Trayvon Martin Syndrome

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!

Categories: Black Men, stress, teens, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

“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.

Categories: Black Men, research, stress | Leave a comment

Racism can feel life-threatening…

“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.

Categories: Black Men, mental illness, research, stress | Leave a comment

Conflict & Power Resolution

“The goal of an argument with your partner is not an apology, rather a willingness to relinquish power, say researchers. Power may be defined in many forms including giving a partner more independence, admitting faults, showing respect and being willing to compromise. The research, published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology is based on two studies of married or cohabitating people and build upon previous investigations by Keith Sanford, Ph.D.”

“Earlier studies of more than 3,500 married people found that there are just two basic types of underlying concerns that couples experience during conflicts: “perceived threat,” in which a person thinks that his or her status is threatened by a critical or demanding partner; and “perceived neglect,” in which an individual sees a partner as being disloyal or inattentive and showing a lack of investment in the relationship.”

Most of us want to gain in relationships; we never desire to lose anything and though it takes two to tango, we eventually settle on protecting our own best interests.

“When we feel criticized, we are likely to have underlying concerns about a perceived threat to status, and when that happens, we usually want a partner simply to disengage and back off” says Sanford.

Here, one needs to understand that “backing off” or wanting a person to back off is an easy display of passive or passive-aggressive behavior which eventually amounts to enabling a furtherance of the behavior needing to be changed in the first place.

Often, in sobriety circles there are hundreds of sayings and mantras that have been adopted by recovering addicts. One of my favorites is, “If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes”. This means, in terms of relationships, that if we don’t change our behavior the relationship will not change nor will the people enact change. Unfortunately, most people see conflict as negative and avoid it at the cost of possible healthy outcomes.

Categories: research, stress | Leave a comment

Where is my Brady Bunch?

Whether you’re married or single and dating, chances are, if you’re at least 25 or above, you most likely find yourself in a blended family or are heading down that perilous road, especially since so many of us tend to place less and less emphasis on birthing children in healthy marriages.

As a child I enjoyed watching the Brady Bunch but had no clue what the show was really about. As an adult revisiting many episodes makes me very perturbed. What was dating like before they got married? How did Mike and Carol meet and what do you suppose their responses were to each of them having three children from prior relationships? None of the episodes ever really touch on this, after all, it’s TV and TV isn’t supposed to be real right? ABC actually refused to allow any past history about Carol’s marriage to be included in the show. So…somebody somewhere felt this lifestyle wasn’t ever going to become a living reality for thousands of people.

If you’re like us, you too may do a dance with how to accommodate your spouse’s/partner’s children and the parents whom those children spring from. Here is a quick snippet about how to navigate through the perils of the blended family so many of us are faced with.

Categories: blended family, children, divorce, stress | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Coping & Resilience

When times get hard for most of us, we go through an array of emotions and experience “stinking-thinking” for countless days about almost everything imaginable. But what about successful and resilient people? Surely they suffer defeats too but how do they cope? Here are several things they may do:

  1. They know their boundaries.
  2. They keep good company
  3. They cultivate self-awareness.
  4. They practice acceptance.
  5. They’re willing to sit in silence.
  6. They don’t have to have all the answers.
  7. They have a menu of self-care habits.
  8. They enlist their team.
  9. They consider the possibilities.
  10. They get out of their head.

Want to learn more? Check out The Art of Resilience.

Categories: positive psychology, stress | Leave a comment

Job-related stress, unhealthy lifestyle a bad mix

People with job stress and an unhealthy lifestyle are at higher risk of coronary artery disease than people who have job stress but lead healthy lifestyles, found a study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal). Continued…

Categories: stress | Leave a comment

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