The 2020 census told us that Siskiyou County’s population is 74% white and 26% minorities. Hispanics/Latinos are the largest minority group at 13.9%, mixed races at 5.8%, Native Americans at 5.2%, Asians at 1.7% and Blacks, the smallest minority group at 1.5%. White citizens in white dominated counties like ours, just assume that they are not racist and therefore, assume their communities don’t have a racism problem. They have no clue that over the past 400 years, our white culture has programed racism into our psychological makeup. Whites need to open their minds to reality and truth about our racist history and its continual presence in every corner of our country.
In 1619, the first 20 Africans were brought to the Virginia colony by slave traders and were sold as slaves. This brutality towards Blacks has continued for 400 years, in different forms of dehumanizing violent trauma. This trauma varied from slavery, beatings, rape, selling slave’s children, living in fear every day and having no rights.
When slavery was abolished, whites reasserted their superiority by continuing to inflict dehumanizing trauma on Black bodies through lynchings, rape, violence, segregation, and political and legal inequalities. This barbaric culture of violence that exists here in America towards Blacks, maintains our illusion of white superiority and privilege.
For Black people, this trauma is now understood to be transgenerational trauma. A 2015 study on Jewish children of Holocaust survivors showed altered stress hormones, suggesting that trauma can be passed down through generations. Our bodies adapt to survive, and this adaptation can change the entire expression of our DNA (Biological Psychiatry; 2016). Another scientific study found that trauma can be passed down for up to fourteen generations (sciencealert.com). Black people absolutely remember that experiencing racism is an attack on their humanity and a threat to their lives.
Every time police beat and/or kill a Black person it can trigger in other Black citizens this deep-rooted historical trauma that they don’t even know they are carrying. This new trauma is being added to their inherited trauma, which may explain why Black males stopped by police are very fearful of being killed by the police for doing nothing wrong. They can have a panic reflex from this inherited historical trauma causing them to go into a fight or flight survival response (health.harvard.edu; 2020).
If we don’t address this deep seated cultural and social racism, we will continue projecting our lies and hate onto one another. Black and white people won’t ever heal from this trauma caused by white supremacy if we continue to lack the personal and political will to make positive humanizing changes.
It’s up to all of us to do our part to heal our racist society. It’s now or never.
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