The Unspoken Truth: The Pain We ALL Live – Unmasking Racism & Trauma in America

“Hear me clearly; America is not a racist country.  …. And it is wrong to try to use our painful past to dishonestly shut down debates in the present.”

– Tim Scott, Republican Senator, South Carolina

“I have experienced the pain of discrimination; I know what it is feels like to be pulled over for no reason and to be followed around a store while I’m shopping.”

-Tim Scott, Republican Senator, South Carolina

“To be African American is to be African without any memory & American without any privilege.”

James Baldwin, Writer, Orator & Civil Rights Activist

“We should stop arguing about whether or not this is a racist country. It is not.  A racist country would never elect Barack Obama president or Kamala Harris vice president.”

– Jim Clyburn, House Majority Whip, Democratic Representative , South Carolina

My Dear Readers,

Once again, I find myself writing during difficult and adverse times.  Not only do we as Americans, continue to deal with the ravages of COVID-19 that has sickened 32,842,140 people and claimed 583,210 lives, but the disease is now spiking in other nations including India where a recent 7-day average jumped from 65,211 cases on April 1, 2021 to 371,041 cases on May 1, 2021.

As the nation continues to respond to the medical, economic, and governmental issues related to COVID-19, our attention has once again been redirected towards an issue that has plagued America for the last 400 years and counting – racism.  It arrived on American shores more than 400 years ago and has planted its seeds of discourse, depravation, division, and destruction ever since.

Tim Scott, the junior Republican Senator from South Carolina, in his response to President Biden’s address to the joint chambers of Congress, ignited a firestorm when he proclaimed, “Hear me clearly; America is not a racist country”.  These powerful words were insightful and deliberate. They intentionally served to disavow and distract from President Biden’s message.  Make no mistake, Senator Scott’s response was not buffoonery. It was well planned and strategic. It deflected from the political issues President Biden wanted to focus on and forced Democratic politicians, many of them African American, to agree with him if only for their own reasoning and to avoid pointless political battles. Essentially, they had to agree for political survival. 

Unfortunately, Sen. Scott’s statement has provided openings for those less scrupulous members of state legislatures to write laws to restrict voting and seek to limit access to the truths of American History.

Idaho has outlawed the teaching of Systemic Racism in its public schools.  In Tennessee, State Representative Justin Lafferty, stated that the Three-Fifths Compromise, an article in the Constitution that counts enslaved people as 60% of a human being is “unfairly maligned.” He goes on to state, “By limiting the number of [the] population in the count, they specifically limited the number of representatives that would be available in the slaveholding states, and they did it for the purpose of ending slavery”.

This of course is false and an attempt to revise history. Joanne Freeman, a professor of history and early American studies at Yale said, “the three-fifths compromise had nothing to do with ending slavery” but “quite the opposite… it gave the slave-holding South an outsized representation in Congress and enabled them to dominate the national government for decades”.

“It enabled Southern slaveholding-states to count enslaved people who they considered to be ‘property’ — people excluded from their polity — in their count for representation.” According to Freeman, “It embedded slavery into the Constitution… and thereby [allowing Slave holding states] to dominate the government to preserve slavery and their hold on power. Yes, Southerners wanted to count the entirety of their enslaved population — their ‘property’ — in their count for representation. The fact that they got only 3/5 of that count hardly counts as a blow against slavery.”

Without the Three-Fifths Compromise, it is unlikely the slaveholding states would have agreed to create a unified federal government. With his woefully inadequate grasp of history, Lafferty is sponsoring an education bill that would withhold funds from school systems that include concepts like critical race theory or systemic racism in their curriculums.

Critics suggest that the proposed law is designed to shut down discussion about the role of race and racism in American history. 

Though troubling, these stated issues are outside the purview of this blog.

Senator Scott’s explosive remarks have psychologically impacted African Americans who now are being bombarded with questions from white Americans on the “nonexistence” or eradication of racism in America. 

Below is the story of one such individual who states being psychologically impacted by events following Senator Scott’s rebuttal.  I will begin by sharing his story and my response to him.  Then I will share my insight.

Here is his story.

