear to have met and produced a swell of human reaction and protest that would have been hard to imagine last year or even 20 years ago.

Liberty Looks

Never
I had thought that my last post on the experience of CoViD19 would be my last. That post looked at the fatigued experience of when will the Lockdown end and things return to something that’s near normal? But something cruel and as life affecting as Corona Virus Disease 2019, has appeared on the horizon and I am drawn to look at this too.

Brutality
3 Black people died in quick succession this year at the hands of law enforcement. A bird watcher in Central Park perilously almost became another casualty. The 3 were Eric Reason, Dominique Clayton, Brennan Taylor.

Demanding Equality

Sailing
A sea person I am not. But I have watched The Perfect Storm and enjoy seeing humans do battle against the elements. I cannot exactly tell you what makes a storm perfect. It may have something to do with weather, tides and currents synchronising to create conditions where storm surges of 40ft hit shores and coastlines. That would be me hazarding a guess.

Gasp
For the perfect storm to have happened in the way that it has, took a tri partisan event. A triple threat. The virus. The Lockdown. 3 Black People being murdered by law enforcement and then George Floyd. That feeling of breaking the surface for air may be the result, after being confined to our homes for long periods of time. We may want and need to react to self and state imposed incarceration. We may want and need to shake the dust off and stretch our collective civil might on streets around the world.

Watching the Watchmen

Swell
The deaths of 4 Black people in the US, may provide the perfect set of circumstances to take our 3 months worth of thinking and feeling, holding our breaths that we all come out of the ‘Rona alive. Then if we combine this sense of surviving with the injustice of people losing their lives unlawfully by law enforcement – repeatedly. If we add in, the deep seated feelings of sadness, confusion guilt, regret, shame, anger and rage. Then and only then breathe out in an exhilaratingly powerful way finally.

The slogan of Black Lives Matter and ‘I Can’t Breathe’ could potentially, take on more meaning. The sentiment being viscerally felt by masses because they, we get it. We too were restrained against our will for longer than we wanted. Some of us, unfortunately, just didn’t make it.

Letting Go
Shedding years of misguided notions and seeing clearly that life for certain groups of people have been harder for hidden and ignored reasons. Black peoples challenges have not solely arisen from our own design. The making of systems that demean and devalue and place one group of people above others. The idea of superiority was deigned as a right of being and has been implemented globally by Europeans. Black people have been demanding equality. It’s time

One
George Floyd’s death gave reason for many to leave the safe protective confines of homes and take to the streets. Stating to ourselves and internationally that the cause of his death was unlawful, unjust and is simply wrong. The world needs to see how we feel #FFS. The videos and articles I have seen of a world united against injustice is heartening.

One Common Goal

Continuing
For Black, Brown and othered peoples this fight has been long standing. We have been fighting for the betterment of all. Austin Channing Brown’s request of being Better Humans stands ahead all other calls for me.

My hope is for the ongoing struggle to produce tangible life affirming results like: access for all to have an outstanding education system, healthcare, job opportunities, secure and safe housing in neighbourhoods that value collaboration and place being part of a community and advantage over being focused on the one called I.

Other outcomes could include an ever present critical awareness of the impact of systemic oppression and racist policies profiting one group over and above others the world over and a willingness from allies to fairly reassemble the pie. The pie will taste better and there will be more to go around.

Anti Racist change is a demand that is to be met globally by everyone.

Resources
Kehinde Andrews 20 positive ways to bring about lasting change
Uncomfortable Conversations by Emmanuel Acho
Brené Brown interviews Austin Channing Brown on Unlocking Us
Explain White Privilege by Lori Lakin Hutcherson
Van Jones discusses George Floyd and what comes next
Harvard Gazette Interviews Prof Lawrence D. Bobo The Fire This Time
Quentin Fottrell discusses George Floyd, white supremacy – and the otherization of African American Men
Brené Brown discusses with Ibrahim X. Kendi How to be an Anti-Racist
This American Life – We are in the future
The Emotional Impact of Watching White People Waking Up to Racism

Images
Cover photo by mana5280 on Unsplash
1st Inlay photo by Donovan Valdivia on Unsplash
2nd inlay photo by Jacob Boavista on Unsplash
3rd inlay photo by 99.films on Unsplash
4th inlay photo by Leandro Valentino on Unsplash




Perfect Storm: Reasons

Brutality
3 Black people died in quick succession this year (2020) at the hands of law enforcement. A bird watcher in Central Park perilously almost became another casualty. The 3 were Eric Reason, Dominique Clayton, Brennan Taylor.

Sailing
A sea fairing person I am not. And yet I have watched The Perfect Storm. The enjoyment of seeing humans do battle against the elements is not lost on me. I cannot exactly tell you what makes a storm perfect. It may have something to do with weather, tides and currents synchronising to create conditions where storm surges of 40ft hit shores and coastlines. That would be me hazarding a guess.

Resource
Van Jones discusses George Floyd and what comes next

Images
Cover photo provided by PK at Diversity Space. Here is a visual ‘Becoming an anti-racist’ model (adapted from the COVID-19 model.) Andrew M Ibrahim.

Perfect Storm: Never

Never
I had thought that my last post on the experience of CoViD19 would be my final one. That post looked at the fatigued experience of when will the Lockdown end and things return to something that’s near normal? But something as cruel and life affecting has appeared on the horizon and I am drawn to look at this too. This post is serialised.

Resource
Kehinde Andrews 20 positive ways to bring about lasting change

Image
Cover photo by frankie cordoba on Unsplash

Perfect Storm: Intro

The events of the past few weeks coincide with events over the past few months. They appear to have met and produced a swell of human reaction and protest that would have been hard to imagine last year or even 20 years ago. The following few posts will discuss these ideas further.

Resources

Brené Brown discusses with Ibrahim X. Kendi How to be an Anti-Racist

Vicarious Trauma

Before
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.

When
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.

Heard
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.

Sho’
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.

Over
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.

Resources
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
www.kwanda.co The Community’s Village
#howwefight It takes a consistent approach to change

Images
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.