Desensitized State: An Essay
by Veronica Cooper-Tucker
Essay Winner, 2020 VSU Black History Month Literary Arts Contest
Black History, Black Mental Health: Trauma. Resilience. Triumph.
Then, we thought that the media was the key to showing our humanity. I wonder if my grandfather saw Emmitt Till the way I saw Trayvon Martin? Did he squirm when he saw his lifeless body? On Ebony or maybe from the paper? I saw Trayvon on Google. I imagined he felt the same way I felt, confused. Confused that something so final as death could happen to someone not too much older than yourself.
Trayvon Martin will always be my first. He wouldn’t be my last. Michael Brown Jr, Rekia Boyd, Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling, Korryn Gaines, Botham Jean, they weren’t my last. They would become a part of the journey. The journey into the desensitized states. I mean, my grandfather didn’t have Twitter but he had to be tired of remembering full names of people he never knew. Taking their name and stories to your grave, but not before you remind your children of those names and stories. History.
But what happens when history constantly repeats its self on Twitter? What happens when its self on Twitter? What happens when it’s another hashtag of another face and new name, one that you now have to add to memory? What happens to the mind of the family’s that have to watch their family member die again and again on Twitter and Instagram? What happens to the state of black mental health when you see name after name and face after face?
Retweet and like, and repeat again. The think pieces written again. The small constant window of the news cycle happens again. The even briefer window moment in Hollywood, where television townhalls specials prance their way into Viacom’s programming. Then it goes away until the next name and face.
I’m sure my grandfather thought he would never have seen the day that his own people become so painfully numb that we just like, retweet, and repeat Black death. That’s not just Blacks, the world has become a desensitized stat with the rise of social media. As Tupac once said, “I was given this world, I didn’t make it”.
Then, we thought the media was the way to show our humanity. We never thought we lose our sensitivity trying to prove that we are human too. We never thought that our tactic would send us into a desensitized state.