Mobilizing Black Trauma: Spatial Openings and Closings

Authors: Naya Jones*, Instructor & Postdoctoral Fellow, Medical College of Wisconsin
Topics: Ethnicity and Race, Medical and Health Geography, Geography and Urban Health
Keywords: Black geographies, Critical Trauma Studies, Grassroots Activism, Trauma, Healing, Arts-Based Research
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: President's Boardroom, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Black trauma is trending. Due in part to the rise of Black Lives Matter, the healing justice movement, widely-publicized racial violence, and biomedical research, we are witnessing broader attention to Black historical, racial, and childhood trauma. Acknowledging the effects of racism, sexism, and other interlocking social structures on Black wellbeing is by no means new in United States context (Du Bois 1905; hooks 1994; DeGruy 2005). What concerns me here, however, is the heightened currency of Black trauma. As Stevens (2016), points out, centering trauma instigates “economic and political flows” (35). Critically engaging trauma requires noticing “how it does [its work], for whom, and with what consequences” (36). In this paper, I reflect on the spatial limitations and possibilities of mobilizing trauma for Black healing and solidarity. Drawing on critical trauma and surveillance studies, this is very much a reflection – a thinking and feeling through. How are Black/community-led efforts mobilizing trauma? Given trauma’s biomedical linkages, what are the spatial implications for racialized interventions and "fixing" people in place, for spaces of healing and building? Throughout, I lift up grassroots healing work from around the country, while drawing on autoethnography as a geographer and trauma-conscious meditation facilitator who also “holds space” with community.

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