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racial profiling

Racial Profiling and Our Youth

Time to Wake Up! Protecting our Black Youth from Racial Profiling

Racial profiling is a longstanding and deeply troubling national problem despite claims that the United States has entered a “post-racial era.” It occurs every day, in cities and towns across the country, when law enforcement and private security target people of color for humiliating and often frightening detentions, interrogations, and searches without evidence of criminal activity and based on perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion. Racial profiling is patently illegal, violating the U.S. Constitution’s core promises of equal protection under the law to all and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.” –ACLU

I grieve for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Few of us can imagine the horror that they experienced in those last moments as they were murdered by the people who took an oath to serve and protect them. I grieve and I am disgusted. I want to do something!

As a Social Worker and owner of an agency that focuses on serving and protecting our black youth, I believe that I have been sleepwalking. Most of us have. I hear stories and read accounts of young black men being stopped and handcuffed for bogus traffic stops simply because they were black. Our young black men in our community do not feel safe! They live in constant fear of being stopped by the police. Imagine, if you can, how oppressive that is. It is emotional abuse! The young black men that I work with suffer from this oppressive fear. They feel it every day as that they walk into or drive into the community.

The fear of racial profiling is traumatizing our black youth, and we must wake up and reignite the passion that will end it once and forever.

Here’s an important name: Tae-Ahn Lea. Tae-Ahn was the teenager that was stopped in June of 2019 (a year ago) and detained in handcuffs while his car was searched for 1 ½ hours for drugs. He is suing the Police Department. Here is part of that document:

“Tae-Ahn Lea is an honors graduate from Central High School. He was the homecoming king, has no criminal history and upon graduation became employed with a well-respected local car dealership. Tae-Ahn, however, also happens to be black, live in a low-income neighborhood, and drive his mother’s fairly new vehicle. He was thus the perfect target for members of the Ninth Mobile Division of the Louisville Metro Police Department who, throughout the past two years in Louisville, have employed a discriminatory, prejudicial, and illegal stop and frisk practice in which “violent crimes” units use traffic stops as a pretext for pulling over young black men driving nice cars, handcuffing them and subjecting them to abusive, racist, and intrusive searches without consent, good cause, or reasonable suspicion of any criminal activity.”

Time to wake up! Time to do something! Young black men in our community need our help! They need my help. As an agency, we will be investing time, work, and money to stop this illegal practice! We cannot do everything, but we can do something! It’s time to be a change agent! It’s time to end racial profiling!

Join us!

out of the darkness

Out of the Darkness

Hank Buckwalter, his wife, Chelsea, and Rommie and I participated in the Out of the Darkness Walk this past weekend at Waterfront Park.

It can be emotionally overwhelming to be in a gathering of people that are celebrating the lives and passing of their loved ones. I listened as the “Honor Beads” were given to the family members and friends of those who had taken their lives. They celebrated these beautiful humans that saw only one solution to the pain they were experiencing.

I lost a friend of 47 years this year to suicide. He was in a lot of pain. At his memorial service, an acquaintance commented, “I can’t believe Jeff took his own life.” I forgive him for his insensitivity. As much as I miss Jeff, our laughs, our High School pranks, our wonderful conversations on his deck near Hikes Point, I understand why he took his own life. He was in pain.

I struggle with the legality and morality of suicide.  Having said that, I will do everything in my clinical and personal power to prevent others from taking their own lives.

People need hope and when they lose hope

 they see very few solutions to their problems.

I wrote a blog a year ago about hope. Here is what I said:

People come to therapy because they have feelings of hopelessness. As a young therapist, I was inspired by Moltmann’s admonition, to be an instrument of hope. At the very heart of therapy is the goal of helping people find hope, because without it they cannot live. I believe that hopeful people inspire hopefulness in others. A hopeful therapist has many tools and strategies for helping people, but most important they inspire hopefulness. I believe they infect people with their hopefulness. They engage in a Therapy of Hope.

If you have thoughts of suicide, even fleeting thoughts, contact a therapist. We have included the suicide hotline number on our website. Call it and make an appointment. In Kentucky, all therapists are required to take a workshop every three years on suicide prevention. Make the call.

After the walk this past Saturday, Hank and Chelsea, and Rommie and I went to First Watch and had breakfast together. We reverently celebrated life.

