The Truth is... Everything Really IS about Race

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If you’ve been following me for a while then you may know that I talk about African American mental health often. This is a topic that I’m so interested and passionate about because it’s so many factors involved. In honor of black history month, I think it’s important to discuss the history of the black state of mind because although it is resilient it’s also a traumatic one. These are just my opinions with factual history evidence so I can't speak for everyone but I am speaking from my own experience and how it has directly impacted generations in my family. I'm hopeful that I am able to connect the dots and make this relatable to others who have experienced similar oppression. So heads up, if you are not comfortable reading about slavery, systematic racism, etc then stop here.

One of my pet peeves is when people say ‘everything isn’t always about race’ because when it boils down to it…... *whispers* everything really IS about race. If we look at the foundation of America it was built on racism and genocide… and THAT alone affected the mental health of ALL parties involved. So yeap that means white people were affected as well.

First, let’s talk about the science part of it, which won’t be long because that’s really not my area of expertise but I do want to give your some research to back this up. Trauma, trauma is horrible right? Trauma is defined as a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. Research has proven that when a child experiences trauma that they also experience a high amount of stress which causes damage to the temporal lobe in their brain. Children with this type of damage suffers from severe emotional and cognitive problems as well as have difficulty in making and/or sustaining positive relationships. This type of damage doesn’t only affect the child but if the child grows up and reproduces, it affects generations after that. This is called epigenetics. Epigenetics is basically how the experiences of the previous generations in our family can affect who we are today. So just like high blood pressure and diabetes have been passed down from generation to generation in the black community, the same thing goes for our mental health. The good news is, just like fitness and healthy eating is becoming more common in the black community and is reducing the percentage of the diseases, we can do the same thing with mental health if we start to take it seriously.

A lot of psychiatrist would consider this generational trauma, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but a black doctor actually developed the term Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome, which is honestly a better fit. PTSD diagnosis refers to one single traumatic event and with African-Americans, we definitely didn’t experience just one. As defined by Dr. Joy Degruy, Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome a condition that exists as a consequence of centuries of chattel slavery followed by institutionalized racism and oppression have resulted in multigenerational adaptive behavior, some positive reflecting resilience, and others that are harmful and destructive.

So yes slavery was the peak of our trauma but let's also consider what followed us centuries after slavery as the RESULT of slavery: institutionalized racism, single parent households, oppression, systematic racism, internalized racism, gang violence, “war on black people drugs”, and the list goes on and on. The trauma didn’t just stop at slavery, the shit definitely kept going. That’s why PTSS is so fitting.

So, let’s just look at the timeline of African-American oppression

When you look at it it’s crazy how it wasn’t THAT long ago right? Let’s break it down in a brief overview.

  • 1619-1865: Chattel Slavery (being sold as personal property)
  • 1865: Abolished slavery 
  • 1866: Convict Leasing, which is basically a fancy name for slavery. Ain't shit changed. (insert link) | Sharecropping | KKK & Lynching 
  • 1915-68: “The Great Immigration” and the urbanization of blacks. Segregation
  • 1968-1975: The ghetto and welfare. One of the welfare rules is “no adult men in the home”. Drugs, crime, and family disintegration. 
  •  1975-1990: Hyperghetto & Prison. (Extreme poverty, modern day slavery, police brutality)
  • 1985-Present: Institutionalized Generation. (The things we are currently experiencing)
  • Oh & let’s not forget how the black community’s infant mortality rate is directly connected with our trauma. Long story short, a white man did a bunch of crazy ass experiments playing with black women's organs and just the history of doctors not believing us when we are in pain has dramatically affected our child-rearing.

Many would think that our continued trauma was all unintentional but I don’t believe it was. Let’s dial it back to slavery. It was a point where African-Americans were rebelling against their slave owners but Willie Lynch calmed all that down. Willie Lynch wrote a famous letter that instructed slave owners how to control their slaves, that affects us to this day. Here’s a youtube video summarizing it here. Basically, Willie told them to separate us by the tone of our skin, remove the black man from the home, etc to keep us separated. Willie said this because he knew we are stronger together. Let me repeat that, he knew that we are stronger together. The craziest part about the Willie Lynch letter is that he stated that if the slave owners followed his rules that they would have control over the blacks for at least 300 years. The letter was written in 1712, the “curse” ended in 2012. That’s hella recent right? It also makes sense, we had a black president during that time and I feel like that’s when we really started protesting and speaking out in the media. Yeah we had Martin Luther King Jr & Malcolm X but the revolution that we are currently experiencing is very different from what happened back then partly because we have technology and more education on our side.

So what does all this mean? It means black people never caught a fucking break and this dramatically affected our mental health individually and as a whole. Not one. We never got a chance to heal from our traumas. Hell, we became so use to the trauma it felt normal to us. Black people are smart, don’t let these statistics tell you any different. We were basically dumbed down by our oppressors. We come from a country where we were kings & queens. Slavery and the traumatic events that followed stole our history, innocence, families, and intelligence. They purposely did not want us to learn how to read, write (in their language), and do math which explains why so many African-Americans are diagnosed with learning disorders such as dyslexia.

As for white men, they suffer as well. They experienced trauma too even if it was from the other end. White men has a history of oppressing other races, sexualities, and genders since they set foot on Native American soil. Murdering is also included in oppression, and they did a lot of that unfortunately. Murdering is a form of aggression. Aggression can be learned so if you come from a family that has a history of aggression you have a very high chance of becoming aggressive too. For an example, what race do you see shooting up schools, malls, killing their wives/families, etc the most? ……. Yeah, it’s a correlation right? Not saying other races don’t do these things as well but the percentage of white men committing these crimes are much higher. That shit is in their epigenetics but it’s possible to change that, if they WANT to change it. Also, don't get on the subject of black people committing crimes and black on black violence because,

For one, when it comes to most blacks, those crimes were committed for survival. For two, we were turned against one another by the white man to begin with.

Anyways back to the culture. All this trauma doesn’t mean there’s not any hope for us because I am so happy and proud that the black community is finally having conversations around our traumas, mental health and also getting treatment. We can honestly thank social media for that because this whole wellness movement is really taking off and it’s influencing many African Americans to do some self-reflection and healing. Some may say that this wellness movement is influencing people of all races which is true but it’s different for the racial groups that are victims of oppression.

So to wrap this post up, everything does have to do with race because our race is directly linked with our genetics and our genetics plays a huge role in our characteristics which we use for survival. That doesn’t mean African-Americans and other minorities needs a sympathy card but the oppression that goes on in this country does need acknowledgment. Not that “slavery was so long ago” “well I experienced oppression too as a white woman/gay man” type of acknowledgement but the US actually taking responsibility for what was done. In Germany for an example, they admitted their wrongdoings with the holocaust and the victims actually receives repercussions because of it. In school, slavery was taught as if someone else did it and we don't receive any type of repercussion, not even a damn tax deduction. Then on top of that, most people won’t even recognize what minorities currently experience as oppression when it clearly is. Oppression affects everything, mental health, learning styles, development, family dynamics, social class, and the list could go on. Next post, I will go into more detail about the mental health side of things rather than the history. Please share your thoughts below in the comments.

Love & Light,