Addressing Trauma and Healing

For social change to be sustained, we need tools at the individual, interpersonal, organizational, and national level to address underlying trauma and allow for a path toward healing.

Alta Starr describes, “Liberation requires us to become aware of and dismantle the inevitable ways systems of domination live in us. Freedom, the ongoing state achieved through liberation, requires this even more profoundly. Through releasing old habitual contractions and building new embodied competencies, we reclaim our bodies, inhabiting our lives ever more fully and intentionally. As our experience of life is heightened and nourished by increased awareness and capacity to choose, rather than only react, we become more able to coordinate skillfully with others from a ground of authenticity, trust and accountability” (Reclaiming Our Bo [...]

Cultures of Care
Othering & Belonging Institute
A Conversation on Centering Relationships
Namira Islam Anani and Neriel David Ponce
What Is Trauma-Informed Design?
Carl Winfield
Next City
Federal Actions to Engage Communities in Reducing Gun Violence
E. Paddock, J. Samuels, N. Vinik, and S. Overton
Urban Institute; Joyce Foundation; et al.
Healing Justice: A Guide for Community Building and Collective Strategizing for Safer and Peaceful Communities
Michelle Emery
DePaul University, Women’s and Gender Studies
Whose Heritage? Public Symbols of the Confederacy: Community Action Guide
Community Safety in Tumultuous Times
Ejeris Dixon
The Forge
Guide to Trauma-Informed De-Escalation During Actions and Protests
Open Table Nashville
Stages of the Restorative Community Conferencing (RCC) Process: A Diversion Toolkit for Communities
Impact Justice, Restorative Justice Project
Get in Formation: A Community Safety Toolkit | With Addendum for Navigating Multiple Pandemics
Ejeris Dixon et al.
Vision Change Win
Practicing Sanctuary: An Action Guide to Radical Welcome and Collective Care
Resources for Addressing Harm, Accountability, and Healing
Critical Resistance
Community-Based Emergency First Responders: Explained
Patrisse Cullors and Tim Black
The Appeal
De-Escalation & Nonviolent Security
Training for Change
We Keep Us Safe: Action Tips
BlackOut Collective
This Town Adopted Trauma-Informed Care—And Saw a Decrease in Crime and Suspension Rates
Melissa Hellmann
YES! Magazine
Adverse Community Experiences and Resilience: A Framework for Addressing and Preventing Community Trauma
Rachel Davis, Howard Pinderhughes, and Myesha Williams
Prevention Institute; Kaiser Permanente
Building the We: Healing-Informed Governing for Racial Equity in Salinas
Jamilah Bradshaw Dieng, Jesús Valenzuela, and Tenoch Ortiz
Race Forward; National Compadres Network; East Salinas Building Healthy Communities, City of Salinas
Healing Justice: Building Power, Transforming Movements
Brenda Salas Neves, Cara Page, and Sarah Gunther
Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice
Apocalypse Survival Skill #9: The Right to Defend Ourselves
The Brown Sisters
How to Survive the End of the World
How to Build a Culture of Support So Leaders and Movements Can Thrive
L. Aeschlimann, H. Bennett, and A. Gordon-Kirsch
Waging Nonviolence
Black Women’s Self Care Resource Guide
The African American Policy Forum (AAPF)
How We Heal: From the Inside-Out
National Equity Project;
Radical Self-Care Primer
National Juvenile Justice Network
Race and Healing: A Body Practice
Resmaa Menakem with Krista Tippett
The On Being Project
Antiracism Meditation
Iman Gibson and Tori Lund
Are You Stressed Out about the Muslim Ban Decision?
The Family and Youth Institute
A Care Package (Trans Agenda for Liberation)
Transgender Law Center
How to Find Joy (Even in 2020)
Angela Gorrell
YES! Magazine
44 Mental Health Resources for Black People Trying to Survive in This Country
Zahra Barnes
The Four Bodies: A Holistic Toolkit for Coping With Racial Trauma
Jacquelyn Ogorchukwu
Nappy Head Club;
Reclaiming Our Bodies, Our Time, Our Lives: Embodiment for Black Liberation
Alta Staar
Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity (BOLD); Generative Somatics
How You Can Honor the Radical History of Self-Care
Self-Care Strategies for Survival: Sustaining Oneself in Social Justice Movements
Lauren Lofton
Self-Care: Alignment Towards Balance Podcast
Real Native Roots: Untold Stories
Meditations on Facing Injustice, Transforming Race and Privilege
Susal Stebbins Collins
Contemplative Practices for Anti-Oppression Pedagogy
Capacitar Emergency Response Tool Kit
Patricia Mathes Cane, Ph.D.
21-Day Challenge: Self-Care for Sustainability & Impact
Move to End Violence
4 Self-Care Resources for Days When the World is Terrible
Miriam Zoila Pérez

