Updated: Jun 24, 2022
I've been in many conversations lately with colleagues, family, friends and neighbors about the current state of racism and awareness. Honestly I'm glad we are having these conversations and looking for answers to how to heal our intergenerational and historical trauma. intergenerational trauma acknowledges that exposure to extremely adverse events impacts individuals to such a great extent that their offspring find themselves grappling with their parents' post‐traumatic state, most of the time unknowingly. Intergenerational trauma can also leave a chemical mark on a person's genes, which then is passed down to subsequent generations and can alter the mechanism by which the gene is converted into functioning proteins, or expressed. An example could be a family were members develop depression or cancer. I remember "the talk" when I got my drivers license and how even today I get an uneasiness of blue lights in the rear view mirror. I don't know if the response is genetic, but what I do know is that many others have expressed the same feelings.
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. Current historical examples that come to mind are China's one child policy, the Holocaust, and Slavery.
So, now that you have a better understanding of how trauma can affect an individual, group of people or the world. It's a little easier to see how our historical trauma is playing out today in the re-examination of racism. All sides are afflicted with this trauma and no one gets a pass until we address our collective pain and restore our humanity. The questions is are we ready?
Are we ready to express our vulnerability to share our stories?
Are we ready for a different point of view and open to feedback?
Are we ready to go beyond the stereotypes and spin?
Are we ready to honor our emotions and understand our fears?
Are we ready to see a different outcome that births a new story of our future?
Are we ready for goodness, equality, harmony, love, and peace?
Are we ready to confront our conditioning, and destructive patterns to heal our trauma and give up a story about ourselves that no longer serves us?
These questions apply to many life situations that we face. Telling yourself the truth, being open to changing your perceptions, and overcoming your fears are the steps we will need to take to envision a new story. Those of us who want to heal will eventually get the opportunity to change our narrative. I'm optimistic that much good will come from our collective desire to birth something new.
Jordan Rakei's Signs