My Books, My Voice

The Reality of Our Mentality

Posted by E. Joyce on Wednesday, February 3, 2010 Under: History
Have you ever looked at the shape that Black America is in today and tried to understand why we are still in the struggle, even though we have all the strength we need?  What is stopping us from realizing the power we have?  It’s not just money; we have over Four Billion dollars in disposable income that we spend annually, yet nothing has really changed. 
I was attending a meeting where the speaker was talking about the Stockholm Syndrome.  As he spoke, it suddenly struck me: how does this psychological phenomenon apply to me, to us as African Americans?  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that perhaps some closer attention to this interesting piece of information because it may indeed be at least one of the major keys to our recovery and change as a people.  The Stockholm Syndrome is a term given a phenomenon in human behavior, which, as it turns out, has been documented since Biblical times, when Israel was ready to return to Egypt, in fear of the unfamiliar.  The Stockholm Syndrome is an emotional attachment, a bond of interdependence between captive and captor that develops when someone threatens your life, deliberates, and doesn't kill you.’  (Symonds, 1980)  The relief resulting from the removal of the threat of death generates intense feelings of gratitude and fear that combine to make the captive reluctant to display negative feelings toward the captor.
In the summer of 1973, four hostages were taken in a botched bank robbery at Kreditbanken in Stockholm, Sweden.  At the end of their captivity, six days later, they actively resisted rescue.  They refused to testify against their captors, raised money for their legal defense, and according to some reports one of the hostages eventually became engaged to one of her jailed captors.  This struck some folks as weird, and as a way of coping with this uneasiness, as they started seeing more examples they named this class of strange behavior the "Stockholm Syndrome.  The most notorious example of this behavior in the United States is the case of Patty Hearst, who, after being kidnapped and tortured by the Symbionese Liberation Army, took up arms and joined their cause; taking on the name of "Tania" and helping the SLA rob banks. This condition...occurs in response to the four specific conditions listed below:
  • A person threatens to kill another and is perceived as having the capability to do so.
  • The other cannot escape, so her or his life depends on the threatening person.
  • The threatened person is isolated from outsiders so that the only other perspective available to her or him is that of the threatening person.
  • The threatening person is perceived as showing some degree of kindness to the one being threatened.

It takes only 3-4 days for the characteristic bond of the Stockholm syndrome to emerge when captor and captive are strangers.  After that, research shows, the duration of captivity is no longer relevant.  A strategy of trying to keep your captor happy in order to stay alive becomes an obsessive identification with the likes and dislikes of the captor which has the result of warping your own psyche in such a way that you come to sympathize with your tormenter.   “African American women had to endure the threat and the practice of sexual exploitation.  There were no safeguards to protect them from being sexually stalked, harassed, or raped, or to be used as long-term concubines by masters and overseers.  The abuse was widespread, as the men with authority took advantage of their situation.  Even if a woman seemed agreeable to the situation, in reality she had no choice.  Slave men, for their part, were often powerless to protect the women they loved.”
I believe that by now you are beginning to see the direction in which I am heading and, even if you don’t, read on.  The syndrome explains what happens in hostage-taking situations, but can also be used to understand the behavior of battered spouses, prostitutes, members of religious cults, Holocaust victims, even household pets, and what is significant and relevant to this article, Americans of African descent.
Historical, sociological and governmental archives continue to ignore the parallels between the Jewish Holocaust and the enslavement of Africans in the United States.  To ignore history is to increase the chances of its repetition.  The question becomes do we really understand our modern day enslavement and slave mentality?  Are we still trying to treat the effects of slavery without acknowledging the causes, and how those causes have affected us, even today?  “It needs to be pointed out that the roots of tyranny are religious.  Everyone has views about life, God, responsibility, justice, sin, beginnings, etc.  We hold to them with religious zeal.  Both the tyrant and the tyrannised have distorted thinking in these important areas.  Tyranny doesn’t just fall out of the sky in a moment and engulf a nation without warning.  For tyrants to unleash their control and oppression, they need to find a people whose mindset will accept their advances.  Tyranny is slavery and it’s those who have a slave mentality that will be enslaved by it.  When people find themselves under tyrannical rule they need to begin with self-examination and ask, "How could we have allowed things to degenerate to this?”  The temptation is to ignore one’s own faults and place all the blame upon someone else.  Tyrants, however, can only exploit what is already there, namely, the slave mentality of the people.  Thus to merely kick out the tyrant without acknowledging the root of the problem is asking to be exploited again.  Political and economic slavery is merely an outward manifestation of an inward reality—those who are slaves in their thinking will end up in physical slavery.  Unless one’s thinking is changed, there is no guarantee that new leaders, who are initially seen as "saviours," won’t also exploit you.”

HISTORY VS. TECHNIQUE
Below are some highlights of how this process was and is used to psychologically master the captured persons.  This is provided in the historical context of the experience of the enslaved African:


Alertness reduction
Step One is alertness reduction: The captors cause the nervous system to malfunction, making it difficult to distinguish between fantasy and reality.  This can be accomplished in several ways.  Poor diet is one, Inadequate sleep is another primary way to reduce alertness, especially when combined with long hours of work or intense physical activity, as well as being bombarded with intense and unique negative experiences.  When you experience the slave ships in various museums throughout the country, you understand what it felt like to be chained, side by side, into a space for days – barely able to breathe, much less move.  The stench of death and excrement, the cries of fear and pain suffocate you, not knowing what is day or night, what is reality or your worst nightmare. 

Programmed Confusion

Step Two is programmed confusion: You are mentally assaulted while your alertness is being reduced as in Step One.  This is accomplished with a deluge of new information encounters or one-to-one processing, which usually amounts to the controller bombarding the individual with questions or results.  During this phase of decognition, reality and illusion often merge and perverted logic is likely to be accepted.  You are on a slave ship and you are made to witness violent acts that are shown as examples of what would happen if you were not compliant.  You are degraded, naked, and shamed – and you haven’t even reached your destination yet, where more is to come…
Thought Stopping
Step Three is thought stopping: Techniques are used to cause the mind to go "flat.”  These are altered-state-of-consciousness techniques that initially induce calmness by giving the mind something simple to deal with and focusing awareness.  The continued use brings on a feeling of elation and eventually hallucination.  The result is the reduction of thought and eventually, if used long enough, the cessation of all thought and withdrawal from everyone and everything except that which the controlling captors direct.  The takeover is then complete.  Upon arrival the head of a slave was shaved, removing the associated ties to tribal culture; you did not know who was a part of your tribal family without any identifiers.  Slaves were systematically beaten, or otherwise brutally “trained” to understand that compliance within the boundaries is the only way to escape torture and pain that started when they were on the ships transporting
You where verbally and physically reminded that you were not considered human, therefore had no right to independent thought and that your survival hinged upon your appearing to be placid, kind and doing just what you are told.


