The topic of racism often generates discussions of justice, equality, freedom and human rights. But what about trauma? Although trauma is often accepted as a predictable outcome of war, physical and sexual abuse, and witnessing violence, racism is only recently being viewed as a cause of trauma.

In an earlier column, based on conversations I had with three friends—Jon, Mark and Hop—who are black men, I shared the racial animosity they faced on a daily basis. Their experiences are typical of most black men. But it is just as important to consider how racism impacts their mental health as it is to confront the cause of their suffering.

My conversations with all three men left me shaken for days, as I turned over and over in my mind what it might feel like to have guns trained on me by uniformed cops multiple times in a lifetime, starting sometimes from childhood. What must it feel like to be routinely handcuffed on a sidewalk or slammed into the back of a patrol car for no good reason? What must it feel like to worry about my child surviving an encounter with police? What must it feel like to simply be treated with suspicion at every turn? Even thinking about these questions conferred on me a sort of secondary trauma. [Read more] – Michael’s Blog