Living Through "Two-Wound" Trauma
I am no stranger to the number Two. Most of my life I’ve lived in two worlds – One American & One African American. W.E.B. Dubois says it best in his book, The Souls of Black Folk. “One ever feels his twoness, -- an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” I am guessing if you are an African American reading this blog you understand just what this quote means. Right now, we African American’s are experiencing in real-time two traumatic events. The Trauma Healing Institute describes it this way, “Trauma is when our hearts are deeply wounded; when we are overwhelmed with intense fear, helplessness, or horror in the face of death, or the threat of death”.
Wound One: a pandemic which has disproportionately claimed African American lives; COVID-19 is its name. Wound Two: a pre-existing wound that has been continually inflicted for generations and has never healed – Racial Injustice is its name. Salt is being poured into Wound Two right now. We are being further cut as we repeatedly watch a 9-minute video of the dehumanizing murder of unarmed George Floyd. We watch him in that degrading position under the weight of a white police officer’s knee on his neck, pleading that he could not breathe. More salt pours as we watch three white men gun down unarmed Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, as he takes a jog. Salt continually pours, as we watch reports play over and over of 26-year-old EMT and ER Technician, Breonna Taylor, who was murdered inside her home by police officers. This is a very traumatic time for our country, as a whole; but African American’s the wounds of trauma go so much deeper.
African Americans are 6-times more likely to die of COVID-19 than White Americans. Just yesterday, I was informed that the wife of my close cousin had succumbed to the disease, leaving behind a husband and 7 children. So, the fears are heightened over contracting the illness, as well as complex grief when loved ones can’t properly mourn those who have passed.
Recently, my mother was hospitalized with an unrelated condition. I faced fears of her being exposed to coronavirus. I lost sleep knowing that I could not visit her and ensure that she was getting proper care because she is African American.
I am angry. I am tired of the looming fear that one of my sons could be shot for any reason at all - or for no reason at all.
We are experiencing two traumas in real time. How is this impacting you? Are you just escaping into Netflix? Are you emotionally eating? Are you snapping at people? Let’s talk and ask how we can collectively respond to these two traumatic experiences together. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Let’s put our sound minds together to figure out how we can respond and actively make change. #QuestForChange