So first off, that whole 1 minute and 3-second clip was funny as hell
But on a serious tip, I want to focus on something Day Day said before the clip ended.
“White people, y’all don’t give a fuck about the police. I’mma let you know that now. You already know it. Y’all don’t even notice the police. A nigga can be coming out of church with his kids and say, “look, there go the police.”
– Mike Epps
It’s a funny joke, largely because, it’s the truth.
I’ll admit, it had me hella weak, but it also got my wheels spinning about something else.
Something much deeper than the glaring double standard Mike Epps was joking about…
Facing the Truth
I recently wrote a piece called, “Culture Vultures,” and midway through the piece I had a section titled, “Trauma.” In that section, I stated that black life in America is currently and has always been, surrounded by violence and racial trauma. Rather the violence is physical or verbal, so-called self-inflicted or “cultural” is beside the point, but the fact that violence and life in America as a black person is institutionally intertwined can’t be denied.
This fact of violence institutionally intertwining with black life was established with this nation’s original sin of slavery and has been maintained through racially motivated legislation like Jim Crow, & legal segregation, and currently lives on through the police-state that oppresses black & brown communities today.
First off, the map above is nothing but a loose representation of black history here in America. For a more in-depth timeline of black history here in America check out my latest piece, “Happy Juneteenth.”
Anyway, I wanna pause right here for a second…
Look at American Slavery. I know society tries to skate pass slavery and act as if it didn’t happen.
But it did.
Slavery in America happened, and it happened for 246 consecutive years.
(which is a conservative number by the way)
Think about all the shit that had to be created to support a system as brutal as slavery…
Try and image what American society had to be like when owning another human being was seen as a norm. Like, really try to imagine that shit bruh. Imagine what was taught in schools and churches back then.
Imagine what a lifetime of slavery can do to a persons psyche. Now imagine what 246 consecutive years of slavery can do to a communities psyche as a whole…
The Willie Lynch Theory
About 8 years ago I read a book called, “Breaking the Curse of Willie Lynch: The Science Of Slave Psychology,” and it really opened my eyes to what I now know to be internalized racism. Alvin Morrow starts the book by reciting the “Willie Lynch letter: The Making of a Slave.” If you’ve never heard of Willie Lynch or the Willie Lynch letter, don’t trip. I’ll drop an audio clip of it below. I also recently brought it to TGA; “Willie Lynch letter: The Making of a Slave.”
I highly recommend checking out my piece or listening to the full clip before finishing this piece. Why? Well, to get a full understanding of black trauma we have to start with the most traumatizing moments in American history. We’re all too familiar with the physical violence that was associated with American slavery, but what about the psychological warfare that was launched on the black psyche to even make it possible to “make a slave,” in the first place.
Welcome back. I know that was some heavy shit, especially if you’ve never heard of Willie Lynch. But if we’re going to have a serious conversation about Black Trauma I had to shine a light on this untold history. Without it, we’ll only be left with half the truth, and like my momma always told me, “half the truth is nothing but a lie.”
Now couple the entire legacy of American Slavery with 89 years of Jim Crow. You know, the time when America literally criminalized blackness, while simultaneously passing legislation that gave white America the middle class we know today…
Then sprinkle roughly 25+ years of housing discrimination and 25 more years of mass incarceration, and what do you have…
*Sidenote* For the sake of this piece, I’m going to keep it pushing. Well, one last thing… I’m going to drop some extra sources below that shine a light on how brutal American Slavery was. It’s important that this history is told, regardless of how uneasy it makes you. Someone once said you must know your enemy to defeat them. For us who are serious about defeating white supremacy and racism, we must understand where it comes from.
- Whiteness: The Ultimate Social Control Weapon
- Happy Juneteenth
- American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia
- Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 to 1938
We all know that trauma comes in many forms, and can be manifested in many ways. For example, we all know and accept the fact that sexual assault can cause trauma. The same thing goes for domestic violence, and of course, we’re all aware of war-related trauma.
All these misfortunate situations are widely accepted as events that can cause trauma and can be easily researched.
Related Source: Types of Trauma
During my research on the different types of trauma, I couldn’t help but notice something missing. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) does not list racial trauma or race-based stress as a disorder or mental illness. In fact, they don’t mention race AT ALL.