The most effective technique in this step used upon Africans – and still prevalent today – is introducing uncertainty about identity.  After stripping away all physical forms of identity, the person is attacked verbally and physically.  So you can imagine the fear and tension this situation generates.  Most coped with the stress by mentally going away.  They literally go into an alpha state, which automatically makes them many times as suggestible as they normally are.  And another loop of the downward spiral into conversion is successfully effected.  Remember the character in Color Purple and her behavior once she was released from prison?  “…Slaves were considered property, and they were property because they were black.  Their status as property was enforced by violence -- actual or threatened.  People, black and white, lived together within these parameters, and their lives together took many forms.  Enslaved African Americans could never forget their status as property, no matter how well their owners treated them…The killing of a slave was almost never regarded as murder, and the rape of slave women was treated as a form of trespassing…Some slaves committed suicide or mutilated themselves to ruin their property value…”
Other techniques include the introduction of jargon--new terms that have meaning only to those who participate.  “Unity among African Americans was destroyed during slavery times by evil dehumanizing tactics and terms.  The word nigger was brutally imposed upon them by means of coercion that stripped African Americans of their identities. As a result, African Americans have allowed it to become part of their souls, thus transmitting it down through the generations.  The incessant use of the word in our speech, our music, and our culture, keeps the evil spirit of racism alive…From the day or night, almost five hundred years ago, that the first African’s foot touched the soil of America; the so-called “Land of the Free” has yet to be realized.  The word nigger was beaten deep into the African’s soul.  So deep that it has just as much evil power now as it did then.  In fact, even more power, because African Americans, in using it to designate themselves, clearly have forgotten how evil this word is. 
Vicious language is also frequently used, purposely, to make captive uncomfortable or fearful.  Yet another; there is no humor in the communications...at least until the participants are remade.  Then, merry-making and humor are highly desirable as symbols of the new joy the participants have supposedly "found."  Consider the "Happy Negro” image that most Anglos are more comfortable with, even today.  We are considered potentially threatening when not socially “shufflin’ and grinnin”.  I never understood why -- until I researched this article  -- it bothered me when a spectator standing near me during one of the first major golf tournaments Tiger Woods participated in, yelled in such an ominous tone “smile, Tiger”, as he walked by on his way to the next hole.  In his voice there were echoes of the ghosts of all of the old massahs, who expected a slave to grin and dance on cue, in order to avoid the lash of a whip.

 Only when lions have historians, will hunters cease being heroes.
                                                                              --African Proverb


