Trauma and Race by Micah L. McCreary- A Book Review 

It was in 2021 that Dr. Micah McCreary first became part of our Joseph House community. He and I met when both of us happened to be presenting papers in the same session of the annual Society for Biblical Literature conference. Dr. McCreary along with a colleague, presented on Rizpah, wife of King Saul, who watched her sons get murdered by the state in order to appease both a curse and diplomatic relations, all under King David’s watch (2 Sam 21:1-10). This wife of a failed and deposed king was able to draw attention to the plight of her sons and demand that they not be forgotten, shaming the great David himself into giving them a proper burial. They compared it to the lynching of Emmet Till, and the toll such terror takes upon mothers. The presentation was powerful and unforgettable. We at Joseph House are intimately aware of the tragedy imposed upon black families and communities in particular because of the large and disproportionate incidence of incarceration of black men. Dr. McCreary became a fast friend, and though Joseph House had little money to compensate and Covid raged, he generously agreed to be our featured speaker for our 2021 virtual Gala. We feature him again because of his new book, Trauma and Race, coming out this month from Fortress Press. Psychologist, Pastor, and Professor, Dr. McCreary’s unique combination of expertise, once again makes his work particularly relevant for Joseph House, as we are a trauma-informed community that offers trauma-informed counseling. His book succeeds where many others fail, as though he writes to experts, his book is designed to be overheard and understood by the neophyte as well. Professor McCreary doesn’t assume knowledge of technical terms, but explains them simply and succinctly, without belaboring or dumbing down. For anyone who wants to know what trauma-informed counseling is, and why it is important, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is both a quick read and a handy reference work. It is pedagogical, philosophical, theological, and yet, easy, and full of real-life examples to back his understanding and claims. For those in the Joseph House community that don’t understand what we do, Dr. McCreary will explain. He begins with definitions and examples of trauma, what it is and what it isn’t, particularly helpful for the many of us armchair psychologists that know just enough from pop culture to be dangerous. The reader will both nod their head with knowing ascent, but also pause and recategorize as he sets us straight on misconceptions, falsehoods, and biases. He is transparent with his mentors -the theories and figures in the field upon which he relies. Very quickly he moves into racial trauma, the main topic and strength of his book-the way such works in communal histories and its practical impact on the daily lives of those affected. He informs on intersectionality, the piling up of more than one trauma factor, contributing to complex victimization and making the requirements for care demandingly more precise. His nuanced understanding of both clients and professionals and the conceptual space where they meet, is masterful. What is most impressive about McCreary’s work is his understanding of professional short comings, without giving up on individual professionals. Regardless of their race or background, McCreary gives credit to caregivers to be able to learn, grow, and make a difference in the lives of suffering clients and communities.advocating for personal engagement rather than dispassionate distance. Micah McCreary is safe space incarnate and demonstrates through both example and theory how to replicate such as individuals and to foster therapeutic environments and communities. His contribution to the field will no doubt be felt, but for his contribution in explaining what we hope to accomplish at Joseph House and why, we are once again grateful. Thank you, Dr.McCreary. And to those of you in our community who wish to know more of what we do, buy his book.



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