September 9, 2018

Historical Trauma and the Health and Wellbeing of Communities of Color

Written by Dr. Michele Andrasik

Historical trauma is an event, or a set of events, that happen to a group of people who share a specific identity. That identity could be based in nationality, tribal affiliation, ethnicity, race and/or religious affiliation. The events are often done with genocidal or ethnocidal intent, and result in annihilation or disruption of traditional ways of life, culture and/or identity. Each individual event is profoundly traumatic and when you look at events as a whole, they represent a history of sustained cultural disruption and community destruction.

In the United States, African Americans, Native Americans, and Alaska Natives have endured a history of multiple traumas. From the time the first colonists came to shore on what would come to be known as the United States, Native Americans and Alaska Natives have been subjected to:

  • colonization;
  • epidemic diseases brought from Europe;
  • the tradition of extermination and mass homicide;
  • forced marches and displacement from their lands;
  • peace treaties often signed under coercion and later broken;
  • Indian Boarding schools in response to the “Kill the Indian, Save the Man” policy;
  • widespread sexual and physical abuse of children; and
  • rates of violence and victimization higher than any other
    racial group.

African Americans have endured the legacy of:

  • being stolen from their native lands;
  • enslaved from 1619-1865;
  • systematically abused and denied education;
  • forced “breeding”;
  • widespread sexual assault and rape of Black women;
  • the abolition of slavery gave way to indentured servitude;
  • Jim Crow laws;
  • mass lynching;
  • mass incarceration; and
  • homicide rates higher than any other racial group.

Read the full article here>>

Read the Community Compass June 2018 Issue on Historical Trauma>>