How Police Violence Weighs on Black Americans

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Reacting to police brutality against black people, Thomas Mayes, a 70-year-old priest from Aurora, Colorado, said, “It’s almost madness, an obscenity that there is no safe place.”

When police officers injure or kill someone, the psychological effects can spread to those directly involved. As the video footage unfolds, viewers can see themselves or loved ones reflected in the hunt.

In a 2021 study of Emergency room data From hospitals in five states, researchers found a link between police killings of unarmed black people and an increase in the number of depression-related ER visits among black people. Oh 2018 study It found that black people who were exposed to news about police shootings in the states where they lived reported negative mental health effects for three months after the shooting.

The research leads to one question: What is the personal influence behind these statistics?

To answer that, The New York Times spoke to 110 black people of various races and socioeconomic groups in 20 American cities. My colleague and reporting partner Patia Braithwaite and I listened through interviews to people whose experiences ranged from numbness to panic attacks. Some people said they didn’t have the time or resources to deal with their feelings. Many people were not sure how to handle this unique set of circumstances over and over again.

We also partnered with polling company Morning Consult to survey more than 1,500 black Americans about whether exposure to police brutality has affected their lives or their mental state.

People in our article, “The Toll of Police Violence on the Mental Health of Black People,” There are only a small fraction of the many who have shared their stories.

The four-month process of reporting and editing took its toll and had its own emotional toll on me. We walked away when the stories started to weigh too much on us, but stayed motivated to dive back in soon after. It was important to us to ensure that everyone who participated was heard and given the attention they deserved, and to provide us with a balanced report.

We chose to tell these stories using intimate imagery. This allows you to see who these words are coming from, and hopefully interpret the world from their perspective, if only for a moment.

Photographer Cornell Watson’s black-and-white photographic illustrations provide an evocative representation of the statistics. People’s faces bring these vulnerable accounts to life and connect you to the person behind them.

The reality of police brutality is nothing new, so we wanted to focus on the emotional and psychological impact of these incidents and how those who experience these impacts cope with them as they go about their lives. do

We hope you gain a deeper understanding of the lasting impact beyond the headlines and video images.

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