by David M. Loucas, M.D.
This essay presents a point of view. The Writer asks: That when reading this, that you keep an opened mind, and focus on the logic and merit of the Arguments. That you hold in suspense your own personal beliefs (If you choose to keep them, they will not leave you). That you can accept, at least conceptually, an alternative proposition which could make us less violent, more caring and happier, healthier people. The Writer hopes that all people learn to live with love and be at peace with one another.
Are Whites superior?... Of course, not. Are Blacks inferior?... Of course, not. The simple fact is that there is one and only one Humanity. I say this because I believe this; and furthermore, I believe that if we do not examine a new model of interracial interaction then we are all in danger of de-evolving. And then, our legacy will end; our mantra will be pain, and our lot, pathetic. I believe that Humanity is like a light spectrum with gradations of colors from one electromagnetic wave length to another. No color, more or less important, and when they all come together there is the white light, and that light is all of humanity. (Please bear in mind that Whites are pinky, light tannish, peach, and that Blacks range from coffee tan through browns to semi sweet chocolate).
All White and Black people from conception to birth, with good prenatal care and good maternal lifestyle, have similar proportionate numbers of physically endowed, and mentally endowed people, as well as proportionate numbers of emotionally or functionally challenged people. I ask that you consider this statement to be axiomatic. What follows are a series of difficult and disturbing questions:
1. Why are American Blacks academically underachieving as a group when compared to other racial groups?
2. Why is American Black unemployment so high?
3. Why are American Black men overpopulating our jails?
4. Why are young American Black men committing acts of violence against each other? And why are so many of them dying?
5. Why are so many American Black men only capable of being token fathers and not real, full time fathers to their children?
6. Why are so many American Black men dysfunctional?
7. What have we done, and are we doing to so damage American Black men, and what are they doing to damage themselves?
8. Is there a pervasive and insidious pattern or message, so subtle that it goes mostly unrecognized, and so malevolent that it fosters a status quo of intolerance and suspicion?
9. Is there something that we are failing to understand?
Consider this: If the human model were changed so that all Blacks, regardless of their circumstances, became Whites in the same identical circumstances, and all Whites became Blacks in the same identical circumstances, then the patterns of oppression, intolerance and discrimination of Blacks against Whites would be no more, nor less than it is for Whites against Blacks in the present reality. (If you're with me to this point then read on; if not, just try to envision the Argument regardless of your personal position).
STRIKE ONE: The Fetal Equation Conception is a marvelous biochemical event which results in the creation of a unique entity. The conceptus has genetic attributes from both the male and female contributors- it is both and neither at the same time. By its nature, the conceptus is endowed with a potential to become all that it is capable of being. At this point in time across the spectrum of all racial populations the so-called playing field is level. That is, given an equality of external events- ideal nutrition and prenatal care- the conceptus would develop into an individual whose statistical potential would be no less nor greater that any other individual across racial lines. So to this point, as I noted, there is biological parity and equality.
Changes in outcomes begin to occur when maternal nutrition is poor, when drugs and alcohol are consumed during pregnancy. There are even more discreet changes which result from subtle biological, visceral messages: Agitation, anger, fear, aggression, hostility. Every developing fetal system is effected and tainted by anything which isn't good for it. And now the playing field of expected outcomes is not as level as it was at the time of conception.
STRIKE 2: The Social Equation However, providing that a fetus isn't exposed to drugs or alcohol, most of these kids retain the probability of rising to their highest potential. So maybe the playing field is still sort of level. From this point on American Blacks, and particularly Black males begin to lose their edge. In a kinder and gentler world would this have happened? Of course not. The difficult question is: What happens to Black males specifically, from the point of racial parities to the point where there is lowered academic achievement, increased violence, jails filled with Black men, fragmented relationships and families?
Consider this: Subtle, corrosive and subliminal prejudices and messages erode the armor of self-confidence, self-esteem and human identification. This assault is both insidious and deliberate. It is fostered by a delusional belief that if the larger society were not as it is then 'I' would have less, 'I' would bear hardship, 'I' might have to compete harder and why should 'I' suffer; I'm not one of them. Black men, specifically, are subjugated by design in order to foster a sense of security and power to those who are not so subjugated. The perpetuation of this mind set is both overt and covert, but at its core is nothing more than that those who do this can get away with what has become an accepted societal sanction. This is more that just an astigmatism or aberration; it is actually a form of mass hysteria- a blindness that has no organic cause. To appreciate this one has to step back and view it from afar: What is the message when advertisements announce flesh colored Band-Aids, skin colored hose, cosmetics for a more beautiful you? Well, if you are Black these notions carry an 'in your face' message of alienated identification.
At the top of the corporate feeding chain where hiring philosophies and promotion and advancement destinies are determined there is still a: Blacks to the left and Whites to the right mentality. The embers of bigotry and prejudice glow brightly in the board rooms of many businesses and corporations. And like regressive little cowards, hiding in a closet to tell some obscene joke, the small and mighty gather, immune to scrutiny, and in the comfort of their coven. It is here that the Black male is still the goat and the jester. In their hearts these powerful people hate being politically correct.
