Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing by Joy DeGruy

Review :

An eye-opening, mind-blowing look at race relations in American society-- from a perspective grounded in history, psychology, and sociology.

I heard Dr. Joy speaking on the radio for about five minutes and knew that I had to experience as much of her insight as possible. I immediately bought tickets to hear her speak live (search YouTube for Dr. Joy DeGruy, she is a fantastic presenter) and ordered this book. As a white person who has recently found herself more and more a part of predominantly black communities, I was eager to understand a little more of the experience of people of African American descent in the United States, historically and currently. This book did SUCH an amazing job of doing that-- Dr. Joy writes with a clarity and intellectual integrity that is truly rare in such sensitive issues, and her perfect balance of primary sources and plain talk really cut through the bull-- and prepare me to do the same in my social conversations about race. But it also goes beyond that-- I didn't realize how formative race has been in shaping our society as a whole. The world just makes more sense now.

Some favorite quotes:

"Those who have been the victims of years, decades, and centuries of oppression first must heal from injuries received first-hand, as well as those passed down through the ages. Those who have been the perpetrators of these unspeakable crimes, and those who continue to benefit from those crimes, have to honestly confront their deeds and heal from the psychic wounds that come with being the cause and beneficiaries of such great pain and suffering.... The nature of this work is such that each group first must see to their own healing, because no group can do another's work. With this understanding I have dedicated my life to helping the children of the African Diaspora, particularly those whose history is wrapped up in the history of America." (Pg. 5)

"As a result of centuries of slavery and oppression, most white Americans in their thoughts as well as actions believe themselves superior to blacks. Of greater import, too many African Americans unconsciously share this belief." (P. 116)

"Today, the African American community is made up of individuals and families who collectively share differential anxiety and adaptive survival behaviors passed down from prior generations of African Americans, many of whom likely suffered from PTSD." (P. 119)

(Much of the content is long passages of evidence that are mind-blowing and readable, but not snippet-quotable, haha.)

DeGruy, Joy. Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome. Portland: Joy DeGruy Publications, 2005.


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