Last fall I retired after 36 years of employment with the State of Delaware. I worked as a planner,  evaluator & training administrator in the areas of Community Affairs, Social Services, Mental Health & Public Health.  As one of my extra-curricular activities, I signed on to be trained as a crisis counselor, to help people affected by disaster.   Success in this line of work is counted once the person is able to wrap their heads around the new situation enough to begin assessing problems and moving forward.   I learned that people who have experienced trauma in childhood, during their developmental years, are more likely to get stuck in the face of new disasters; and that man-made disasters, such as terrorism, school shootings, and domestic violence are significantly more traumatic, and more debilitating than natural disasters.  

It is difficult to imagine the impact that forced migration and institutionalized slavery has had on the hearts, minds and spirits of generations of Americans, terrorized in this society based upon the arbitrary classification by skin color, and living within the surrealism of a country that prides itself on principles of freedom and democracy.    

Fortunately, not everybody gets stuck, immobilized by traumatic events.  From studies on resilience, we know that certain types of interventions, applied rapidly in the wake of a traumatic experience, or beforehand, preventively, can minimize or even prevent long-term damage to the psyche.   

In the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Freddie Gray, Breonna Talor and many others, I am hopeful we can continue to build on the conversations started by the outpouring of response in the Black Lives Matter movement, continue to engage in earnest conversation, rooting out layers of race-based pain, and find pathways to repair and rebuild a society that is more truthfully ingrained in the values we share.

I am thrilled that Christine Givens, one of the courageous, enlightened founders of the BLM movement in Cecil County will be kicking off Black History month by speaking at our general meeting on Thursday.  Later in the month we’ll be screening “Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America,” a powerful educational documentary created and narrated by filmmaker Jeffrey Robinson.  We are honored to welcome Ray Jefferson, local historian and founder of the FB group Black History and Culture of Cecil County, who will provide remarks and introduce the film.   Please be sure to invite your family, friends and neighbors to one of the two screenings.