Since it has been documented that this process only takes three to four days to emerge as the new psyche of an individual, imagine what irreparable psychological scars were created over generations of slavery in this country.  Even though there was Irish slavery in this  country, they knew that their experience had a specific ending that they could look toward; Africans did not.  Even after their physical emancipation, there was no psychological deprogramming, no debriefing for freed African slaves.  Former slaves were left stunned and shocked, to find their own way financially and physically, all the while not understanding that they were far from psychological freedom.  There were, instead, new, more sinister forms of slavery generated -- then…and now.
Today, there are so many ways in which we are exposed to, indentured and/or enslaved -- socially, economically, and mentally – that they would be too numerous to identify and detail in one article.  I am going to provide a few examples and challenge you to begin to identify others in your own life:
  1. Labels.  We are a unique group people who allow ourselves to be defined by the labels on our clothes, shoes, purses, cars, etc.  We are a unique group of people that spend over Four Billion dollars annually and have little to show for it.  We think in the short term, fearing the day when it’s all taken away from us.  “If African Americans study their history, they will become more aware of how labels have been used to dehumanize them.  It is time for them to collectively become critically conscious of the slave mentality they exercise within their culture.  They did not come to this country as “niggers.”  They must break this bondage, free themselves, and stand up against evil.” We are enslaved to defining ourselves and each other by the makeup and the model, fearing that who we are as individuals may not measure up.  Sameness is more important; staying within the boundaries set for us is much safer.  We allow others to define what success looks like for us, from the clothes we wear to the art we purchase.  And who profits?
  2. Drugs and all that is drug-related.  Drugs are believed to have been introduced into this country as a method of control of the African American communities (See http://www.friendsoffreedom.com/Writings/DupeOfDrugWar.html).  Those who have not become a slave to the drug itself are slaves to the perception of drug sales being the solution to their exit from their plantation of poverty.  However, this is pure myth, given that the majority of inmates – 58.6% -- in prison are there on drug-related charges, most of them African American, most with harsher sentencing than their Anglo counterparts.  “If the ghetto drug dealers are the young capitalists who could, under better circumstances, become community leaders, the influx of cheap cocaine and the increasing poverty makes these possible ghetto leaders emerge faster as outlaws, the result being that they are eliminated.  What better way to undermine your enemies?  What better way to fund covert actions?  And what better way to grandstand about crime, morality, and values?  “ Then there are the drug-related homicides, drive-by shootings that generate thought-stopping fear within a neighborhood.  Ninety-one percent of those imprisoned for drugs are hooked again and back in the system within a year.  And who profits?  Private-prison stocks have also been breaking out of their respective holes as investors drive shares to year highs.  Corrections Corp. of America was teetering into delisting territory prior to its 1-for-10 reverse split two weeks ago. At the time, it was trading for under a buck; on Monday, it closed off 35 cents at $13.75. Cornell has also been a star performer; from just $3.31 in December, shares moved to $12.15 on Monday, shanking up to a 52-week high of $12.26 in the process. Wackenhut Corrections though off its Friday apex of $14.30, is still better than double its pre-Christmas price.  Shares in the company closed down 94 cents to $13.22. Bottom feeders rising to top, again 'Death care,' prison and pawnshop stocks leap to new highs. Another major factor at work, particularly in the death and prison categories, is the drop in interest rates. Whether they are buried under piles of IOUs (a la Service and Cornell), dependent on a constant inflow of new capital or both (Corrections Corp.), any let-up by the Fed is apt to boost their fortunes. …Locked out of Wall Street for the last few years, private prison operators "are starting to get some good news” said Jim Macdonald of First Analysis.  While for-profit turnkeys had their own bull run in the 1990s, construction backlogs, tight money, and bad press landed them in solitary.  Now, with interest rates down and improved visibility for the capital-intensive business, "people are viewing the whole sector as a recession-resistant play. The stocks got way undervalued, and, as they came back to reasonable value, the momentum just took over," he said.  Each company has its own unique dynamics, he said, adding that he thinks Cornell has the most appreciation potential if it can pull off an expected sale/leaseback deal, although he said investors should be aware the company is "leveraged up to the eyeballs."  Wackenhut "is the quality one in the group [and] probably a good long-term play," he said, while Corrections Corp., on the other hand, "is the big roll-the-dice gamble."  The company has a billion dollars worth of debt, and "it is making its debt payments, but I don't see it making positive earnings in the next three or four quarters," Macdonald said. --  William Spain, CBS.MarketWatch.com
  3. Recidivism is the return of a person to prison after being released on parole or by serving the full term of his or her sentence.  Prisons and the business of incarceration are booming.  As a result there is an increase in the business of privatization of prisons, so that they are run outside of the government.  Prisons offer a low cost employment base for corporate contracting for anything from farming to inbound call centers.  The inmates are paid a practically nothing, while the prison owners reap the primary profits.  In addition, laws have been in the works, which would require prisoners to repay the cost of their incarceration.  So upon release, a prisoner not only has to battle the task of finding a job that he or she is unlikely to be skilled to attain, there is the stigma of hiring an ex-convict and possibly a bill to repay to the government.  An ex-convict is likely to be dumped right back onto the “plantation” from which he was removed, which in itself increases the likelihood of his or her return to prison (see below).  The definition of a slave is a person who has no control of him or herself and is completely dominated by something or someone; a property of that which dominates.  And who profits?
  4. Gentrification, in basic terms, is how the city government allows your neighborhoods and their properties to become devalued by neighborhood crime, lack of upkeep, and lack of support for aging homeowners who purchased the homes during the “white flight” to the suburbs.  This justifies the destruction of broken down public housing, formerly a tool for containing the minority poor in one area, which is torn down and replaced by condos, restaurants and townhomes that welcome the travel-weary suburb dweller back into the city.  The minority poor is displaced, some lured into believing that the suburbs is the best place to go, not realizing what it will ultimately cost them financially or through isolation.  Across the country, in every major city, business professionals and their families are quietly purchasing Uncle John or Auntie Nina’s old house for a fraction of its worth, fixing it up with low interest loans the city offers from their city revitalization funds and moving back into the city.  Your neighbors, meanwhile, are being lured into believing that moving out into the suburbs will somehow offer you a better life, because that was the truth – fifteen years ago, when it was not an option.  African Americans are often the target victims of housing fraud, including “flipping”, renovation loans, etc.  And who profits?
  5. Intracultural Separatism.  During slavery this was a strength that allowed the slaves to survive emotionally.  “Enslaved African Americans also resisted by forming community within the plantation setting.  This was a tremendous undertaking for people whose lives were ruled by domination and forced labor.  Slaves married, had children, and worked hard to keep their families together.  In their quarters they were able to let down the masks they had to wear for whites.  There, black men, women, and children developed an underground culture through which they affirmed their humanity.  They gathered in the evenings to tell stories, sing, and make secret plans.  House servants would come down from the "big house" and give news of the master and mistress, or keep people laughing with their imitations of the whites.  It was in their quarters that many enslaved people developed and passed down skills which allowed them to supplement their poor diet and inadequate medical care with hunting, fishing, gathering wild food, and herbal medicines.  There, the adults taught their children how to hide their feelings to escape punishment and to be skeptical of anything a white person said.  “ Today, that strength has become a weakness.  We have allowed ourselves to believe that using our culture to segregate ourselves in an ever-shrinking global community is of benefit.  Further, what we pass on and among ourselves is what is dictated to us as our labels.  Note, for example how in the entertainment industry, when dollars are waved in front of us, we are again the puppets of the masters; we embrace the given perception that we are a group of violent, oversexed people (see music videos).  Women are willing to bump and grind in front of the cameras – doing what most would never consider doing if the stage were instead a topless bar.  Then there are the comedic roles, the only place where we are allowed to be the majority of primary characters, where we again fall into the stereotypical traps that have been defined for us.  Some of us believe that we should embrace our cultural differences by showing that we are “down with the people” but are we really down with the people – ourselves – or with the labels that are provided and we have chosen to embrace?  I remember vividly an experience when I passed a group of men on the street and one of them spoke and I responded.  He became enraged, because my response wasn’t “black enough” for him.  But who made the rule that correct English is “speaking white”?  I really don’t believe that it was us.  Why?  Because I have found that those I deal with in corporations and organizations, who feel compelled to tell me that I am so “articulate,” (their code for “speaking white”) as though it was a rarity among people of color, and at the same time view me as an enemy that had somehow infiltrated the ranks.  We should embrace that within our culture which truly defines us as a race, and learn to discern between what is cultural and what is the stereotype by which others wish to define us.  One more thing, when it comes to what is cultural and what is stereotypical: what’s in a name?  A lot.  We have chosen to make up names – especially for our daughters – in the name of culturalism.  What we have done is create a new stereotype, with which our children are defined.  As one gentleman from Nigeria told me “you Americans make up names that don’t mean anything.  In Africa our names are taken quite seriously.  It is what we pass along from generation to generation.”  While waiting to board a plane when I was on a business trip, three drunken males came by and made the mistake of commenting on my braids by attempting to fit me into their stereotype, inclusive of giving me a non-meaning name as a defining label of who I was.  Without further detail of subsequent events, my point is that many choose to define and stereotype by name.  When you call your child by a name that means nothing, what does that say about how we define ourselves and others define us?  “During the past decade, there has been a continuous battle within the African American community to eliminate internal racism.  It is going to take the power of Almighty God and the consciousness of all of us, together and individually, to change the course of our future into a brighter one, especially for our children.  Let us become conscious of the evil around us in order to make the strides we need.  Let’s understand that we have a better history than what is told of it.  We have a motherland, we are human, and we are God’s children.  These reasons are why it is so important to step outside of racism, totally disregard it, and abolish it from our souls and lives forever.”
  6. Intraracism.  The enemy lies within and the enemy is us.  In the days of conscious physical slavery in this country, there were the house slaves and the field slaves – a deliberate psychological class distinction.  House slaves were programmed to believe that their loyalty included the betrayal of any exhibiting the potential of having an original thought or might potentially create a “problem”.  Ask yourself why – even today – Anglos get nervous, even angry when three or more of their minority counterparts are talking together and they don’t know what they are talking about.  They want to know what’s going on.  If you are asked about the conversation and don’t disclose the subject matter, they become offended.  You become the enemy.  We are selfish about our piece of the corporate, social or economic pie, afraid to share because we think that there might not be enough, not realizing that we have the power to bake a whole new pie.  So we “shuffle and grin” at the “massah”, and sell our own down the river in fear that we will somehow be reclaimed and sent back to the plantation.  We ignore the screams of those who realize they have been caught and turn up the volume on Marvin Gaye’s CD.  We allow them to eat our young by allowing them to set the standards for how we are treated, rather than setting the standards for ourselves.  We are afraid of losing all that we have gained by reaching back over the wall to help others over.  We sit and wait expectantly for “them” to come and solve our problems, not understanding that we must control our own destiny and need not wait for permission to do so.  We still wait for the forty acres and a mule.  And who profits?
“A paradigm is a system of belief or a way of viewing the world…To become a Free Sovereign Individual and do justice to yourself, you need to find out who you are.  Most of us, including many who yearn for freedom, suffer from what might be called ‘slave mentality.’  Our personal philosophy and psychology, in important respects, may be that of a slave rather than that of a free sovereign.  To get a better understanding of the sovereign individual paradigm, compare the free-wild horse to the broken-domesticated horse.  A horse is born free and wild.  Try and ride a free-wild horse and it will do its utmost to throw you off.  A free-wild horse doesn't like to be broken - enslaved - ridden by a master.  Once the cowboy has broken the free-wild horse, it becomes a broken-domesticated-obedient horse.  Now the cowboy is the master of the horse.  Once a horse has been broken it timidly accepts being saddled and bridled.  The saddle is placed on the horse's back and held in place by a strong strap around the horse's body.  Attached to the saddle are stirrups for the rider's feet.  The rider's boots may have spurs used to inflict pain on the horse in order to make it run faster.  The rider may also use a horsewhip.  Around the head of the horse a bridle is strapped.  Part of the bridle is a metal bit that passes horizontally through the horse's mouth.  The reins are attached to the ends of the bit and are used to steer the horse and make it slow down and stop.  Pain can be inflicted on the horse by yanking the reins or pulling on them with a seesaw motion.  The above paraphernalia are used to make it easy for a rider to control his or her horse - difficult for the horse to disobey its rider.  The horse is the slave of the cowboy.  The cowboy rides the horse.  The horse works for the cowboy.  The cowboy owns the horse.  The horse obeys the cowboy.  Disobedience may be punished.  The horse that fights tooth and hoof to prevent you from putting on bridle and saddle may be sold as horsemeat.  Horses are born free and wild.  Horses are inherently free.  They are naturally free.  But they can be broken, domesticated, enslaved…One Afrikaans word for native Africans is "naturel" ("native"); another is "skepsel" ("creature").  The most derogatory is "kaffer" ("infidel").  These words are no longer acceptable.  My grandfather was a Senator and Chairman of the "Naturelle-Sake Kommissie" ("Native Affairs Commission").  That is the equivalent of the Chairman of a Congressional Committee that oversees the "Bureau of Indian Affairs.”  My grandfather was considered very wise and knew exactly what had to be done about the "Swart Gevaar" ("Black Danger").  My grandmother taught black children the three Rs and religion in her own farm school.  Her mission was to "civilize the savages.”  One day a black maid licked one of my grandmother's spoons.  My grandmother gave the maid a tongue lashing for "contaminating a white spoon" - then gave the spoon to the maid to keep, because it was "no longer fit for white use!”  When I was about seventeen I got engaged in a conversation with a black man.  Suddenly, as if hit by a sledgehammer, I realized that I was talking to a Human Being!  Up to that time I had unconsciously assumed that blacks were "inferior creatures" - kind of sub-human…Steve Biko was the founder of the "Black Consciousness" Movement in South Africa.  Biko recognized that the biggest problem was that blacks in their own consciousness regarded themselves as "inferior creatures."  The culture we grew up in - the language we used - planted the notion in the minds of whites that they were "superior beings," and in the minds of blacks that they were "inferior creatures.”  Practically all whites and blacks were subconsciously enculturated in this manner.  Biko recognized this phenomenon and advocated that blacks had to free their consciousness from the "inferior-creature" shackles.  Biko became world-famous and was visited by people like Bobby Kennedy.  Biko was also the greatest threat to white government in South Africa.  The police effectively murdered him.  The murder was "whitewashed."  A few years before Biko's death I started reading books about freedom, books critical of government, books alleging that inflation was something done by government, books about secret conspiracies that were the real government behind the scene.  One such book was How I Found Freedom in an Unfroze World by Harry Browne. It had a profound effect on my consciousness.  This and other books - particularly The Discovery of Freedom by Rose Wilder Lane - eventually led me to discover that I was a free and sovereign individual.  Steve Biko was also a major inspiration in the development of my consciousness.  Soon after Biko's murder, I left South Africa.  Since then I have lived as a free sovereign individual in several countries.  In Brussels, Belgium I came across The Cinderella Complex: Women's Fear of Independence by Collette Dowling.  Her theme is that in their consciousness women tend to regard themselves as "inferior slave creatures" (compared to men).  This inferiority is mostly subconscious and culturally imposed.  According to Dowling, men tend to regard themselves as "superior master beings" (compared to women).”

