MINNEAPOLIS — If you have empathized in any way with the trauma experienced by witnesses and others inside the courtroom of the Chauvin Trial, it's important not to look past the impact of witnessing the proceedings yourself.
"In my clinic, everybody, no matter what they come in for, every single client has had something to say about this trial," said Dr. BraVada Garrett-Akinsanya, a clinical psychologist based in the Twin Cities. "It's so pervasive in our community that there is not one, single, interaction - no matter what the biger deal is - that people haven't been impacted. They are holding this pain and angst around (the trial)."
The difficulty processing the trial and everything that comes with it, is something Keno Evol knows well.
"It's heavy to watch," said Evol, who grew up in South Minneapolis and is now the director of Black Table Arts on 38th Street. "If you live in Minneapolis and you live in Minnesota, you already have a memory of police trials."
Evol has been spending the week trying to balance the heaviness of the trial with art and introspection. Through Black Table Arts, he's also able to literally open a door for others to do the same.
"Black Table Arts gathers Black communities through the arts and towards better Black futures," Evol said. "We are doing regular gatherings that you can follow on our social media called #WeGotUs. What we see is that the role of the artist is to keep the memory and the imagination of the community alive, and so in this particular moment we're all trying to think about: How do we keep joy in this moment through our art? How do we keep memory in this moment through our art? How do we also keep that imagination, that other possibility?"
During the trial that other possibility includes #WeGotUs. The cooperative is open as a Black Healing Space several nights a week, bringing together other Black artists and community groups.
"The verdict of the trial is absolutely important, but so is the movement that is going to happen, the social movement on the ground that is going to happen after the trial," Evol said. "That's what Black Table Arts is interested in. How can artists help keep that larger social movement, locally, alive."
And Keno says, at a time when trauma is everywhere, the joy found in such a simple act of community, is what makes the space special.
"People still want to listen to music and have a DJ and dance and just be together and laugh," he said. "We do laugh and we do have fun at these community events, so yeah, just that surprise, that even under these conditions, surprise and Black joy is still possible."
And even if you're neither Black nor an artist, balancing this trial with joy is a prescription worth considering.
"We need to try our best, as adults, to limit our doses of exposure to the traumatic information," Dr. Akinsanya said. "We should also be engaging in a lot of self care. That means sleeping, eating properly, exercising, finding time to laugh, play with your kids, doing things that remind you that life is bigger than this incident."