Dear Dr. Kane,

I currently live in the same city I grew up in.  I am accustomed to being of one of the few Black families living in a racist closed-minded city. My mother taught me, imprinted upon me to be gracious and to save others from harsh feelings. It was always about being kind to others no matter how much you have been beaten physically or psychologically by words of hatred. It was her belief that as long as you were kind, you would be rewarded.

I am writing to share frustrations I have felt following the bombshell delivered by Senator Scott stating that “America is not a racist country.” Who did he talk to or consult with before making such a broad statement?  Now I have White people at my job seeking my opinion, basically saying “you see, just what I thought, you people are overacting and playing the race card …again.”  This is batshit crazy, it’s like one black man speaks, and all white people want to listen to him and ignore all the racist shit, black people have been put through all their lives. Can’t they see that Scott is a politician and an opportunist? The only thing missing in the picture was him kissing babies! 

And to add more wood to the fire, I have this “friend” from the past who I haven’t heard from in over 20 years.  He’s white and guess what? He wants to know what I think of Tim Scott’s speech, specifically “America is not a racist country.” No in-depth communication in 20 years! My question is why? Why [do] their feelings have to be my burden?

Among this “friend” and others like him, I grew up being called “Buckwheat” [and] the many times others called me the N word … he kept silent. Not to mention the many times I was forced to stand outside his home while the other white kids were allowed in to play.  I remember the time he sneaked me into his house, only to have his father order me out.  I remember his words to this day “I told you, [not to have] them people in the house.” The other kids laughed. I was so embarrassed, humiliated, and ashamed for being black. The next day at school, he acted as if nothing had happened. He never said a word.  He never apologized. He went on as if it was just another day.

For some reason, I continued to hold and value the friendship. Maybe there is something I can get from him.  I just don’t know. Why [do] I carry the weight of the relationship? What do I want? Is it compassion or understanding?  I just don’t know. I know that it is hard for me to be friends with white people. I don’t want them to get inside of me with their intellectualizing questions, playing with my emotions.

I have not heard from him in 20 years and now he calls me before I am getting out of bed, not even had my morning coffee. What does he want? I believe he is seeking to justify his racism and wanting to hold that America is not a racist country.  I am conflicted with what I was taught by my mother and what I want for myself.  I am not his negro.  I am not going to give to him the words that will make him feel better about himself. I am not going to talk to him about racism. He and others have already taken my childhood; I am not going to let them have more…of me.

Not feeling good about myself Dr. Kane. There are times that I simply do not want to live. I want to be in the driver’s seat and yet I am barely holding on.  I know I must be boring you or perhaps you do want you do because you are paid well.  I need to see a therapist.  I think that would help.  Thanks for listening.

No Name

My name is not …. Buckwheat

Bellingham, WA

My Dear Young Man,

I want to start from the very last words you said and then I will provide my insight.

I have always had an extreme dislike for the phrases “I want to be heard” or “thanks for hearing me”.  People who are hurting want to be listened to. Hearing or being heard is no more than sounds entering one ear and exiting out the other, little to nothing is retained.  I very much appreciate your stating “thanks for listening” because I have taken in the information you have provided and shaped and integrated your words. Allowed them to take root; immersed them into the orbit of my understanding and now, upon impact, I want to share with you my conclusions based on my knowledge, clinical skills, and experience.

You have shared a very powerful, gut wrenching and painful story from your life.  You have shared the pain of your internalized conflicts stemming from the teachings of your mother, the psychological torment of your childhood and adolescence and now the pressure you are feeling as an adult. As I read the ending of your writing, I see an attempt to distract from your truths. No, I do not view your words as “boring”.  Also, I see your attempt to detour, suggesting I am focused on a financial incentive for the work that I am called to do, the work that I have passion and commitment for.

Regarding the conflict between the teachings of your mother and the life you live today, I urge you to understand that you as an adult are responsible for the landscape know as LIFE that you are currently walking.  On this journey, you have the following elements in front of you: choices, decisions, consequences, lessons learned (wisdom) and transformation which can lead you to empowerment.

Choice – There are two choices before you. You can continue to go the “old way” waiting for uncertain future rewards or, you can go in a different direction, one in which your life becomes the essential factor. 

Decision and consequences – Should make the decision to choose your life as the essential factor, it puts you in the driver’s seat. You do not owe the tormentors of your past any explanations or insight regarding the validity or value of Senator Scott’s words or beliefs.