In the presentation I attended, the Holocaust and the Jews were being used as the significant example, these were specific points also attributed to the syndrome and just as easily associated to African Americans, who – like the Jews -- have historically managed to survive:

  • The captive (slave) fears those trying to help more than the captors themselves.  We have finally figured out how to stop the captor from hitting us so often, and besides he throws us a crumb every now and then.  Why would we want you to come and mess things up?

  • To the captive (slave), the captors position becomes justified, and that the captive (slave) has no choices.  The captor has gotten you to believe that there is no hope, even when you seem to have escaped.  Example (true and recent story): Woman hooked on drugs, upon release from jail, takes her baby son and leaves Chicago so that she is away from the lure of drugs; she buys a one-way ticket to Seattle, Washington.  Works and scrapes so that son develops a good life with a future; he has good grades, friends and a college scholarship.  One obsessed Anglo female lodges a charge of rape -- without proof.  Son is arrested on hearsay – does not even know the girl, except that she asked him to go out with her once and he refused.  Son loses girlfriend, friends and scholarship – and spends three weeks in jail – a place he had never even visited – along with mother’s life savings before it is determined that the Anglo female lied and is a virgin.  Even today the son is made to feel that he must be guilty of something, something must have happened.  Mother sends son back to Chicago in fear that the police will want to come get him again.  They still haven’t sued the girl for damages or the police for false arrest.  One of the definitions of rape is an outrageous violation, despoiling, by force.  Who was raped after all?

Recovery can best be achieved when the captive (slave) is away from the captor and/or the captor's environment.  It is a proven fact, yet no one has tested this fact on any significant level.  If you take someone permanently out of the environment that has generated the position of slavery to drugs, crime, or gang – he or she has a better chance of beating the enslaved addiction.

So now what?  I have no intention of extending an instant solution to such a complex problem, since the Stockholm Syndrome has very individualized effects and one solution definitely does not fit all.  Further, we are continually distracted by the newer, more subtle versions of passive racism.  But knowledge is power and the resource from which you can choose to draw resolution. What you can do, must do, is think -- really think -- about your life, your self.  Are you enslaved psychologically?  Do you exhibit the behavior of one who suffers from the Stockholm Syndrome or are you affected by its manifestation in others?  Becoming conscious of its existence and how it manifests itself in your life is the first step.  The next step is to understand your past and that of your ancestors; you will never know where you are going until you understand where you’ve been.  There are now resources that provide more historical fact than fantasy, such as A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America by Ronald Takaki and sources on the Internet, such as Africans in America.  Finally, it becomes your individual challenge, even your responsibility to take the remaining steps toward reclaiming yourself, recovery, and giving yourself the power to leave the mental plantation -- moving on to true freedom.


