“You realize no matter how many times you’re doing this, Black people are still dying,” said Keren Prescott of Power Up Manchester. “So while we’re still screaming for justice for Emmett Till, how many other black people have died along the way?”
Prescott was one of many demonstrators across the state protesting the grand jury indictments in the Breonna Taylor case. While widespread marches started this summer, the calls for justice didn’t begin with the death of George Floyd, or even Emmett Till.
Maysa Akbar Ph.D, says Tuesday’s announcement of no charges connected to the death of Taylor adds another layer of emotional weight for people of color to carry.
“Hearing that news immediately triggers that trauma once again and resurfaces wounds and pain that we have not been able to overcome,” said Akbar, author of Urban Trauma.
Akbar says times like these can be traumatic to mental health. Historical traumatic periods like Jim Crow and slavery have no healthy emotional resolution. Compounded with personal lived experiences, people may need to seek help from counselors versed in cultural trauma.
“There isn’t a moment when we can say ‘now let’s focus on our healing.’ No sooner do we shift to that in terms of caring for our mental health, something else happens to endanger our lives, to make us feel that this isn’t a safe environment for people of color,” said Akbar.
As people begin to process what the charges mean, a renewed sense of urgency may emerge for the justice in policing act tweeted by Rep. Rosa DeLauro.
“The black community is going through racial battle fatigue,” said Lorenzo Boyd Ph.D., University of New Haven’s vice president for Diversity and Inclusion. “That it keeps happening over and over and over again. And at some point, people are going to rise up, and at some point people are going to say enough is enough, and I think that’s what’s happening now.”
Boyd says there’s an issue when the officer in Taylor’s case is criminally charged for bullets that were fired into another apartment, and the only recourse for the family is a $12 million civil settlement.
“And then making a cash civil settlement, is something to try to placate the family acknowledging ‘yeah things went a little south and they shouldn’t have,’” said Boyd. “But until there’s police accountability we’re still going to have protests, people are still going to go out into the street.”