Traumatic experiences in the Black community seem to be something we can’t get a break from, whether through police brutality or violence in our communities and schools. It seems to be everywhere. Black trauma affects us all.
I'm going to use this blog to talk about how the trauma experience of Black people requires a community approach to reduce long negative impacts and reduce the incidence of trauma exposure.
Trauma is the lasting emotional response that often results from living through a distressing event. Experiencing a traumatic event can harm a person's sense of safety, self, and ability to regulate emotions and navigate relationships. We can be exposed to trauma from our environments and relationships. Trauma doesn’t just stay in your head; it can leave physical and emotional imprints on an individual. This may result in certain behaviors in children, such as hyperactivity and or a great sense of distrust for specific people and spaces (please note this is an oversimplification, trauma is more complex and can take shape in many ways, this is often what we see in inner cities kids). At the same time, therapy is an excellent option for many, especially with a provider who is trauma trained. In my opinion, therapy is a tertiary intervention attempt.
An accurate, holistic primary intervention approach involves the community directly impacted by trauma. What do I mean? The community's people receive the adequate support they need to dismantle issues like community violence and/or lack of resources. That looks like jobs and job training. That looks like streamlining social services instead of the current convoluted and broken systems. Police actively work to dismantle their history and ongoing practices rooted in White supremacy. Police are adequately trained to diffuse crises without revictimizing or, worst, killing young Black men and Women. Attachment issues in families are detected early, and families are given appropriate therapy or parenting support early before the negative impacts challenge both parties' ability to form healthy relationships. The community receives early intervention that is accessible to identify early trauma symptoms.
We can’t achieve this by working alone; we can’t achieve this by continuing to underfund mental health. We don’t get here by ignoring this country's lack of mental health parity. Our communities must come together to address the public health crisis that is Trauma in the Black community. Studies like Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) have shown the psychological and physical impacts of long-term exposure to stress and/or trauma.
Black Trauma is all of our business; when our communities come together, and we accept that we must look beyond tertiary interventions as one-to-one therapy, I believe we can see profound changes in our communities.