Of course, this is complete bull shit. Racial Trauma, or what I like to call Black Trauma is some real life shit. Racial trauma or race-based stress can come from dealing with racial harassment, racial violence, &/or institutional racism.
Racial Trauma or Race-Based Stress is often compared to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as the symptoms are similar to irritability, hypervigilance, and depression.
I know what you’re thinking. How can any of this be true if the DSM-5 doesn’t support it?
Some say PTSD caused by racism, or racial trauma, is underrecognized due to a lack of awareness among clinicians, and a lack of validated measures for its assessment…
F*ck that sh*t, let’s keep it 100.
I think the main reason why the DSM-5 doesn’t recognize Black Trauma as a real form of Trauma is because of the discomfort surrounding conversations about race in therapeutic settings, and in the medical field in general… And they wonder why we chant, “Black Lives Matter…”
Related Source: Black Americans suffer most from racial trauma, but few counselors are trained to treat it
Black Minds Trapped in a Police State
A few months ago I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine. She’s actually one of my favorite photographers, and we often have conversations about real life shit. In fact, she was with me in Ferguson the day after Mike Brown was murdered by a mf that will remain nameless.
Anyway, I was on FB swiping through stories when I came across her’s. A new video of cops doing what we know them to do best just got released to the public and she decided to hit social to air her thoughts out.
During her rant, she said something that hit a nerve for me.
She made a comment about how these videos of police brutality were a blessing and a curse.
On one hand, it’s a blessing because it’s no longer just the so-called honest word of a “man fearing for his life” against the silence of a young man or women gone too soon. Thanks to movements like #BLM, we now have countless video evidence to support our claims that black people in America live in a police state.
On the other hand, the more times these incidences happen, the more video footage of apparent police brutality gets released to the public…
Yeah, we have countless hours of evidence that proves we live in a police state, but at what cost?
Erica ended her rant by saying even though she understands the gains we’ve made in the fight against police brutality due to body cameras she could no longer watch any video related to police brutality.
Honestly speaking, she’s not alone. Watching videos of police brutality can trigger a wide range of emotions.
A recent study sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania (released just before the anniversaries of the deaths of Eric Garner (2014), Michael Brown (2014), John Crawford (2014), and Philando Castile (2016) found that there could be millions like my homie, in which footage of these killings can trigger a wide range of black trauma.
The research included data from the Mapping Police Violence Project database for police killings between 2013 and 2016 and information from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System of over 103,000 Black Americans. The results indicate that police killings of unarmed Black Americans are having a population-level impact on the mental health of black folks all across the nation.
According to researchers, the incidents may contribute to 1.7 additional poor mental health days per person every year, or 55 million more poor mental health days every year among Black Americans across the United States.
That means, STATISTICALLY SPEAKING, the mental health burden for African Americans caused by police killings of unarmed Black victims is nearly as great as the mental health burden associated with diabetes.
*Before we move on, I’d like to remind you that the DSM-5 still doesn’t believe black trauma or race-based trauma is a real thing*
Back to the facts…
African Americans make up 13 percent of the U.S. population but they accounted for 26 percent of people fatally shot by police in 2015 and 2016. The death of a loved one can be tragic and traumatic for the family and community of any police-shooting victim, regardless of race.
However, the study revealed that there is a deeper trauma for African Americans, related to the victim or not.
This study confirms the very fears Erica was ranting about. It also confirms the reasons why I can’t watch any more videos showcasing the America I’m far too familiar with. Most importantly this study proves that black trauma is real.
Black trauma is real and is constantly seeking ways it can to wrap itself around the black mind until it completely consumes our identity. Which has always been its true goal ever since it was first introduced to us through the lips of Willie Lynch and slavers like him.
I say all of this not in support of banning police body cams. Nor do I want to discourage people from filming cops. Filming cops killing/assaulting unarmed black people isn’t the problem here… Cops killing/assaulting unarmed black people is.
Black trauma cannot be fully addressed until we put a complete end to the brutal police state black people have constantly lived under here in the states.
Until then we must continue to find strength in each other. We must remember that until we’re all free, none of us are free.