Q&A: Trauma, Young Men of Color and Transformational Healing

2/26/13 Editor's Update: The webinar recording and slides are now available for download.

Ahead of the Reclaiming Futures webinar with the National Compadres Network (NCN), I had the pleasure of chatting with Jerry Tello and Juan Gomez about trauma, young men of color and transformational healing.
Jerry Tello is co-founder of the NCN and the present director of the National Latino Fatherhood and Family Institute (NLFFI). He is an internationally recognized expert in the areas of men and boys of color, fatherhood, family strengthening, community peace and mobilization, and culturally based violence prevention/intervention issues. For 30 years Mr. Tello has dedicated his efforts to “La Cultura Cura”, allowing people to overcome internalized oppression and improve life outcomes.
Juan Gomez is a senior consultant with the NCN and specializes in strategic planning and resource development. Previously he served as a fellow for The California Endowment (TCE) with a focus on statewide policy, grant, and change-making strategies for TCE’s Healthy Happens Here (HHH) campaign. Mr. Gomez was raised in Watsonville, California where he grew up with his grandma Amelia and grandpa Ampelio.
Read the interview below and join us on February 26 to learn more and connect with Jerry and Juan.
LIZ WU (LW): What are the overlooked factors that put Latino men and boys at risk for poor health outcomes, specifically gang violence, substance abuse, incarceration and school failure? How does this affect the Latino community?

NATIONAL COMPADRES NETWORK (NCN): There is a profusion of overlooked factors that exist when analyzing Latino health disparities specifically gang violence, substance abuse, incarceration, and school failure. Yet, the indicators and role of trauma, chronic adversity, and acculturation-related stress among Latinos never receives proper billing. Nobody is paying attention to the inner cultural resiliency, regalos (gifts) and post traumatic growth that Latinos naturally possess. Re-connecting boys and men with paradigms for “Honorable Manhood” and positive male role models is an internal inoculation process that combats risk factors. Further, our totality as Latinos including our nations of origin, indigenous roots, and cultural resilient factors are poorly distinguished within the existing literature. The result to the Latino community is culturally ineffective services that are piecemealed, marginally accepted, often culturally maladapted. In addition, current medical frameworks lack a clear focus on Latinos-- and at best-- stop the trauma but don’t start the healing.
LW: Is there is a need for going beyond the trauma informed approach? Please explain.
NCN: There is a significant attention to trauma but oversight and misunderstanding of healing, specifically related to Latinos, within the systems of care and the broader public health field. The emerging field of the trauma-informed approach is a good entry point, but needs a gap check. The national focus needs to expand, go beyond trauma and incorporate the healing-informed approach for Latinos and other populations of color. We must continue to expand the conversation on trauma, or the field will pursue porous solutions, deficit paradigms and generic markers for success. A cost benefit analysis would indicate that the healing informed approach includes prevention – both applicable and cost effective across systems.
LW: What role does culture play in the health and healing of Latino men and boys?
NCN: The role of culture within the health and healing of Latino men and boys is front and center. In fact, culture and health are intrinsically related as part of a symbiotic relationship leading to overall health and healing. If we stay stuck within the trauma-informed approach we remain focused on the pain, confusion and acculturation-related stress that our children, youth, and families experience. In addition, a growing body of literature indicates that foreign born Latinos live longer, which in large part should be attributed to positive cultural identity, traditions, and customs that have operationalized themselves in balance, for over 500 years.
LW: What is Transformational Health and Healing?
NCN: La Cultura Cura: Transformational Health and Healing is under the guidance of Jerry Tello, the National Compadres Network (NCN) Director of Training and Technical Assistance. This health framework focuses on building up the natural opportunity factors that exist, and on what is healthy within an individual, family, community or culture. This indigenous life view, promotes what is right and healthy, based on culturally-grounded physical, emotional, mental and spiritual principles and practices.
LW: Is your framework appropriate for girls and other people of color?
NCN: The La Cultura Cura (LCC) framework is appropriate for girls and all other populations. The full spectrum of programming and the core tenets of the LCC are not gender specific, but rather family focused, and culturally relevant. The LCC is currently being disseminated, and sought after. The promise and effectiveness of LCC has gained attraction or investment nationally from philanthropy, system leaders, and government initiatives. NCN, in partnership with many of these entities is exploring ways to scale the community engagement, technical assistance and capacity building efforts of the NCN. In particular, NCN has been focusing on scaling up a Healing Generations Project, A National Boys and Men of Color Institute, through the auspice of the LCC in collaboration with a cadre of elders of color, experts, and evaluators who specialize in culturally specific practices, policies, and approaches.  

Liz Wu is a Digital Accounts Manager at Prichard Communications, where she oversees digital outreach for Reclaiming Futures and edits Reclaiming Futures Every Day. Before joining the Prichard team, Liz established the West Coast communications presence for the New America Foundation, where she managed all media relations, event planning and social media outreach for their 6 domestic policy programs. Liz received a B.A. in both Peace and Conflict Studies and German from the University of California at Berkeley. She tweets from @LizSF.

Updated: February 18 2013