Updated: Jul 8
Black and brown boys and young men who have been traumatized present their trauma in ways that often look like frustration and anger. Our young people don’t always understand that they are dealing with the impact of trauma and society continues to be at war with them which clearly is not the solution. So when we talk about failures in the educational and juvenile justice systems combined with racism and the constant news about how violent our young men are, it puts them in a perpetual state of being deeply distressed - traumatized. Not just distressed by a single incident in their lives, but a combination of traumatic incidents and on-going daily exposure to poverty, drugs, poor education, a predatory criminal justice system, and political strife to name a few. Our boys and young men are burdened with unyielding trauma with no safe and productive outlet to get away from their environment for a moment of peace. But they don't process this trauma in ways that society views as acceptable and healthy – we have to remember that they are children. The outcome of their trauma is frustration and anger that we know is a prelude to violence. Young people are adopting their own rules to cope and they view their response to trauma as doing what they need to do. They believe that they are surviving and carrying themselves in a way that doesn't allow them to be victimized. But the truth that they don't understand is that they have already been victimized by society's failures. But it's not their fault because they didn't see this coming. They didn't see the trauma coming so they don't see that their frustration, anger and indifference does not represent their natural self - their nature has been distorted and adults are to blame. So the question we have to answer is how do we address the violence, how do we connect youth to spirit where they can find strength and optimism? Well, for starters, we need to apologize profusely and then speak life to them in the form of encouragement along with trauma informed policies and programs that not only promote opportunities to identify and connect with their true life's purpose, but access to a better life on the foundation of equity.