Studies suggest historical pain is felt in future generations



Finding your place in this country as an African-American man is a tough process. Arguments, disapproval and the loss of friends are common byproducts.

In a country that held your ancestors captive for more than 200 years legally,  African-American opinions may differ from others.

Common responses when American slavery include, “You didn’t live through slavery, why do you still care about it,” “Get over it,” and “It happened 150 years ago, forget about it.” But is it that simple?

After studying the DNA of Holocaust survivors and their children, Rachel Yehuda, who led a research team at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, may have uncovered an answer to that question.

By studying children of 32 individuals who were either held in concentration camps or in hiding during World War II, the team found that traumatic events could alter genetic make-up.

Prior to this test, researchers knew experiences could effect the genetics of the person who experienced them. This test, however, introduced evidence that the experiences of people’s parents can genetically effect their children.

After studying the genetics of the children of the survivors, the study found they had an increased chance of developing stress disorders.

“The gene changes in the children could only be attributed to Holocaust exposure in the parents,” Yehuda said in the study.

This is not the only study showing where experiences and fears can be passed down genetically. Scientists at Emory University, Brian G. Dias and Kerry J. Ressler, trained mice to be scared of the smell of cherry blossom, giving the mice a small electric shock every time the smell was introduced. This caused the mice to pair the smell of cherry blossom with fear.

The offspring of these mice had the same reaction to the smell, even though they had no negative experience with the smell. The effect was noticed in the offspring of the offspring of the original mice.

This research gives evidence that the descendants of slaves cannot simply forget about slavery. The trauma of their ancestors could affect their life everyday. Along with  250 years of slavery, being treated as subhuman, and all of the other atrocities that came with legal slavery are hard to wipe from memory.

Epigenetic inheritance can show how slavery can never be truly forgotten.

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