References:
  1. Excerpted from, Domestic Violence Response Training Curriculum, November 1991, by Jeri Martinez
  2. Africans in America: Judgement Day  - Part Four
  3. Muse Time" Paper 15. March/April 1999, The Slave Mentality Uttam Thawrani
  4. Why Should I be Called A Nigger?  by Clifford R. Gahagan
  5. The Duplicity of the War on Drugs        Author unknown.
  6. Essay by Frederick Mann, 1993
Other Resources: Baltimore Examiner
<!--[if gte mso 9]>

In : History 


Tags: slavery "black history month" "african american" "black history" "stockholm syndrome" research black recidivism 

The Reality of Our Mentality

Posted by E. Joyce on Wednesday, February 3, 2010 Under: History
Have you ever looked at the shape that Black America is in today and tried to understand why we are still in the struggle, even though we have all the strength we need?  What is stopping us from realizing the power we have?  It’s not just money; we have over Four Billion dollars in disposable income that we spend annually, yet nothing has really changed. 
I was attending a meeting where the speaker was talking about the Stockholm Syndrome.  As he spoke, it suddenly struck me: how does this psychological phenomenon apply to me, to us as African Americans?  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that perhaps some closer attention to this interesting piece of information because it may indeed be at least one of the major keys to our recovery and change as a people.  The Stockholm Syndrome is a term given a phenomenon in human behavior, which, as it turns out, has been documented since Biblical times, when Israel was ready to return to Egypt, in fear of the unfamiliar.  The Stockholm Syndrome is an emotional attachment, a bond of interdependence between captive and captor that develops when someone threatens your life, deliberates, and doesn't kill you.’  (Symonds, 1980)  The relief resulting from the removal of the threat of death generates intense feelings of gratitude and fear that combine to make the captive reluctant to display negative feelings toward the captor.
In the summer of 1973, four hostages were taken in a botched bank robbery at Kreditbanken in Stockholm, Sweden.  At the end of their captivity, six days later, they actively resisted rescue.  They refused to testify against their captors, raised money for their legal defense, and according to some reports one of the hostages eventually became engaged to one of her jailed captors.  This struck some folks as weird, and as a way of coping with this uneasiness, as they started seeing more examples they named this class of strange behavior the "Stockholm Syndrome.  The most notorious example of this behavior in the United States is the case of Patty Hearst, who, after being kidnapped and tortured by the Symbionese Liberation Army, took up arms and joined their cause; taking on the name of "Tania" and helping the SLA rob banks. This condition...occurs in response to the four specific conditions listed below:
  • A person threatens to kill another and is perceived as having the capability to do so.
  • The other cannot escape, so her or his life depends on the threatening person.
  • The threatened person is isolated from outsiders so that the only other perspective available to her or him is that of the threatening person.
  • The threatening person is perceived as showing some degree of kindness to the one being threatened.

It takes only 3-4 days for the characteristic bond of the Stockholm syndrome to emerge when captor and captive are strangers.  After that, research shows, the duration of captivity is no longer relevant.  A strategy of trying to keep your captor happy in order to stay alive becomes an obsessive identification with the likes and dislikes of the captor which has the result of warping your own psyche in such a way that you come to sympathize with your tormenter.   “African American women had to endure the threat and the practice of sexual exploitation.  There were no safeguards to protect them from being sexually stalked, harassed, or raped, or to be used as long-term concubines by masters and overseers.  The abuse was widespread, as the men with authority took advantage of their situation.  Even if a woman seemed agreeable to the situation, in reality she had no choice.  Slave men, for their part, were often powerless to protect the women they loved.”
I believe that by now you are beginning to see the direction in which I am heading and, even if you don’t, read on.  The syndrome explains what happens in hostage-taking situations, but can also be used to understand the behavior of battered spouses, prostitutes, members of religious cults, Holocaust victims, even household pets, and what is significant and relevant to this article, Americans of African descent.
Historical, sociological and governmental archives continue to ignore the parallels between the Jewish Holocaust and the enslavement of Africans in the United States.  To ignore history is to increase the chances of its repetition.  The question becomes do we really understand our modern day enslavement and slave mentality?  Are we still trying to treat the effects of slavery without acknowledging the causes, and how those causes have affected us, even today?  “It needs to be pointed out that the roots of tyranny are religious.  Everyone has views about life, God, responsibility, justice, sin, beginnings, etc.  We hold to them with religious zeal.  Both the tyrant and the tyrannised have distorted thinking in these important areas.  Tyranny doesn’t just fall out of the sky in a moment and engulf a nation without warning.  For tyrants to unleash their control and oppression, they need to find a people whose mindset will accept their advances.  Tyranny is slavery and it’s those who have a slave mentality that will be enslaved by it.  When people find themselves under tyrannical rule they need to begin with self-examination and ask, "How could we have allowed things to degenerate to this?”  The temptation is to ignore one’s own faults and place all the blame upon someone else.  Tyrants, however, can only exploit what is already there, namely, the slave mentality of the people.  Thus to merely kick out the tyrant without acknowledging the root of the problem is asking to be exploited again.  Political and economic slavery is merely an outward manifestation of an inward reality—those who are slaves in their thinking will end up in physical slavery.  Unless one’s thinking is changed, there is no guarantee that new leaders, who are initially seen as "saviours," won’t also exploit you.”

HISTORY VS. TECHNIQUE
Below are some highlights of how this process was and is used to psychologically master the captured persons.  This is provided in the historical context of the experience of the enslaved African:


Alertness reduction
Step One is alertness reduction: The captors cause the nervous system to malfunction, making it difficult to distinguish between fantasy and reality.  This can be accomplished in several ways.  Poor diet is one, Inadequate sleep is another primary way to reduce alertness, especially when combined with long hours of work or intense physical activity, as well as being bombarded with intense and unique negative experiences.  When you experience the slave ships in various museums throughout the country, you understand what it felt like to be chained, side by side, into a space for days – barely able to breathe, much less move.  The stench of death and excrement, the cries of fear and pain suffocate you, not knowing what is day or night, what is reality or your worst nightmare. 

Programmed Confusion

Step Two is programmed confusion: You are mentally assaulted while your alertness is being reduced as in Step One.  This is accomplished with a deluge of new information encounters or one-to-one processing, which usually amounts to the controller bombarding the individual with questions or results.  During this phase of decognition, reality and illusion often merge and perverted logic is likely to be accepted.  You are on a slave ship and you are made to witness violent acts that are shown as examples of what would happen if you were not compliant.  You are degraded, naked, and shamed – and you haven’t even reached your destination yet, where more is to come…
Thought Stopping
Step Three is thought stopping: Techniques are used to cause the mind to go "flat.”  These are altered-state-of-consciousness techniques that initially induce calmness by giving the mind something simple to deal with and focusing awareness.  The continued use brings on a feeling of elation and eventually hallucination.  The result is the reduction of thought and eventually, if used long enough, the cessation of all thought and withdrawal from everyone and everything except that which the controlling captors direct.  The takeover is then complete.  Upon arrival the head of a slave was shaved, removing the associated ties to tribal culture; you did not know who was a part of your tribal family without any identifiers.  Slaves were systematically beaten, or otherwise brutally “trained” to understand that compliance within the boundaries is the only way to escape torture and pain that started when they were on the ships transporting
You where verbally and physically reminded that you were not considered human, therefore had no right to independent thought and that your survival hinged upon your appearing to be placid, kind and doing just what you are told.


