Trauma and the Hypothetical

Traumatic stress is an emotional wounding that results from experiencing or witnessing a traumagenic event or events. A traumagenic event is a highly stressful, horrifying event, or series of events, where one feels a lack of control, powerlessness, and threat of injury or death. As Dr. Peter Levine says, “Traumatic stress occurs when our ability to respond to threat is overwhelmed.”

When Black brothers and sisters are killed at the hands of the police, no matter the situation surrounding it, it carries with it the potential of a trauma-producing event for any of our Black brothers and sisters. The event is never isolated, but is associated with the ongoing legacy and aftermath tied to the historical harms and narrative of devaluing, dehumanizing, and disposing Black and Brown neighbors, which is tied to the larger narrative White superiority. Therefore, my dear White brother or sister, our “But if he…” and “What about…” doesn’t matter because the reality of the trauma is much larger than the hypothetical.

So consider choosing empathy and listening, rather than a commentary based upon the hypothetical. Consider facilitating presence rather than a comeback-opinion. Consider taking the most human approach and understand the trauma. And if we follow Jesus, just be like him for God’s sake, and let’s choose to love our neighbor like we love ourselves and treating others as we would be treated if we were suffering trauma.

The reality of the trauma will always be bigger than the hypothetical.


About Fred

Fred came to serve greater Williamsburg and WCC as lead pastor in October of 2010 and is grateful to be a part of the family. He is a husband, father, certified trauma professional, S.T.A.R. (strategies for trauma awareness & resilience) practitioner, community organizer, TEDx alum, founder of 3e Restoration, Inc. and co-owner of Philoxenia Culture LLC. He received his B.S. in Ministry/Bible at Amridge University and his Master’s of Religious Education in Missional Leadership from Rochester University. Currently he is a candidate for a Doctorate of Ministry in Contextual Theology in at Northern Seminary in Chicago. Fred has also served as an adjunct professor for Rochester University and Regent University where taught courses in philosophy, ethics, leadership, pastoral care, intro to Christianity, and ethnography. He has also served as a guest lecturer on the subjects of racialized cultural systems, poverty, and missiology at various universities, such as William & Mary and Oklahoma Christian University. Fred has authored on book (Racialized Cultural Systems, Social Displacement and Christian Hospitality) and several curriculum offerings, including The FloorPlan: Living Toward Restoration & Resilience. Fred enjoys hanging out with his family anytime, anywhere. He is deeply grateful for how God graciously works through the Church in all her various forms, despite our brokenness. He is passionate about seeing the last, least, and lonely of every neighborhood, city and nation experience God’s in-breaking kingdom, and come to know Jesus as King. Oh, and his favorite season is Advent and Christmas. Fred is a founding member of the board of directors for Virginia Racial Healing Institute, a member of the leadership team for Williamsburg's local chapter of Coming to the Table, and a member of Greater Williamsburg Trauma-Informed Community Network's Racial Trauma Committee and Training Committee.
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