Urban Trauma: A Legacy of Racism

Urban Trauma: A Legacy of Racism

by Maysa Akbar


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Survived physical abuse.

Witnessed community violence.

Conquered the streets.

Saved by education.

This is Dr. Maysa Akbar’s story. A story of overcoming Urban Trauma.

It’s easy to look down at urban communities and wonder why economic and social disparities still exist when so many people of color, despite facing severe adversity, have done better. They have broken the “cycle.”

Yet there are those in urban communities who continue to be plagued by what Dr. Maysa Akbar has defined as Urban Trauma – a set of conditions that sustain modern day oppression.

In Urban Trauma: A Legacy of Racism, Dr. Akbar makes the case that since the time of slavery, systemic trauma in our urban centers is a result of poverty, overcrowded housing, poor physical and mental health, despair, violence, crime, and drug abuse.

Drawing from historical events, intergenerational biology, and psychology she expertly illustrates that not only is Urban Trauma real, but that by denying it’s existence we deny our communities of color the chance to heal and break their cycle.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781946384386
Publisher: Publish Your Purpose Press
Publication date: 10/03/2017
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 781,769
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.47(d)

About the Author

Maysa Akbar, Ph.D, ABPP, author of Urban Trauma: A Legacy of Racism, is the Founder and CEO of the Integrated Wellness Group, a multidisciplinary psychotherapy practice in New Haven which focuses on at-risk urban children, adults, and families. In addition to her private practice, she is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Yale School of Medicine, Child Study Center. Dr. Akbar is a graduate of State University of New York at Albany, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, and Saint Louis University. She completed both her pre and-post doctoral training at the Yale Child Study Center. Active in her community, Dr. Akbar serves on the Board of Directors of The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. A triathlete, she lives in New Haven with her husband and two children.

Dr. Akbar is available for speaking, training, and consulting engagements. Visit MaysaAkbar.com to learn more.

Table of Contents



PART I - Section One: Trauma in Black History 13

My Urban Trauma 13

From Trauma to PTSD 16

A Timeline of Historical Traumatic Events Against Black People 22

From Slavery to the Pursuit of Freedom 24

Blacks in Bondage 27

Colorism 28

Centuries of Trauma 31

The Broken Family 32

Slavery and Family Instability 34

Father Hunger 36

PART I - Section Two: Poverty, Community Violence, and Educational Disparities

Poverty 39

The Fight for Freedom 39

Perpetual Disadvantage Across Generations 43

A Face of Urban Trauma: Jamal 48 Community Violence 52

Gangs—The Surrogate Family 52

A Face of Urban Trauma: Kyisha 53 Policing in Black Communities—The Fight for Survival 57

Mass Incarceration: The “New” Slavery 61

Educational Disparities 63

Brown v. Board of Education 63

Zero Tolerance: A School-to-Prison Pipeline 66

Abolishing the Achievement Gap 69

A Face of Urban Trauma in the Classroom: Lisa 71

PART II - Section One: Urban Trauma Defined 77 Slavery—The Roots of Urban Trauma

A Face of Urban Trauma: Tony 80

The Characteristics of Urban Trauma 82

ANGER: An Urban Trauma Characteristic 84

When the Tribe is Under Attack 86 Anger in Black Men 88

A Face of Urban Trauma: Shawn 90 Anger in Black Women 93

MISTRUST: An Urban Trauma Characteristic 96 MANIPULATION: An Urban Trauma Characteristic 100

A Face of Urban Trauma: Jacob 102

FEAR: An Urban Trauma Characteristic 103

PERCEPTION: An Urban Trauma Characteristic 107

A Face of Urban Trauma: The Neighborhood Kids 111

REJECTION: An Urban Trauma Characteristic 113

PART II - Section Two: The Biology of Urban Trauma

Genetics 121

Epigenetic Change 122

FKBP5 123

Fight or Flight 124

Epigenetic Programming 125

Epigenetic Inheritance 126

PART II - Section Three: Impact of Urban Trauma on the Black Psyche

The Intersection Between Hope and Despair 129

The Face of Urban Trauma: Kelly 135

Survival, not Vulnerability 137

PART III - Section One: Mental Health in the Black Community

A Historical Timeline 143

The History of Mental Health in the Black Community 146

Mental Health Stats for Black Americans 152

PART III - Section Two: Mental Toughness, Resilience, and Grit

What needs to change? 156

Mental Toughness 156

Shawn’s Mental Toughness Story 157

Resiliency 160

Kyisha’s Resiliency Story 160

Grit 162

Jamal’s Grit Story 163

Finding help: Tony’s Story 163

PART III - Section Three: Modern Day Tests to our Resilience

Grit in the Face of Political Whitelash 165

The Haves & the Have-Nots 167

Urban Trauma through a Millennial Lens 168


tt all begins with the acknowledgment that Urban Trauma is real. 172


Rapid Access 175

Emotional Emancipation CirclesSM 176


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