The most effective technique in this step used upon Africans – and still prevalent today – is introducing uncertainty about identity.  After stripping away all physical forms of identity, the person is attacked verbally and physically.  So you can imagine the fear and tension this situation generates.  Most coped with the stress by mentally going away.  They literally go into an alpha state, which automatically makes them many times as suggestible as they normally are.  And another loop of the downward spiral into conversion is successfully effected.  Remember the character in Color Purple and her behavior once she was released from prison?  “…Slaves were considered property, and they were property because they were black.  Their status as property was enforced by violence -- actual or threatened.  People, black and white, lived together within these parameters, and their lives together took many forms.  Enslaved African Americans could never forget their status as property, no matter how well their owners treated them…The killing of a slave was almost never regarded as murder, and the rape of slave women was treated as a form of trespassing…Some slaves committed suicide or mutilated themselves to ruin their property value…”
Other techniques include the introduction of jargon--new terms that have meaning only to those who participate.  “Unity among African Americans was destroyed during slavery times by evil dehumanizing tactics and terms.  The word nigger was brutally imposed upon them by means of coercion that stripped African Americans of their identities. As a result, African Americans have allowed it to become part of their souls, thus transmitting it down through the generations.  The incessant use of the word in our speech, our music, and our culture, keeps the evil spirit of racism alive…From the day or night, almost five hundred years ago, that the first African’s foot touched the soil of America; the so-called “Land of the Free” has yet to be realized.  The word nigger was beaten deep into the African’s soul.  So deep that it has just as much evil power now as it did then.  In fact, even more power, because African Americans, in using it to designate themselves, clearly have forgotten how evil this word is. 
Vicious language is also frequently used, purposely, to make captive uncomfortable or fearful.  Yet another; there is no humor in the communications...at least until the participants are remade.  Then, merry-making and humor are highly desirable as symbols of the new joy the participants have supposedly "found."  Consider the "Happy Negro” image that most Anglos are more comfortable with, even today.  We are considered potentially threatening when not socially “shufflin’ and grinnin”.  I never understood why -- until I researched this article  -- it bothered me when a spectator standing near me during one of the first major golf tournaments Tiger Woods participated in, yelled in such an ominous tone “smile, Tiger”, as he walked by on his way to the next hole.  In his voice there were echoes of the ghosts of all of the old massahs, who expected a slave to grin and dance on cue, in order to avoid the lash of a whip.

 Only when lions have historians, will hunters cease being heroes.
                                                                              --African Proverb


