The PTSD of African American Murders
He and I began to discuss how the media is set up. We talked about how the media is owned by a few networks. And we talked about who controls what we see in the media and online. It's made me wonder what affects seeing all of these shootings and murders have been affecting the nation.
The conundrum is problematic.
We can't shut off the images. We can't unsee the murders and the death of people who could be easily him, I or another loved one. Who's next? Becomes the question. What can you do? Turning off the images won't make the problem go away. But what does the watching those videos do to us? As a community? What does it do to our mental health?
Like I said, we're in conspiracy theory land. What if we are constantly bombarded of images that cause fear and hatred to keep us distracted?
But what if you're like me and you don't hate anyone? And you're not fearful, just vigilant of the world around you and being aware?
A 2012 study found that black Americans reported experiencing discrimination at significantly higher rates than any other ethnic minority. The study, which surveyed thousands of African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans, also found that blacks who perceived discrimination the most, were more likely to report symptoms of PTSD. Although African-Americans have a lower risk for many anxiety disorders, the study reported a PTSD prevalence rate of 9.1 percent in blacks, compared to 6.8 percent in whites, 5.9 percent in Hispanics, and 1.8 percent in Asians.
Social media and viral videos can worsen the effects. During the week of Sterling’s and Castile’s deaths, a scroll through timelines of black social media users could uncover subtle expressions of mental and psychological anguish, from pleas for others not the share these videos, to declarations of a social media hiatus. Williams says that’s not unusual. These expressions of anger, sadness and grief can hint at something much more serious.
“It’s upsetting and stressful for people of color to see these events unfolding,” she says. “It can lead to depression, substance abuse and, in some cases, psychosis. Very often, it can contribute to health problems that are already common among African-Americans such as high blood pressure.”And my point is, the African American community knew that these killings were happening already. But it begs the question: are the killings getting worse or affecting us negatively because they're being video recorded?
Like I said earlier it's problematic and I'm not 100% sure on how to handle the stress associated with not just seeing murder the murder of someone who looks like me and learning the fear cycle. If you're a police officer and you grew up with the mindset that black men are dangerous you will be fearful going to work. Yes, your job is scary and dangerous and thank God there are people out there who are willing to put their lives on the line to serve and protect but what good are these videos doing?
Are they creating awareness or promoting fear?
So now everyone is scared. The cops are scared, I'm scared, everyone's scared of their own shadows and I'm not sure where this tension is going. Personally, I am someone who wants to live my life without any trouble. I am someone who wants a good job, to be a good wife and daughter and I feel like the nation is moving backward and you being to feel hopeless, trapped in your own mind (the sunken place) and paralyzed due to the effects the surrounding world is having on you.
Do we have too much access to information? Are we imploding?
When black death goes viral, it can trigger PTSD-like trauma