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Rev. Susan K. Smith

Rev. Susan K. Smith

(NNPA)—Can stress be passed on to one’s children?

More and more, scientific research supports that premise. Known as “epigenetic change,” the science says that intense psychological trauma can be and is passed on to future generations. Profound or extreme stress apparently alters the chemical markers in genes. That means that the depression or other psychological effect one might experience because of trauma can be passed on to one’s children.

If this research is accurate, it means that people today are carrying the results of the stress their ancestors endured. If that stress has been extreme and the psychological and emotional damage has been great, it is probable that we are carrying, to a greater or lesser degree, the pain of our mothers and fathers.

The fact that White supremacy and its child, racism, has been so much a part of American life takes on an added dimension when this possibility of genetically transmitted trauma is considered. To be sure, African Americans have not had the benefit of counselors and therapists as we have endured the hate and violence meted out by White supremacists. One can only imagine how our ancestors kept themselves together after seeing loved ones murdered in front of them, bodies burned, dismembered and left to hang in full view of all survivors.

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