Since it has been documented that this process only takes three to four days to emerge as the new psyche of an individual, imagine what irreparable psychological scars were created over generations of slavery in this country.  Even though there was Irish slavery in this  country, they knew that their experience had a specific ending that they could look toward; Africans did not.  Even after their physical emancipation, there was no psychological deprogramming, no debriefing for freed African slaves.  Former slaves were left stunned and shocked, to find their own way financially and physically, all the while not understanding that they were far from psychological freedom.  There were, instead, new, more sinister forms of slavery generated -- then…and now.
Today, there are so many ways in which we are exposed to, indentured and/or enslaved -- socially, economically, and mentally – that they would be too numerous to identify and detail in one article.  I am going to provide a few examples and challenge you to begin to identify others in your own life:
  1. Labels.  We are a unique group people who allow ourselves to be defined by the labels on our clothes, shoes, purses, cars, etc.  We are a unique group of people that spend over Four Billion dollars annually and have little to show for it.  We think in the short term, fearing the day when it’s all taken away from us.  “If African Americans study their history, they will become more aware of how labels have been used to dehumanize them.  It is time for them to collectively become critically conscious of the slave mentality they exercise within their culture.  They did not come to this country as “niggers.”  They must break this bondage, free themselves, and stand up against evil.” We are enslaved to defining ourselves and each other by the makeup and the model, fearing that who we are as individuals may not measure up.  Sameness is more important; staying within the boundaries set for us is much safer.  We allow others to define what success looks like for us, from the clothes we wear to the art we purchase.  And who profits?
  2. Drugs and all that is drug-related.  Drugs are believed to have been introduced into this country as a method of control of the African American communities (See http://www.friendsoffreedom.com/Writings/DupeOfDrugWar.html).  Those who have not become a slave to the drug itself are slaves to the perception of drug sales being the solution to their exit from their plantation of poverty.  However, this is pure myth, given that the majority of inmates – 58.6% -- in prison are there on drug-related charges, most of them African American, most with harsher sentencing than their Anglo counterparts.  “If the ghetto drug dealers are the young capitalists who could, under better circumstances, become community leaders, the influx of cheap cocaine and the increasing poverty makes these possible ghetto leaders emerge faster as outlaws, the result being that they are eliminated.  What better way to undermine your enemies?  What better way to fund covert actions?  And what better way to grandstand about crime, morality, and values?  “ Then there are the drug-related homicides, drive-by shootings that generate thought-stopping fear within a neighborhood.  Ninety-one percent of those imprisoned for drugs are hooked again and back in the system within a year.  And who profits?  Private-prison stocks have also been breaking out of their respective holes as investors drive shares to year highs.  Corrections Corp. of America was teetering into delisting territory prior to its 1-for-10 reverse split two weeks ago. At the time, it was trading for under a buck; on Monday, it closed off 35 cents at $13.75. Cornell has also been a star performer; from just $3.31 in December, shares moved to $12.15 on Monday, shanking up to a 52-week high of $12.26 in the process. Wackenhut Corrections though off its Friday apex of $14.30, is still better than double its pre-Christmas price.  Shares in the company closed down 94 cents to $13.22. Bottom feeders rising to top, again 'Death care,' prison and pawnshop stocks leap to new highs. Another major factor at work, particularly in the death and prison categories, is the drop in interest rates. Whether they are buried under piles of IOUs (a la Service and Cornell), dependent on a constant inflow of new capital or both (Corrections Corp.), any let-up by the Fed is apt to boost their fortunes. …Locked out of Wall Street for the last few years, private prison operators "are starting to get some good news” said Jim Macdonald of First Analysis.  While for-profit turnkeys had their own bull run in the 1990s, construction backlogs, tight money, and bad press landed them in solitary.  Now, with interest rates down and improved visibility for the capital-intensive business, "people are viewing the whole sector as a recession-resistant play. The stocks got way undervalued, and, as they came back to reasonable value, the momentum just took over," he said.  Each company has its own unique dynamics, he said, adding that he thinks Cornell has the most appreciation potential if it can pull off an expected sale/leaseback deal, although he said investors should be aware the company is "leveraged up to the eyeballs."  Wackenhut "is the quality one in the group [and] probably a good long-term play," he said, while Corrections Corp., on the other hand, "is the big roll-the-dice gamble."  The company has a billion dollars worth of debt, and "it is making its debt payments, but I don't see it making positive earnings in the next three or four quarters," Macdonald said. --  William Spain, CBS.MarketWatch.com
  3. Recidivism is the return of a person to prison after being released on parole or by serving the full term of his or her sentence.  Prisons and the business of incarceration are booming.  As a result there is an increase in the business of privatization of prisons, so that they are run outside of the government.  Prisons offer a low cost employment base for corporate contracting for anything from farming to inbound call centers.  The inmates are paid a practically nothing, while the prison owners reap the primary profits.  In addition, laws have been in the works, which would require prisoners to repay the cost of their incarceration.  So upon release, a prisoner not only has to battle the task of finding a job that he or she is unlikely to be skilled to attain, there is the stigma of hiring an ex-convict and possibly a bill to repay to the government.  An ex-convict is likely to be dumped right back onto the “plantation” from which he was removed, which in itself increases the likelihood of his or her return to prison (see below).  The definition of a slave is a person who has no control of him or herself and is completely dominated by something or someone; a property of that which dominates.  And who profits?
  4. Gentrification, in basic terms, is how the city government allows your neighborhoods and their properties to become devalued by neighborhood crime, lack of upkeep, and lack of support for aging homeowners who purchased the homes during the “white flight” to the suburbs.  This justifies the destruction of broken down public housing, formerly a tool for containing the minority poor in one area, which is torn down and replaced by condos, restaurants and townhomes that welcome the travel-weary suburb dweller back into the city.  The minority poor is displaced, some lured into believing that the suburbs is the best place to go, not realizing what it will ultimately cost them financially or through isolation.  Across the country, in every major city, business professionals and their families are quietly purchasing Uncle John or Auntie Nina’s old house for a fraction of its worth, fixing it up with low interest loans the city offers from their city revitalization funds and moving back into the city.  Your neighbors, meanwhile, are being lured into believing that moving out into the suburbs will somehow offer you a better life, because that was the truth – fifteen years ago, when it was not an option.  African Americans are often the target victims of housing fraud, including “flipping”, renovation loans, etc.  And who profits?
  5. Intracultural Separatism.  During slavery this was a strength that allowed the slaves to survive emotionally.  “Enslaved African Americans also resisted by forming community within the plantation setting.  This was a tremendous undertaking for people whose lives were ruled by domination and forced labor.  Slaves married, had children, and worked hard to keep their families together.  In their quarters they were able to let down the masks they had to wear for whites.  There, black men, women, and children developed an underground culture through which they affirmed their humanity.  They gathered in the evenings to tell stories, sing, and make secret plans.  House servants would come down from the "big house" and give news of the master and mistress, or keep people laughing with their imitations of the whites.  It was in their quarters that many enslaved people developed and passed down skills which allowed them to supplement their poor diet and inadequate medical care with hunting, fishing, gathering wild food, and herbal medicines.  There, the adults taught their children how to hide their feelings to escape punishment and to be skeptical of anything a white person said.  “ Today, that strength has become a weakness.  We have allowed ourselves to believe that using our culture to segregate ourselves in an ever-shrinking global community is of benefit.  Further, what we pass on and among ourselves is what is dictated to us as our labels.  Note, for example how in the entertainment industry, when dollars are waved in front of us, we are again the puppets of the masters; we embrace the given perception that we are a group of violent, oversexed people (see music videos).  Women are willing to bump and grind in front of the cameras – doing what most would never consider doing if the stage were instead a topless bar.  Then there are the comedic roles, the only place where we are allowed to be the majority of primary characters, where we again fall into the stereotypical traps that have been defined for us.  Some of us believe that we should embrace our cultural differences by showing that we are “down with the people” but are we really down with the people – ourselves – or with the labels that are provided and we have chosen to embrace?  I remember vividly an experience when I passed a group of men on the street and one of them spoke and I responded.  He became enraged, because my response wasn’t “black enough” for him.  But who made the rule that correct English is “speaking white”?  I really don’t believe that it was us.  Why?  Because I have found that those I deal with in corporations and organizations, who feel compelled to tell me that I am so “articulate,” (their code for “speaking white”) as though it was a rarity among people of color, and at the same time view me as an enemy that had somehow infiltrated the ranks.  We should embrace that within our culture which truly defines us as a race, and learn to discern between what is cultural and what is the stereotype by which others wish to define us.  One more thing, when it comes to what is cultural and what is stereotypical: what’s in a name?  A lot.  We have chosen to make up names – especially for our daughters – in the name of culturalism.  What we have done is create a new stereotype, with which our children are defined.  As one gentleman from Nigeria told me “you Americans make up names that don’t mean anything.  In Africa our names are taken quite seriously.  It is what we pass along from generation to generation.”  While waiting to board a plane when I was on a business trip, three drunken males came by and made the mistake of commenting on my braids by attempting to fit me into their stereotype, inclusive of giving me a non-meaning name as a defining label of who I was.  Without further detail of subsequent events, my point is that many choose to define and stereotype by name.  When you call your child by a name that means nothing, what does that say about how we define ourselves and others define us?  “During the past decade, there has been a continuous battle within the African American community to eliminate internal racism.  It is going to take the power of Almighty God and the consciousness of all of us, together and individually, to change the course of our future into a brighter one, especially for our children.  Let us become conscious of the evil around us in order to make the strides we need.  Let’s understand that we have a better history than what is told of it.  We have a motherland, we are human, and we are God’s children.  These reasons are why it is so important to step outside of racism, totally disregard it, and abolish it from our souls and lives forever.”
  6. Intraracism.  The enemy lies within and the enemy is us.  In the days of conscious physical slavery in this country, there were the house slaves and the field slaves – a deliberate psychological class distinction.  House slaves were programmed to believe that their loyalty included the betrayal of any exhibiting the potential of having an original thought or might potentially create a “problem”.  Ask yourself why – even today – Anglos get nervous, even angry when three or more of their minority counterparts are talking together and they don’t know what they are talking about.  They want to know what’s going on.  If you are asked about the conversation and don’t disclose the subject matter, they become offended.  You become the enemy.  We are selfish about our piece of the corporate, social or economic pie, afraid to share because we think that there might not be enough, not realizing that we have the power to bake a whole new pie.  So we “shuffle and grin” at the “massah”, and sell our own down the river in fear that we will somehow be reclaimed and sent back to the plantation.  We ignore the screams of those who realize they have been caught and turn up the volume on Marvin Gaye’s CD.  We allow them to eat our young by allowing them to set the standards for how we are treated, rather than setting the standards for ourselves.  We are afraid of losing all that we have gained by reaching back over the wall to help others over.  We sit and wait expectantly for “them” to come and solve our problems, not understanding that we must control our own destiny and need not wait for permission to do so.  We still wait for the forty acres and a mule.  And who profits?
“A paradigm is a system of belief or a way of viewing the world…To become a Free Sovereign Individual and do justice to yourself, you need to find out who you are.  Most of us, including many who yearn for freedom, suffer from what might be called ‘slave mentality.’  Our personal philosophy and psychology, in important respects, may be that of a slave rather than that of a free sovereign.  To get a better understanding of the sovereign individual paradigm, compare the free-wild horse to the broken-domesticated horse.  A horse is born free and wild.  Try and ride a free-wild horse and it will do its utmost to throw you off.  A free-wild horse doesn't like to be broken - enslaved - ridden by a master.  Once the cowboy has broken the free-wild horse, it becomes a broken-domesticated-obedient horse.  Now the cowboy is the master of the horse.  Once a horse has been broken it timidly accepts being saddled and bridled.  The saddle is placed on the horse's back and held in place by a strong strap around the horse's body.  Attached to the saddle are stirrups for the rider's feet.  The rider's boots may have spurs used to inflict pain on the horse in order to make it run faster.  The rider may also use a horsewhip.  Around the head of the horse a bridle is strapped.  Part of the bridle is a metal bit that passes horizontally through the horse's mouth.  The reins are attached to the ends of the bit and are used to steer the horse and make it slow down and stop.  Pain can be inflicted on the horse by yanking the reins or pulling on them with a seesaw motion.  The above paraphernalia are used to make it easy for a rider to control his or her horse - difficult for the horse to disobey its rider.  The horse is the slave of the cowboy.  The cowboy rides the horse.  The horse works for the cowboy.  The cowboy owns the horse.  The horse obeys the cowboy.  Disobedience may be punished.  The horse that fights tooth and hoof to prevent you from putting on bridle and saddle may be sold as horsemeat.  Horses are born free and wild.  Horses are inherently free.  They are naturally free.  But they can be broken, domesticated, enslaved…One Afrikaans word for native Africans is "naturel" ("native"); another is "skepsel" ("creature").  The most derogatory is "kaffer" ("infidel").  These words are no longer acceptable.  My grandfather was a Senator and Chairman of the "Naturelle-Sake Kommissie" ("Native Affairs Commission").  That is the equivalent of the Chairman of a Congressional Committee that oversees the "Bureau of Indian Affairs.”  My grandfather was considered very wise and knew exactly what had to be done about the "Swart Gevaar" ("Black Danger").  My grandmother taught black children the three Rs and religion in her own farm school.  Her mission was to "civilize the savages.”  One day a black maid licked one of my grandmother's spoons.  My grandmother gave the maid a tongue lashing for "contaminating a white spoon" - then gave the spoon to the maid to keep, because it was "no longer fit for white use!”  When I was about seventeen I got engaged in a conversation with a black man.  Suddenly, as if hit by a sledgehammer, I realized that I was talking to a Human Being!  Up to that time I had unconsciously assumed that blacks were "inferior creatures" - kind of sub-human…Steve Biko was the founder of the "Black Consciousness" Movement in South Africa.  Biko recognized that the biggest problem was that blacks in their own consciousness regarded themselves as "inferior creatures."  The culture we grew up in - the language we used - planted the notion in the minds of whites that they were "superior beings," and in the minds of blacks that they were "inferior creatures.”  Practically all whites and blacks were subconsciously enculturated in this manner.  Biko recognized this phenomenon and advocated that blacks had to free their consciousness from the "inferior-creature" shackles.  Biko became world-famous and was visited by people like Bobby Kennedy.  Biko was also the greatest threat to white government in South Africa.  The police effectively murdered him.  The murder was "whitewashed."  A few years before Biko's death I started reading books about freedom, books critical of government, books alleging that inflation was something done by government, books about secret conspiracies that were the real government behind the scene.  One such book was How I Found Freedom in an Unfroze World by Harry Browne. It had a profound effect on my consciousness.  This and other books - particularly The Discovery of Freedom by Rose Wilder Lane - eventually led me to discover that I was a free and sovereign individual.  Steve Biko was also a major inspiration in the development of my consciousness.  Soon after Biko's murder, I left South Africa.  Since then I have lived as a free sovereign individual in several countries.  In Brussels, Belgium I came across The Cinderella Complex: Women's Fear of Independence by Collette Dowling.  Her theme is that in their consciousness women tend to regard themselves as "inferior slave creatures" (compared to men).  This inferiority is mostly subconscious and culturally imposed.  According to Dowling, men tend to regard themselves as "superior master beings" (compared to women).”

