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Unpacking Black Male Trauma

“The work I do is based on a question: How can you have great economic opportunities and still have Black men on the corner?“ says Sam Simmons. “Nobody was talking about the trauma and they definitely weren’t talking about Black male trauma.”

Addressing this question has formed the bedrock of Simmons’ 25 year career as a behavioral consultant. He is also the SAFE Families Manager at The Family Partnership, managing the Be More Project. A program designed to stop violence with African American men and boys against women and girls. 

Almost singularly credited with the increased use of the word ‘trauma’, Simmons is helping society have very different conversations about Black Men.

“When you allow men to address their trauma, they’re more likely to have empathy for other people, because they’ve been allowed to have empathy for themselves.” says Simmons. A ‘radical’ notion in a world bent on painting Black Men as ‘thugs’, ‘super-predators’ or hyper-sexual. 

How can we HEAL trauma? 

“We have to look at our personal pain and do our own work,” says Simmons. “How might being honest with ourselves have affecteced our life choices?” Forgiveness is also a key to healing. “Learn to forgive yourself for the choices you made. Learn to forgive your parents...for not knowing better.”

Simmons also encourages healthy stress management and making peace with historical and cultural trauma that deeply impacts the African American community overall. 


Robert "Clarence" Jones is the Community Outreach Director for Southside Community Health Services/Q Health Connections (SCHS/QHC).

For more than 35 years, Clarence’s work has been steeped in grassroots community health education with a particular focus on youth and fathers. He’s led programs focused on male responsibility and empowerment and facilitated trainings nationally and internationally.

He is active on several community boards including the University of Minnesota's Program in Health Disparities Research Board. He co-authored, "Black Fathers: An Invisible Presence in America” and also a chapter in the publication, "Understanding Organ Donation: Applied Behavioral Science Perspectives. Jones can also be heard weekly on Community Health Dialogues on 89.9 KMOJ. 

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© 2023 by Quality Life MN. Created by NdidiMarie Grafix for The Anika Foundation.


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