Wisdom – The lesson learned from this is the ability to explore what it is that locks you into a relationship that is deeply rooted in psychologically painful memories and suffering. Are you attempting to obtain validation and value from him? Is it possible that he is attempting to use Senator Scott’s words to release and absolve his own conscience regarding the psychological pain and suffering he now realizes he subjected you to as a child? Either way, the only one who can provide you with the validation, compassion, and understanding you want is you. 

You are correct in your words… “I am not his negro.” It is not your responsibility to share anything about yourself.  Your decision to not talk to him about racism on any level relating to Senator Scott is your decision and one you must want to embrace as you continue to walk your landscape.

Transformation – The last element, transformation, is the one that can be the most difficult.  As your mother is a woman of faith, think of the story of Lot (Genesis 19). Stories like this one, where his wife turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back longingly at the burning city, could have instilled in you a fear of looking back into the past.

I believe there is another interpretation that could release us from the fear of looking back.  One can look back and see what has been left and how far one has come may it be in distance, experience, or wisdom. One can look back without wanting or longing, instead one can look with the understanding that there is no going back and rather there is only going forward.  This is what we call transformation.  You are in the driver’s seat.  You can empower the SELF to return those who created the psychological pain and suffering to where they belong, dust under your feet.

Lastly, the issues raised by Senator Scott’s words are not your weights to bear.  Your responsibility to SELF is to walk the landscape known as life with the understanding that there are those who are committed to being obstacles along your journey of self-discovery.

Finally, words transform the view that you have of therapy. Attempt to see it as a want and not a need.  Remember those in need are always focused on survival whereas those who want are seeking growth, development, and empowerment

Best wishes,

Dr. Kane

*********************************************************

My Dear Readers,

The words of this young man who has been asked to respond, answer, defend, or reject words that are not his own, can be multiplied a million times and repeated all throughout the nation.  Senator Scott succeeded where many have failed; by sticking a dagger deep into consciousness of white America, he has distracted and derailed the issues of the impacts of systemic racism into simply “America is not a racist country”.  He has given those who seek salvation, justification, acknowledgement, atonement, or forgiveness, the protection to return to the simple lives they lived, covering up the sins that made this country what it is today.

The worst thing one can do today is not calling a person a racist, but simply having himself believe that he is being called a racist.  An example comes from a LinkedIn post I recently responded to. A white man who had questioned the believability of another writer (also a white man) who was sharing his views regarding systematic racism based on the number of teeth he displayed while he was talking… “he needs more teeth to be believable”. I objected to his remarks replying the following,

“Your comments are hurtful and just as psychologically impactful as racism.  This was mean on your part.  We all deserve more than the pain you give.  Please do better.”

In return, the writer now upset, questioned “Are you calling me a racist.”

Really?  I do not know this person.  I have not met this person.  The key issue here is that I used the example of racism in comparing the impacts of his comments on the other man. I said that they were “hurtful and just as psychologically impactful as racism”.  Was this person being racist? Highly unlikely, especially since he, as a white man was commenting about another white man.  However, there are other words to describe his actions:

  • Privileged – that as a white male he felt he had the privilege to publicly humiliate another person.
  • Fragility – that he would jump the conclusion that he was being called a racist
  • Entitlement – that it was okay for him to crush the spirit of another person who was merely seeking to educate others who clearly had racist ideas or racist feelings.

Privilege, Fragility, and Entitlement (PFE). This was coming from a person who, from his profile, considers himself to have liberal views and was educated at one of America’s finest universities.  However, what this person is unable or unwilling to see is how his whiteness (PFE), when misused, can create psychological harm and impacts for others.  Was there an intent to humiliate the person because of his teeth? Or is there a more relevant point which his power of whiteness was focused on. Possibly it was focused on inflicting psychological harm or devastation through those actions. 

The person being attacked provided the readers something that Senator Scott in his declaration that “America is not a racist country” failed to do, statistics and factual information. He stated,

  • Black people are incarcerated at a rate that is three times higher than white people for the same crimes.
  • Black people are shot by police at a rate that is three times higher than white people.
  • A traditional black name on a resume receives a callback five times less than a traditional white name.
  • White people, unlike black people, are not victimized by racial profiling, redlining, and gentrification.

