Tag Archive for: grief

racial profiling

Racial Profiling and Our Youth

Time to Wake Up! Protecting our Black Youth from Racial Profiling

Racial profiling is a longstanding and deeply troubling national problem despite claims that the United States has entered a “post-racial era.” It occurs every day, in cities and towns across the country, when law enforcement and private security target people of color for humiliating and often frightening detentions, interrogations, and searches without evidence of criminal activity and based on perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion. Racial profiling is patently illegal, violating the U.S. Constitution’s core promises of equal protection under the law to all and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.” –ACLU

I grieve for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Few of us can imagine the horror that they experienced in those last moments as they were murdered by the people who took an oath to serve and protect them. I grieve and I am disgusted. I want to do something!

As a Social Worker and owner of an agency that focuses on serving and protecting our black youth, I believe that I have been sleepwalking. Most of us have. I hear stories and read accounts of young black men being stopped and handcuffed for bogus traffic stops simply because they were black. Our young black men in our community do not feel safe! They live in constant fear of being stopped by the police. Imagine, if you can, how oppressive that is. It is emotional abuse! The young black men that I work with suffer from this oppressive fear. They feel it every day as that they walk into or drive into the community.

The fear of racial profiling is traumatizing our black youth, and we must wake up and reignite the passion that will end it once and forever.

Here’s an important name: Tae-Ahn Lea. Tae-Ahn was the teenager that was stopped in June of 2019 (a year ago) and detained in handcuffs while his car was searched for 1 ½ hours for drugs. He is suing the Police Department. Here is part of that document:

“Tae-Ahn Lea is an honors graduate from Central High School. He was the homecoming king, has no criminal history and upon graduation became employed with a well-respected local car dealership. Tae-Ahn, however, also happens to be black, live in a low-income neighborhood, and drive his mother’s fairly new vehicle. He was thus the perfect target for members of the Ninth Mobile Division of the Louisville Metro Police Department who, throughout the past two years in Louisville, have employed a discriminatory, prejudicial, and illegal stop and frisk practice in which “violent crimes” units use traffic stops as a pretext for pulling over young black men driving nice cars, handcuffing them and subjecting them to abusive, racist, and intrusive searches without consent, good cause, or reasonable suspicion of any criminal activity.”

Time to wake up! Time to do something! Young black men in our community need our help! They need my help. As an agency, we will be investing time, work, and money to stop this illegal practice! We cannot do everything, but we can do something! It’s time to be a change agent! It’s time to end racial profiling!

Join us!

out of the darkness

Out of the Darkness

Hank Buckwalter, his wife, Chelsea, and Rommie and I participated in the Out of the Darkness Walk this past weekend at Waterfront Park.

It can be emotionally overwhelming to be in a gathering of people that are celebrating the lives and passing of their loved ones. I listened as the “Honor Beads” were given to the family members and friends of those who had taken their lives. They celebrated these beautiful humans that saw only one solution to the pain they were experiencing.

I lost a friend of 47 years this year to suicide. He was in a lot of pain. At his memorial service, an acquaintance commented, “I can’t believe Jeff took his own life.” I forgive him for his insensitivity. As much as I miss Jeff, our laughs, our High School pranks, our wonderful conversations on his deck near Hikes Point, I understand why he took his own life. He was in pain.

I struggle with the legality and morality of suicide.  Having said that, I will do everything in my clinical and personal power to prevent others from taking their own lives.

People need hope and when they lose hope

 they see very few solutions to their problems.

I wrote a blog a year ago about hope. Here is what I said:

People come to therapy because they have feelings of hopelessness. As a young therapist, I was inspired by Moltmann’s admonition, to be an instrument of hope. At the very heart of therapy is the goal of helping people find hope, because without it they cannot live. I believe that hopeful people inspire hopefulness in others. A hopeful therapist has many tools and strategies for helping people, but most important they inspire hopefulness. I believe they infect people with their hopefulness. They engage in a Therapy of Hope.

If you have thoughts of suicide, even fleeting thoughts, contact a therapist. We have included the suicide hotline number on our website. Call it and make an appointment. In Kentucky, all therapists are required to take a workshop every three years on suicide prevention. Make the call.

After the walk this past Saturday, Hank and Chelsea, and Rommie and I went to First Watch and had breakfast together. We reverently celebrated life.

Friday Waypoints- 5/10/19

Mindfulness and Teens

I confess. I’m a novice in Mindfulness practices. I’ve practiced a “Zen” lifestyle for many, many years. That has involved a lifestyle that “simply experiences” rather than analyzes events and people in my life. It has involved utilizing my “peripheral vision,” something akin to intuition to navigate the journey that I’m on.

I haven’t been much of a meditator. I do a lot of thinking and ruminating while I hike, and I love that experience, but sitting in a chair and quieting my mind just never took. Through the years, however, Mindfulness has evolved and become so much more than meditation.

More recently, Mindfulness has become a clinical intervention and this past week I was able to introduce two very anxious teens to the practice. They both reported feeling better. I hope to give them skills and tools that help them well into adulthood.

The Parklands of Floyds Fork

I lived in Portland, Oregon many years ago while I attended college and was very impressed with their park system. I left there thinking that I would never experience that same commitment to parks again.