Caucusing (Affinity Groups)

A caucus is an intentionally created space for those who share an identity to convene for learning, support, and connections. Caucuses based on racial identity are often comprised, respectively, of people of color, white people, people who hold multiracial identities, or people who share specific racial or ethnic identities.

To advance racial equity, there is work for white people and people of color to do separately and together. Caucuses provide spaces for people to work within their own racial/ethnic groups. For white people, a caucus provides time and space to work explicitly and intentionally on understanding white culture and white privilege and to increase one’s critical analysis around these concepts. A white caucus also puts the onus on white people to teach each other about these ideas, rather than placing a burden on people of color to teach them. For people of color, a caucus is a place to work with peers to address the impact of racism, to interrupt experiences of internalized racism, and to create a space for healing and working for individual and collective liberation. At times, people of color may also break into more specific race-based caucuses, sometimes based on experiences with a particular issue, for example police violence, immigration, or land rights. Groups that use caucuses in their organizational racial equity work, especially in workplaces and coalitions, generally meet separately and create a process to rejoin and work together collectively.

SOURCE: (ACT / Strategies / Caucus and Affinity Groups)

Related Resources:  Caucus and Affinity Groups

Location: ACT / Strategies

Implicit Bias

Also known as unconscious or hidden bias, implicit biases are negative associations that people unknowingly hold. They are expressed automatically, without conscious awareness. Many studies have indicated that implicit biases affect individuals’ attitudes and actions, thus creating real-world implications, even though individuals may not even be aware that those biases exist within themselves. Notably, implicit biases have been shown to trump individuals’ stated commitments to equality and fairness, thereby producing behavior that diverges from the explicit attitudes that many people profess. The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is often used to measure implicit biases with regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, and other topics.

SOURCE:  Cheryl Staats, State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review 2013, Kirwan Institute, The Ohio State University. 

Related Resources:  Implicit Bias

Location: ACT / Communicating


The everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.

SOURCE:  Derald Wing Sue, PhD, “Microaggressions: More than Just Race” (Psychology Today, 17 November 2010).

Related Resources:  Racism (scroll down alphabetically to the box for “Interpersonal Racism”)

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts

Multicultural Competency

A process of learning about and becoming allies with people from other cultures, thereby broadening our own understanding and ability to participate in a multicultural process. The key element to becoming more culturally competent is respect for the ways that others live in and organize the world and an openness to learn from them.

SOURCE:  Paul Kivel, “Multicultural Competence” (2007).

Related Resources:  Multicultural Competency

Location: ACT / Strategies


  1. Power is unequally distributed globally and in U.S. society; some individuals or groups wield greater power than others, thereby allowing them greater access and control over resources. Wealth, whiteness, citizenship, patriarchy, heterosexism, and education are a few key social mechanisms through which power operates. Although power is often conceptualized as power overother individuals or groups, other variations are power with (used in the context of building collective strength) and power within (which references an individual’s internal strength). Learning to “see” and understand relations of power is vital to organizing for progressive social change.

  2. Power may also be understood as the ability to influence others and impose one’s beliefs. All power is relational, and the different relationships either reinforce or disrupt one another. The importance of the concept of power to anti-racism is clear: racism cannot be understood without understanding that power is not only an individual relationship but a cultural one, and that power relationships are shifting constantly. Power can be used malignantly and intentionally, but need not be, and individuals within a culture may benefit from power of which they are unaware.

