Discussing and describing the events that have transpired in the world over the last week is/has been challenging, to say the least. So, before I continue writing and you continue reading, I would like us to take a moment to center ourselves.
Breathe in deep. Pause. Breathe out slowly. Pause. Repeat as necessary.
Let us offer gratitude for our ability to breathe.
Unfortunately, the words “I can’t breathe” have been heard around the world as a result of an extremely tragic situation. George Floyd uttered these words as he met his demise beneath the knees of the Minneapolis Police Department.
My brother George is yet another victim added to a long list of melanin-dominant individuals (aka black people) who have succumbed to police brutality. A police officer, who I will not refer to by name, kept his knee on my brother’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.
Eight minutes and 46 seconds!
As you may know, George’s death was captured on video and shared countless times and has sparked protest around the world. The time since the incident occurred has felt much like the “twilight zone.”
This situation has entered the public consciousness like “We interrupt this broadcast for a special news bulletin.” As if we weren’t already dealing with a lot. Much of the U.S.A., including Dallas, Texas, had been slowly reopening after life had been cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Apparently, police brutality cures coronavirus. I’m totally kidding. I certainly welcome laughter to lighten our load during all of this. But in all seriousness, police brutality is public health threat!
Although we can say that George’s death has been the catalyst for many of the protests that we’ve seen over the last week, I believe the root cause is much deeper. Many of us have seen and/or experienced some form of police brutality for much of our lives, and it continues today.
Now, this is not me condemning the police. But we must call a spade a spade.
Yes, there has been violence, so-called riots, property damage and financial loss among other things during the protests. I am not currently interested in discussing whether these things are good or bad.
What I will say is that we must approach this entire situation like the public health emergency it is.
People are hurting. People are tired. PERIOD! It seems as if many are experiencing some form of psychosis.
“Psychosis is a condition that affects the way your brain processes information. It causes you to lose touch with reality. You might see, hear, or believe things that aren’t real. Psychosis is a symptom, not an illness. A mental or physical illness, substance abuse or extreme stress or trauma can cause it.” (WebMD)
I recall a psychotherapist I once met telling me about a room she set up in her practice. She called it the “War Room.” She described it as a place where her patients could, if they needed, destroy things as a way to release bottled-up emotions, stress and repressed trauma.
I think what we are seeing today is people releasing. Whether good or bad, they are releasing.
The human mind, body and soul can only take so much before it gives out. We can’t continue to turn a blind eye to the pain and suffering people are experiencing. It’s time we get real and step outside of own little bubbles and address the terrors of systemic and institutionalized racism.
And arresting the officers involved in George Floyd’s death is not nearly enough.
Unfortunately, racism is built into the fabric of many systems and institutions, not just the police. That’s really a topic for another conversation, but let’s talk about it now.
Even if we have to cancel life again, let’s do it. COVID-19 has already shown us that we can literally transform this country overnight. I know many people are eager for things to get back to “normal.” However, I don’t think we’re going back to whatever that normal was. Quite frankly, it’s time we craft a new normal.
I don’t claim to have all the answers for this situation right now. But I do propose that we approach this very serious problem in a solution-oriented manner. Let’s be mindful of our own privilege and how we police the behavior of others.
Get centered and grounded. Seek ways to move past feelings and emotions in dealing with the many crises in front of us. Hold space for your feelings and emotions, but be sure to be logical as well.
I use yoga and meditation, seeing a qualified therapist, exercising, drinking plenty of water, eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables as means to better my human experience. I cleanse and detox my mind, body and soul regularly of anything that doesn’t serve to help me grow or reach higher levels of consciousness.
Do whatever you can to fortify your body, elevate your mind and strengthen your immune system. Allow your Spirit to be free.
Also, consider examining your local environment — friends, family, work, elected officials, businesses you frequent, etc. — for signs of racism and its impact on public health. Propose solutions; be the solution.
I offer these words with one small, but important, caveat: Let’s not focus too much on racism. Instead, lets shift our attention toward the reality we wish to see. After all, whatever you give your attention to, you empower.