By: Amira Mensah, Development and Communications Associate
In the Voices of the Uprising video series, produced by Homeless Children’s Network, staff members speak boldly and unapologetically on issues regarding racial trauma, white silence and mental health.
On May 25, 2020, Americans experienced collective trauma by witnessing the murder of George Floyd on national television. Just months before, we learned of the unjust murders of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. HCN Executive Director, Dr. April Y. Silas provided the space and opportunity for HCN staff of African descent to express raw feelings, emotions and thoughts on racism, police brutality and the genocide of our people, as a means for collective healing. Part I of Voices of the Uprising is an artistic expression of protest and resistance to racial injustice.
“You’re not just being quiet, you’re saying something. You’re saying loudly that the status quo is okay; that systemic oppression as it exists now is okay; that white supremacy is okay,” explains HCN Clinician, June Lin-Arlow in Voices of the Uprising Part II: White Silence. The second installment of the series speaks to all the ways in which white silence perpetuates violence. The film features chilling photos of lynching and racial terrorism. The visceral, explicit imagery showcases the fatal impact of white silence and its legacy. Viewers are not only urged to no longer stay quiet, but to also boldly speak out against racism and white supremacy.
In Part III of the series, Racial Trauma and Mental Health, HCN clinicians educate viewers on the signs of racial trauma, how it impacts mental health, and how we begin to heal racial trauma.
Program Director, Hazel Benigno, PsyD describes insidious racism as, “the microaggressions, the stares and the looks and the innocent questions. Insidious trauma can be likened to drops of acid falling on a stone, sure you don’t see the effects right away but overtime that acid wears down the stone until it crumbles and breaks.”
The devastating effects of racial trauma includes internalized racist thoughts, a thwarted life trajectory and even an untimely death. At HCN, including through the Ma’at Program, we strive to heal racial trauma through culturally affirming, trauma-informed care. The clinicians featured in the film provide hope by sharing ways to reverse the impact of racial trauma.
As people of color, one of the ways we achieve liberation is through our individual and communal healing. The Voices of the Uprising video series, created with filmmaker ShakaJamal, is intended to propel viewers to take a powerful stance against racial injustice.