Survived physical abuse.
Witnessed community violence.
Conquered the streets.
Saved by education.
This is Dr. Maysa Akbar’s story, a story of overcoming Urban Trauma.
It’s easy to look down at urban communities and wonder why economic and social disparities still exist when so many people of color, despite facing severe adversity, have done better. They have broken the “cycle.”
Yet there are those in urban communities who continue to be plagued by what Dr. Akbar has defined as Urban Trauma: a set of conditions that sustain modern day oppression.
In Urban Trauma: A Legacy of Racism, Dr. Akbar makes the case that since the time of slavery, systemic trauma in our urban centers is a result of poverty, overcrowded housing, poor physical and mental health, despair, violence, crime, and drug abuse.
Drawing from historical events, intergenerational biology, and psychology, she expertly illustrates that not only is Urban Trauma real, but that by denying its existence, we deny our communities of color the chance to heal and break their cycle.
Understanding the complex experience of the African diaspora requires consideration of the impact of Urban Trauma on their health and mental health outcomes. Dr. Akbar, in her seminal work, is challenging the field of psychology and practitioners, specifically, to integrate the experiences of groups whose voices and experiences have continued to be muted as we work to heal the ills that they experience. Important, timely, and required!
- Derrick M. Gordon, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry (Psychology Section), Director of Research, Policy, and Program on Male Development,The Consultation Center Division of Prevention & Community Research Yale University School of Medicine