Racism, Historical/Cultural Trauma, and PTSD
Another long post. So, relax. No, that’s a typo. Don’t relax. Get a notebook, take notes, and prepare to work for change.
There’s an adorable and funny scene in the CGI movie, Incredibles, where the main character, Bob (an undercover superhero with superhuman powers) is being watched by a normal, every day human boy. They exchange the following dialogue:
And just like Bob and the little boy, I too was waiting and waiting for something amazing to happen. In other words, I had planned to have Part 2 of this post written a long time ago. Part 1 was published on July 22nd of 2016, which you can read here.
I hoped that the USA would wake up from her slumber, like Sleeping Beauty, and reflect on ways to shrug off this ugly and unfashionable coat of institutionalized racism that didn’t punish murderers for killing unarmed men and women due to the color of their skin.
I waited for the USA to live up to its legendary goodness.
And to no avail.
Legendary. Maybe that’s the issue. Legends are too large for reality.
Battle for Your Mind
When I first thought about how I would approach the issue of perpetual racism in this country, I considered sharing the facts regarding the media and how a great an obscene amount of money goes into promoting a certain agenda. For example, (and on a less serious note) in HISHE’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Super Café, which can be watched here:(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82O5ovEovEs), the movie’s hero Star-Lord (Peter Quill) comments that modern day humanity has an obsession with . . . butts while he listens to a satirical song about the gluteus maximus. Likewise, it’s no accident that butts — preferably the behinds of women have become sexually objectified due to the current trend spotlighted by stars like Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, et “booty” al ad nauseum (really I’m sick of it), amidst songs like Nicki Minaj’s insipid Anaconda. In other words, men and women, due to media conditioning have become fixated with the derriere. Even men (and women) who didn’t care for “big butts” now find them attractive in some shape or form. All due to said conditioning. And if brainwashing can work on such a small, trivial level . . . ? Well, you draw the conclusion.
Like Pavlov’s dogs who were programmed to salivate after repeated bells, humans often fair no better at combating against being conditioned into thinking a certain way or doing certain things. Moreover, with the presentation of certain stimuli in the form of news, music, music videos, commercials, movies, magazines, and so on and so on the process of brainwashing and conditioning the human mind becomes all too easy.
Same story, different chapter, regarding the practice of systematic racism in the USA.
The Supposed Hypocrisy of Black on Black Crime
I often peruse the comment sections of articles that discuss the most recent acts of violence and implicit racism and bias that occur in my country, the United States of America.
Sometimes a few logical responses glimmer through, outshining the obviously ignorant, close-minded, and cruel comments, like diamonds amidst a plethora of rubbish one could find in a coal mine . . . or a pile of feces.
Lately, provocative words like “white privilege” and “black on black crime” have been thrown around, like snowballs in a childish fight, as ways to address or even to explain the problem of racism or to even prove that there is no racism in the USA. So, I went digging for information.
Granted, it’s true that there seems to be a lot of “black on black crime”, but it’s not an answer to the question of whether or not racism exist in our country. You see, those who deny the existence of racism say things like, “Hey, the black people are killing each other! Every day. All day. So how dare these people blame cops or white people for being racist murderers against them. It’s their fault!”
It begs the question: WHY does there appear to be more black on black crime? WHY are poor blacks murdering and preying on one another? Is it because they’re less compassionate? Is it because they’re “just that way”? The truth is, crime has the potential to happen anywhere — especially in places where people feel hopeless; where jobs are scarce; and when violence occurs on a regular every day basis that it seems as mundane and ordinary as the latest mystery on the Investigation Discovery channel. One of my students shared with me that a man had been shot in front of her and many other people — all potential witnesses — while she and her family went shopping for a birthday party. Hours passed until the cops finally arrived. Within those hours, the man’s dead body sat in the car; the perpetrator long gone. All the while she told me this heartbreaking experience, my soul ached, my blood chilled, and tears filled my eyes. However, her voice maintained a monotone register. Her wide, wide eyes didn’t shed a tear. She’s only twelve and already seems so jaded. Years of trauma in her violent neighborhood have chipped away at her. Another person shot? No biggie. This is normal. But the disconnect is that, this child and her neighbors know it isn’t normal and shouldn’t have to accept it as such.
Damned Lies and Statistics?
University of Toledo criminologist Dr. Richard R. Johnson examined the latest data from the FBI and Centers for Disease Control and found this uncomfortable fact: For every black man — criminal or innocent — killed by a cop, 40 black men were murdered by other black men.”
For the sake of argument, let’s say this statistic is true and unbiased.
But again, how does this statistic prove, as some would believe, that racism doesn’t exist or that it excuses the murder of unarmed blacks by police officers?
It doesn’t. Making such a correlation is like comparing apples to pomegranates. Some people often assume that black people can’t be racist since racism is defined as “the unfair treatment of people of a certain race by people who think their own race is better.”
