Darron T. Smith, Ph.D

Being Black in the US is to learn to live with persistent racial slights, slurs, insults and even violence. Racial mistreatment or microaggressions are subtle acts that can range from racial epithets, poor service in restaurants, verbal insults from random white people, to outright hate crimes and physical violence (DeAngelis, 2009). These daily events have real consequences for African Americans and with enough frequency can lead to racial trauma or race-based post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Williams et al., 2014). The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) expanded its definition of PTSD to include not only direct exposure to physical or sexual violence (e.g., accidents, soldiers in combat, torture, child abuse and physical/sexual assault), but indirect exposure as well. The new DSM-5 diagnostic guidelines include a traumatic event (or trauma-inducing experiences) involving close family members and individuals repeatedly exposed to graphic details about trauma (Williams, 2013). The guidelines include police officers, reporters, and emergency medical technicians. These new provisions are more expansive and inclusive than the previous fourth edition manual and include detrimental cumulative effects of modern forms of anti-Black racism and bias… continue reading.

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