Giving students a safe place to talk about racial trauma is critical in building an open and healthy campus environment

6 strategies to navigate racial trauma on campus


Giving students a safe place to talk about racial trauma is critical in building an open and healthy campus environment

Racial trauma, or race-based traumatic stress (RBTS), refers to the “mental and emotional injury caused by encounters with racial bias and ethnic discrimination, racism, and hate crimes.” In the United States, the most vulnerable groups are the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) to be affected by racial trauma.

Some examples of racism that we have witnessed recently include assaults on Asian Americans, police violence again Black people, racial slurs against individuals who don’t speak English or who speak another language, and over-representation of a certain racial group in prison, to name a few.

According to a recent Pew Research, “about three-quarters of blacks and Asians (76 percent of each) – and 58 percent of Hispanics – say they have experienced discrimination or have been treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity at least from time to time. In contrast, about two-thirds of whites (67 percent) say they’ve never experienced this.”

Besides that, another survey showed that about “32 percent of Asian adults say they have feared someone might threaten or physically attack them.” As a result of race-based trauma, many individuals may feel isolated, depressed, angry, have low self-esteem, and practice avoidance.

Besides many people having to worry about the pandemic and the safety of their health, many of them need to also worry about their physical safety. This accumulated stress can lead to multiple mental health issues if intervention is not sought.

When it comes to our students, racial trauma can impact their ability to succeed academically. Many students who live on campus are away from their parents and the support system that they usually rely on. When they witness racism happening to them or others, they might feel isolated and scared if there is no support system on campus that allows them to talk about the issues that they are going through, come together as a community to support each other during those difficult and hard times, and heal.

eSchool Media Contributors