What does “Black Lives Matter” mean? (A Panel Discussion)

[Episode 46 of the Intentional Clinician Podcast]

Paul Krauss MA LPC hosts a panel discussion with three African-American males (Remahn, Chris, and James) who discuss the death of George Floyd, the meaning of “Black Lives Matter,” and other related topics. Paul reminds listeners that if you are new to this topic or just curious, please remember to normalize changing your opinion on something after learning new information. Denial is natural but not helpful, so be open to changing your views as you learn new information.

On May 25, Minneapolis police officers arrested George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, after a deli employee called 911, accusing him of buying cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. Seventeen minutes after the first squad car arrived at the scene, Mr. Floyd was unconscious and pinned beneath three police officers, showing no signs of life. By combining videos from bystanders and security cameras, reviewing official documents and consulting experts, The New York Times reconstructed in detail the minutes leading to Mr. Floyd’s death. The video shows officers taking a series of actions that violated the policies of the Minneapolis Police Department and turned fatal, leaving Mr. Floyd unable to breathe, even as he and onlookers called out for help.

The day after Mr. Floyd’s death, the Police Department fired all four of the officers involved in the episode, and on Friday the Hennepin County Attorney, Mike Freeman, announced murder and manslaughter charges against Derek Chauvin, the officer who can be seen most clearly in witness videos pinning Mr. Floyd to the ground. Mr. Chauvin, who is white, kept his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, according to the criminal complaint against him. Our video shows that Mr. Chauvin did not remove his knee even after Mr. Floyd lost consciousness, and for a full minute after paramedics arrived at the scene.

This event is only one of the unjust killings happening to Black people around the country, but it in particular has sparked the resurgence of the “Black Lives Matter” mantra. Some people are confused by that phrase and counter it with “All Lives Matter,” but here is an example of how that counter comes across. Imagine that your child dies prematurely and you are hosting the funeral. You are giving a eulogy explaining what your own child meant to you and how special your child was, and then someone grabs the mic and says, “Actually, all children are special…” That’s what “all lives matter” sounds like. The whole point of Black Lives Matter was to bring attention to multiple issues, but one of the most pressing is the fact that Black men like George Flynn are being unnecessarily and unjustly slaughtered by police who set an example for civilians to follow.

Paul relays this message: We said “Black Lives Matter.” We never said “Only Black Lives Matter.” We Know “All lives matter.” We just need your help with Black Lives Matter for Black Lives are currently in Danger.

Rehman, Chris, and James share their lived experiences as it relates to racism and oppression. They call out the inconsistencies within the American narrative and how Black people are oppressed in a variety of ways. Some of these are systemic, and others are fueled by prejudice. Some examples include the media’s portrayal of racist events, unmediated police forces, protest reactions, and white supremacy. They end the discussion with a reminder that in the history of our country it has taken a violent protest to make changes. For example, the Civil War is what helped to “free” the slaves, but as we are reminded, they were not truly free. Former slaves remained disenfranchised in the very country where they built The White House and continued to be harassed through the Civil Rights Movement to today. Like the three interviewed, those in the panel on this podcast want to be heard and want White people to understand what they have been through. When we choose to educate ourselves about racism we are in a better position to make a positive change.

 

Sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/31/us/george-floyd-investigation.html

https://www.aclumich.org/en/news/facing-terror-police-racism

https://journalistsresource.org/studies/government/criminal-justice/killed-police-black-men-likely-white-men/

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2020/05/mapping-police-killings-black-americans-200531105741757.html

https://www.vox.com/2016/7/11/12136140/black-all-lives-matter

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/minneapolis-police-rendered-44-people-unconscious-neck-restraints-five-years-n1220416

https://www.vox.com/identities/2020/5/6/21249202/ahmaud-arbery-jogger-killed-in-georgia-video-shooting-grand-jury

https://www.nytimes.com/article/breonna-taylor-police.html

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/05/george-floyd-protests-police-violence.html

https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062397348/a-peoples-history-of-the-united-states/

Mentioned:

https://www.healthforlifegr.com/growing-up-black/

Mental Health Resources:

https://www.stevefund.org/crisistextline/

Are you a young person of color? Feeling down, stressed or overwhelmed? Text STEVE to 741741 and a live, trained Crisis Counselor will respond.

How you can learn more and help:

Regarding legislation:

Things to read:

Supporting BIPOC-created mental health and activism groups:

Paul Krauss MA LPC is the Clinical Director of Health for Life Grand Rapids, home of The Trauma-Informed Counseling Center of Grand Rapids. Paul is also a Private Practice Psychotherapist, EMDRIA Consultant in Training (CIT), host of the Intentional Clinician podcast, Behavioral Health Consultant, Clinical Trainer, and Counseling Supervisor. Paul is now offering consulting for a few individuals and organizations. Paul is the creator of the National Violence Prevention Hotline (in progress)  as well as the Intentional Clinician Training Program for Counselors. Questions? Call the office at 616-200-4433.

If you are looking for EMDRIA consulting groups, Paul Krauss MA LPC is now hosting weekly online and in-person groups.  For details, click here.

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Original Music:

”Welcome to Jamrock” from Welcome to Jamrock by Damian Marley (Spotify)

“Get Up Stand Up“ from Burnin’ by The Wailers (Spotify)

“A Change is Gonna Come“ from Otis Blue by Otis Redding (Spotify)

“This is America” from This is America by Childish Gambino (Spotify)

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For evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing. -Simon Wiesenthal 

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