Volume 2, Resources 8: What to Say in Difficult Conversations Around Police Violence and a Vicarious Trauma Toolkit

Hi friends. It has been a rough week+. More Black people have been victims of police violence, including but not only being murdered by police. I cannot begin to tell you what this first and second-hand trauma is doing to Black people. I mentioned that I got rear-ended the day before my birthday. 100% the fault of the guy who hit me as I was sitting at a red stop light. What I didn’t tell you is that it filled me with absolute terror, and not because I might be injured. I immediately looked around to see if there were cops, even though it wasn’t my fault. I was the sweetest, kindest, most loving and compassionate person to this absolute clown who hit me because what if HE called the police? What if HE felt threatened if I got mad because of his bad behaviour? I wasn’t planning on fearing for my life as I ran errands yet there I was, hoping I would not become a hashtag. Hoping that someone wouldn’t have to set up a GoFundMe for my wife. Because a white man who was probably on his phone while driving hit my truck while I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing.

It wasn’t until earlier this week that I finally had a meltdown. I even made Nicole drive us around (often I’m the driver) because I’ve been too freaked out to drive. There are not enough coping skills or mental health days to handle all of this, so, after years of being out of therapy, I am calling on the professionals. Today I spoke with an intake person in the mental health department (the first step in getting a therapist via my healthcare coverage) and here was our conversation:

Intake person: "Can you tell me why you're reaching out?"

Me: "I'm a Queer, Black, Asian woman in America."

Intake person: "Say no more! Let's get you scheduled!"

She also asked, “Are you in a relationship with someone who is physically harming or trying to harm you, aside from this country that we live in?”

I can’t say this for mental health clinics everywhere, but at least here in Oakland, they know what’s up and I am grateful for it.

Image from a Richard Scarry picture book. Above the image is a caption that reads, "Me describing how I handle my feelings." The main image has a cat in a tractor with the words, "Squish Cat squashes the garbage down with his squasher-downer."
Image from a Richard Scarry picture book. Above the image is a caption that reads, "Me describing how I handle my feelings." The main image has a cat in a tractor with the words, "Squish Cat squashes the garbage down with his squasher-downer."

This is a resource week and I want to give you some things that may be immediately useful. Before resources, I want to give you this tip:

If you are in California (or Oregon or even Washington state), start prepping for fire season NOW. Do you need another air filter? Get it now before they’re sold out everywhere. Check your go bags and emergency kits. Get a supply of masks that filter out smoke particulates. We’re all wearing masks right now anyway (right? RIGHT???) but refresh your supply while they’re still available at reasonable prices.

Resource #1: Reading About Anti-Racism Comic by Brian Herrick

This short comic has a helpful message for folks who are doing a lot of reading, listening, and learning about white supremacy and anti-racism. Here it is on Instagram if that’s easier for you:

A post shared by @ebbandflood

Resource #2: Helpful Rebuttals for Frustrating Conversations from So You Want To Talk About

This Instagram resource has helpful responses to the following comments (Content Warning: racism):

  • “George Floyd died of an overdose of fentanyl. He wasn’t killed!”

  • “What about Black-on-Black crime?! Why do you never talk about THAT?!”

  • “____ LIVES MATTER!!!” e.g., blue or all.

  • “Joe Biden did NOT win the presidency. The election was stolen!”

  • “Black Lives Matter protesters rioted and looted and caused chaos. They’re more of a hate group than anyone at the insurrection!”

  • “Why should I feel guilty for the systems of white supremacy? I didn’t build them!”

  • “White privilege isn’t real!”

  • “I’m not racist! I don’t see color.”

Resource #3: “But what about ___?” A Pocket Guide to Common Pro-Police Retorts by The Peach Fuzz

Another Instagram resource and yeah, I’m a bit uneasy about a white person commodifying social justice and also, this is handy so *shrugs*. Note: it is not perfect. This resource does have some helpful starting points and responses to the following common retorts against police abolition:

  • “But what about domestic violence?”

  • “But what about rapists?”

  • “But what about public safety?”

  • “But what about violent crimes?”

  • “But what about crime prevention?”

  • “But what about all of the good cops?”

  • “But what about the spike in crime in cities that have defunded police?”

Resource #4: Caring For Yourself to Care For Others: A burnout and vicarious trauma toolkit by Larissa Pham

About this toolkit:

This is a toolkit about burnout and vicarious trauma. It was created on June 6, 2020, with the intention of providing resources for self-care and healing amid the very necessary work of organizing specifically against anti-Black racism and police brutality, though these principles apply to any kind of movement work, and these movements are intersectional. This is a toolkit for organizers, students, parents, allies, and anyone for whom its message resonates.

Here is a link to the Google Drive folder with a pdf: bit.ly/vicarioustraumatoolkit

Here’s the direct link to the pdf

Here it is on Instagram:

A post shared by @lrsphm

That’s it for this week! If you want to send me some snail mail, you can find me at P.O. Box 21481, Oakland, CA 94620-1481.

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