NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- When Rasool Berry saw the videos of George Floyd’s death that began circulating in May, the Brooklyn pastor “immediately started to think, ‘That could have been me,’” he recalled.
“I started to feel a sense of fear,” Berry, a teaching pastor at Bridge Church in Brooklyn, said in a conversation with 1010 WINS’ Larry Mullins and "America's psychologist," Dr. Jeffrey Gardere. “And so going out into the street, saying that, in solidarity with other people, that we are demanding change, and we’re not going to accept this as the status quo… that kind of solidarity is therapeutic.”
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing protests calling for racial justice, many Black people are struggling to deal with what Gardere calls “a racial form of post-traumatic stress disorder.”
This trauma, Gardere says, “comes from the years of overt racism, and now, what we’re calling institutional racism, which is part of the foundation of America.”
In their conversation, Mullins, Gardere and Berry discussed the steps they have taken to care for their own mental health — as well as the mental health of others — in the wake of myriad traumatic events, including the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
They also talked about the ways in which parents can discuss traumatic subjects with their children.
“I think that’s an aspect that the media doesn’t fully explore and address, that there is a shared communal racial trauma that exists, and especially has been acute, really going back from Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, and then of course, more recently with George Floyd and Breonna Taylor,” Berry said.
And while the COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to socially distance, staying connected and seeking treatment for mental health issues are more important than ever, particularly for Black people working through that trauma, Gardere said.
“We have to be real that this pandemic, if nothing else, has really exposed racial disparities unlike any other event in U.S. history,” he said. “We see that the curtain has been lifted as to what’s going on.”
“Social distancing… does not mean social isolation,” he added. “And so I think it’s important for us to stay connected to other people as much as possible.”