Updated: Sep 14, 2020
“Protect me now by keeping Kahfi safe. You have to make him happy. You have to make sure he’s safe. If Kahfi is happy, then me and Marron don’t never need to come out. That’s the way.”
Caprice and Kahfi. They are one in the same. Two souls who had been brutally mistreated by adults—adults who were supposed to provide love, care, and support to them. Although they were very similar in that way, the way their trauma manifested was very different. Caprice, in many ways, was able to mask her emotional trauma. She shied away from people and, for the most part, neglected to emotionally connect with people, with the exception of Shaun.
Kahfi’s trauma manifested in an arguably more complex way; so much in fact, that he was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder, where his subconscious created two more personalities to cope with the sexual abuse he endured. These two personalities only surfaced in the face of fear, uncomfortableness, and/or circumstances where Kahfi felt defenseless. Readers soon found out that buffers who made him feel “safe” and “happy” were the only remedy to Kahfi’s mental trauma.
Buffers. In the mental health world, buffers are supportive and loving people who can offset the negative effects of trauma. Research has shown that those who have experienced trauma are more likely to cope and live healthier lives if they have a buffer. Shaun served as Caprice’s buffer by making her feel safe and by loving her when she felt as though she didn’t deserve the love. Caprice served as Kahfi’s buffer simply by being someone who endured the same fate he did. By listening and by providing a safe and loving environment professionally and eventually, personally, she and Shaun were able to be the perfect buffers for him.
Research suggests that 62% of Black males have experienced a traumatic event, 72% of Black males have witnessed a traumatic event, and 59% have vicariously experienced a traumatic event through loved ones. Although it goes without saying, there is a significant amount of trauma in the Black community. We may not directly be able to control trauma and the way it impacts others, but we can most certainly be buffers to our Black brothers and sisters. Although Caprice became a buffer by becoming a doctor and creating a safe space in a therapeutic environment, all we have to do to be buffers, is be kind. Be mindful. You don’t have to know someone’s story to be a buffer for them. Ms. Kelly and Dr. Johnson from Fast are prime examples. If you are interested in being a buffer in a more official role, please check out the National Cares Mentoring Movement. Their emphasis is connecting mentors to mentees located in schools, detention centers, reentry programs, etc. You can learn more about this movement at https://caresmentoring.org/