In the presentation I attended, the Holocaust and the Jews were being used as the significant example, these were specific points also attributed to the syndrome and just as easily associated to African Americans, who – like the Jews -- have historically managed to survive:

  • The captive (slave) fears those trying to help more than the captors themselves.  We have finally figured out how to stop the captor from hitting us so often, and besides he throws us a crumb every now and then.  Why would we want you to come and mess things up?

  • To the captive (slave), the captors position becomes justified, and that the captive (slave) has no choices.  The captor has gotten you to believe that there is no hope, even when you seem to have escaped.  Example (true and recent story): Woman hooked on drugs, upon release from jail, takes her baby son and leaves Chicago so that she is away from the lure of drugs; she buys a one-way ticket to Seattle, Washington.  Works and scrapes so that son develops a good life with a future; he has good grades, friends and a college scholarship.  One obsessed Anglo female lodges a charge of rape -- without proof.  Son is arrested on hearsay – does not even know the girl, except that she asked him to go out with her once and he refused.  Son loses girlfriend, friends and scholarship – and spends three weeks in jail – a place he had never even visited – along with mother’s life savings before it is determined that the Anglo female lied and is a virgin.  Even today the son is made to feel that he must be guilty of something, something must have happened.  Mother sends son back to Chicago in fear that the police will want to come get him again.  They still haven’t sued the girl for damages or the police for false arrest.  One of the definitions of rape is an outrageous violation, despoiling, by force.  Who was raped after all?

Recovery can best be achieved when the captive (slave) is away from the captor and/or the captor's environment.  It is a proven fact, yet no one has tested this fact on any significant level.  If you take someone permanently out of the environment that has generated the position of slavery to drugs, crime, or gang – he or she has a better chance of beating the enslaved addiction.

So now what?  I have no intention of extending an instant solution to such a complex problem, since the Stockholm Syndrome has very individualized effects and one solution definitely does not fit all.  Further, we are continually distracted by the newer, more subtle versions of passive racism.  But knowledge is power and the resource from which you can choose to draw resolution. What you can do, must do, is think -- really think -- about your life, your self.  Are you enslaved psychologically?  Do you exhibit the behavior of one who suffers from the Stockholm Syndrome or are you affected by its manifestation in others?  Becoming conscious of its existence and how it manifests itself in your life is the first step.  The next step is to understand your past and that of your ancestors; you will never know where you are going until you understand where you’ve been.  There are now resources that provide more historical fact than fantasy, such as A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America by Ronald Takaki and sources on the Internet, such as Africans in America.  Finally, it becomes your individual challenge, even your responsibility to take the remaining steps toward reclaiming yourself, recovery, and giving yourself the power to leave the mental plantation -- moving on to true freedom.


References:
  1. Excerpted from, Domestic Violence Response Training Curriculum, November 1991, by Jeri Martinez
  2. Africans in America: Judgement Day  - Part Four
  3. Muse Time" Paper 15. March/April 1999, The Slave Mentality Uttam Thawrani
  4. Why Should I be Called A Nigger?  by Clifford R. Gahagan
  5. The Duplicity of the War on Drugs        Author unknown.
  6. Essay by Frederick Mann, 1993
Other Resources: Baltimore Examiner
<!--[if gte mso 9]>

In : History 


Tags: slavery "black history month" "african american" "black history" "stockholm syndrome" research black recidivism 
Make a Free Website with Yola.