Opinion, Scott Valley, Siskiyou, South County, Yreka

Racism is a Living Nightmare

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.   

Tom Laurent


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  1. James Perdue

    Hello Tom. You mention two studies, one in 2015 and one in 2016, showing stress or trauma can be passed down thru our DNA. Although I have a 4 year degree in biology, I know very little about what can be passed down thru DNA that’s been affected by the environment. To be convinced I’d probably have to see summaries of many studies, not two. I do have an open mind, so, who knows? I think one expression of racism is discrimination, and it is the act of discrimination, whether real or perceived, that causes real world problems.

  2. Tom Laurent

    After reading James Perdue’s comment, I did a little research and easily found more research articles dealing with trauma and DNA. One study stated that “Trauma can leave a chemical mark on a person’s genes, which can then be passed down to future generations. ” (www.psycom.net/trauma/epigenetics-trauma). Another study stated that “Studies have shown that social stress can cause changes to the structure of DNA” (www.novusbio.com/antibody-news/epigenetics-of-depression-how-can-psychological-stress-alter-your-dna). The third study showed that PSTD can be passed between generations (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5470933/#).

  3. Indigo Mystik

    Funny how the writer just so happens to be an old white dude who thinks he has some kind of superior intellect and therefore it is his responsibility to voice these ‘concerns’ held by the very lost & confused liberal democrats. If only he could find something better to do with the last years of his life than regurgitating this meaningless leftist propaganda. Apparently the irony eludes him.

    • Well Indigo, if not Mr. Laurent who would you expect to write this article? Certainly not someone who is a minority because they know too many people like you are not going to listen to them anyway. Maybe the message will get across if it comes from an old white guy, but clearly it won’t touch everyone. At least Mr. Laurent has an open mind and is willing to embrace everyone in the community regardless of the color of their skin.

  4. The Native American

    I think the writer brings valid concerns with how genetics and trauma is altered and passed down differently from generation to generation. It’s not limited to racial injustice.

    Women in the 80s, who were victims of sexual abuse and violence, also suffered traumatic events which changed their health physically: Weight Gain.

    A study by Dr. Vincent Felitti (ace study) demonstrated how trauma alters not just behavior but physical and emotional changes.

    To sum up the study, women experienced weight gain due to sexual trauma, and the body was merely responding to that trauma by making it itself physically unattractive as a self defense mechanism.

    So yes, trauma can be passed down and might be different for everyone. Maybe the weight gene is passed down for a reason? So the author is right as trauma ends up hurting everyone. Just in different ways.

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