Returning to the story of the young black man. His story is one in which his white friend may actually feel that even after 20 years of no contact, that they are truly friends.  After all, they played together, went to school together and grew up together.  Of course, in the white man’s eyes, they were true friends.  But from the perspective of the young man, the white friend never advocated for him, kept silent while he was being racially taunted by peers and never treated him as an equal.  When the young man was tossed out of his friend’s home, because he was one of “those” people, his friend later acted as if nothing had happened and therefore expected life as they both knew it to continue as before.

These are the stories of many African Americans whose experiences have been negated by white friends who choose what they wanted and did not want to see.  Like the black colleague who went to visit his white friend following surgery and upon entering the room, the attending nurse (white) looked up, saw the color of his skin, and shouted out in a loud, disrespectful tone “wrong room”.  Or while in an airport in a southern state, standing at a Starbucks counter, the barista intentionally goes around the black customer who was next in line to serve the white customer behind him. The situation only being rectified when the white customer, seeing and understanding the racism that was occurring, asserted his privilege and calmly stated to the barista, “I believe this gentleman was in front of me”.  By the way, the barista was a young black woman. 

Senator Scott asserts that “America is not a racist country”.  What he failed to state or clarify in later remarks is America is a country that is riddled with racism.  In his statement, he gives people such as the “friend” who did not defend; the father who does not allow “those people” in his house; the nurse who attacked; the patient who sat silently by; the barista who purposely ignored, and the privileged customer, who spoke up but not out, an excuse. A way to avoid confronting the issue of race in America.  Although it is clearly written in the Constitution, America remains unwilling to engage in the hard talk about racism.

We Wear the Mask

By Paul Laurence Dunbar 1872-1906

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes — 
This debt we pay to human guile; 
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile 
And mouth with myriad subtleties,

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs? 
Nay, let them only see us, while 
     We wear the mask.

We smile, but oh great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile 
Beneath our feet, and long the mile,
But let the world dream otherwise, 
     We wear the mask!

Concluding Words – Dr. Kane

I have cited the poem, We Wear the Mask in its entirety.  I cited it with the hope that that young man residing in Bellingham, WA would know and understand that there are many who share his experience and his pain.  I also cited this poem because now, in my later years, I am walking my landscape called LIFE and in examining MY choices, decisions, consequences, lessons learned (wisdom), and transformations, I refuse to wear a mask. I refuse to sacrifice the psychological SELF for the benefit of others.

I am the one who was humiliated on the ward at the hospital as I stood there with my degrees and was told “wrong room”. I was the one who was at the airport, standing in line for a cup of coffee; overlooked and made to feel less than by one of my own.  I was the one who 40 years ago, due to a senior white male faculty member’s suspicions of my high grades, wanted to know whether I was providing sexual favors to the white female students for help.  I, just like that young man, was the one who following an argument with a white friend was ordered out of his home, only to be treated as if the occurrence never had happened.

And yet the same people who discount people of dark skin, want to debate, intellectualize, and declare that “America is not a racist country”? 

The young man from Bellingham stated something that rings true in black relationships with whites: “I know that it is hard for me to be friends with white people”.  When one does not question and ignores the truth laying in front of their eyes or chooses to remain silent during times of distress, urgency, and strife that occur daily in the lives of people with dark skin, it makes it difficult to be friends. When people with dark skin express their fear for their lives and especially the lives of their children from those who are sworn to “serve and protect” and they get attacked, it makes it difficult to be friends.     

The young man questioned himself as to what he holds or values in the friendship.  He also questioned what he wants.  In his declaration of “I don’t want them to get inside of me with their intellectualizing questions, playing with my emotions”, he has reached the element of the lessons learned and approaching wisdom. That to white people, he and his emotions are invisible.  He may conclude that to most whites, in their eyes, he is and will always be a N.O.T., a Novelty, Oddity and Token.

Promise King, President/CEO, League of Minority Voters stated the following:

“There are implications, lingering systemic impacts and implications of racism on black and brown families. We deny the oblivious. But occurrences that jolt our convenient escape from realties continue to put lie to our denial.  How do we ever begin inquires and dialogues on race, if a sizable segment of our leaders don’t want to understand or subscribe to the existence of systematic racism.  Am I the only one wresting with this issue.?”

Is “America is a racist country”?  This is the pain and the life …we live.

