ERIC Number: EJ1023873
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Reference Count: 4
Healing the Hidden Wounds of Racial Trauma
Hardy, Kenneth V.
Reclaiming Children and Youth, v22 n1 p24-28 Spr 2013
This article examines racial trauma and highlights strategies for healing and transformation to support the disproportionate number of children and youth of color who fail in school and become trapped in the pipelines of treatment, social service, and justice systems. The difficulty in meeting the needs of these children and youth is failing to appreciate the ways in which race is entangled with their suffering. One of the hidden forms of racial trauma is "interpersonal violence," which can lacerate the spirit, scar the soul, and puncture the psyche. The source of this hurt is often confused with distracting secondary symptoms ranging from hopelessness to acting out behavior. Rarely is unmasking and treating the hidden wounds of racial trauma a focal point of intervention. Instead, conventional approaches attend to family problems, individual psychological issues, behavior issues, or substance misuse. These are salient factors but skirt issues of race that are powerful dynamics in the lives of youths. Another hidden form of racial trauma is "internalized devaluation," linked to the deification of whiteness and the demonization of non-white hues. It is perpetrated throughout society, including the systems with missions of serving youth. Racial devaluation is intertwined with other affronts to dignity such as neglect, abuse, and rejection. Profoundly devalued youth become hypervigilant about gaining "respect." To some of these youth, death is preferable to disrespect. Additional hidden trauma tied to "internalized devaluation" are: (1) "assaulted sense of self"--the onslaught of devaluing messages making it hard for youth to know who they really are--and easy to believe they are what others say; and (2) "internalized voicelessness"--erodes the ability to defend against a barrage of unwelcomed and unjustified messages. Other identified traumas are "rage" and "the case of a Nobody." While there is no prevention of youth experiencing racially injurious and traumatizing conditions, this article recommends 8 strategies that promote healing: (1) affirmation and acknowledgment; (2) create space for race; (3) racial storytelling; (4) validation; (5) the process of naming; (6) externalized devaluation; (7) counteract devaluation; and (8) rechanneling rage. The article concludes by explaining the strategies in detail as they help youth of color to cultivate what is "great in and about themselves," thus promoting healing the hidden wounds.
Descriptors: Disproportionate Representation, Minority Group Children, Racial Bias, Violence, Symptoms (Individual Disorders), Social Bias, Mental Health, Psychological Patterns, Stress Management, Coping, Racial Identification
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
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