Things Not to Say to Someone Who Has Experienced A Pregnancy Loss

You can always have another.

Firstly, you don’t know that for certain. Secondly, they wanted this child. The prospect of another somewhere down the road doesn’t mitigate that loss.

Now you have an angel watching over you (or God must’ve wanted your baby in heaven).

While this may be comforting to some people further along in their healing process, it can also be incredibly hurtful. Even if someone finds comfort in their faith or religion, most will still feel that they would be happier if their baby were with them here on earth.

At least you didn’t know your baby.

For many pregnant people, their babies became real the moment they saw that second line or received a call from their doctor’s office. The idea that this death should affect someone less is false. A loss is a loss.

Did you do something you weren’t supposed to?

Someone who has experienced a pregnancy loss will probably already be asking themselves this. As I wrote in a previous blog on Pregnancy Loss, most miscarriages are for unknown reasons. Often, reproductive medicine physicians will not suggest an autopsy or tissue sample for fetal abnormalities until the third miscarriage. So just…don’t say this.

I understand how you feel.

Even if you have also experienced a pregnancy loss, everyone grieves differently. Grief is a journey, and if the loss is new, they may be in a very different place than you are.

So what can you say instead?

I’m sorry for your loss.

I care about you.

If you’d like to talk about it, I’m here.

 

Jennifer Kendrick

AAMFT Approved Supervisor
Kentucky Board Approved MFT Supervisor

Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Clinical Social Worker in KY
Licensed Clinical Social Worker in IN
cell: 502.203.9197

Pregnancy Loss

In addition to being a social worker and family therapist, I am a loss doula. Loss doulas are a little different from labor doulas. A loss doula supports people who are miscarrying, having a stillbirth, or whose child is not expected to live long after birth. When I’ve talked to people about this aspect of my work, one of three responses occur. Either they react with horror, “Why would you ever want to do that?” 2) They recognize it as a necessary service, “I’m glad you do that, but I couldn’t handle it” or  they join the club of people who never wanted to be in that club. “That happened to me. I needed someone like you.” (Or, hopefully, “I had someone like you, and they helped through an incredibly tough time.”)

Pregnancy loss is much more common than you may believe.

A miscarriage is classified as any pregnancy loss before 23 weeks’ gestation. After 24 weeks, if a baby is born deceased, the medical term is “stillbirth.” Babies born alive between 24 and 37 weeks are referred to as premature. 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage, and about 1 in 100 women have recurrent (meaning more than three) miscarriages. Miscarriage, in particular, can be experienced in a variety of ways. Some people experience the movie version—sudden bleeding and the loss of the baby physically, while others are not aware that their child has died until they receive an ultrasound and no fetal heartbeat is detected.

Why we don’t talk about it.

While miscarriage and stillbirth are very common, we’ve only recently started talking about miscarriage, pregnancy loss, and infertility. For many people, it’s still a forbidden topic. The secrecy about miscarriage however, adds to the psychological pain. Loss can already feel very isolating, and keeping a loss “secret” increases feelings of isolation. Sometimes people hesitate sharing about their miscarriage(s) because they are worried about the responses they will receive from friends and loved ones. (See: Things Not to Say to Someone Who Has Experienced A Pregnancy Loss.) There is still quite a bit of mystery surrounding miscarriage. Often people will never know what caused the loss of their child and this complicates the grieving process.

Seeking Help

As I’ve written before, grief is a complicated, individual process. Therapy often involves helping the bereaved reconcile mixed emotions about their loss and assisting with the creation of a new narrative. It can also involve commemorating or memorializing the person who died. Often, medical doctors will unnecessarily complicate the grieving process by not making the right suggestions. This can include deciding how the deceased’s remains will be handled, whether there will be a memorial service, and naming the deceased. Sometimes, it involves couples’ therapy, as men and women may handle the death of a child before birth very differently. In moments of struggle and grief, I want couples to turn toward, rather than away from each other, which therapy can help facilitate.

If you are interested in receiving individual or couples therapy to address a pregnancy loss, contact us. If you’re interested in a pregnancy loss group, please let me know that as well! I am considering whether we have enough interest to have a mixed group. However, there may be one group for people who have been pregnant and another for their partners.