  3. (A) The ability to name or define. (B) The ability to decide. (C) The ability the set the rule, standard, or policy. (D) The ability to change the rule, standard, or policy to serve your needs, wants, or desires. (E) The ability to influence decision makers to make choices in favor of your cause, issue, or concern. Each of these definitions can manifest on personal, social, institutional, or structural levels:  

  • Personal Power - 1. Self-determination. 2. Power that an individual possesses or builds in their personal life and interpersonal relationships.  

  • Social Power - 1. Communal self-determination. 2. A grassroots collective organization of personal power. 3. Power that social groups possess or build among themselves to determine and shape their collective lives.  

  • Institutional Power - 1. Power to create and shape the rules, policies, and actions of an institution. 2. To have institutional power is to be a decision maker or to have great influence upon a decision maker of an institution.  

  • Structural Power - To have structural power is to create and shape the rules, policies, and actions that govern multiple and intersecting institutions or an industry.


  1. Intergroup Resources, “Power” (2012).

  2. Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre, “Racism and Power” (2018) / “CARED Glossary” (2020).

  3. Our Shared Language: Social Justice Glossary, YWCA (2016).

Racial Healing

To restore to health or soundness; to repair or set right; to restore to spiritual wholeness.

SOURCE:  Michael R. Wenger, Racial Equity Resource Guide (W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 2012).

Related Resources:  Addressing Trauma and Healing and Trauma, Violence, and Healing

Locations: ACT / Strategies and PLAN / Issues

Racial Reconciliation

Reconciliation involves three ideas. First, it recognizes that racism in America is both systemic and institutionalized, with far–reaching effects on both political engagement and economic opportunities for minorities. Second, reconciliation is engendered by empowering local communities through relationship-building and truth-telling. Lastly, justice is the essential component of the conciliatory process—justice that is best termed as restorative rather than retributive, while still maintaining its vital punitive character.

SOURCE:  The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, Position Statement on Reconciliation (2014).

Related Resources:  Racial Reconciliation

Location: ACT / Strategies

Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice is a theory of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by crime and conflict. It places decisions in the hands of those who have been most affected by a wrongdoing, and gives equal concern to the victim, the offender, and the surrounding community. Restorative responses are meant to repair harm, heal broken relationships, and address the underlying reasons for the offense. Restorative Justice emphasizes individual and collective accountability. Crime and conflict generate opportunities to build community and increase grassroots power when restorative practices are employed.

SOURCE:  The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), “Glossary.”

Related Resources:  Conflict Transformation and Restorative Justice

Location: ACT / Strategies

White Supremacy Culture

  1. White Supremacy Culture refers to the dominant, unquestioned standards of behavior and ways of functioning embodied by the vast majority of institutions in the United States. These standards may be seen as mainstream, dominant cultural practices; they have evolved from the United States’ history of white supremacy. Because it is so normalized it can be hard to see, which only adds to its powerful hold. In many ways, it is indistinguishable from what we might call U.S. culture or norms – a focus on individuals over groups, for example, or an emphasis on the written word as a form of professional communication. But it operates in even more subtle ways, by actually defining what “normal” is – and likewise, what “professional,” “effective,” or even “good” is. In turn, white culture also defines what is not good, “at risk,” or “unsustainable.” White culture values some ways of thinking, behaving, deciding, and knowing – ways that are more familiar and come more naturally to those from a white, western tradition – while devaluing or rendering invisible other ways. And it does this without ever having to explicitly say so...

  2. An artificial, historically constructed culture which expresses, justifies, and binds together the United States white supremacy system. It is the glue that binds together white-controlled institutions into systems and white-controlled systems into the global white supremacy system.


1. Gita Gulati-Partee and Maggie Potapchuk, “Paying Attention to White Culture and Privilege: A Missing Link to Advancing Racial Equity” (The Foundation Review vol. 6: issue 1, 2014).

2. Sharon Martinas and the Challenging White Supremacy Workshop, 4th revision (1995).

Related Resources:  Organizational Change Process (see the first section: “Addressing White Dominant Culture”)

Location: ACT / Strategies