Date of Award

Spring 6-12-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of arts (BA)


Global Honors

First Advisor

Dr. Benjamin Meiches


During the Black Lives Matter Movement, many Black activists and allies have experienced direct and indirect forms of racial trauma and violence. Previous studies have shown that membership in a racial or ethnic minority group is associated with an increased risk for developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mood disorders such as depression due to exposure to trauma (Lopéz et al., 2017). However, although racial trauma could lead to a diagnosis of PTSD, racial factors that contribute to the trauma are often overlooked because of the limitations in what is defined as s a traumatic event. In this paper, I will explore the issue of racial trauma and examine its role in diagnosing mental illnesses and the delivery of mental health services. To gain a deeper understanding of racial trauma, I analyzed existing studies on the history of racial trauma, its impact on mental health, and various social practices of recognition. The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of racial trauma on individuals in the Black community. How exactly have these experiences of trauma affected the mental health of Black community activists and allies? Do social factors such as stigmas influence the perception of racial trauma? Most importantly, what resources and solutions are available in addressing the interpersonal trauma that these individuals experience due to racial bias and discrimination. To answer these questions, I conducted qualitative interviews with 35 Black activists and allies who shared their experiences with protesting and their perception of mental health and racial trauma.