We are living in fearful times
As I write this, the US pandemic death total is 109, 901.
As of June 4th, 421 US citizens have been murdered by police in 2020.
The majority of pandemic deaths were completely preventable. We saw this coming yet collectively chose to continue to allow international travel, interstate travel, gatherings and basically continue with business as usual like ostriches with our heads in the sand.
Every single police murder is inexcusable. Period.
This post is dedicated to each of those lost lives. They are missed by their loved ones and countless strangers mourning their tragic deaths around the world.
French citizen Adama Traoré
and every other individual
Why is this happening?
Let’s talk about the physiology of fear. There’s a perceived threat, which is picked up by the amygdala (long before your conscious awareness, btw). Subconsciously you decide to fight if you have to and run if you can. But what happens when neither are possible, as in the case of a pandemic or racial uprising?
You’ve likely heard of the third defense mechanism, freeze. In wildlife and severely dangerous situations, this can look like playing dead. When the perceived threat isn’t that imminent, though, we can float through our day to day existence in a state of freeze…dissociation…numbing out. How many have watched more Netflix the past 6 months than since its inception? There’s a reason for that and it’s not boredom. Some people get bored and create art, embark on self-improvement projects, clean the house. It’s not about boredom.
I have chronically experienced dissociation throughout my entire life. I get it! Which is why I understand how important it is to know how to recognize it and respond in a healthy way. (How To Recognize Dissociation blog post)
Stress In the Streets
This is all at play in the streets right now, as well. We have a nation of tense, pent up, dissociated people chomping at the bit to get out of the house, to go to work and keep a roof over their head. The cops who perceive themselves being confronted are especially amped after months of pandemic stress. It doesn’t take much to flip the switch back and forth between freeze and fight/flight.
Let’s get real. Each of us is responsible for our behaviors. Period.
While I understand human’s stress response, I will not let anyone off the hook for their behaviors. It is our individual responsibility to educate ourselves, to do the internal work we need to do to be able to make sound decisions, and to own our mistakes when they do happen.
Undue force is a choice.
Militarizing police is a choice.
Racism is a choice.
Murder is a choice.
It is also a choice to not have educated and trauma informed police to begin with. Every cop needs to be trained in trauma and stress responses, and how they show up in the behaviors they’ll see in the communities they are hired to serve and protect. Every cop needs to do their own internal work so they can show up for their community in the way the community needs. When every police department, every sheriff’s department, every individual cop chooses to not be trauma informed and to not do their own internal work, they are choosing to put the communities and individuals at risk. They are not choosing to serve and protect.
Resources and Up Next
I have listed several resources below. Some are additional stats and such. Others are resources to help you educate yourself – especially if you’re a white person.
Join me tomorrow to continue the conversation. We will discuss how we can respond both for our own well-being and for others. I will share of wealth of tools, exercises, and additional resources to help you education yourself, do your own internal work and own your mistakes for the betterment of yourself and the world around you.
Much love and many blessings,
Other black women murdered by police.
Where black people are most disproportionately killed by police.
Mapping Police Violence
Police Killings 2020
That’s Not How That Works podcast
Racial Justice Trainings
Center For Social Inclusion
Racial Equity Tools