Re-Imagining A Trauma-Informed Approach

A Trauma-Informed Womanist Model

Resist and Rise Model

At Pepperdine University, Thema Bryant-Davis, Bemi Fasalojo, Ana Arounian, Kirsten L. Jackson, and Egypt Leithman advance a model rooted in the emergence of womanist psychology by centering the voices, lived experiences, wisdom, and historically subjugated knowledge of Black women and Black women’s children. The researchers acknowledge the traditions of trauma-informed approach ineffectually regarding the distinctiveness of Black women’s trauma, and ineptly identifying models of care absent of cultural differences; effectively and adversely creating more trauma cycles without care models. As you imagine and design the Children’s Sabbath do so with this lens in mind. Whose voice is missing? Who are you freeing? Who are you centering? Who are you leaving behind?

Developed Trauma-Informed Content

Trauma-informed content includes developing written or visual content that encourages pathways to wellness, wholeness, and freedom. This is content that thoughtfully acknowledges the complexities of the human experience and responsibly integrates care and awareness of trauma in content models, expecting to provide content that heals and resists activating triggers or furthering trauma.

A Womanist Ethic

Womanist is a term coined by Pulitzer-prize-winning novelist Alice Walker in her 1983 seminal work, In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose. Within the four-part definition, womanist is from the Black cultural vernacular “acting womanish” an expression that Black mothers used to refer to Black girls who were acting audacious or courageous. It is also a term that is committed to the survival, liberation, and wholeness of an entire people, including children. 

In a theological framing, womanism seeks to liberate those who are oppressed, ask whose voice is missing, unmute the voices of those who have been silenced, and dismantle the walls of patriarchy that hinder all of God’s people from flourishing. Womanism intentionally amplifies the voices and experiences of those who have been cast to the margins of society and asks what needs to be changed so that everyone has equitable and healthy experiences. When children’s needs have not been met – whether it is due to insufficient policies and systems or a disregard for their humanity – their experiences must be amplified so that the work toward flourishing, thriving, and wholeness can begin. 

Pioneering womanist scholar and theologian Katie Geneva Cannon says that “womanism requires that we stress the urgency of the African American women’s movement from death to life,” and to look back at the errors that have traumatized the most vulnerable in our communities (including children), study those outcomes and do the analysis so that these traumatic experiences are not repeated. 

With great care and in a spirit of freedom, we have designed the Children’s Sabbath in a trauma-informed way with a womanist lens, and have provided resources for your faith community to do the same.