Winona State University professor, Dr. Ruth Charles provided testimony to the Minnesota House of Representatives, Select House Committee on Racial Justice this fall. Her testimony provided outlook on the impact of trauma on children and how this specifically affects children of color.


Since the fall of 2015 Charles has been educating and advocating throughout southeastern Minnesota through her involvement in Resilient Winona County, an initiative she helped establish. This group is focused on educating and outreach, giving more than 200 presentations to different populations and organizations to help spread awareness on a variety of different topics from individual and community traumas to abuse, addiction, and discrimination. Charles explains that her recent testimony was part of this work. “Part of our mission is to educate, advocate, and elevate,” she shared, “and what I was doing was educating.”


Charles testimony explained how trauma in children transpires, how it affects them in day-to-day life and why it is so important to heal from past trauma. While relaying her professional expertise, she also incorporated a personal story. One of her family members, a biracial elementary aged child had a trauma event. In her testimony she explained how his trauma had transpired and how it was able to be healed. Healing and communication, she notes, is an integral part in moving on from trauma. She explains, “what we have done is change the question from ‘why would you do this’ to ‘what happened to you to make you behave this way?’”


Charles’s testimony will be one of many testimonies that the Select House Committee on Racial Justice uses for recommendation to format different programs and bills to combat disparities Minnesotans of color experience regarding public safety, education, housing, employment, and health. The first hearing, which Charles was involved in, focused on what racisms is, the impact of what racism has on children, and trauma left by racism. Moving forward, Charles will continue to educate and advocate when possible, to help address causes of individual and community traumas and ways to heal.


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