Enduring the possibilities of 12 forms of racism and 15 subtypes of psychological traumas, every single day, it brings to mind the words of James Baldwin, writer, orator and civil rights activist. “To be African American is to be African without a memory and American without any privilege”. When compared to those of Senator Scott, “America is not a racist country,” which person’s voice and words resonate truth regarding the current and past experiences of African Americans? 

The truth, however painful, does not lie. The lie, however manipulated, is still and will always be, a lie.

Dark skinned people live daily not knowing the WHEN or from WHOM the action of psychological impact and trauma will come but we know and understand the WHY is RACISM.  The question is WHAT WE, the American people living in a country impugned by racism are going to do to enforce full protection and equality for ALL of it citizens.

THE PAIN THAT THIS GIVES, IS THE LIFE THAT WE ALL LIVE!

Sympathy

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

I know what the caged bird feels, alas!

When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;

When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,

And the river flows like a stream of glass;

When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,

And the faint perfume from its chalice steals—

I know what the caged bird feels!

I know why the caged bird beats his wing

Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;

For he must fly back to his perch and cling

When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;

And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars

And they pulse again with a keener sting—

I know why he beats his wing!

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,

When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—

When he beats his bars and he would be free;

It is not a carol of joy or glee,

But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,

But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings—

I know why the caged bird sings!

Standing Alone….. The Unspoken Truth

The Unspoken Truth: Waiting Your Turn at the End of The Line

“He was pretty much fed up and kind of at the end of his rope. Yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did.” 

Captain Jay Baker Director of Communications, Cherokee County, GA, Sheriff’s Office (describing the bad day of the shooter following the killing of 8 people including 6 women of Asian descent)

“All of us have experienced bad days. But we don’t go to three Asian businesses and shoot up Asian employees.”

Ted Lieu Congressman, California

“Love my shirt! Get yours while they last,”

Facebook post featuring shirts created by Captain Jay Baker, Director of Communications, Cherokee County, GA Sheriff’s Office that appears to echo former President Trump’s characterization of COVID-19 as the “China Virus” and the “Kung Flu”.

“To see the post is both disturbing and outrageous. It speaks to the structural racism that we’re all up against. Coupled with the comments coming out of the news conference, it does not give community members confidence that our experiences and the pain and the suffering that we’re feeling are being taken seriously, at lease by this particular person.”

Vincent Pan, Co-Executive Director, Chinse for Affirmative Action

“It does not appear race was his reasons for allegedly shooting multiple people at three massage parlors.”

Christopher Wray, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation (interview with National Public Radio two days following the shootings)

My Dear Readers,

It is with a heavy heart that I write this blog. Twice in a matter of one week, our nation has been dealt enormously traumatic blows, two mass shootings by individual gunmen. One occurring in the greater Atlanta, GA area, taking the lives of eight and the other occurring in Boulder, CO, taking the lives of 10. Both occurring as we continue to respond psychologically to the loss of 547,000 Americans and the infection of a further 30 million more due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are differences in the ways in which both mass shootings are being publicly reported, public outcry, and the governmental response. First, let us identify the differences in the facts of the cases. In Atlanta, the victims where all ethnic minorities whereas in Boulder, the victims were Caucasians. In the Atlanta shooting the shooter is Caucasian while in the Boulder shooting, the shooter was a person belonging to an ethnic minority.

During times of great suffering, it sounds disingenuous to tag “race” in these matters and yet how does one ignore the impact or consequences of race when living in a time that systemic and structural racism is tolerated, accepted, and encouraged? African Americans and Asian Americans although living in the United States for different lengths/periods and brought to this country for different reasons, share common themes of psychological impacts and traumatic wounds derived from racism and/or race related stressors. As it has always followed in past events, the psychological impacts of what occur with the majority population will overshadow the suffering of the ethnic minority population. It is for that reason that I have chosen, during the month of International Women’s Day, to focus on the killing of the six Asian women in the mass shooting of 8 people in Atlanta GA.

I choose to share the words from an email I received from a current a patient. Her identity has been changed to protect her confidentiality. Cynthia is an early 30’s, Korean American woman, who was educated on the east coast at one of the Ivy League universities. She has resided in the Puget Sound area for 10 years and is employed by a local technology firm. Below is a recap of her feelings associated with the Atlanta shooting in which all of the Asian women were either Korean American or Korean nationals.

