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It is well known that racism, discrimination, inequality and oppression impacts mental, physical and spiritual health.  Racial Trauma is a term used to describe the harmful effects of race-related stress, racial harassment, racial violence (including witnessing such violence), racism, and discrimination on mental health functioning. 

The effects of racial trauma is similar to other trauma, like child abuse, fighting in a war or sexual assault.  Like posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a person experiencing racial trauma may feel:

·       Anger

·       Sadness

·       Grief

·       Shock

·       Fear or hypervigilance

·       Guilt

·       Helplessness and/or powerlessness

·       Difficulty sleeping or concentrating

·       Numbness

·       Recurring thoughts or images of the event

·       Body aches

·       Fatigue

·       Exhaustion


While the effects of racial trauma is likened to PTSD, it is important to know it is not a mental health condition.  It is a result of the stressors people of color experience due to race such as,  

  • Intergenerational stressors such as institutional racism in history or stories passed down from generations, the result of slavery, etc

  • Vicarious stressors such as witnessing direct and indirect racism in everyday life, including micro aggressions, etc

  • Direct stressors such as an individual attack of racial injustice, a culmination of microaggressions


When looking for help for racial trauma, it is important to seek services from a multicultural or racial trauma-informed therapist or trainer. Together we will create a safe, open, empowered, culturally affirming space for you.

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