Racial Trauma – There is universal consensus that an individual traumatized at an early age (any age) can carry the scars for a lifetime (if untreated). I ask, “Is there a collective racial trauma that can pass through the generations?,” and “Can the ghosts of abusive slavery captivity to Black Americans, or forced reservation subjugation to American Indians linger in their offspring?” Has the consequences of the pain and strife from the trauma of slavery, and reservation servitude left indelible marks on their very spirit? Has the intensity of slavery and subjugation made for an inherited inferiority complex and society discarding the descendants of these two groups? I contend that there is a legacy of emotional and spiritual pain for blacks and Indians. The Baldwin Effect teaches us that significant environmental events (for good or ill) can be epigenetically activated and often transferred to the generations to follow. I argue that for many blacks and Indians (or any traumatized group) collective group traumatization leads to a recollection of this trauma for certain offspring. This recollection often has had a major influence on offspring behavior.
I agree with author Joy DeGruy Leary that there is a group equivalent to PTSD that she calls PTSS. In her book Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing (2005) a case is made that multi-generational oppression leads to multi-generational stress and learned helplessness. Inherited bloodline trauma will become an impediment to satisfy needs, be balanced, and self-evolve. A review of the statistics for these two groups indicates having significant problems related to: education, work, housing, family breakdown, a need for government assistance, mental health issues, antisocial behaviors, and group infighting. Past trauma appears to have transgenerationally encapsulated many descendants into an histriocity of stagnation, servitude, modern day enslavement (encavement) and self-destructive behaviors. Many traumatized individuals have .) internalized the pain with destructive self-abuse behaviors of drug usage, alcohol usage, depressed living, listlessness, and hopelessness, or 2.) externalized the pain by outer directed destructive behaviors such as crime, abuse of others, or extreme anger. However, not all individuals have internalized or externalized transgenerational trauma. There is a significant number of Indian and black people who have acquired an education, developed a productive career, and built a strong family. What made for their success? How did some individuals break away from the chains of abuse? I submit: 1.) they did not allow themselves to self-abuse, or to blame others for their problems, 2.) they did not allow generational prejudicial views or discriminatory discarding practices to continue to cripple them, 3.) they realized that self-evolution can’t happen through new chains of enabling, shielding, or entitlements, 4.) they refused to look on themselves as victims and to allow victimization to keep them locked to the past, and 5.) they understood that in order to break free from those ghosts of past they needed to face past abuse. That is, confirm that past abuse took place, and confront past abuse. Confirm-and-confront builds a sense of worth, self-efficacy, empowerment, and internal locus of control. Confirm-and-confront is a self-determination leading towards self-evolution. I do plead with those who have been able to confirm-and-confront, and have broken away from generational trauma to please do a better job of being role models, mentors, and supporters for those who are still stuck to their past ghosts.