Historical Oppression and Trauma
Dr. PrettyPaint further spoke about historical trauma in the context of the contagion of violence, noting that historical trauma creates a cumulative emotional, psychological, and physical insult on individuals and communities and increases one’s vulnerability to violence. The perspective of historical trauma is critical to understanding the ability of violence to infect susceptible individuals who have experienced such trauma. She stated, “I have come to recognize . . . that we have internalized the oppression and discrimination, and we have allotted lateral violence. We don’t have to worry about somebody from the outside hurting us; we hurt each other.”
The historical oppression of Native American people, which has been well documented, has created an environment that decreases freedoms and increases confinement, which increases the infectivity or propensity for violence. For example, Dr. PrettyPaint spoke about the lack of sovereignty:
colonization is real, it is still alive today, and it is something that, if you haven’t experienced, then it is very hard to feel it. . . . And when you don’t think someone is human, then it is easy to dehumanize people. And when you do that, what you do is a form of violence, because you take away the ability for someone to speak. We know that in our way of life, the language is the key that unlocks the foundation to our worldview. Without language, you will be challenged to find meaning. You will be challenged to understand what it feels like.
Race and Racism
Dr. Ross-Sheriff mentioned the importance of intersectionality and related theories as being important to achieve a more comprehensive and balanced understanding of susceptibility to violence. “It is the intersectionality of race, gender, nationality, religion, poverty, and status of marginalization that make a difference . . . and I don’t mean to say racism from the whites. Racism in Kenya can come from blacks against blacks; [e.g.,] in South Africa, the whole issue of South Africans perpetrating violence against African refugees from other places.”
Racism as an act of oppression can deter resilience and immunity. There are crosscutting areas of oppression that are integral to understanding the contagion of violence. Speaker Carl Bell of Community Mental Health Council in Chicago discussed how marginalization of African American