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Black Minds Matter

It’s Time to Confront the Normalcy of Black Trauma

March 09 2021

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Alkeme Health

Understanding how our pain influences our decisions

Black culture spreads across a rich and traumatic history. Once we understand how our pain influences our decisions it’s easier to comprehend the context around our actions. While the story is obviously not all bad, it can’t be ignored how much our trauma impacts our views of one another and ourselves.

A great part of our identity is rooted in our trauma, and we sometimes have trouble identifying with those who have had to endure less trauma. So what do we do with all of that trauma? How do we heal?

Alkeme Health spoke with therapist Arron Muller, LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) to unpack this subject.

“I believe it's two fold,” said Muller. “In one way, we’ve made lemonade out of lemons. And I think that speaks to how resilient we are. That’s in our blood. But I want to add that there is an effect from the trauma that runs through our veins that we can be unaware of. It shows up in our behaviors, our attitudes, as generational curses,” Muller continued.

Generational curses can be directly rooted to our ancestral trauma. When we think of generational curses, it may not occur to us that not only is trauma passed down, we also keep it alive. Black trauma has shaped some fine music, art, dance, etc. But it is important to keep an awareness of how we can negatively contribute to our current trauma. If we aren’t careful, we can proactively feed our culture hurt instead of healing.

“It is common to hear that our trauma is glorified through our rap music,” says Muller. “For some, this is used as a means for survival. However, there is also a notion that enduring trauma is a badge of honor. That comes from being conditioned to believe that you should feel that way. Or you should have gone through these terrible experiences. Because if you haven’t gone through anything, then you don’t know anything. And that’s not the case at all.”

Black trauma stems from the lack of investment in Black businesses and education, as well as systemic racism. However, our community has a responsibility to itself. As much as our trauma was not in our control – some things are. And in order to heal, we must collectively pay attention to how we fill our mind, body and soul.

“It’s about being informed, being aware and being able to separate in a healthy way. I don’t have to have gone through trauma to identify as being Black,” says Muller. “Everyone has gone through their own trials and tribulations but it doesn’t make you more Black. But we’ve given trauma stripes, sort of a badge of honor. And it’s a badge of honor in terms of being able to triumph through it. But not as this thing to make other people feel less than. It’s more of like, this is what you experienced, and how can we move past that?”

Pain does not equal being Black, and overall, we all just want to be comfortable. There’s no reason to shun someone because they’ve experienced less or more issues. In order to heal we must come together and connect on the very things that make us different. Less or more trauma carried by a Black person still leads to the same negative societal treatment via the police or work force. We must become a truly safe space for our own people and culture.

There is pride in accepting all of our different shapes, sizes, and experiences. The negative ideals and feelings we face come from a long history that it is up to us to properly deal with and move past. If we are more informed and aware of how our generational trauma affects our day to day we are far more equipped to overcome it.

Check out our Lab with Dr. Mariel Buqué on how we can build generational bridges and begin to work through our trauma.

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