A Word on Resilience and Posttraumatic Growth

This chapter aspires to examine how resilience plays a role in the North American Black community’s ability to persevere throughout history and cope in today’s complex reality. Surprisingly, the scientific community has published precious few studies on the topic of resilience and the Black community. However, in the hope that this important topic will grow in prevalence over time, this chapter will content itself to be an exploratory' search for the exhibition of resilience in this group. Of course, endeavouring to understand resilience in a large group facing adversity for centuries is no easy feat. Therefore, for the purposes of this chapter, the focus will be on some of the ways in which social media has been used as a tool to foster collective resilience within this community.

As this book has already' established, resilience goes beyond simply' surviving and is, in fact, the ability to thrive in spite of harsh conditions. However, one of the challenges in exploring resilience in such a large group is the natural diversity' that can be found in any given group and finding the balance between individual and collective resilience as well as the link between the two. The complexity of collective resilience “is still not fully comprehended nor easily defined” in spite of various attempts to study it (Sousa, Haj-Yahia, Feldman & Lee, 2013). However, resilience in this context will generally refer to a positive adaptation to adversity “through the use of individual or community characteristics, resources, strategies, and processes” (Sousa et al., 2013). By exploring examples of how the Black community has adapted through time, it enables us as researchers to pinpoint the protective factors and resources which enabled them, both as individuals and as a group, to overcome adversity. Those protective factors can be numerous and vary

Resilience in the Black Community 185 according to the context and need, but they have a general common purpose to “lessen risk and/or promote well-being” while facing psychological stressors (Sousa et al., 2013).

Another phenomenon within the field of positive psycholog)' is the concept of “posttraumatic growth,” which, as the name indicates, refers to new growth taking place as a direct consequence of trauma. The Posttraumatic Growth Inventor)- (PTGI) is the scale typically used to measure this new growth and change in perspective by examining positive progress in five areas: new possibilities, relationships with others, personal strength, appreciation of life and spiritual change (Tedeschi & Calhoun, 1996). These measurements are conceptualized for individuals rather than groups, but on a speculative level, it might be suggested that all five of those criteria of posttraumatic growth are present in the Black community. Of course, the challenge here is that there is virtually no way of obtaining a “baseline” of how the Black community functioned as a whole before adversity came their way. Therefore, it becomes impossible to compare and see if there has been posttraumatic growth that did not exist before the trauma occurred. But these criteria will be explored nonetheless in this chapter, specifically by examining how the tool of media has facilitated growth, relationships/community and new possibilities among other benefits.

 
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