Trayvon Martin Syndrome
Like the rest of the country, I sat and watched as the Martin/Zimmerman Case was tried not only before Judge Debra Nelson but also in the court of public opinion. I listened as the living room lawyers and armchair prosecutors on TV presented their facts to their jury. I listened as black people once again prepared themselves for another miscarriage of justice. I watched as America prepared itself for the outcome of a trial that was put on display solely for the sake of the public’s thirst for drama. As I watched, I sat selfishly thinking this trial didn’t affect me directly. After all I didn’t know Trayvon Martin nor his family, I wasn’t from Florida, and I didn’t wear hoodies. So outside of once being a black teenager I didn’t believe I was directly affected by this case at all. I understood how America valued black life. To us this was another young black male in a long line of murders at the hands of white America that would most likely walk away free.
This case didn’t affect me directly till last night. I decided to venture out and walk to the store, to get something for my daughter. It was a warm night, slightly breezy but the air was still thick with humidity. As I made my way to the store, I walked through the streets I have known for at least thirty years. The neighborhood is a mix of black and white middle class working people. The residents are in their late 50’s early 60’s with a few teenagers scattered about. I know the streets, I know the people. I could walk these streets blindfolded. As I made my way to the store, I suddenly felt as though I was being followed. I stopped several times to make sure there wasn’t an additional set of footsteps. Suddenly I felt paranoid and afraid. my heart began to race, as did my emotions. My mind immediately gravitated towards the night Trayvon went to the store for tea and skittles. As I made my way down through the pathway to the schoolyard, I took out my key chain flashlight and began waving it about, scanning the area for any one lurking in the dark. I made it to the store relieved as the parking lot was well-lit. Exiting the store, I come across a police officer sitting in his car. As we made eye contact my anxiety heightened and the rush of fear came again. Did I look suspicious to him? I am sure he was aware of the case. Was I being profiled? Did I fit a certain stereotype? I hurried home with my purchase walking faster than ever now. Sweat pouring down my face. I entertain the idea of calling someone but decided against it because I wanted to be totally aware of my surroundings. As I neared my street, a rabbit darted from underneath some bushes pushing me into a brief sprint. As I trotted, my only thought was my front porch, my base, my safety net. As I put my keys in the door and saw the smiling face of my children I felt safe, relieved and comforted knowing I got another chance to be with my family. I kissed my babies sat down and thanked the Creator. As I reviewed my trip to the store, the effects of the trial became apparent to me. I indeed was affected, the drama I tried to avoid had crept into my conscience, invaded my psyche and embedded itself in my mind and heart. America succeeded in its effort to keep us afraid, scared and in our place. I am a black man in America, IAM SCARED, I AM TRAYVON MARTIN!
“Nearly a quarter of all black men under the age of 35 reported to having been treated less fairly by a police officer in the last month, according to a recent Gallup poll. Researchers surveyed 4,373 men and women from ages 18 to older than 55, including 1,010 non-Hispanic blacks, and found that younger black adults more often reported that they felt they were treated less fairly because of their race. For men ages 35 to 54, the percentage dropped from 24 to 22 percent, and down to 11 percent for men over the age of 55. The percentage of women who said they felt they were treated unfairly was lower – 18 percent of women under 34, 12 percent of women between 35 and 54 and 10 percent of women over 55.” Read on…
All Blacks stand to suffer due to the amplified nature of violence by some. Unfortunately, there is a need to maintain power (im)balances both through committing crime, masking it and prosecuting it. Most have no idea how tangled this web really is.
“Racial health disparities are not new but most of us don’t really know the specifics, possibly because there is relatively little discussion of this both in the media and among health care providers. The data in race-conscious societies are bleak. Not only in the United States, but also in Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, South Africa, and the U.K., non-dominant racial groups have significantly worse health outcomes than the dominant racial group.”
Healthcare professionals and mental healthcare workers always try to avoid looking at race when helping clients. In my experience it is almost impossible to talk to a client about biopsychosocial factors and mental/physical illnesses without also discussing identity, economics and genealogy. How can we help heal a client without looking at the whole person??? With African-Americans for example, their identity at some point will most often countenance part of a shared and very common black experience on some level. Ask yourself, “what motivates a caregiver to avoid this?” Check out this recent conference.
“One major factor in understanding PTSD in ethnoracial minorities is the impact of racism on emotional and psychological well-being. Racism continues to be a daily part of American culture, and racial barriers have an overwhelming impact on the oppressed. Much research has been conducted on the social, economic, and political effects of racism, but little research recognizes the psychological effects of racism on people of color (Carter, 2007).Chou, Asnaani, and Hofmann (2012) found that perceived racial discrimination was associated with increased mental disorders in African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans, suggesting that racism may in itself be a traumatic experience.”
This is a very thought-provoking piece on dealing with racism as a mental health professional.
Black men can neither defend themselves against emasculation, racism or black on black crime. Modern human sacrifices. http://ow.ly/1Zf8YQ
If you have ever wondered…please read the whole article and ask questions!
New research shows that young men in the UK who are members of gangs suffer from “unprecedented” levels of psychiatric illness, placing a heavy burden on mental health services.
1. 85.8 percent had an antisocial personality disorder
2. Two-thirds were alcohol dependent
3. 25.1 percent screened positive for psychosis
4. More than half (57.4 percent) were drug dependent
5. Around a third (34.2 percent) had attempted suicide
6. More than half (58.9 percent) had an anxiety disorder
Read more here.
“No research has previously investigated whether gang violence is related to psychiatric illness, other than substance misuse, or if it places a burden on mental health services,” said Professor Jeremy Coid, Ph.D., Director of Forensic Psychiatry Research Unit at Queen Mary, and lead author of the paper. Here we have shown unprecedented levels among this group, identifying a complex public health problem at the intersection of violence, substance misuse, and mental health problems among young men.”
“Evidence suggests that children observe things in the media and apply those observations to their view of themselves. They may even imitate the behaviors they watch on the news. In isolation, these negative stereotypes cause young black men to wonder, how can I overcome these conditions, how can I escape my circumstances, and even if I do why bother if I can get shot for just walking down the street? These negative self-images and low expectations can lead to depression, anxiety, poor self esteem, poor academic performance, and even disruptive behaviors like aggression.”
Media and the Black Male Image – BlackMentalHealthNet.com – An online community empowering the Black community by promoting mental health..