The African American Leadership Commissions a Report to Advance Community-Centered Treatment and Health from Racial Trauma in the Twin Cities

MINNEAPOLIS, May 18, 2020 — The African American Leadership Forum (AALF), a data-driven nonprofit working to improve the lives of Black Minnesotans by empowering our community’s leaders, is excited to announce the release of the A Future of Excellent Emotional Health & Wellbeing Report: Community-Centered Approaches to Advance African American Consciousness and Healing Related to Racialized Trauma paper. This report is a follow-up to a 2018 study completed by A. Richmond and R.D. Peoples, which focused on identifying barriers related to healing from race-related trauma reported by African American participants in Minnesota (commissioned by AALF). This follow-up report presents the results of one-on-one interviews with 9 racial trauma experts intended to gather information that can be used to help advance community-centered treatment of and healing from racial trauma in the Twin Cities.

Details About the Study

Practitioners were asked to provide recommendations on how to (1) increase the African American community’s knowledge of race- related trauma and ways to heal; (2) better encourage African Americans to seek mental health resources to address racialized trauma; (3) increase the visibility of available resources for healing from trauma; (4) more effectively collaborate or partner to better respond to trauma; (5) increase the visibility of and knowledge about healing from racial trauma within the general medical community; (6) identify issues that practitioners working in healing from trauma should be aware of; and (7) make research on racial trauma and healing easily available to increase public awareness. The experts were also asked to share information on research that has been done to increase awareness of culturally specific and trauma-informed mental health care.

Key Report Findings

  • Encouraging African Americans to Seek Mental Health Resources: The practitioners agreed that community leaders and service providers can play a major role in supporting connection-building and safety for community members and helping them learn about and access safe and supportive emotional health resources. The community also has a role in fostering community resilience and enabling individuals and communities to take more control over their health and lives.
  • Developing Community Resources and Services for Healing from Trauma: The practitioners made a compelling case for strong community-centered collaboration to create greater visibility for culturally sensitive community resources and services for healing from trauma. They also noted the importance of educating more practitioners who specialize in race-related trauma. The practitioners mapped out a range of options to achieve these shifts, which included a media campaign and community education offerings.
  • Creating Stronger Collaborations and Partnership to Meet Community Needs: The practitioners argued for forging stronger collaborations and partnerships while also acknowledging current successful working relationships. Enhancing collaboration is important, they agreed, because addressing race-related trauma at a community level is far too complex for a single person or a single organization to tackle alone. Collaborations and partnerships that include people with culturally appropriate skills can do a better job of addressing race-related trauma, according to those interviewed.
  • Increasing Knowledge About Healing from Racial Trauma within the Medical Community: The 9 practitioners identified many factors involved in implementing and enforcing change in health care, including environmental and technological factors and provider demographics. The most important of these factors, according to the providers, are the demographic makeup of health care providers and their knowledge level, as these directly affect the quality of patient care.

For additional info about the report’s finding and to read the full report visit

The African American Cultural Trauma and Healing Practitioners Interviewed for the Report Included:

Atum Azzahir (Chief Executive Officer, Chief Cultural Compliance Officer, and Elder Consultant in African Ways of Knowing for the Cultural Wellness Center); Ingrid Cockhren (Midwest Regional Community Facilitator for ACEs Connection), Gretta Gardner (Deputy Director of Ujima Inc: The National Resource Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community); and BraVada Garrett- Akinsanya (Clinical Psychologist, Executive Director, African American Child Wellness Institute, Inc., and Founder and President, Brakins Consulting and Psychological Services, LLC).

Also interviewed were Brandon Jones (Psychotherapist, Professor, Behavioral Health and Healing Consultant at Jenga Institute); Clarence Jones (Community Engagement Consultant for the Hue-MAN Partnership); Resmaa Menakem (Healer, Author, Trauma Therapist, and Chief Executive Officer at Justice Leadership Solutions); Samuel Simmons (Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor and Behavior Consultant at Samuel Simmons Consulting, which specializes in practical, culturally sensitive trauma- informed work with African American males and their families); and Oliver J. Williams (Executive Director of the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community at the University of Minnesota School of Social Work).

The African American Leadership Forum (AALF) mobilizes and activates dynamic groups of committed and passionate African Americans to influence the social, economic and political landscape that impacts our daily lives. To learn more visit

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