Jennifer Kendrick

AAMFT Approved Supervisor
Kentucky Board Approved MFT Supervisor

Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Clinical Social Worker in KY
Licensed Clinical Social Worker in IN
cell: 502.203.9197

Grief and Grieving

Grief is a peculiar thing in some cultures. In the United States, the majority (white, Protestant) culture struggles with grief. We expect grief to be contained in practice, time, and scope. When people spend “too long” in their grief, we pathologize them. The criteria proposed for Persistent Complex Bereavement are culturally bound, but we know that the majority culture already pathologizes any culture outside what it considers to be the norm.

  • Intense and persistent yearning for the deceased (How are we defining this? Is it not typical or to be expected that we miss our loved ones?)
  • Frequent preoccupation with the deceased (What’s defined as preoccupation? Is talking to the deceased daily through prayer a preoccupation? What about visiting the grave site? What about ofrendas?)

The wisest thing someone said to me about grief was that the thing that makes grief so hard to deal with (for the non-grieving) is the idea that grief must have a time limit. This is especially true when someone experiences miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss. People, often well-meaning, good people, often respond poorly to the news of the death of a child. When someone is grieving, it’s okay to tell them that you don’t know what to say, but that you are there for them. It’s okay to feel uncomfortable, but if your feelings about how someone “should” be grieving gets in the way of you being a good friend/sibling/therapist/coworker, step out of the way and allow that person to connect with someone who is able to set aside their own preconceptions about rituals of death and mourning and allow people the space to have theirs–even if (maybe especially if) the relationship between the griever and the deceased was difficult, strained, or even estranged.

NOTE: I came across an article some time ago that proposes that “autistic grief is not like neurotypical grief.” While I love that this person shared their experience of grieving, it’s important to recall that old saying: If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism. And, whether typical or atypical, as long as the mourning is not physically harmful to the individual or people around them, everyone needs to have their own path through mourning.

Grief is a symptom of relationships, not pathology. If humans weren’t relational creatures, 1) we wouldn’t have survived as long as we have; and 2) we would be immune from grief.

Jennifer Kendrick

AAMFT Approved Supervisor
Kentucky Board Approved MFT Supervisor

Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Clinical Social Worker in KY
Licensed Clinical Social Worker in IN
cell: 502.203.9197

Friday Waypoints- 02-21-19

Podcast I’m Listening to

I’ve been a big fan of Sam Harris because of the work he’s done on Mindfulness. He has an app called “Waking Up” and a Podcast entitled, “Making Sense.” This past week the podcast episode #147 was an interview with Stephen Fry. Fry is an English actor, comedian, writer and activist. If you’ve listened to the Harry Potter books, it’s his voice you will hear.

Harris and Fry spend much of this podcast talking about mindfulness and meditation. There are literally thousands of podcasts to listen to while you’re driving.  If you’re looking for a few to follow, consider these:

  • Optimal Health Daily
  • The Daily Meditation Podcast
  • Happiness Podcast
  • Meditate and Move
  • Optimal Living Daily
  • Stoic Meditations

Lessons from My Clients

Most of my practice has been with Teenagers and their families. What I have observed and seen with many of these teens is that life can be a struggle. In fact, it can overwhelm them. Many are experiencing anxiety and mild depression and they can’t seem to shake it. It’s partly due to social media and technology, but it’s mostly due to cultural influences. What I mean by that is the that teens are affected by the things we value and spend our time doing. Teenagers today are under a lot of stress. They struggle with finding meaning in life. Life is getting more and more complicated at home, at school, in the community, and with peers.

What I relearned this past week is that sometimes our teens simply need to talk to someone about their worries and fears. I saw the burden lifted as a wonderful young man simply talked and I listened.

I Lost a Good Friend This Past Week

There are few things that bring things into perspective like losing a lifelong friend. Life really is short. Without going into details, most of my adolescence was coupled with him. I admired him, I never felt judgment from him. We supported each other through our hardships, but these past few years he was in unbearable pain.

I am sad for many reasons. This is a great loss for many people. He was an intelligent man and for many years, was full of life. I will miss him.

And as we do with many of our losses, we live with them. I will live with this loss.  I will live. “Life is to be lived,” as the saying goes. And it is short and fragile. Remembering that, and remembering my dear friend’s life, will hopefully inspire me as it did when he was alive.