Lionhearted – Hip Hop and Healing
Volume 5 • Issue 8 • August 2020
Uplift Family Services is a trauma-informed agency, providing whole person care through resilience-oriented, data-driven, culturally sensitive services. We believe in the power of staff investment, advocacy and collaboration as we partner with individuals, families, and communities to heal from the widespread impact of trauma.
Hip Hop and Healing
By Anthony Pineda, Wraparound Intervention Specialist, SCC
Trauma is a term in the mental health world, but what happens when you are alone in your trauma journey? Trauma creates paradigms for people, alters the vision of reality, and carries with it opportunities to develop skills.
Trauma was normalized for me, and my Latinx culture left me with few options internally. We don’t talk about our problems. In fact, we often act as if nothing is wrong (deeply rooted in pride). From substance abuse to domestic violence to emotional abuse, I often was forced to navigate these war fields with little support.
What happens to people without access to mental health, or when school officials don’t take notice and your own family is suffering from a multitude of issues? Most fall deeper and deeper into despair. However, many never recover while some make it out.
My journey with trauma is different. It is the reason I choose to work in this field.
I wasn’t offered therapeutic services until I was an adult. Thankfully I had culture to aid in my healing, but it was not my Latinx culture (it did help later on). I identify with Hip-hop culture. Music gave me unfiltered access to my trauma and for the first time allowed me into myself. I started with expression and that led to artistry, which led me towards healing. Creativity is healing. It is why we as humans have survived.
Trauma remains connected to memory, both brain and body. I struggle with trauma triggers still to this day. Trauma work is a process, and while I have worked diligently on acquiring skills to manage triggers, the long-term impact of trauma will be a lifelong work in progress. Using music to apply it therapeutically requires knowledge, practice of said culture, and an ability to think beyond established boundaries. Music gave me awareness of what trauma is by exposing me to others who had experienced trauma. That aware-ness turned into reflection, thus moving me out of the mind state I was in.
Moving into a practice helped me further flush out feelings and connected me with different ones. No different than asking a client to engage with different behaviors to establish a baseline for working on particular goals. The challenge came from also trying to work on these traumas while being a person of color. Racism is a primary trauma we experience in America, often even before home issues. Treated different, talked to differently, told to just try…. never dream. In my whole high school career, no one ever talked to me about dreams, college visits, or purpose. I had people support me at school during crisis, but beyond that it was just “let him be” mentality. Hip-hop culture gave me vision, purpose, and healing. Despite no teacher mentoring me towards college and people feeling sorry for me for having two children by the time I was 18 years old, I now sit here typing this having achieved 6 college degrees. I am an anomaly. I was pushed by pain and trauma. After beginning in the wrong direction, I adapted to use trauma to see the world differently. Culture saved my life, music found me at the right moment, and trauma is still with me.
Trauma is a part of our world. Maybe one day it will be less than necessary, but until we acknowledge the impact of racism, poverty, and violence our planet will continue to be plagued by it. This is not a hopeless situation just a real one, one that requires us to see things differently and honestly. Trauma is not unique to me, or you. Access to services and significant personal work led me out of the darkness. Culture can hold us back, but culture when given the right lens can foster healing. Music is the key to the soul.