Connections Spotlight — Interview with Iya Affo on ‘Historical Trauma’ during a time of Covid-19, Black Lives Matter

Aug 25, 2020 | CCC&Y Info & Events

Iya Affo. Courtesy photo.

By the Coconino Coalition for Children & Youth

Only by understanding the root causes of historical trauma can we fully begin the healing process during this time of Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter, said Iya Affo, founder of Heal Historic Trauma.

Affo, a culturalist and historic trauma specialist, addressed the impact of historical trauma during her first level of “Historical Trauma Special Certification” training held via Zoom on Aug. 20 and 24.

The training was presented to a total of 110 individuals, many of whom, represented staff, board members and supporters of the Coconino Coalition for Children & Youth. The attendees represented a variety of child welfare, behavioral health and other community agencies.

In June, CCC&Y agreed to partner with Heal Historical Trauma to become a historical trauma certified agency, which included providing training to the non-profit organization.
The most recent training included “Culture and the Explosion of COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter,” “Historical Trauma including Colonization,” “Faces of Historical Trauma,” “Epigenetics,” “Social Determinants of Health,” “BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) Wellness and Structural Racisim” and “Healing.”
Following the session, CCC&Y conducted a Question & Answer interview with Affowho is also with Phoenix Rising in Residence (AZ). Here is that interview:
How important was it for CCC&Y and other agencies/individuals to get this training during this time of Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter?
I cannot thank the ancestors and deities enough for the divine timing of this work! CCC&Y is a leader in the state of Arizona! The foresight of Virginia Watahomigie and the Board, had the organization poised and ready to become certified in order to truly serve the community. We talk a lot about being trauma-informed, but trauma-informed means culturally competent. Historical Trauma training is pertinent during this time because it is not aggressive or accusatory. Heal Historical Trauma creates a safe space; a talking circle to discuss important historical information that we don’t learn during our academic career. It’s paramount because during the training, people receive information and have the opportunity to apply it for their own personal evolution as well as in service to the community.
What was the primary goal of the training session?
This is a brilliant time in American history! We have generated so much energy through the explosion of covid-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement, that we have the ultimate opportunity for change. The Historical Trauma Specialist Certification training is a great tool to support equity, diversity and inclusion. I love it because the intention is not to colonize anyone’s mind; the training is meant to expose trainees to a variety of ways that people experience the world. We unpack the history of Mexican-origin people, Native Americans, African Americans and survivors of the Jewish Holocaust to understand the intergenerational impact of Historical Trauma. The goal is to encourage people to put down their dominant culture/Christian lens when seeing people of color. When we have understanding, we can truly embrace one another.
What do you think will be the next steps for CCC&Y’s efforts to be a historical trauma certified agency?
We will work in collaboration and Heal Historical Trauma will continue in a consultant role within the organization to provide support and continued training opportunities.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
We are creating a tribe, of what I call “Culturalistas”, that will advance the grassroots movement of transcending tolerance through cultivating love, equity and respect. We want to remind the American people that our country was built on the idea of E Pluribus Unum; out of many, one. 
Moving forward, Heal Historical Trauma will additionally focus on mental health by providing workshops and eventually retreats around the world that utilize various forms of Indigenous Healing for personal healing and wellness. Look out for the many new trainings to come!!!
The Level 1 training is designed for participants serving, leading, advocating and working with people of color. It is the perfect training for people in multicultural families and for anyone with the desire to understand the impact of slavery, genocide and colonization. The course dives deeply into the following topics: BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) Wellness, Historical Trauma, Epigenetics, discussion specific to Native American, African American, Mexican American and Jewish Holocaust tragedies, understanding the connection between BIPOC wellness, social determinants of health and structural racism. The course provides a comprehensive understanding of Historic Trauma from a multicultural lens.
Iya Affo has previously conducted Part A and Part B of Historical Trauma webinars which available for FREE by visiting CCC&Y’s Prevention page.
I am thankful to have the support of our board of directors as we move farther along in our prevention work,” said Virginia Watahomigie, executive director of the Coconino Coalition for Children & Youth. “We talk about healing as a community, but we cannot do that without acknowledging and understanding what has come before us. Further, we must learn how history impacts current experience in our community.  The spirit and connection from our members as CCC&Y moves the mission forward is truly special and inspiring.  Finally, I want to thank and recognize Iya.  It is a special person who can keep the interest and heart of an audience over zoom for 6 hours.  Her message and work truly brings so much to this world and it is a true honor to partner with her.”
For More Information Contact: 
Virginia Watahomigie, executive director of CCC&Y

Iya Affo, founder of Heal Historic Trauma