By Tony (Heru) Jackson, Ph.D. | Bay Area Chapter of the ABPsi
As we approach the Association of Black Psychologists’ 50th anniversary, we are called to step up and step out in order to serve our people and all people of good will, in a country that seems to have become more comfortable expressing and acting on the scourge and sickness that is racism.
Police violence is endemic all across America. It is pervasive, historic and ongoing where Black people are concerned, with devastating health consequences. The collection of these names of victims murdered or maimed and the families left behind seem to be never ending: Treyvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Amidou Diallo, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, LaTasha Harlings, Troy Davis, Renisha McBride, Kendrick Johnson, Freddy Gray, Michael Brown, Mario Woods, Darren Manning, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Delwran Small, Alva Brazil, Kalief Browder, Angel Ramos, Stephon Clark and on and on.
Nowhere do we find a more salient and ugly representation of the abuses of a grossly unbalanced power structure than in the relationship between the system’s enforcement apparatus (the police) and Black men, women and children.
What too often goes unnoticed is the devastating impact on the women and family members who survive the loss of their loved ones. The deaths of Venida Browder (mother of Kalief Browder) and more recently Erica Garner (daughter of Eric Garner) stand as stark examples of the slow death often associated with resulting broken hearts. Added to this is the stress of having to pursue justice from a recalcitrant system built to protect the perpetrators (in or out of uniform, if they are white) and vilify the victims. Ill-treatment at the hands of law enforcement leaves its victims frustrated, angry, and depressed.
It is important to note, that both psychological and physiological stress create the same physiological changes and can have the same adverse consequences on the brain. Long work weeks, toxic relationships, lack of sleep, and lack of outlets for stress let alone the ongoing stress associated with “Persistent Traumatic Stress”, can all can lead to negative shaping (plasticity) of the mind. This increased efficiency in responding to stress generates heightened levels of response to less stress, a hair trigger response and to PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) like symptoms. With chronic sympathetic activity, we are constantly on guard a with a nervous system that is consistently on aggravated.
Another way stress and trauma produce an adrenal impact is by affecting the production of a natural steroidal hormone (dehydroepiandrosterone – DHEA) that plays an important role in synthesizing important hormones like estrogen and testosterone which help produce important neurotransmitters responsible for mood.
Where is the Healing? The damage is multifaceted and multi-generational. The strategies toward healing must be multi-faceted and multi-generational. It will take all our efforts and acumen operating in the healing realm, in our communities, in our families and in our personal regimen to (1) end the scourge of police violence in our communities, aided and abetted by a racist superstructure and (2) develop community-based healing and wellness strategies designed to restore wellness and wellness for our people.
The Bay Area Chapter of the Association of Black Psychologists has advanced traditional medicine as well as new technologies for healing.
You can hear about and experience these strategies and more at the ABPsi’s 50th Annual International Convention from June 27th-July 1st, 2018 at The Marriott in Downtown Oakland.
Tony (Heru) Jackson, Ph.D., Chapter President, Bay Area Chapter of the ABPsi; Co-Founder: PranaMind.com, Love Not Blood Campaign.