Research on violence has typically been studied from two perspectives: the socio cultural/collective and the individual. While the former focuses on how orchestrated violence is culturally traumatic to a society or group, the latter highlights the structural factors that influence the ways in which individuals cope with such violence. Though the two issues are intertwined, the theoretical, empirical and practical implications are seldom examined concurrently. Despite this inquiry, a lack of research relevant to homicide violence and victimization and issues of social justice, focused specifically on survivors from overrepresented yet under researched populations of color, still remains. In addition, social justice for many survivors has yet to be realized. By social justice I mean addressing the hypocrisy and insidious nature of the intersection of homicide violence and racism which demands that we recognize racist and unjust engagement with law enforcement, understand the challenge of navigating the criminal justice system for many survivors, recognize the perceptions we have about the causes and consequences that surround the murder based on race, and we are honest about the distinct differences in the manner which we as a society treat perpetrators and victims who are White versus people of color. The recognition of these carefully woven patterns of inequity is imperative to supporting survivors of homicide victims with dignity and respect through our research, policy, and practice.
We as research and practice professionals have an opportunity and responsibility to shift this paradigm both locally and globally:
- We can challenge ourselves to have very candid conversations about racism, implicit bias and their continued impact not just on the lives of African American survivors of homicide but on our professions ability to support the examination of this epidemic.
- We can develop interventions for survivors of homicide victims that are culturally responsive by partnering with survivors of homicide victims and community based agencies that have first hand experience with this phenomenon.
- DeVylder, J., Oh, H., Nam, B., Sharpe, T., Lehmann, M., & Link, B. (2016). Prevalence, demographic variation, and psychological correlates of exposure to police victimization in four U.S. cities. Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences, 1-12. doi: 10.1017/S2045796016000810.
- Richardson, J.B., Sharpe, T.L., St. Vil, C., Wagner, M., Cooper, C. (2016). Risk factors for recurrent violent trauma among young African-American men. Journal of Surgical Research, 204(1), 261-266.
- McGuffey, C.S., & Sharpe, T.L. (2015). Racial appraisal: An integrated cultural and structural response to African American experiences with violent trauma. Journal of Sociology and Social Work, 3(2), 55-61.
- Sharpe, T.L. (2015). Understanding the sociocultural context of coping for African American family members of homicide victims: A conceptual model. Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 16(1), 48- 59.
- Sharpe, T.L., Osteen, P., Jacobson, J., & Michalopoulos, L.M. (2014). Coping with grief responses among African American family members of homicide victims. Violence & Victims, 29 (2), 332-347.
- Sharpe, T.L., Joe, S. & Taylor, K. (2012) Suicide & Homicide Bereavement among African Americans: Implications for Survivor Research and Practice. OMEGA, 66(2), 153-172.
- Sharpe, T.L., & Boyas, J. (2011). We fall down: The African American experience of coping with the homicide of a loved one. Journal of Black Studies, 42(6), 855-873.