She explains how trauma can be passed down from one generation to another within the context of African-Americans.
Human trauma has many facets to it. While some may be physical in nature, there are just as many that are mental in nature. A particular kind that often gets ignored is generational trauma. According to Talkspace, generational trauma can be defined as the transfer of traumatic experiences from one generation to the next. Dr. Joy DeGruy has found a similar kind of trauma in African Americans from 12 years of quantitative and qualitative research.
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She developed a theory that she called "Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome" and explained it extensively in her book, "Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome - America's Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing." The book takes a holistic look at the enduring consequences of centuries of slavery and tries to initiate a conversation about how the black community can use their adaptations to heal now. The condition, abbreviated as P.T.S.S., comes about as a result of chattel slavery, where there was a reinforced belief that African Americans were inferior to white people.
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Popular influencer Uncle Devin—who goes by @uncledevinshow on Instagram—recently worked with Dr. DeGruy and shared a short clip where she explained how trauma could be passed from generation to generation in the context of African Americans. The video begins with the woman talking about a hypothetical scenario that takes place in 2019 with a "black mother and a white mother." She mentions that their sons go to the same school. Dr. DeGruy then breaks down a conversation the two women have about their sons.
The African-American mother tells the white mother how her son is doing well. The white mother thanks her for the compliment and acknowledges that her son is indeed doing well, listing out all his achievements quite proudly. However as she is saying this, she realizes that the African-American mother's son is also "excelling." She says, "Wait a minute, your son's the one that's really coming along."
Upon hearing this, the African-American mother responds in contrast and talks about how her son is a "handful." Dr. DeGruy then proceeds to talk about how whenever she's working with African-American mothers, they always respond the same way when they are actually proud of their sons. She explains the reason for this behavior by comparing it to a situation that took place 300 years ago. She says, "Let's say the black mother is working in the fields and a white slave owner comes through and says, 'Wow, that boy is really coming along.'"
In this scenario, the African-American mother would respond by saying that her son was "stupid" and "can't work." She reveals that the mother says it because she does not want the slave owner to sell her son. So, in order to protect her child, she denigrates them. Dr. DeGruy terms this practice as "Appropriate adaptation when living in a hostile environment." Individuals on the platform found the women's insights to be thought-provoking and wrote their thoughts in the comments section.
@his.name.was.micheal.polson said, "Yikes! This is the very definition of generational trauma. I hope that parents can appropriately praise their kids when praise is due." Another user, @the_imortal1_lucretsia, commented, "Very informative. I had no idea that this was where it came from, but it's logical."