All Things Considered

All three lives (the two police officers and the shooter) lost Saturday were tragedies and I cannot imagine what each family is experiencing. Yesterday while in the barbershop I saw this video about the headline story that has caused much controversy. Despite speculations surrounding motives and connections to other events that have recently occurred, there is a deeper issue at hand; Ismaaiyl Brinsley’s mental health and how it was handled.  

Disclaimer: The following is not an attack on the Brinsley family, but an attack on society and our outlook on behaviors and mental health


In the interview, Ismaaiyl's sister acknowledges that her brother was her best friend but when his behavior started to change she had to separate herself from him.

I get it.  I have cut people off because their lack of willingness to change or seek help would eventually bring me down, but at what point do we accept the task of helping the person that does not fit our “perfect” picture of how life should be?

News sources report that Brinsley’s mother stated that her son struggled with mental illness his entire life but refused help from family.   I can attest to refusing help from others about my mental illness for a number of reasons, but I can also attest to the nonchalant attitude people have towards mental illness in the black community. A suggestion to “just pray about it and everything will be okay” is not always the solution. Ignoring the signs will not make it better.

“He needed help, he didn’t get it” – Jalaa’a Brinsley

It can be difficult to recognize that you have a problem and that you need help; sometimes you need someone to MAKE you get help and that requires others to step up and assume that role when necessary.

  • Family and friends may suggest certain things but they are not always comfortable with challenging someone to seek help that they may need. Many times we (I say we because I do it too) revert to “they are grown”, “I told them to do this but they won’t listen to me”, and “I got my own problems”.
  • You The Judicial system, as Jalaa’a Brinsley points out, is quick to incarcerate a person but fails to coordinate with the necessary resources to determine the root of the problem as to why the individual committed the crime, especially in the case of Ismaaiyl Brinsley numerous criminal acts.

The news report also states that Ismaaiyl Brinsley made a phone call to his mother prior to the shooting but the family refuses to speak on the topic.

We have been quiet about issues that impact our community far too long and it does not make things any easier.   We must speak out on things and have open discussion in order to reach a resolution and the topic of mental health needs to be addressed to prevent some of the things that go on in the world today.