Society has been reeling from the effects of incidents following George Floyd’s brutal death in the hands of the police. There has been a long-standing rift between police (or people in power) and people of color (or BIPOC) since time immemorial. And so long as bigotry lives in some people who think they are more superior than others with different skin color than them, this issue will not end.
“I can’t breathe!”
George Floyd may have uttered “I can’t breathe!” for the literal fact that he was choked for at least eight minutes and fifteen seconds, until he passed out. But for some people, this means something else. People who have been subject to police brutality or know people with the same skin color as them that have also been subject to police abuse know all too well the anxiety that the constant looking over the shoulder for their own safety could bring. It is as though they are being choked figuratively.
PTSD and mental health
Although abuse from police or any authority for that matter can affect the victims extensively, probably the most staggering effect is on the mental health of the victims. The trauma they have experienced if they had been the target of the abuse could lead to nervous breakdowns. Some victims who have received physical abuse could have permanent effects. Some have experienced injuries that have left marks that would always remind them of the abuse they suffered—deep scars, some dismemberment, paralysis, etc. Some effects are irrevocable—loss of their own life or the life of the one they love.
It is one thing to be a victim of abuse—no matter your skin color. But it’s another thing when you are being abused by the people that are considered to be the protector of the society—the people that you trust to uphold the welfare of the poor, the weak, and the oppressed. If they are the ones that perpetuate abuse, who then is left to defend the exploited?
Long- and short-term effects
Mental anxiety due to abuse—especially by those in power—could have adverse short- and long-term effects to a person. But both effects could definitely alter the way they would live their lives. They would then begin to question their own safety even if they live in the “safest” place in the world. But because of the color of their skin, they might as well be walking with a target on their backs. Abuse can affect the quality of life that a person would live.