Iyanla Vanzant wants to fix policing in America by healing officers

Exclusive: The "Fix My Life" spiritual healer wants to change the current dynamic in policing and the Black community

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Iyanla Vanzant wants to change the current dynamic in policing and the Black community. 

The TV host and author wants to work with police departments to change the continued “trauma” of fatal police encounters that continue to take place in the United States.

Iyanla Vanzant x theGrio
Iyanla Vanzant speaks onstage during the 2018 Essence Festival presented by Coca-Cola at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 7, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Essence)

The Fix My Life star says that trauma, which she defines as “sudden, unexpected events or experiences that have a disparate or serious impact on mental, emotional and sometimes physical health,” is continually experienced on an individual and communal level among Black Americans.  

“We need to recognize that we’re in an ancestral pattern. This person was hung, and before you could mourn that, that person was hung. This person was whipped,” says Vanzant.

Read More: Black Americans experiencing collective trauma, grief

She contends we have to do something different to break the chain beyond “political intervention.” Based on experience working with the community of Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 following the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, Vanzant believes society’s channeled frustration with police departments is blocking the public’s view on a uniting issue — mental health and healing from trauma.

Vanzant wants to initiate the healing around trauma associated with police brutality by working directly with officers of law enforcement. She explained, “before you can see me as whatever my human expression is, Black, Latin[x], whatever, brown and be sensitive to that, you got to see me as a human being … you can’t see me as a human if you don’t feel like a human.”

“I think that we are forgetting that police officers are human. They came from dysfunctional families. Some of them didn’t have daddies. Some of them had mothers who were drunks. Some of them grew up in foster care,” Vanzant adds. 

According to the spiritual healer, increased training and a focus on equity is not enough to redress issues within the system. She believes officers “need support and mental health intervention.” 

Read More: Iyanla Vanzant on ‘Fix My Life’ finale: ‘It’s not an end, it’s a beginning’

“How many of them have been abandoned, abused, sexually violated? And now you’ve got a badge and a gun. So before we can even deal with racial sensitivities, these people need to be trained as human beings.”

Iyanla Vanzant x theGrio.com
Iyanla Vanzant (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCE)

As Vanzant calls for mental health intervention for officers, the justice system is facing mounting pressure to reform. In the law enforcement community, some are calling out the unnecessary focus on Black drivers. According to Rick Hite, former police chief of Indianapolis, Indiana, statistics show most traffic stops involve infractions that are most often not of serious criminal nature.

At the federal level, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina is still working with Congresswoman Karen Bass and Senator Cory Booker on passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The measure has passed in the U.S. House, but still requires a successful Senate vote to even reach the president’s desk.

Read More: Fox News’ Juan Williams says Tim Scott should become a Democrat

The public is awaiting action from the upper chamber, and questions about whether Senator Scott is an honest broker in the policing negotiations are lingering after he denounced claims of the United States being a racist country.   

Iyanla Vanzant fired back at the dismissal. 

“The underlying message of that is what happens to us, doesn’t matter, what happens to us is not important, what happens to us is defined and characterized by somebody else. It’s a global message,” said Vanzant.

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