Dr. Kane,

I am so sad. I feel that I am not allowed to share my suffering. I feel that what is being inferred to me regarding my pain is that I should get behind others; that I should get in the back of the line. It hurts me that I cannot express to others how I honestly feel and if I were to take the chance and express my true feelings, I fear I would be opening myself to be targeted and shot down.

I feel that I am invisible to others and that I can’t put a name to this out of fear that if I speak out that I will once again be minimized. I have worked hard in therapy to find and claim the Psychological Self.  I don’t want to do that to the Self. I want to live life with fear and not in fear.

It is upsetting to me that other people, particularly African Americans, don’t see me as an ethnic minority but rather as a white person who looks Asian. In this view, I am treated like a white person where I am automatically distrusted, distanced from, and treated with overt anger and hate.

As an Asian American, I have benefitted from the struggle of African Americans as they have sought to obtain civil and equal rights and I have stood with them in racial and social justice issues. Following the murder of George Floyd, I actively marched and spoke out against his murder. Yet, now, I don’t see African Americans joining with me or other Asian on the frontlines demonstrating against Asian hate.

It is as if my pain doesn’t matter. No one at work, white or African American, has asked me about how I am doing following the killing of Asian women in Atlanta or the violence against Asian people throughout the country. I expect white people to be silent, but it really hurts when people who are racially different, just like me, are silent regarding my pain. It’s like I said before, it’s like being told in so many words, ‘to get to the end at the line and wait your turn’. It’s like I am invisible, and my life doesn’t matter.

Dr. Kane, I want our communities both Asian and African American to heal and not be divided. Systemic racism sows seeds of distrust between our communities.

I also struggle with those within my community. There is a division between people who want more awareness and response regarding Asian hatred and those who are seeking to brush the issue under the rug in hopes that it will simply go away.

I feel so invisible.  I feel so alone.

Bye for now,

Cynthia

My Dear Readers,

As I read Cynthia’s email, I reflected on a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”.

Neither did I reach out to her to check on how she was doing. I assumed that she had a support system, and I did not want to intrude on her private space. I had planned to check-in at our next session. Well, as you can see, I was wrong. Cynthia did not have any support in her personal life or workplace. Even as a seasoned and well experienced psychotherapist, I had neglected my own golden rule: “It is not your intent that fuels the flames, it is the impact of your actions or non-actions”.

Once I became aware of her situation, I immediately reached out to Cynthia offering a heartfelt apology and in return she graciously returned the “gift of forgiveness.”. In our session, Cynthia spoke of her pain of being viewed as the “model minority” and how this perception adds to her invisibility. Cynthia was correct in her comment that “…systemic racism sows seeds to build distrust between our communities”.  

Systemic Racism and Invisibility Syndrome

Even though some would define systemic racism as subconscious or unconscious, it still adds to root the division between the Asian American and African American communities. One African American scholar, who I shall not name, defined systemic racism as:

“…systems and structures that have procedures or processes that disadvantages African Americans.”

Why just African Americans? If that definition is accepted, what are the psychological impacts on those whose skin is also not white but still feels the psychological trauma of racism? In trauma work, skin color or racial origins is not a defensive mechanism to ward off psychological trauma.  When a person is denied the right of suffering from racist exposure, that individual is relegated to the status of invisibility and thus they become victimized by another trauma known as Invisibility Syndrome.

This trauma, the Invisibility Syndrome, created by AJ Franklin (1999, 2004), defines invisibility as “inner struggles with the feelings that one’s talents, abilities, personalities and worth are not valued or recognized because of prejudice and racism”.

Therefore, as in the case of Cynthia, Franklin would conclude that “following an encounter where there is a perceived racial slight, the ‘assaulted’ person may internalize their feelings and experience their manifestation…” as:

  • The lack of recognition or appropriate acknowledgment
  • The lack of satisfaction from the encounter
  • The lack of self-esteem and legitimacy
  • The lack of validation
  • The lack of respect
  • The awareness that one’s dignity has been compromised and challenged.
  • The awareness that one’s basic identity has been shaken.

