Tashel Bordere is a specialist in youth development with the University of Missouri’s Department of Human Development and Family Science. She researches grief and loss in African-American youth.
She spoke with host Janet Saidi about cumulative loss and its impact on marginalized communities during the on-going coronavirus pandemic, as well as the nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police.
This is an excerpt from KBIA’s daily talk show, the Check-In with Janet Saidi, on Wednesday, June 3. You can hear the full show – here.
Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words. You can view more conversations at missourihealthtalks.org.
Tashel Bordere: When individuals are dealing with cumulative losses, right? So, we just... even with coronavirus, if I might help people be able to just think about this for yourself, whether you're a part of the black community, the white community, you know, Native communities, Latino community...
When we deal with losses, multiple losses across time, it really compromises our ability - it can compromise our ability to deal with each subsequent loss, particularly when we don't have supports in place, when systems are not in place to provide adequate support to populations who are dealing with these losses across time.
So, there's not a lot of support. I can tell you that many counselors are not trained in race-based trauma, and there are many who are doing great, so, this is just - I'm highlighting this because it just is not really a part of the educational processes. So, I think that they are doing their best. I will say that.
And so, communities who are dealing with cumulative losses or multiple losses across time, your emotional energies, your physical energies - you're just emotionally exhausted from the notion of having to just repeatedly have these conversations, repeatedly trying to explain privilege and homicide and why it's not okay.
You know, people are making... there are videos of people making fun - of putting their knees on people's neck, and that's just retraumatizing for people who are dealing with loss. Both black populations and also for allies.
So, across time, cumulative losses can really compromise our ability to cope and can lead to these other behaviors, right? A sense of despair can develop when people don't see changes starting to happen. One thing that tends to happen with violent losses, in particular, that makes this really challenging for people to grieve, especially the families, but also people who are observing, is that they deal with stigma around like, you know, where the victim is blamed for their own death, right? "They must have done x, y, or z."
And so, the person who dies is criminalized. That's hard for families. You know, when a person dies by natural death, you go to the funeral and grief is a lifelong journey, by the way, we never get over it. We never just move forward, but in our society, we want to rush people past their grief and say, "just get back to life."
Well, the truth is, in a homicide death, there's a trial, right? You end up seeing the perpetrator on trial. So, the difficulties of grief - the most difficult parts of grief - are just prolonged. Also, death[s] by homicide are publicized in the media, right? And so, families, as well as the rest of the population with collective trauma, are watching these repeated images of this guy's death just play over and over and over.
I encourage people, by the way, not to put this on your Facebook page. It's traumatizing. If you want to be helpful, if you want to be an ally, please don't show this on your Facebook page.
Production on The Check-In is done by KBIA’s Kristofor Husted and Zia Kelly.