"African Americans will never fully escape the historical legacy of the brutality endured by our ancestors,...Slavery is in the marrow of this country. Images of slavery remind us of its intergenerational psychological consequences and what we, as a people and a society, must do to fix them.
Those consequences, also common to genocide and other forms of oppression, are real, even more than 150 years after legal emancipation.
In their article 'Historical Trauma Among Indigenous Peoples of the Americas: Concepts, Research, and Clinical Considerations' in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart, Josephine Chase, Jennifer Elkins and Deborah Altschul define historical trauma as the 'cumulative emotional and psychological wounding across generations, including the lifespan, which emanates from massive group trauma.'”
Their research shows that responses to historical trauma include depression, anger, self-destructive behavior and elevated mortality rates from suicide and cardiovascular diseases. One implication of these findings is the importance of “considering traumatic histories of oppressed people, and the impact history has on presenting problems, health statistics, and other psychosocial conditions.” To address the effects of historical trauma, we need to confront it, understand it, transcend it and release its pain. This is accomplished by increasing awareness through education, and resolving the grief through collective mourning and healing, which creates positive group identity and commitment to community."
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