N’COBRA study finds genetic damage from historical racism linked to poor health and trauma.

Today N’COBRA released its 2021 report The Harm Is to Our Genes: Transgenerational Epigenetic Inheritance and Systemic Racism in America. 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 persuasively 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.”

Yes, trauma that happened to past generations can and is reflected by the current generation. The same can be expected to occur in future generations, if the report’s recommendations are not adopted.


“Our report emphatically attests that if the Black community is ever going to heal from the consequences of systemic racism, in addition to established medical protocols, we must not hesitate, but be inclusive of African-centered health and wellness modalities,” said Lisa Davis, N’COBRA health commission co-chair.

“These findings demand that every conversation about the health inequities and health problems confronting Black Americans should include historical trauma and its effects,” said Kamm Howard, N’COBRA national co-chair.

"A United Nations report released earlier this year concluded, 'Racism is embedded in the structures of our society.' While police brutality, the wealth gap, and other issues grace the headlines – health disparities are often overlooked said the release. And, when those disparities are generational, it’s even more difficult to determine the why and who is at fault. You must accept that systemic racism is the reason bad health has existed for generations for those of African descent,” Howard said.

Howard further breaks down and discusses the importance of the report, noting that:


1) Historical trauma is present not past;

2) Historical trauma is group trauma;

3) Historical trauma is multi-generational;

4) Health challenges of future generations are guaranteed; and

5) HR 40 must be passed.


The report also includes several important policy recommendations that will bring relief to Black Americans, namely: eliminate structural racism and decolonize health disparities; build Black wealth; fix the criminal justice system; fast track police reform; and strengthen voting rights legislation.

The report's findings, said Howard, make the demand for Reparations even more urgent.


"Resources must be targeted to address the multitude of harms in addition to the health challenges detailed in this report. H.R. 40 must pass,” he said. "Why it has taken more than 30 years for the U.S. Congress to even entertain a conversation about Reparations is hard to digest."


H.R. 40 was voted out of committee by the House of Representatives this past April. There are currently 200 members in favor of passage; 218 votes are needed.


"The 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," Howard said.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, lead sponsor of HR40, said, "Over the years, we have witnessed the impacts of systemic racism. This report now details how systemic racism has flowed through the centuries and through the communities of African Americans. The right answer to this report is for Congress to pass H.R. 40, The Commission to Study Slavery and Develop Reparations Proposals."


H.R. 40, she said, 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. "This is the right time in America’s history to pass H.R. 40 and to establish this important Commission,” she said.

About N'COBRA N’COBRA is the premiere mass-based coalition of organizations and individuals organized for the sole purpose of obtaining reparations for African descendants in the United States.

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