Racial microaggressions are the brief and everyday slights, insults, indignities and denigrating messages sent to people of color by well-intentioned White people who are unaware of the hidden messages being communicated. These messages may be sent verbally “You speak good English.”, nonverbally clutching one’s purse more tightly or environmentally symbols like the confederate flag or using American Indian mascots. Such communications are usually outside the level of conscious awareness of perpetrators. In the case of the flight attendant, I am sure that she believed she was acting with the best of intentions and probably felt aghast that someone would accuse her of such a horrendous act.
CSB Report on CTSD courtesy of ‘The Root’ online.
A reader of The Root noted in the comments section of our site that this form of PTSD should have been labelled CTSD, or “continuous traumatic stress disorder,” and I agree.
To understand CTSD, it works like this: It begins with an infected set of economics. Low-income jobs lead to low-income-areas. Poor housing usually means poor education. If left untreated, the infection takes root and attacks the sensibilities, altering perceptions. Guns, drugs and turf battles become larger-scale symptoms, as does living in a constant state of fear. Apologies are no longer effective in treatment. Once airborne and full-blown, CTSD spreads through neighborhoods, creating a sense of dread that is comparable only to living in a war zone.
In this lecture based on her book, Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, Dr. Joy DeGruy sheds light on the enduring legacy of slavery. Dr. DeGruy underscores that although chattel slavery was abolished 150 years ago, African Americans continue to suffer the physical and emotional manifestations of a historic PTSD she terms “post traumatic slave syndrome.” The talk clocks in at nearly 2 hours, but every minute is worth it.
The 1994 PBS documentary on the life of Malcolm X