Thank you for joining us again. This is week 3 of 5 in our Post-Slavery Syndrome series. If you haven’t been following us so far, please visit Part I and Part II to catch yourself. Also, here’s a brief recap on the discussion:
Post-Traumatic Slavery Disorder is the other PTSD. It is related to post-traumatic stress disorder in that the effects of slavery have proven so profound on the black family that the symptoms of trauma have actually been passed down through the generations.
As a result, there has been within the black community an inability to function in some of the most “normal” of situations. According to experts of this disorder, coping mechanisms include denial, withdrawal, and hyper-correction of one’s behaviors. Subsequently, this is demonstrated in the way our people handle their professions, their finances, their relationships and even self-identity.
Because I believe that healing self is the only way to heal the world, I am breaking this thing down to the bare bones before I attempt to look at it with respect to the black family.
In this particular portion of the series, I am looking specifically at the black man.
Now you may be wondering why I am starting with the black man…well, I am a firm believer in beginning with the thing that most perplexes you. Typically we are taught to do the exact opposite – start with what you know so you have time to do the hard stuff later.
It’s amazing how much of what we learn in school needs to be reversed in order to work in life – well, to work successfully at least. See, we can get comfortable in life when we stick with what we know. In order to create change and further understanding, we have to push ourselves to look at what’s different to us…which is why I’m starting with black men. How can the very cornerstone of our foundation be so fragile and broken? Are we taking our men for granted or is there more than meets the eye?
In a previous post, I highlighted the work of Willie Lynch. Willie , a plantation owner in the West Indies, believed that he had the sure fire “cure” for the “slave problem.” He saw slaves are mere cattle, and like cattle they had to be broken and trained. But he noted that slaves, unlike his livestock, could think. And if they thought to plot and rebel, it could lead to serious complications – including loss of a slave owner’s life. So he promoted extremist tactics to “keep [the slaves] in line.”
According to Willie, once you break the black man you break the black family. The black woman will have no respect for [her man] because “he can’t help/save her.” In fact, seeing him broken will make her feel weak, like she needs to be saved. In turn, she’ll hyper-correct and take on everything to prove she is strong. The black boy will learn to fear the white man, and while he will resent him he will not challenge him. The black girl will learn to do as her mother does, stretching herself to the limit to be both male and female.
Willie instigated these tactics nearly 300 years ago, but his goal was to perpetuate the cycle for generations by having parents teach this to their children. Unfortunately, it has worked.
Now I am by no means saying that this is how it is for all black folks in America. Indeed, some of us have descended from the strong and mighty who fought the system and all its ails from the time they caged us on ships. Some of us, however, can relate to this concept all too well. But it’s never too late to reclaim our power.
Brothers, I am charging you with a task so unbelievably simple, you will likely think I am an idiot for asking you to do it. Should you agree, you will surely find that your life turns around in no time. This is my charge to you:
Because healing begins with self, you must start with self. Accept no excuses from yourself or from others – and do not assign blame.
You will be amazed at what comes from this. Seriously! If you want to go back to school – go. No excuses, just go. You don’t have the money? There are programs to help you. You have a record, been out of school for a while, have a family? Not a problem, many schools will give you “Earned Life Credit” for working; being a husband, a father or a caregiver; or even having served time (if you can demonstrate you learned something from it…and I know you did!).
Surely, you must know that there will be those who will not want you to succeed in this…but they can’t get in your way. You’re not assigning blame to anyone else for your challenges and you are not accepting excuses!
Let me put this another way: A group of black men can gather at the corner store and the cops will surely come. Put the same black men in suits and drop them off on Wall Street…and the cops are still coming.
This is not a coincidence. There are people who know how powerful you are and they’re afraid to see you walk into it, Brother. Some of them might look like you! You’ll find that some people don’t want you to embrace your inner strength because you’ll run circles around them. Others don’t want you to have any power because they haven’t accepted that they have any! (And don’t feel obligated to bring them along for the ride…just yet).
So brothers, I urge you to live life by your new decree: No Excuses. No blame. No fear.
Be what you’ve always wanted to be; be the change you’ve always wanted to see. Be a part of a paradigm shift so swift and brutal, mankind will have witnessed nothing like it since the days of the Mansa Musa.
Heal yourself. Heal your family. Heal your community. Heal the world. Revelation is the true revolution.
Wishing you well,
Kiki B., The WILD Side