Walking while Black: Understanding the psychological implications of the Trayvon Martin case

Llp | 4/23/2012, 3:45 p.m.

If you are angry or afraid, you should tell your parents, siblings, friends or school counselors. It is alright to be angry or afraid. How you deal with the anger or fear is what matters most. You can use it productively by talking about it, playing sports to channel your pent up anger or being involved in pro-social activities like mentoring or community organizing.

As parents, we must be more aware of our children's behavior and experiences. If you notice more irritability or withdrawal, it is critical to talk to your son. Teenage males may naturally be less talkative, so it will be crucial that you attempt to engage them more often.

As a community, we must remove the stigma of using mental health services as a viable option to deal with our pain. When a young Black male experiences racial violence or micro-aggressions, everyone suffers, including the victim's family and friends. We need to be able to talk about our emotions and feel empowered to improve our lives. Reaching out to organizations such as the New York Association of Black Psychologists can assist in finding such professionals.

We must also continue to demand justice for Martin and all young Black males unfairly brutalized or murdered. Unfortunately, we recognize there will be more cases like Martin's. However, now is the time to address the psychological implications of his death on our children. Constantly dealing with race-related stress is toxic to good physical and psychological health. Therefore, it is our duty to make the world safer for our children and to illuminate brighter possibilities such as the opportunity to freely walk the streets undeterred by the threat of racial violence and micro-aggressions.

It is one of the best ways to honor Martin and all our children who we have lost too soon.