Trauma Memories Linger After the Pain Subsides

By Sandra Dawson Long Weaver

Sandra Dawson Long Weaver

I am traumatized. 

I am outraged.

I am sick and tired of seeing Black Americans stretched out on city pavements in handcuffs.

The most recent televised image of Black children _ young girls_ lying on their stomachs with handcuffs behind their backs brought tears to my eyes and anger to my soul.

My granddaughters are their ages and are sweet and innocent just as they are. Lord, have mercy.

One 6-year-old girl called out for her father. Another girl asked if her sister could be close to her. They had been on their way to for a fun afternoon of self care _ manicures for everyone. 

Unfortunately, Aurora, CO police believed the SUV was stolen because it had the same tag number as a stolen motorcycle from another state. Why did this happen? How was there such confusion?

But more importantly, where was the humanity in making the decision about how to detain these young children? About making the girls lay on a hot pavement?

The Aurora police chief has apologized for what happened to the family and said she has reached out and will make sure they receive therapy because of the trauma.

But it is a trauma they will never forget. A special afternoon with Mom and Auntie destroyed because police treated them less than human. 

Black lives matter. 

Black children matter.

Black girls matter. 

Black boys matter.

The lives and mental health of Black people matter.

The trauma I experienced watching what happened to the girls does not go away.

It brought back again the memory of what happened to my son when he was 20 years old. Home from college on a winter break and reuniting with friends, he was pulled over because it was suspected his car may have been involved in a robbery. It wasn’t.

It was four young college men sharing stories about their lives. They were forced out of the car and to lie on a cold, winter pavement in Philadelphia.

One of his friends was so traumatized he ended up in a mental hospital and didn’t go back to school for the spring semester.

I couldn’t believe the story my son told me when he came home that evening.

I was traumatized. My whole family was traumatized.

I called the police to complain. I talked to my son about the experience and re-emphasized “the talk.”

What ever happens, it’s most important that you come home.

The trauma of that moment nearly 18 years ago has stayed with me. My son and I talked about it again after seeing George Floyd murdered by a policeman kneeling on his neck. 

I am glad that the Aurora police are providing counseling for the family. I hope it lessens the pain of the trauma but I know they will never forget. We can’t forget.

More Black Americans are talking about the pain of the trauma and how it affects them. Former First Lady Michelle Obama talked about her exhaustion from seeing Black men treated inhumanely during the second episode of her podcast.

The September issue of Oprah magazine features on the cover Breonna Taylor, the Louisville EMT, murdered by police in her own home. The articles focus on the trauma around the murder and how everyone has been affected.

We all need to stay vigilant so other police departments across the country do not forget that Black Lives Matter. We need to keep raising our voices so that all Black people are treated humanely, with dignity and respect. Our precious Black children must be treated with care.

Black Lives Matter.

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