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  • Writer's pictureDé Bryant, Ph.D.

Part III: Misdirected Conversations

Updated: Jun 6

From the "Personal Trauma, Public Issues" Series

Victims' families and compassionate witnesses of violence fueled by hatred suffer for years: panic attacks, depression, sexual dysfunction, PTSD. Healing is a process without a timetable. Some suggest after sudden loss there can be no closure, only redirection. Powerful emotions, left unattended, set a trap for future trauma.

This is my conundrum as an activist. Labels are comfortable and accessible, but they misdirect the conversation. They disguise the interlocking inequities, making it easy to speak in generalities and buzz words. The shooter as "terrorist" led to discourse on gun rights, ignoring psychological dysfunction. While internalized homophobia may be acknowledged, race remains obscured. A shooter attacks immigrants, an underreported fact compared to the caliber of the gun that was used. The discussion of police budgets overshadows the rate at which Black and Brown people are victims of police shootings.

Public discourse cannot ignore deeply rooted structural antecedents, namely racism, homophobia, and transphobia. Sympathy following a tragedy cannot balance benign neglect preceding it. Where was outrage, who objected – and to whom – when hate crime measures protecting victims targeted for race, sexual identity, or religion died in the House?

Daily micro-aggressions are psychological attacks: decisions about which bathroom, introductions of spouses, responses to phrases like "that's so gay." Shunning by people, claiming a sacred text, whose skin is the same shade of dark as your own.

When public narrative is rife with casual cruelties, how can healing occur?


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