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Treating Race-Based Trauma

Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Kalamazoo

A new program aims to help people of color in Kalamazoo County who've experienced race-based trauma.

The Black and Brown Therapy Collective puts victims in touch with therapists of color. It's sponsored by Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation of Kalamazoo.

Doctor Kenlana Ferguson is the director of the Kalamazoo College Counseling Center and one of the clinicians involved in the project. She says racial trauma comes in many forms.

"Pretty much what that is is mental and emotional injury that is caused by racial bias, ethnic discrimination, hate crimes, and racism. And, it's similar in some ways to post-traumatic stress."

Ferguson says the project is in a three-month pilot phase.

WMUK's Andy Robins speaks with Kana Mitchell

Kama Mitchell is the artistic director and Queen Douala at Rootead in Kalamazoo and is also involved in the collective. She says it will help fill a gap in mental health services for the area's minority community.

"It's easier to talk about it with someone who might have had similar life experiences, or know someone in their family, and the cultural recognition of what that looks like."

Ferguson agrees.

"You can't teach lived experience, right? So, our clinicians of color, although it's not a monolith and we all have different experiences, we also have been living in this system of white supremacy."

The collective is supported by a grant from the Kalamazoo Community Foundation. Ferguson says that will allow it to cover the cost of up to four therapy sessions for participants.

"Uninsured or under-insured, or just limited resources, I would definitely rather people take care of their children, get food, buy hygiene products, and let the collective help them with this piece of what they might need to be well."

Andy Robins has been WMUK's News Director since 1998 and a broadcast journalist for over 24 years. He joined WMUK's staff in 1985. Under his direction, WMUK has received numerous awards for news reporting.