I think about the cumulative messages of fear and intolerance that White children of the 50's and 60's were programmed with, and how these translated into a numbing pall of polite and casual bigotry. Words that comfortably rolled off of the mouths of 'Leave it to Beaver' Moms and Dads carried messages of Caucasian superiority no less impactful nor arrogant than those of Aryan Nazis. Little Black children were acknowledged with plastic smiles and with words used to describe pets, not people. And token 'Negro friends' were permitted to come in through the front door, and 'as long as they didn't act in the way that they usually did when they were among their kind', and 'as long as they didn't become violent or scary', they could stay for a polite period of time. Actually, for many White Moms and Dads having some 'Negroes' over to the house was just the thing that was needed in order to codify the very bigotry and prejudice they had to hold on to. And it was okay to have them over every now and then, but going to their homes, and being among their kind- this was taboo. Are we looking at a compulsion and an addiction type of dysfunction? You bet! But, my God, consider the harm that was done especially to the Black male.
'I just can't understand why they always appear to be so angry; I mean I didn't do anything to Them'. Of course not, and kleptomaniacs don't steal, and pedophiles don't traumatize children, and bigots don't hate. The fact is that the anger is a symptom of the insults and traumas which American Black males have to suffer throughout their lives.
STRIKE 3: The Cultural Equation - You're Out! Part of the libelization and slanderization of the American Black male rests with the creation and propagation of stereotypical models as seen on TV sitcoms for example. And although these models are presented as amusing caricatures there is a subtext of repressed identification for Blacks and more additional strokes for Whites who are heavily invested into keeping the myth alive. Interestingly, these model aberrations within the situation and text of the drama are at the same time inane, depreciating and necessary. The first two follow from careful observation. 'Necessary' arises from a symptom loop which is diagnostic of a deeper problem- the fueling and feeding of a neurotic dysfunction. The Million Man March was an affirmation of the solidarity of the plight of the American Black male. There was a collective recognition of the pain and the emotional trauma that had been and is being suffered. In a crisis one can maintain and sustain oneself better knowing that there are others that also suffer. However, Minister Louis Farrakhan, whose heart I believe was in the right place, missed the mark in his message of Atonement. Here's why: Any adult who as a child, and throughout life had been the recipient of physical, emotional or sexual abuse should not have to atone for his own dysfunction and the consequences of that dysfunction. On the contrary, it is in fact Whites who should atone; they normalized Black degradation for the sole purpose of selfish gain.
American Black males when considered analytically look very much like people who suffered terrible repression from childhood and beyond. Like classic victims of abuse they harbor guilt, shame and self-hatred. And like all other victims of similar abuse their healing will come from a recovery process, not different from that of adult survivors of childhood abuse. All the postured solidarity, inane Ebonics, stereotypic characterizations and affectations, along with the Afro-American Identity Syndrome, are only survival machinations. But survival is just that. It falls very short of a healing or a cure; and that's what is needed and required.
ON ATONING: This process starts with an abiding understanding and belief that you personally share a responsibility, whether through commission or omission, for the pain and misfortune of others. If you didn't understand that this was happening, that's okay. But you need to atone for choosing not to understand. Selective amnesia or blindness by design does not mitigate your moral responsibility. If, on the other hand, you did know of such things, even if you actually never hurt anyone, you really need to atone. Knowing of a holocaust and saying nothing is even worse than feigning ignorance. You need to assess, understand and believe the damage which you caused either by your actions or by your inactions. This is important, and it leads gently to the act of contrition: sorrow for sin (or acts of pain and harm) with a true purpose of amendment. The final act is one of generosity and love for those whom you injured, asking for their forgiveness and offering friendship and respect for each other in the one and only Humanity.
ON RECOVERY: The Norma J. Morris Center- for the healing from child abuse, publishes a Guided Self-Help Recovery And Prevention Program. This handbook is on target with its Three-Stage Recovery Program. This should be required reading, especially for Black men. Take a moment and think about each of the stages:
STAGE ONE: Remembering
1. I am in a breakthrough crisis, having gained some sense of my abuse.
2. I have determined that I was physically, sexually or emotionally abused as a child.
3. I have made a commitment to recovery from my childhood abuse.
4. I shall re-experience each set of memories as they surface in my mind.
5. I accept that I was powerless over my abusers' actions which holds THEM responsible.
6. I can respect my shame and anger as a consequence of my abuse, but shall try not to turn it against myself or others.
7. I can sense my inner child whose efforts to survive now can be appreciated.
STAGE TWO: Mourning
8. I have made an inventory of the problem areas in my adult life.
9. I have identified the parts of myself connected to self-sabotage.
10. I can control my anger and find healthy outlets for my aggression.
11. I can identify faulty beliefs and distorted perceptions in myself and others.
12. I am facing my shame and developing self-compassion.
13. I accept that I have the right to be who I want to be and live the way I want to live.
14. I am able to grieve my childhood and mourn the loss of those who failed me.
STAGE THREE: Healing
15. I am entitled to take the initiative to share in life's riches.
16. I am strengthening the healthy parts of myself, adding to my self- esteem.
17. I can make necessary changes in my behavior and relationships at home and work.
18. I have resolved the abuse with my offenders to the extent that is acceptable to me.
19. I hold my own meaning about the abuse that releases me from the legacy of the past.
20. I am resolved in the reunion of my new self and eternal soul.
So finally, there is the task whose enormity is only exceeded by its mandate. Are you ready? Just like Baptism, you have to take the plunge and come up reborn. But before you can even take the plunge you must see and understand that these things I'm speaking of are true and happening now. Those who ought to atone and recover and those who just have to recover must be of a mind that there is greater happiness and real happiness when the taint of intolerance, bigotry and discrimination is exposed for what it is: an evil addiction which draws its being from our complicity, culpability, vanity, shallowness and fear.