A Culture of Trauma: “When They See Us – The Central Park Five” Story

When They See Us – The Central Park Five” story had me in my feelings so I had to take action.

I often engage in self-dialogue after watching black stories that are somewhat traumatizing. I do this because many of us have been exposed to or lived through trauma so long that we get use to experiencing negative emotions and then ignore them by moving on.

Anger, frustration, dislike, disbelief, shock and fear must be processed or these emotions will surface and cause health problems both physically and mentally.

Individuals like myself are unfortunately too familiar with the trauma and injustice experienced by Korey Wise, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, and Raymond Santana.

Between the ages of 5 and 25 I lived through so much trauma that it became normal. Can you relate?

✅ At age 5 I saw my first dead body while walking home from school

✅ I was bullied for having a speech impediment throughout elementary school

✅ I was shot in the arm at age nine

✅ I watched the police beat and harass black men daily

✅ I feared the police due to harassment

✅ I was held in a jail cell for 4 hours at age 15 for being in the wrong place during a drug raid

✅ I witnessed violence and death due to daily gang activity

✅ I attended my nephew’s funeral – he was killed in a drive-by shooting at age 17

✅ I lost my mother at age 17 after she loss her battle with cancer

✅ I attended my friend’s funeral – he was murdered during an attempted robbery

✅ I was robbed at gun point in downtown St. Louis during summer break from college – the gun was pointed at my chest

✅ And more…

Some of you might be asking yourself, “What does his story has to do with the Central Park Five story?” You might also be asking yourself, “Why was he in his feelings over the weekend?”

Glad you asked.

The Central Park Five story is reflective of the African American story. A story of trauma and injustice.

They were traumatized and treated unjustly because of their ethnicity, lack of resources and for being in the “wrong” skin, in the wrong place and at the wrong time.

Time and time again, minorities and especially Black and Brown men have been and continue to be imprisoned, beat and even killed because a percentage of society see us as a threat, not as a human being.

I share my thoughts and feelings, not to solicit sympathy or to trigger back lash, but to simply highlight the importance of processing negative energy and traumatizing emotions.

“When They See Us” is a powerful film that triggers emotions that should and must be processed in a safe and healthy manner.

As a black man who has experienced trauma, I understand this personally. And as a licensed clinical psychotherapist with over 20 years of experience, I understand this therapeutically.

If you watch the movie, please speak with someone if you experience negative emotions. We have to stop feeling bad and not doing anything. It is normal to feel pissed, angry, sad and frustrated, but is not normal to hate, self-destruct, destroy your family or your community because you cannot or do not know how to cope with raw and traumatizing emotions.

Do not hold on to trauma because it will imprison you. The Central Park Five are free physically, but I wonder “Are they free mentally?

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