The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA) released its 2021 report “The Harm is to Our Genes: Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance and Systemic Racism in America” highlighting the generational impact of historical trauma and racism.
The research team was headed by Dr. Joan Kaufman of Kennedy Krieger Institute at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.
Citing current scientific research, the seven-section report documents the ongoing impact of historical trauma, starting with the Transatlantic Slave Trade, and includes racial segregation, mass incarceration, police brutality and economic exploitation. These, and other harms, reveal that “ancestral adversities can negatively impact descendants across multiple generations through epigenetic (chemical) changes in the DNA.”
N’COBRA’s report finds that the trauma that happened to past generations is reflected by current and future generations because it negatively manipulates gene structures, which creates a high probability for illness that are passed down multiple generations, an inherited injury.
The pre-existing illnesses that Black Americans have at alarming rates including diabetes, heart disease and hypertension, N’COBRA finds are all illness that are associated with generational inheritance.
“These findings demand that every conversation about the health inequities and health problems confronting Black Americans should include historical trauma and its effects,” says Kamm Howard, N’COBRA National co-chair. “We must accept that systemic racism is the reason bad health has existed for generations for those of African descent.”
The report includes several policy recommendations to bring relief to Black Americans including inclusion of Black Americans in health disparity discussions, eliminating structural racism, building Black wealth, passing the reparations bill HR 40 and fixing the criminal justice system.
“These findings make our demand for reparations even more urgent,” Howard said. “Resources must be targeted to address the multitude of harms in addition to the health challenges detailed in this report. HR 40 must pass.”
HR 40 was voted out of committee by the House of Representatives this past April. There are currently 200 members in favor of passage and 218 votes are needed.
“The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America’s report provides us with a singular, significant, historical and scientific presentation of the extended devastation of the impacts of slavery on the descendants of enslaved Africans and all of America. Over the years, we have witnessed the impacts of systemic racism,” said Congresswoman Jackson Lee. “The right answer to this report is for Congress to pass HR 40, which will provide a studied analysis and response for the best pathway forward to heal America and to end forever the stigma of systemic racism and its varied social, political, economic, and environmental impacts as detailed in this report.”
Since 1987, N’COBRA has been the leading mass coalition dedicated to obtaining Reparations for African descendants in America. Most recently, their work has been recognized by the MacArthur Foundation for their cutting-edge efforts.
For more information about N’COBRA, visit www.NCOBRAonline.org.