Racism is not just overt acts of prejudice, bigotry, and hate. It is the systemic oppression of people based on ethnicity or skin color through a culture’s power structures, social institutions, and customs. Racism can be explicitly stated in a society’s laws, but it is also implicitly enforced in the stories it tells about itself and its history: which people can be beautiful, smart, and brave, and which are dangerous, dirty, or lazy. Everyday people unknowingly perpetuate racism through microaggressions: small, subtle, and socially learned behaviors like assuming someone of a different ethnicity was born in another country or viewing certain natural hair types as “dirty” or “unprofessional.” We can unintentionally inflict harm on others by not examining the assumptions we learn from growing up in a biased culture, but understanding how racism perpetuates itself is the first step in working toward healing its harm.
At the individual level, the psychological effects of trauma can be acute or long term, depending on a person’s experience and access to care. But at the community level, a complex and collective experience of trauma can lead to irreparable harm that lasts for generations.
The exuberant “renaissance” of studies researching psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy in the past twenty years has not sufficiently included the enrollment of racially diverse participants, a problem that psychedelic science and clinical research shares with mainstream psychiatry
Like most people of color in the United States, psychotherapist and researcher Monnica Williams has experienced myriad forms of racism. Early in her career, understanding its effects on her mind and body motivated her to help clients address their own racial trauma in therapy.