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ThreeSixty Journalism Explores Intergenerational Trauma

By Kennedy Rance

This video originally broadcast as part of Almanac


Cathy Wurzer: Twin Cities PBS once again participated this summer in the ThreeSixty Journalism project, a TV broadcast camp for high school students sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota. This year the focus was on health care equity issues. Almanac editor Nic Ortiz worked with youth reporter Kennedy Rance to create this story on intergenerational trauma. Take a look.

Kennedy Rance: Intergenerational trauma is the idea that horrific experiences of one generation directly impact those to come. Sam Simmons is a consultant who specializes in the trauma of Black men and their ancestral ties to slavery.

Sam Simmons: I did a trauma tree. I went back and examined the trauma of my parents and my grandparents, which includes chattel slavery. And what I realized is that the more I understood about their trauma, the more I understood why they did some of the things they did, some good and some not so good.

Rance (VO): Although generational trauma has existed for centuries, the murder of George Floyd created a new awareness around the phenomenon.

Simmons: George Floyd regressed us in terms of where we thought we were going in terms of our own well-being and safety. It validated to other folks our continuous fear of being seen as something threatening, right? It validated the fear that our lives were, you know, not that valuable.

Rance (VO): Simmons focuses his work primarily on Black males. For the Black community to heal, Simmons believes it's imperative that Black men address their generational trauma.

Simmons: The Black woman asked me that, 'Why are you always focusing on Black — all you ever talk about is Black men this, Black men that. What about Black women? When are you going to do something on Black women?' I said, 'Whoa, if I start with Black men, get them to deal with their own trauma, then you won't have to deal with his trauma. Then you can deal with yours. And who benefits from that? The children."

Rance (VO): Reporting for ThreeSixty Journalism and Blue Cross, I'm Kennedy Rance.

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