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Law Enforcement/African American Interactions and the Resulting Trauma

O'Dell Johnson, Racial Profiling, Ways to Handle Trauma

Racial profiling of African Americans from the police is still an ongoing issue that is having serious effects on the Black community. Many members within the African American community have fallen victim to unwarranted searches, police brutality, and other negative interactions with the police. Overall, these experiences that are very common among the Black community cause serious damages to the psychological health of all those affected.

O'Dell Johnson is the founder of the Research Institute for Social Equity (RISE), whose mission is to end mass incarceration in the United States as we see it today. His traumatic experiences growing up as a kid dealing with racism led to him to develop resentment and anger. O'Dell described how his mindfulness with himself helped him learn how to manage the effects of trauma that he experienced. O'Dell's use of mindfulness practice to handle his trauma led him to want to pass on mindfulness to others in the Black community so they may heal as well.

"Mindfulness brings alert awareness to our people if its taught in a culturally congruent and environmental fashion".

The trauma experienced by those in the African American community at the hands of law enforcement has a major effect on mental health. To help those in the community process their trauma and handle it in healthier ways, O'Dell teaches the practice of mindfulness in his work. Mindfulness is a process that allows those in the Black community properly heal and deal with their trauma. O'Dell runs mindfulness meditations and modifies them to fit the cultural experiences of the Black community. In teaching the skills of mindfulness and how they can be applied to daily life, people can adequately process their trauma. In addition, mindfulness gives individuals the ability to relieve stressors associated with trauma that are preventing them from achieving their goals and meeting life needs. This practice can have a tremendous impact on the lives of African Americans who have experienced various forms of trauma in their lives.

Trauma can also be addressed through theatre and arts. As an artist, Sir Ervin Williams III has the ability to tell the stories of Black individuals in an authentic way which allows the community to process their trauma. He describes how Black artists like himself have an important role which is to tell the stories of those who have endured suffering. In addition, the African American community has often been taught to hide their trauma and keep it to themselves which then manifests itself in mental health issues. In viewing productions that tell the stories of those in the Black community who have suffered, it allows the community to deal with their trauma and be healed.


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