Today, I’m attending the opening of the Woodland Garden in the Broad Run section of the Parklands. I have had some sneak peeks and it is a wonderful place. When each section of the Parklands opened, I said, “This is my favorite section of the park,” until the next section opened. I’m in one of the Parks every week. I hike the trails, walk the Loop Path, and ride my bicycle and find solace there. The Parklands heal my mind and my body.

The Woodland Garden is going to be my new “Mindfulness Place,” for doing Forest Therapy.

Kids Don’t Feel Safe, and It’s Taking Its Toll

Another school shooting happened this week. It barely made the news. Perhaps the media is becoming numbed to these shootings. What a horrible, tragic, and sad event!!

Our children are being killed, and across the country others are being severely traumatized. I was listening to the stories that they were telling about this last shooting in Colorado. A 12-year old picked up a bat in the midst of the shooting and was ready to lead the charge against the shooters. My heart goes out to every child in that school and every 6th grader that feels that they have to defend themselves because the adults somehow failed them. I don’t have any simple answers to prevent future shootings, but I know that these children are being scarred and injured in ways that will change them forever. What will heal them and help them is talking about the trauma in a safe place with a trusted adult who cares for them and has the caring skills to mend their emotional wounds.

Teens and Suicide

The local headlines this past month included the tragic loss of a 10-year old boy to suicide. I’m certain that no parent or grandparent ever gets over this. One of the few details that was shared in the Courier Journal was that he was bullied. I want to address the issue of Bullying in a later blog because it affects lots of kids and teens and it’s a very complicated behavior.

Suicide is very rare with children. Not so with Teens.

Consider the current trends:

-In 2016 adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 24 had a suicide rate of 13.15.

-8.6% of youth in grades 9 through 12 reported that they made at least one suicide attempt in the past 12 months.

-Girls attempt suicide twice as often as boys.

-Approximately 1,500 teenagers will attempt suicide in the next 24 hours.

-15.8% of youths in grades 9 through 12 reported that they had seriously considered attempting suicide during the past 12 months.

Teenagers send signals that something is wrong. They tend to be in clusters. If we suspected a teen at risk for suicide because they were sleeping too much, then many teens would be at risk. We are looking for changes in the typical functioning of your teen. We are looking for changes in a cluster of behaviors. These signals indicate that your teen might be at risk.

What are some of the Danger Signs?

Hopeless comments such as, “nothing really matters,” or “I just want to end it all.”

Sleep problems including sleeping too much or too little, insomnia, waking up often while sleeping.

-Preoccupation with death such as a fascination with music, art work, or poetry that has morbid themes.

School problems such as difficulty keeping grades up.

-Signs of depression such as feelings of worthlessness, social withdraw, loss of appetite, increased irritability,  and a “down” expression.

There are events that can increase the likelihood of suicide thoughts or events. These include:

Potential Triggering Life Events:

-The recent loss or threat of loss of a friend or family member through serious illness, death, separation, divorce or change in residence.

I cannot emphasize the importance of calling a counseling center if you are concerned about your son, daughter, grandson or granddaughter. There are things that you can do to help them through these very vulnerable years.

There is a wonderful app called, “A Friend Asks” that I high recommend. It was developed by The Jason foundation. JFI is a nationally recognized leader in youth suicide awareness and prevention. This app is for teens that are considering suicide and for their friends. It help teens help their friends that might be considering suicide. An excellent app.

Here are some numbers that might come in handy. Hopefully you’ll never need them, but please keep them just in case.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-8225

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Afsp.org

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center

Sprc.org

Friday Waypoints- 02-21-19

Podcast I’m Listening to

I’ve been a big fan of Sam Harris because of the work he’s done on Mindfulness. He has an app called “Waking Up” and a Podcast entitled, “Making Sense.” This past week the podcast episode #147 was an interview with Stephen Fry. Fry is an English actor, comedian, writer and activist. If you’ve listened to the Harry Potter books, it’s his voice you will hear.

Harris and Fry spend much of this podcast talking about mindfulness and meditation. There are literally thousands of podcasts to listen to while you’re driving.  If you’re looking for a few to follow, consider these:

  • Optimal Health Daily
  • The Daily Meditation Podcast
  • Happiness Podcast
  • Meditate and Move
  • Optimal Living Daily
  • Stoic Meditations

Lessons from My Clients

Most of my practice has been with Teenagers and their families. What I have observed and seen with many of these teens is that life can be a struggle. In fact, it can overwhelm them. Many are experiencing anxiety and mild depression and they can’t seem to shake it. It’s partly due to social media and technology, but it’s mostly due to cultural influences. What I mean by that is the that teens are affected by the things we value and spend our time doing. Teenagers today are under a lot of stress. They struggle with finding meaning in life. Life is getting more and more complicated at home, at school, in the community, and with peers.

What I relearned this past week is that sometimes our teens simply need to talk to someone about their worries and fears. I saw the burden lifted as a wonderful young man simply talked and I listened.

I Lost a Good Friend This Past Week

There are few things that bring things into perspective like losing a lifelong friend. Life really is short. Without going into details, most of my adolescence was coupled with him. I admired him, I never felt judgment from him. We supported each other through our hardships, but these past few years he was in unbearable pain.

I am sad for many reasons. This is a great loss for many people. He was an intelligent man and for many years, was full of life. I will miss him.

And as we do with many of our losses, we live with them. I will live with this loss.  I will live. “Life is to be lived,” as the saying goes. And it is short and fragile. Remembering that, and remembering my dear friend’s life, will hopefully inspire me as it did when he was alive.