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‘Imagine saying to a room full of Black people: It’s too hard for me to watch that trial’

  • April 08, 2021

people of color triggered the pain of previous losses:  Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Trayvon Martin, and many other names the public does not know.

White people don’t have a collective negative history of harm with the police, and experts say the trial can challenge their worldview on concepts such as safety and equity, which is why they shouldn’t turn away. 

“It’s a natural tendency to want to avoid things that make us feel bad. That’s human nature and it’s understandable, however, when we move into scenarios or situations with the gravity of police brutality or a trial like this one, it’s not beneficial for anyone to avoid the discomfort that comes with these topics,” said psychotherapist Janel Cubbage. “Seeing videos and images of someone being murdered is going to be distressing for a lot of people. However, that really pales in comparison to the racial trauma that Black Americans are experiencing.”

More:Breonna Taylor has been gone a year. Why we need to talk more about the racial trauma of Black death.

Author Robin DiAngelo coined the term “white fragility” to describe the defensiveness white people display when asked to confront the realities of racism. Avoiding racism, she said, is what perpetuates it.

A woman holds a George Floyd picture while seated on a concrete barrier near the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis where former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is on trial for Floyd's murder.

“Part of building our stamina to engage with the challenges of cross-racial relationships is building the capacity to bear witness. And we haven’t built that capacity to bear witness,” DiAngelo said. “This is why so often when people of color tell us about their pain, we minimize, deny, or otherwise discount that pain, especially if it’s uncomfortable, and even more, when it implicates us. Imagine for a moment saying to a room full of Black people: ‘It’s too hard for me to watch that trial.'”

What we learned in the first week of testimony at Derek Chauvin trial

  • Watching George Floyd die had a ‘profound’ impact on witnesses
  • Prosecutors play video of Floyd’s final minutes
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