Racial Trauma: Theory, Research, And Healing: Introduction To The Special Issue

Joy Harden Bradford, and decided to begin with a no-frills talk therapy approach with a provider I found on the website’s directory. Even though I was still in the infancy of my wellness journey, I knew that I was beginning a process of deep excavation into the fibers of my life and, by extension, the lives of my parents, their parents, and their parents’ parents. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the West African goddess of fertility, Yemanjá, is also the goddess of fishermen, and to this day, in Black American families, dreaming of a fish is an omen of pregnancy. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice helps restore memories that demonstrate the violence perpetrated against black people during the horrific epoch of publicly sanctioned lynching was not the fault of the victims and survivors of African ancestry. For example, rather than locating the trauma within the individual, a healing-centered engagement would address the issues that created the trauma in the first place, and would view the individual holistically, highlighting strengths and resilience. In an earlier work, we advanced an argument that there is a set of general healing goals that are important to consider for persons of African ancestry.

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It’s often called “cancel culture,” but this is simply accountability. Police departments are being confronted through mass protests calling for them to be defunded, and key decision-makers are being called on to make clear their positions on policing, violence, and racism. The source isn’t only racist people, but the system that allows racist behavior to proliferate. In sharing images of Black diversity, we learn to accept our differences and respect the differences in others. Importantly, there’s a special love for art that depicts dark-skinned people, people with bigger bodies, queer people, and people with disabilities. By bringing Black experiences into the limelight, we can use the momentum to make changes that last the entire year and beyond.

When I discovered that the origins of many individual issues can be traced to familial and generational harms, it became apparent that the closer intervention and treatments are to our ancestral ways, the more effective they can be. The idea that trauma can be passed down from generation to generation is a new-ish one. The concept of intergenerational trauma was first recognized around 1966, as psychologists began to study children and grandchildren of people who had survived the Holocaust. One study from 1988 found that the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors were overrepresented by about 300% in referrals to psychiatric care. Researchers theorized that the effects of trauma can be transferred from one generation to the next.

Former official policies like redlining allowed for the government to under-invest in Black neighborhoods and communities, and the consequences of redlining are still felt today (Appel & Nickerson, 2016; Lynch et al., 2021). Violence rates in these neighborhoods are often high, leading to high rates of trauma exposure. Not only does racism make Black individuals more likely to experience trauma, but racial discrimination itself can alter brain structure (Fani et al., 2022), worsen mental health outcomes (Mekawi et al., 2021), and can take a physical toll on the body (McKenna et al., 2021). PTSD has a deeply negative impact on quality of life and can impact the most basic aspects of people’s lives, including sleep (Rahman et al., 2018), ability to work, and personal relationships.

And lastly, if you are experiencing an amount of stress and emotion that you feel has impacted your ability to be effective at work, school or in relationships, don’t be ashamed to seek professional help. You don’t have to muddle through life dealing with these debilitating symptoms. Professional mental health counseling is effective and can help you deal with the impact of historical and current race-based trauma.

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Historical evidence shows that enslaved people in the United States and the British Caribbean, by contrast, were taken from a larger number of regions of Africa. Their descendants today show a genetic connection to people in six regions in Africa, the study found. For example, the DNA of participants from the United States showed a significant amount of Nigerian ancestry — far more than expected based on the historical records of ships carrying enslaved people directly to the United States from Nigeria. More than one and a half centuries after the trans-Atlantic slave trade ended, a new study shows how the brutal treatment of enslaved people has shaped the DNA of their descendants.

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Lean on friends and family and participate in culturally affirming activities. Connect with your faith community, neighbors, or other support networks. Just as we take steps to prevent physical illness, there are things we can do to protect our mental health. In this example, when a parent and doctor hold down a child to take a blood sample or inject a shot, the process may very well save the child’s life.

The Framework of Historical Oppression and Resilience and Resistance as Applied to Violence against Indigenous Women

Experiencing trauma is not an exclusive mental and psychological illness. The asymmetry in the experience of enslaved men and women — and indeed, many groups of men and women in centuries past — is well understood. Enslaved men often died before they had a chance to have children. The historical record shows that of the 10.7 million enslaved people who disembarked in the Americas , more than 60 percent were men. But the genetic record shows that it was mostly enslaved women who contributed to the present-day gene pool.

The traumatic history of African Americans, how Adverse Childhood Experiences compound multi-generational trauma, and what hope looks like are considered in this podcast. We can’t truly observe Black History Month without seeing trauma — or seeing trauma overcome. In addition, we can’t fully serve our clients and communities without listening to their stories. But we can be a firm hand to hold while each individual takes another step up. Some barriers are practical, such as the transportation limitations of many of the clients we serve. We must make ongoing, lifelong efforts to improve our cultural awareness and sensitivity if we hope to provide good services.

It was also the birthplace of blues legend Muddy Waters, and a replica of the cabin where he lived sits in the middle of town. History books mention the Native Americans as one of the early settlers in America. However, these materials often omit the hundreds of years of history and culture of the Native Americans. Instead, history often depicts America as an untamed, uninhabited land when it was discovered.

While our focus tends to be on the first two groups, the latter group has a responsibility to reject its own passive racism and rebuke the racism of others. It’s hard to turn down the opportunity to contribute to the transformation we need to create racial equality and justice. As all people become more aware of racial injustice, Black people are better able to hold them accountable. During Black History Month, the reparations conversation is extended to address more recent issues that affect smaller groups of people. This helps Black people become empowered in the knowledge that we don’t have to finance the systems and people who are intent on killing us, and gives allies the information they need to support equality. By making this information public, it’s possible for everyone to make informed decisions about who they support and how they spend their money.

Listen to learn about adjustments practitioners can make to improve trust and inclusiveness in programs services. Anti-Black racism has infiltrated mental health care in a way that’s extremely harmful to members of the Black community. Despite its lack of a “formal” classification, the concept of intergenerational trauma is widely accepted by psychologists and historians alike. It was first identified in the 1960s among the children of Holocaust survivors and has since been applied to Indigenous groups of the Americas and Australia, as well as victims of genocide or ethnic cleansing, such as Armenians in Turkey. Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heartin the 1980s specifically in relation to the colonization, forced relocation, and assimilation of Native Americans. GettyBlack History Month is a time of year when we reflect on all the accomplishments, achievements, and accolades of Black people living in America throughout history.

Sharing difficult feelings with others—friends, family members, clergy, or mental health professionals—can help. Being racially compassionate with black and brown people requires you to open yourself to curiosity and learning about black history, black triumphs, and experiences of tyrannies, and many have already begun this journey. In doing so, you may not understand everything, yet you open yourself to the possibility LocalsGoWild dating chat of healing your own history—even a family history that you may not be proud of. This helps you focus on repairing cultural and racial bridges for the future, rather than burning them by staying stuck in a racially tyrannizing past. One effort we made in our hometown of Santa Barbara was to create a volunteer-led Response Network that provides psychological first aid and mental health services after a crisis.

Jules Harrell, a professor of psychology at Howard University, has been involved for years in research showing how stress caused by racism can affect the mental and physical health of Blacks. He said the current public acknowledgement of the issue came because of “the perfect storm. … I don’t know if we could have even imagined this.” — The death of George Floyd in Minnesota has sparked a national conversation about racial justice in the US. Some of that dialog has centered around the need for better mental health awareness and services in the Black community. For those impacted by the trauma of racism, healing can come from counseling, spirituality, seeking justice, and social support. Racial socialization messages emphasizing cultural pride have also been found to moderate the relationship between racism and post-trauma reactions (Williams, Lawrence, & Davis, 2019).