On March 29th, the Race and Ethnic Studies Institute will be sponsoring a colloquium featuring Dr. Tony Brown, professor of Sociology at Rice University. His talk is entitled“Development and Validation of a Racial Trauma Measure.” It will be at 12pm in Academic Building room 326. Graduate students are invited to have brunch with Dr. Brown prior to his talk.
This study introduces a racial trauma measure. Racial trauma means an extremely terrifying discriminatory or racism-related event that scars and damages, causing impairment long after its occurrence. One impetus for developing and validating such a measure is failure of the extant perceived discrimination literature to address the significance of racism. Instead that literature emphasizes the concept of unfair treatment and employs a color-blind perspective. With data from a random sample of 627 black adults who participated in the Nashville Stress and Health Study (NSAHS), I describe components of a racial trauma measure and characteristics of persons most likely to experience racial trauma. Next, I describe how components of the measure correlate with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Finally, using a counterfactual methodology, I demonstrate consequences of racial trauma using several health and psychosocial outcomes. Results suggest that at least 26% of black adults in the NSAHS experienced racial trauma in their lifetime, racial trauma overlaps but differs from PTSD, and consequences of racial trauma can be devastating on multiple levels. I conclude by discussing why sociologists should embrace a critical stance when specifying the significance of racism, and why that stance is needed today more than ever before.