For years, Veronica “Vee” Harrison had been wanting to write a book exploring the contemporary impact of generational trauma in Black communities like her native Austin. After all, the 34-year-old journalist and communications consultant has spent much of her career writing about her hometown community for various media outlets.
And then, on Feb. 7, 2021, the trauma she had been seeking to explore as a journalist hit home. Her brother, Darryl Anthony Harrison Jr., 39, was fatally shot in Austin, suddenly placing Veronica uncomfortably within the pages of her burgeoning narrative.
The book she conceived, “Hood Healing,” is poised to debut on Amazon early this month, but Veronica’s path to her own healing is just beginning.
“Exactly what I’m talking about in ‘Hood Healing,’ I’m living it right now,” she said.
The book, published by Thought Collection Publishing, is an anthology of interviews between Veronica and various experts, including her mother, Sandra Harrison.
Sandra, a longtime nonprofit professional who has worked for years trying to steer area young people into jobs and more stable livelihoods, said she and her family, including her husband, Darryl Sr., now find themselves waging a battle on multiple fronts.
They’re trying to prevent their son and sibling from being just another data point. They’re trying to get the police to treat their son’s homicide with the attention and care his life deserved. They’re trying to get their neighbors in the community they love to move beyond the immediacy of tragedy and toward a much deeper truth — that they’re all in an uphill struggle with history.
Until the community’s relationship with the past is resolved in the present, the cycle of trauma will keep repeating, the mother and daughter say.
“What’s impactful about the book is how it speaks to the traumatic experiences we all know and live in the Black community,” Sandra said. “My son’s death has done exactly that. Community has done what Black communities do.
“My son’s death quietly went away and so we just have another dead Black man. The police say it’s gang-related and we’ll go into the next one. Every story cycles us into this perpetual traumatic experience we just learn to live with and that in and of itself causes trauma.”
Sandra said the Chicago Police Department hasn’t communicated with her about her son’s murder since April. So far, police have no suspects or specific motive. She says there is much more to the story, which her daughter’s book explores.
“I’m trying to uncover some of those issues we’ve struggled with, but bring forth solutions, so that we can stop this cycle of community-based violence that’s happening inside of our own bubble. We’re imploding on each other. If we don’t heal internally, we’ll continue to implode on each other until there will be no culture to write for.”
For Veronica, “Hood Healing” is more than the content within its bound pages. She said she hopes the raw honesty about trauma expressed by interviewees like former Chicago Sun-Times reporter and author Evan Moore and MTV personality Dometi Pongo proves infectious and leads to more healing and solutions-based conversations around the West Side and beyond.
“This isn’t just a book,” Veronica said. “It’s an entire movement.”