Local support group helps African Americans cope with racial trauma

Posted at 6:11 AM, Apr 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-20 09:15:33-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Last summer Southern Colorado had it's fair share of protests over the death of George Floyd. Once again race relations and policing have dominated the news, not only because of the expected Derek Chauvin verdict, but also because of the release of several troubling videos involving black and brown individuals and police.

Dr. Anthony Young and Leona Abdullah Ward are both local residents of the Springs, and they're psychologists. Each week they host emotional emancipation circles, or support groups for African Americans who have experienced trauma from racism.

They both explained that black people are facing a collective sense of grief and trauma, that has grown, each time there's been a loss of life involving the police. This feeling is nothing new, but the pain is still as raw. Some see themselves and their children reflected in the victims of police violence, heightening the grief they feel.

"It still makes my blood boil because those people could have been me or people I care about," explained Dr. Young, who is also the President of the Denver Rocky Mountain Association of Black Psychologists.

Since the Derek Chauvin trial, participation in these circles has gone up. Not just here in Southern Colorado, but across the county.

"We have to talk about our feelings. We have to talk about our experiences to get back to a healthy place where we feel loved and human again," explained Leona Abdullah-Ward. "All of this is what we do in emancipation circles. "

We also must acknowledge police officers are feeling the pressure and tensity in the communities they serve. Many departments in our area want to bridge the divide. In the week ahead News5 is doing a special report with the fountain police department, who are talking to kids at schools about how to interact with a police officer during a traffic stop.

For more information on the emancipation circles, click here.