WATCH: ‘Don’t Clip Our Tails,’ a Pittsburgh poet’s reflection on racial justice



In late May, as Pittsburgh activists were planning the first of many protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, rapper and poet Shyheim Banks received a text from local organizers. Their request: Could he speak or recite a poem at an upcoming demonstration? Banks, who performs under the name Treble NLS and is the head teaching artist for 1Hood Media, wrote a poem called “Don’t Clip Our Tails.” The piece  stems from a conversation he had recently had with a white woman on the topic of race in America, specifically how she felt young Black men should act in the presence of authority figures. PublicSource visual storyteller Ryan Loew, who met Banks at a demonstration this summer, collaborated with him to visualize the poem. This video is the result of that collaboration.

pittsburgh skyline

This study hopes to follow Pittsburgh-area children for two decades. How has COVID-19 changed the plan?

When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the United States in March, the widespread shutdowns that followed brought research on seemingly everything but a vaccine to a grinding halt. Limitations on in-person interactions meant that interventions, group meetings, and other basic methods for assessing psychological and behavioral research were no longer possible. So the Pittsburgh Study, which was set to officially launch in 2020, had to change plans. In this community-partnered intervention study, researchers plan to follow children in the region from birth to adulthood, putting a microscope on the relationships and resources that influence social outcomes. The study will involve over 20,000 children in a two-decade-long look at factors that contribute to childrens’ physical and mental health and educational outcomes. The several different initiatives will focus on infant mortality, childhood obesity, youth violence, and asthma prevalence, among others.

Kimberly Champion at Point Park University (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

Is mental health care available for Pittsburghers who have experienced racial trauma?

Racial trauma is a form of race-based stress that refers to reactions to real or perceived experiences of racial discrimination. The difference between racial trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD], psychologists say, is that PTSD typically refers to past events. Due to the prevalence of racism, racial trauma refers to ongoing experiences. Experiences include threats of harm and injury, humiliating and shameful events and witnessing discrimination.

Pittsburgh protesters walk down a downtown street.

Pittsburgh in Protest: A slow-motion time capsule of the local movement

Following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis on May 25, demonstrations around the country have called for racial justice. Those calls have not let up, and here in the Pittsburgh region, protests have filled the streets for months.

Protesters have marched, danced, sung and shouted. These protests are often loud and kinetic, filled with chants and fast-moving events. Scores of people attending the protests regularly witness this energy firsthand, while plenty more see these actions through the small handheld window of an online livestream. With so much happening all at once, PublicSource used slow motion videography to film scenes from two days of recent demonstrations. The result is a quiet, slowed-down time capsule of a critical moment in American history, happening here at home.

Local businesses say ‘Black Lives Matter.’ But what does that mean for Pittsburgh nightlife?

On “Blackout Tuesday” in early June, many organizations across the country took to social media to signal support for the nationwide uprising against racism, the movement sparked by the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Pittsburgh businesses, especially those in the South Side, Pittsburgh’s well-known nightlife destination, took to social media to signal support for Black Lives Matter. But some Black patrons and performers reject these proclamations.