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  • Writer's pictureDé Bryant, Ph.D.

Part I--Devastating mass killings

From the "Personal Trauma, Public Issues" Series

I am a veteran of struggles for social justice and a community psychologist, trained to diagnose the intersection where personal trauma meets public issues. Steeped in the Civil Rights Movement, I envision the evolving activism for racial, gender, and immigrant rights using the same frame of reference; that is, a few people acting collectively can bring about fundamental social change.

Shootings at the national level, sadly, have been mirrored at the local level. Police shootings of Black men, personal violence against transgendered peoples, policy violence against the unhoused and immigrant communities. Support in South Bend was immediate and generous: donations, sympathy, and offers to meet basic creature needs.

Woman crying single tear.
Pain communicated in tears.

Yet as a psychologist, I am deeply troubled public commentary rapidly shifts to "moving on." Barely a week after the attack the police shooting of a young black man in mental health crisis, I facilitated an emotional check-in at a public forum. The group scrambled to cope while the space to feel however they feel was rapidly shrinking. They balked under the pressure – to demonstrate their resilience, to show that fear will not win.

These sentiments are not inherently bad but each ignores multilayered psychological realities. The haters’ behaviors signaled deeply conflicted inner turmoil: control issues, domestic violence, failed relationships, misinformation, profiling, and stereotyping.

"Moving on" requires comprehending what generates such devastating emotional pain in a person and crippling social policy in society that lives are snuffed out.


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