By Jim Morris, WMFDP Chief Consulting Officer

Gun violence and mass murders across the United States persist at an astonishing rate—all while we witness the trial of Derek Chauvin culminate in a guilty verdict, convicted for the murder of George Floyd. 

It’s still happening. And, it appears to be happening faster.

Black men and children, fathers and sons, are still being assaulted, harassed, killed and murdered by law enforcement. Latino and Hispanic men and boys aren’t far behind, experiencing the second highest-rate of disproportionate police killings after Black Americans. Asian Americans are being randomly assaulted, some killed, fueled by the false and racist narrative that people of Asian or Chinese descent are somehow to blame for COVID. 

So far, in 2021, the rate of fatal police shootings among Black Americans has been much higher than that for any other ethnicity, standing at 35 fatal shootings per million of the population as of March 2021. Their names include Mathew Williams, Daunte Wright, Marvin Scott, Doug Reinhold, Mchale Rose, Xavier Hill, Frederick Cox and Patrick Warren Sr. These are 8 of the 108 Black boys and men who have perished already in 2021.

Let’s also name Adam Toledo, the 13-year-old Mexican-American boy who was shot and killed by Chicago Police on March 29. Toledo’s death is emblematic of the lack of attention media and our society pay to the police killings of Latinos generally and to our need for a more nuanced conversation on racism as experienced by the Latino community. 

Imagine the levels of anxiety and fear parents of Black and Brown children are feeling today. How do they protect them? Imagine walking down a city street, scanning the surroundings to see if anyone looks like they might randomly attack you. 

On top of these fears, imagine having a family that is still waiting or is skeptical about getting their COVID vaccines while managing these feelings. 

But, what many people of color people experience in these troubled times isn’t just fear.

It’s trauma and it’s compounding. 

This is trauma with a little “t” —the shocks, disruptions and microaggressions of everyday life. Felt or not, each death is a shock to our collective, with safety and justice happening inequitably over generations. 

Each of these deaths is proof our systems of justice and fairness are not working. 

This trauma touches us all—Black and Brown people, people of Asian descent and white people. That’s right, whites can be traumatized, too. 

We know that a large part of building more equitable and inclusive cultures and communities is tapping into our hearts. Feeling it. Stepping in and staying in. 

So, access your empathy. Join in the dialogue: Be present. Listen. Stand in silent witness to the trauma and heartaches within others and yourself.  

Believe it is happening. 

It is. 

Then, reach across with curiosity so that piece by piece, we build a country aware of its historical trauma and eager to pave a way forward to minimize retraumatization.