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Historical trauma and cultural healing

Historical trauma and cultural healing

The recent event of George Floyd’s murder happened within a context of historical trauma experienced by African Americans throughout U.S. history. The experiences of genocide, massacres, slavery, relocation and destruction of cultural practices shared by African Americans and other communities of color can result in cumulative emotional and psychological wounding carried across generations, a concept that researchers and practitioners call "historical trauma."

What is historical trauma?

  • Collective, cumulative emotional wounding across generations resulting from cataclysmic events.
  • Events target not just individuals but a whole collective community.
  • Trauma is held personally across generations.
  • Even those who have not directly experienced the trauma can feel the effects generations later.

What are microaggressions?

  • Events involving discrimination, racism, and daily hassles that are targeted at individuals from diverse racial and ethnic groups. 
  • Current events that are covert in nature.
  • Can be verbal or non-verbal, interpersonal or environmental.
  • Burden of addressing them is placed on the recipient.

Historical trauma is not just about what happened in the past. It’s about what’s still happening.  

Check out these Extension resources:

To learn more about historical trauma and cultural healing check out these resources:

Cari Michaels, Extension educator (cmichael@umn.edu), Susan Beaulieu, Community Tribal educator (beau0181@umn.edu) and Briana Michels, Community Tribal educator (bmichels@umn.edu)

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