In her book entitled “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome,” Dr. Joy DeGruy explains how the psychological damage resulting from traumatic racial experiences can be passed down from generation to generation. This trauma is not only experienced by the victim, but it also affects the perpetrator, just in a different way.
While the perpetrator may live in a world of denial, believing in a post-racial utopia, embracing whitewashed history, and the romanticized heroism of the Founding Fathers and the nation’s leaders, the victims suffer from the stressful realities of marginalization, and the ripple effects of an abusive history which targeted them by skin color.
It’s a backdrop of not only enslavement and all its hellish attachments, but Jim Crow laws and lynching, the savage acts of being used as guinea pigs for medical experimentation, the brutal displacements from their own property with no compensation, the attacks from homegrown terrorists, the intimidation, and harassment without any hope for justice. Yes, it can really mess with your head.
The perpetrator often engages in cognitive dissonance as a coping mechanism to live with the acts of savagery enacted upon other human beings. There must be some way to justify and rationalize the behaviors which contradict what one would define as characteristics of a “decent” human being.
To make peace with oneself, the victims must be “demonized” and redefined as inhuman savages and deserving of ill-treatment for the betterment of mankind. This behavior is even better sealed with the divine calling of a “Christian” god.
These same psychological tactics can be seen in the training of soldiers headed to war. The “enemy” is demonized and dehumanized with terms such as “Gooks,” “Krauts,” “Sand Niggers” etc. Once these narratives are embraced, it makes killing so much easier, is the rationale, at least on a surface level. However, cases of PTSD tell a more realistic story.
The same strategy is used for abortion. The joyful mother is pregnant with a “baby” when she wants to keep it, while a troubled mother is carrying a “fetus” when the issue of abortion is being considered. This “fetus” is returned, presto changeo, to “baby” status if the mother chooses to forgo the abortion and carry the child to term.
Following the introduction of racism into America’s DNA, as a divide and conquer tactic following Bacon’s Rebellion 1676-1677, Black people have been on the receiving end of this demonization and dehumanization. Once introduced, this narrative took on a life of its own and continued to evolve and mutate in accordance with the times.
When people lean toward a belief that systemic racism is a thing of the past, my question is, “On what date did this miracle which flies in the face of human (sin) nature and the science of psychology, take place?”
The answer is, it hasn’t, and until we get serious about eradicating the contributing factors to the development of racial biases, we will only continue to manifest the results in various manners.
Change and progress are two different things. While we have seen some obvious changes in our society regarding how racism is manifested, these have not taken place without struggle. Yet, the core of the issue i.e., the conditioning components of racial biases have remained steadfast and have moved the needle very little. As I like to say, “racism/white supremacy is a shapeshifter adjusting to the climate of the times.”
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress,” we learned from Fredrick Douglass. And “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
Unfortunately, change does not come at an institutionalized level because of some massive “come to Jesus” moment, as those who contribute to the problem suddenly see the errors of their ways and seek to make amends with a heart of love, compassion, and repentance.
While this may take place on an individual level for some, it will not take place on a corporate level. We’ll see pigs take flight before that happens.
Yet there are those who embrace the critical thinking skills of children who are prone to beliefs in fairy tales, Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and stories where everyone lives happily ever after. They simply add to the list, a world of white dominance, accepted by grateful POC (People of Color) who simply want to forgive, forget, ignore, and deny the continued issues of systemic racism.
Yes, it’s a “red pill” head game, but one that does not compute, as it is also manifested in our “blue pill” reality.
By Tobias Houpe