Healing and Wholeness After Racial and Cultural Trauma
War. Genocide. Slavery. Destruction of cultural practices. Institutionalized violence and sexual abuse. Forced migration and relocation. Ecocide. Mass incarceration. Torture. Medical experimentation. These experiences brought about because of racism, xenophobia, and colonialism have been shared by many communities and result in cumulative emotional and psychological wounds that carry across generations. The impact of these is called historical trauma.
Many communities continue to have complicated relationships with the societal mechanisms that inflicted these traumas (churches, schools, military, courts, government entities, healthcare, industries, etc.) and as a result, community members struggle to access needed supports. The descendants of these communities (including their multi-racial/ethnic/cultural descendants) carry continued mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual wounds. This means that historical trauma is not just about the past, it is about what is still happening.
When an incident occurs, its impact not only causes direct harm, but also heightens the cumulative effects of historical trauma. It is not the objective severity of the incident, but how the incident is experienced that determines traumatic stress responses.
Despite the impact of historical trauma, people and communities are persistent, resilient, resourceful, and adaptable. It is these characteristics that are the core of our health and well-being, anchoring us with centeredness, authenticity, and strength on our individual and collective journeys to wholeness.