In other words, since black people don’t think their race is better, they can’t be racist. This very definition of racism is problematic because it leaves a loop-hole and no accountability for blacks who are indeed racist — especially to other blacks. As I’ve mentioned in other blog posts, being racist is simply adhering to the fallacious belief in “races”. Humans consists of one race that happens to have different skin colors based on genetics. That’s all. To put it crudely, if you consider yourself as a member of the Asian race, Latino race, white race, black race, or biracial — you, my dear, are a racist. Race is a societal construct and a fallacious myth used as a tool to control the masses into constantly comparing, boxing, and hating one another.
The statistic does shed some light on black on black crime though. It reveals a heartbreaking reality regarding black people in the USA:
Most black people grow up despising themselves and other black people.
Now, why is that?
Historical Trauma and the Black Community
A compelling reason as to why poor blacks living in ghettoes murder one another is a result of colonization and the long history of cultural trauma that their ancestors immeasurably suffered from, endured, and as a consequence passed on to each generation. Unfortunately, most blacks are unaware of this self-hatred because it manifests itself at a subconscious level. This type of trauma is like post-traumatic stress disorder on STEROIDS!
Emma Planet, the author of “Dark Girls Documentary Explores Colorism” explains:
“Colonization is both a physical and cultural invasion in which ideas of beauty and identity are indoctrinated. When a colonizer is presented as superior and looks a certain way, people tend to aspire to that image to elevate themselves socially.”
Historical or cultural trauma manifests itself in several ways. Black people who suffer from this harbor internalized oppression. In elementary school, the same history was taught again and again: you’re a little black girl. Your ancestors were slaves. And after freedom, they were still slaves in a sense because a lot of them weren’t given the same opportunities until Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for equal rights with . . . getting the crap beat out of him. No lie, that’s the message I would have come away with if I had stopped with the “knowledge” I had learned in school. Currently, there have been a LOT of “slave movies” that the movie theaters cranked out in order to maintain status quo and keep blacks mentally enslaved too.
Another manifestation of historical or cultural trauma is that blacks also internalize or adopt the views of the oppressor and perpetuate a cycle of self-hatred that demonstrates itself in negative behaviors. For example, where do you think words and phrases like this come from (usually said to black people from other black people):
- He’s such an “Uncle Tom”
- S/he could pass for white
- Light, bright, and half-near white
- Talking white (speaking proper)
- Acting white (doing good in school/participating in an educational setting)
- Sit your black ass down (emphasis on black because the darker you are — especially being black is more evil than being Satan himself)
- That isn’t her hair — too long (Well, like duuuuuh, black women can’t grow long hair they have to be half-white or not fully “black” for that to happen. Hint: I’m being facetious aka sarcastic– translation: I don’t believe this, but other people do).
- S/he is just too dark!
- Lighten your line — marry white, Latino/Latina, etc. (Latinos and Latinas suffer from this too and sometimes marry people lighter than them in order to ‘whiten the line’.)
Also, emotions such as anger, aggression, and hatred are not only self-inflicted but are inflicted on members of one’s own group for those who suffer from historical or cultural trauma. Basically, killing others that look like you and all of the above (drug-dealing, gang-banging, etc.) are direct examples of this problem.
And sadly, individuals who suffer from historical or cultural trauma can’t put a finger onto why they’re even acting this way or feeling this way. It’s clearly not logical. They sense something is wrong, but fail to have an answer or explanation for the behavior. Stressors that instilled this horrific existence in blacks are slavery, colonialism/imperialism, and white supremacy-based laws that were all about reform — reforming the status quo in a new box, but the same shitty status — such as Jim Crow, and Supreme Court justice rulings such as Separate but Equal (not really though — think Animal Farm — some are “more equal”). Current manifestations of said trauma are mistrust of police and lack of self-worth (Rich & Grey 2005). Sound familiar? When most people (especially whites) see police, feelings of safety are commonplace. But if you’re a black person — especially a poor black person — safety is the last thing to come to mind. Not because blacks are criminals. And whites don’t feel serene squishy sensations regarding police officers because none of them have ever committed a crime. It’s a matter of life experiences. Unfair life experiences.
African-Americans/Blacks aren’t the only sufferers of historical trauma though.
Native Americans (also “first Nations People” such as the aboriginals of Australia) too have suffered and greatly.
So, to reiterate, why do the numbers on black on black crime appear to be higher? Because of the taught self-hatred among blacks who act out their aggression on people who look like them.
In the beginning of this article, I had mentioned the fairy tale character Sleeping Beauty. Cursed, she fell into a deep sleep, brought about from pricking her finger on a spindle. True love’s kiss awakened her. Traumatized black people don’t need anymore pain. After all, if you’re beaten enough, the body becomes immune to the pain. Black people need to first awaken to the pain and injustice they have suffered collectively for generation after generation and face the cruel reality that this unfair treatment continues to present day. And, as Sleeping Beauty was free from slumber, blacks by love filtered through the lens of understanding will be able to heal and live to their fullest potential.
Black people and every American no matter what color they are must become aware of this urgent issue and take action. We must work together as brothers and sisters in this country to heal the rift. Black people don’t hold onto the terrible past our ancestors suffered from. We don’t “pull race cards”, we don’t enjoy living life being perpetually afraid, upset, and hurting, hurting, hurting. It is a part of a legacy that needs to be purged. But before that can happen, those who wish for change, must first free their minds and wake the heck up.