Webinar — Segregation Stress Syndrome: From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin - Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

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Webinar — Segregation Stress Syndrome: From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin

May 29, 2019

On Wednesday May 29th, the Illinois ACEs Response Collaborative hosted an important webinar with sociologist Dr. Ruth Thompson-Miller to discuss the enduring traumatic legacy of Jim Crow and how this trauma is reflected in the United States today. Dr. Thompson-Miller discussed her idea of “Segregation Stress Syndrome”–the chronic, enduring, and extremely painful responses to collective trauma that occurred during Jim Crow, the effects of which are still felt today. This intergenerational transmission of trauma creates risk factors for young African Americans in their interactions with police and other systems in the modern world.

While many might view an experience with trauma as a single event, Dr. Thompson-Miller argues that the trauma of racism has never ended–or subsided–for African-Americans, and has created a multigenerational traumatic experience. Drawing connections from Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin, Dr. Thompson-Miller discussed the origins and current state of “Segregation Stress Syndrome,” as well as ways clinicians can begin to make connections between historical trauma and the health outcomes of Black Americans today.

Dr. Ruth Thompson-Miller is Visiting Associate Professor of Sociology at Vassar College. Her research specializations are race and ethnicity, mental illness, and the elderly. She received the American Sociological Association (ASA)–National Institute of Mental Health–Minority Fellowship. She is the co-author of four books Jim Crow’s Legacy: The Lasting Impact of Segregation, Systemic Racism: Making Liberty, Justice, and Democracy Real, Not Your Grandmother’s Movement: Civil Rights and Black Lives Matter, and Please Don’t Shoot: Children, Police Violence, and Trauma. She is the co-author of chapters in Counseling Psychology, Sociology of Racial and Ethnic Relations, and Violence Against Women.