The Impact of Racial Trauma Essay Example


Racial trauma is classified as a form of race-based stress. It refers to the reactions of People of Color and Indigenous individuals, also known as POCI, to dangerous situations and experiences whether real or perceived of racial discrimination. These experiences involve threats to cause injury and/or harm, events that cause shame and humiliation, as well as being witness to racial discrimination geared towards other POCI (Comas- Díaz, L., Hall, G. N., & Neville, H. A., 2019). Additionally, this includes continuous individual and collective injuries that are caused by exposure as well as re-exposure to raced-based stress. 

Evidence proves that experiencing racism, discrimination, and microaggression affect the mental and physical health of POCI (Alvarez, L., Neville, 2016). Some effects that stem from racial trauma include but are not limited to flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance, hypervigilance to possible threats, as well as headaches, and heart palpitations. Many groups are highly impacted by race-based stress such as indigenous people, Asian-Americans, Latinx, as well as African Americans. However, African Americans are by far more exposed to racial discrimination than any other ethnoracial group. Due to the exposure to racial microaggressions, vicarious traumatization, and the invisibility of the historical roots of racial trauma, racism, as well as ethnoviolence, can be life-threatening for People of Color and Indigenous individuals (Comas- Díaz, L., Hall, G. N., & Neville, H. A., 2019). Racial trauma leaves long-lasting impacts on those individuals and can even have intergenerational effects similarly to historical trauma (Comas- Díaz, L., Hall, G. N., & Neville, H. A., 2019). For some individuals, racial trauma is life long and its effects don’t only impact the affected individual but also the communities of color.

Many experts and professionals have developed psychological approaches that aid in the recovery from racial trauma which include group counseling, psychotherapy, and community ethnopolitical intervention practices (Comas- Díaz, L., Hall, G. N., & Neville, H. A., 2019). However, healing racial trauma can be difficult since racial wounds take place within a sociopolitical context and are continuous. The newly developing framework of race-informed therapeutic approaches focuses on the individuals’ or groups’ resilience while simultaneously working towards transforming their environments to promote intraindividual and interpersonal healing and wellbeing (Comas- Díaz, L., Hall, G. N., & Neville, H. A., 2019)

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