It’s Mental Health Awareness Week. Let’s talk about the connection between social justice and support.

Darnella was 17. Tonia Mihill, Head of Therapeutic Services, reflects upon the teen who sparked a global movement and the importance of support for young people that are campaigning for social change

This is for Darnella Frazier, 18 now, 17 when she stood for almost 10 minutes in the face of armed police to record Derek Chauvin (now convicted of) murdering George Floyd.  She has said that she was fearful of what those officers might do to her. And, just for context, no US police officer had been convicted of manslaughter, murder or even assault in relation to such a death since 1971.  She felt helpless and she chose to use the power that she did have.

Darnella, who has said she suffers from social anxiety, has kept a low profile and has testified that she is still being tormented that she didn’t do more to keep George alive. 

It’s been nights I stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life

Darnella Frazier

Why did she shoot the video?

It was like a natural instinct, honestly. The world needed to see what I was seeing. Stuff like this happens in silence too many times. It wasn’t right. He was suffering. He was in pain.

Darnella Frazier

Darnella’s video has played a key part not only in the trial but in the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter and other anti-racist movements globally.  Through her recording we were all witnesses.  In Norfolk, a group of young people were moved to create a project to make change in their community. Rewriting Rural Racism has so far produced a one man play, anti-racist workshops for young people, theatre staff and arts professionals and a series of films documenting historic and current migration into Norfolk and the lives of diverse Norfolk residents.

‘We Are One’ has proven so popular that tickets will remain available for another month beyond the project end date of April, to 31st May. Tickets & Trailers Here

Let’s be clear, Darnella (unbelievably but we know how the world is, so we believe it) had her share of trolls, haters and harassers. Some even suggesting that she should have done more… 

She suffered for her witnessing of such a horrific act and has been working with a therapist who specialises in trauma.  Perhaps this has helped her to be able to stand up in court and say, indicating Chauvin?

It’s like, it’s not what I should have done. It’s what he should have done.

Darnella Frazier

And on the day of the conviction, Darnella once again showed her vulnerability and used her ability to choose her focus, this time by putting the spotlight on those who had offered the support she has needed.  She wrote on her facebook page.

“I can’t reply to all of your beautiful comments as I wish to, but THANK YOU all of you. The support I had since day one carried me a long way so thank you again.”

Thank you Darnella and thank you to all the very many young people in Norfolk and around the world who I know are taking on the challenge, every day, of standing up for what’s right, for themselves as well as others. However it may feel at times, I hope that you know that you’re not alone.  

So yes, this is for Darnella, and this is for you.

How can MAP support you? Find out more about all of our services for young people here.

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