The Caregivers is a unique series focused on the challenges and triumphs of caregiving. These stories have been created through a strategic partnership between AARP and Word In Black.
For centuries, Black writers have transmuted American culture’s extreme ills and injustices into art.
In Langston Hughes’ 1926 poem “I, Too,” he affirms that, after years of ostracism, he will have his rightful place within the American construct.
In 1962, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Robert Hayden evoked the “Middle Passage” as an intensely painful “voyage whose chartings are unlove.”
In Nikki Giovanni’s “Ego Tripping,” published in 1968, she does away with poor self-talk and reminds us of who she is (we are): “My bowels deliver uranium,” she boasts. “The filings from my fingernails are semi-precious jewels.”
These writers’ words, along with others, have helped raise consciousness across age, gender, and ethnicity. However, the harrowing experiences that they recount have yet to be resolved. There is still so much room for healing. Efforts toward restorative justice are being revived. Pay attention to these efforts that could bring some redemption:
Some parts of the United States have initiated reparations councils. In 2021, Evanston became the first city to issue reparations by way of a restorative housing program. The city of St. Paul, Minnesota also passed legislation to create a reparations commission. The 1921 race massacre that destroyed Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Greenwood District, known as Black Wall Street had not been discussed in local public schools up until recently. The traumatic event left around 300 Black people dead. Now, plaintiffs in a lawsuit are hoping to create a fund that would support the descendants of the survivors of the massacre. Three of the survivors are still alive today. They are more than 100 years old.
Tracking Unsolved Shootings and Lynchings
The list of Black people who have been killed is long. Each case that goes unsolved becomes pain added to an open wound. The Equal Justice Initiative has documented more than 4,400 lynchings between Reconstruction and World War II. There are more, though. Unsolved lynchings and shooting cases, together, are part of our trauma. Sharing stories about the many victims of hate crimes is one way to begin the healing process of what psychologists Taasogle Daryl Rowe and Kamilah Marie Woodson describe as “public assaults and assassinations of Black bodies.”
Memorializing Peace and Justice
Unresolved pain manifests itself in the form of depression, unexplained anger, and grief. There is power in acknowledging trauma and creating spaces that honor the lives and legacies of those we have lost. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is one of these spaces. It opened in Montgomery, Alabama, in 2018. It is an opportunity for the public to learn about a legacy of trauma and take action toward healing.
What does healing look like to you?
Mental well-being is a cornerstone of healthy living. AARP wants to help you get healthier and stay healthy. Visit AARP’s Mental Health Center at www.aarp.org/mentalhealth for tips, tools and resources that can help you develop healthy habits for mental well-being.