Our ancestors experienced unimaginable trauma. This trauma became part of the ancestral memory they passed down to us, including their grief. Dr. Joy Degruy reminds us that the trauma our ancestors faced in chattel slavery was “a case of human trauma incomparable in scope, duration and consequence to any other incidence of human enslavement.”
When you look at the timeline of our people in America – 1619, enslavement, Reconstruction, the Great Migration, the Great Depression, Civil Rights Movement, the War On Drugs, to now BLM – each marker is etched with Black grief.
Our grief is heavy. It can be consuming, to the point where imagining a Black liberated future feels impossible. However as our continued survival and existence proves, we still find our way forward, even through grief. And when it comes to understanding racial trauma, we are taking the lead in healing ourselves.
The five stages of grief are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. How we individually process these stages will look differently for everyone, but a good place for us to start is meeting any ancestral trauma we carry with love and compassion.
It is ok to grieve trauma.
When we acknowledge all the years our people have been oppressed, we make space for a new way forward in which Black liberation is possible.
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