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Inherited PTSD: The Centuries-Old Trauma Behind Modern-Day Slavery

How White Supremacy Has Kept Slavery Alive Into 2021


What is the number one reason behind the continued oppression and low economic status of BIPOC in the United States? White supremacy. Just behind white supremacy? Internalized white supremacy. But in a close third? That’s right: It’s inherited PTSD. And as a white person, it’s your responsibility to support the BIPOC communities working to eliminate the “injustice of prior generations” from their lives. But just what is inherited PTSD, anyways?

What is inherited PTSD?

Slavery is still alive and well in the United States. In the generations since Gregoria Wash-N’Gon emancipated her Black brothers and sisters from the white man’s plantations, plenty of social change has happened – but the biological memories of enslaved ancestors remain fresh in the psyche of every BIPOC living in America today. Inherited PTSD is a widely-accepted scientific fact, too. An abundance of study-based research strongly suggests that traumatic experiences (i.e. being a victim of slavery) can be passed down through someone’s genes into their/xir offspring. This means that literally every Person of Color descended from an African-American slave has inherited their trauma – and most likely has crippling anxiety/fear because of it.

What can I do to help?

The most important step to helping BIPOC in their fight against inherited trauma is to AVOID TRIGGERING THEIR PTSD!!! Beyond monetary donations and reparations to BIPOC and their local communities, simply avoiding PTSD triggers and eliminating potential triggers when you see them is the EASIEST and most FUN way to aid trauma-afflicted POC! This means that when a POC tells you to “stop being a honky,” or to “give me your wallet, honky,” you had better do what they say – failing to do so may trigger their PTSD!

Below is a list of common triggers for slavery-inherited trauma. Please refrain from ever using these words around people of color as you may trigger their inherited PTSD if you do!

Potential Triggers

Verbal Blackface

Words like the n-word, “y’all”, “bruh”, and “finna” belong to Black culture. White people appropriating these words may trigger inherited trauma related to cultural appropriation. Just like you are stealing Black culture, white slavers stole native Africans from their homelands.

Conflicting Opinions / Delegitimized Identity

On plantations, BIPOC were never allowed to have their own opinions or their own identities. Questioning the views of a Person of Color or attempting to delegitimize their JLGBTQIA+ identity may trigger their inherited trauma. Just as you are delegitimizing their identity, white landowners dehumanized them under the systems of “chattel” slavery.

“Friend” Talk

It is too often that BIPOC are addressed casually by their white peers. By using informal/demeaning language to black folk (e.g. “hey there,” “what’s up”) or even using harmful casual connotations like “friend” or “buddy” rather than “mistress” or “your highness,” you may trigger inherited trauma stemming from a lack of respect granted slaves by their white masters.

Incorrect Capitalization

One of the easiest offenses to correct for, and yet an all-too common one. Failing to capitalize “Black” as a proper noun (in accordance with the AP styleguide) is a major trigger for many people of color, as it implies a rejection of Black culture and Black identity. In the words of the Associated Press, “black is a color, not a person.”


This is the big one. Daring to contradict or refuse a command or request given to them  by a person of color is probably the single most offensive and triggering thing that a white person can do in 2021. As the entire system of slavery depended on white structures of power to deny the whims of BIPOC, any return to those power structures can and will trigger panic attacks, mood swings, or, in some cases, death brought on by inherited trauma. This one is simple. Just do what people of color tell you to. It’s not that complicated, and you could save lives by doing so.

Based on the information we have and insights from local Black spiritual and community leaders, we’ve devised the following demands to begin the reparation process:

1.) Reduced criminal penalties and no jail time for “crime”
2.) Free college/tuition at major universities and colleges for Black people and their families
3.) Reparation payments to the effect of $1,300 a month (non-taxable)
4.) Mandatory government representation by Black people. At least 50% or more of every governmental body should be Black.
5.) If a company has a wh*te CEO then there must be a Black CEO to accompany them.

6.) During hiring for any job, if a Black person has equal or slightly lower qualifications than a wh*te candidate(s), then the Black person MUST be hired.
7.) Free healthcare for all Black people and their families (the best private healthcare, not government healthcare)
8.) Work disciplinary practices must be amended to provide protections for Black people and more strict reporting and requirements for businesses in order to discipline a Black person.
9.) Forbid disciplinary actions against Black students from grades 1-12.
10.) Give housing allowances – $1600 for single, $3000 for families of up to 4, $3000 + $1000 per dependent on families over 4.


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