The “Model Minority”

The term “Model Minority” was developed by the majority to turn racial and ethnic groups against each other. It is a type of systemic racism that was intended to divide racial groups into a hierarchy that not only pits them against one another, but it also intended to minimize the perceived impacts of race related stress on one minority racial group as seen by other minority racial groups.

What is race related stress? This refers to the conceptual model created by Loo, et al (2000).  They found three specific areas in which individuals experienced trauma due to racism:

  • Exposure to racial prejudice and stigmatization
  • Bicultural identification and conflict
  • Exposure to a racist environment

In the Loo, et al study (2000), the following generalizations can be made.

  1. The stressful effects of exposure to cumulative racism can be experienced as traumatic events and are often in response to racially prejudiced behavioral style that includes racist name calling and emotionally laden materials that exhibit hate toward a racial group such as “Hate Asians” or “Kill Asians” paraphernalia.  In addition,
  2. They are often at a constant state of hypervigilance and physiological arousal that occurs as a result of the ongoing danger and fearing possible life-threatening experiences suffered when they are singled out because of Asian ancestry. Lastly,
  3. There is trauma that results from racial stigmatization and racial exclusion, resulting in a reduction of a sense of belonging, social support as well as an increase in feelings of isolation.

In summary, the feelings detailed by the trauma studies and experienced through statements of invisibility, isolation, and exclusion by Cynthia are no different from those experienced by African Americans who also endured the psychological impacts of systemic racism. Cynthia is correct in her assertion that “systemic racism sows seeds to build distrust between our communities”.  Therefore, it would be truth and not conjecture that systemic racism is the foundation of all the systems in place that create and maintain racial inequality in nearly every facet of the lives of all people of color, not just African Americans.

Concluding Remarks – Dr. Kane

“Wait your turn … at the end of the line.”  is an acknowledgment of minority communities being pitted against each other by the majority, or by themselves, as they all struggle to achieve racial and social justice. Systemic racism is Insidious Trauma. Insidious Trauma is the culmination of daily negative incidents of marginalization, objectification, dehumanization, and intimidation affecting members of stigmatized groups and are directly traumatic. In this situation, the Atlanta killings of Asians added to the upcoming trial of the officers involved in the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, are both about to be overshadowed by the killing of 10 white men and women in Boulder CO by a person of color.  In recent national news there has been maximum coverage on the incident in Boulder, CO where there has been little to no coverage on the incidents in Atlanta or the upcoming trial in Minneapolis.

In Cynthia’s closing remarks she stated, “I want our communities both Asian and African American to heal and not be divided.”  Understanding that both communities are reeling from division within covered with years of mistrust as they both struggle to obtain the same limited resources; it is unlikely that this will be achieved on a community level in the current time.  However, we can as individuals sow the seeds of unity, collaboration, and concern during these traumatic times.  Let us all reach out and as individuals and try to begin the healing process.

In Ralph Ellison’s 1947 novel, “The Invisible Man”, Ellison wrote the following:

“I am an invisible man.  No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood movie ectoplasms.  I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquid- and I might even be said to possess a mind.  I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.  When they approach me, they see only my surroundings, themselves or figments of their imagination – indeed, everything and anything except me.”

At the time of writing this superb novel, Ralph Ellison was writing about African American people. If he was here today, I truly believe his words would be inclusive to all of us as we all bear the psychological impacts and traumatic injuries and wounds… of systematic racism.

ANTI-ASIAN RACISM – YK Hong, Keep Beyond

ANTI-ASIAN RACISM

IS LINKED TO WHITE SUPREMACY

WHICH IS LINKED TO ANTI-BLACKNESS

WHICH IS LINKED TO CAPITALISM

IMPERIALISM

ABLEISM

MYSOGENY AND SEXISM

THESE ARE ALL CONNECTED

WE CANNOT FIGHT ONLY ONE OF THESE

WE MUST FIGHT ALL OF THESE

Standing Alone… The Unspoken Truth

The Unspoken Truth: Bobbi’s Saga, Mary’s History

“This is the reality of black girls. One day you’re called an icon, the next day, a threat.”

– Amanda Gorman, Poet, featured in the Inauguration of President Joseph Biden (January 20, 2021). Sharing her experience of being racially profiled.

“What’s her name – Breonna something, I am sorry she was killed, but you know when you hang out with people with guns and shooting, you’re likely to caught in the crossfire.”

– Susan McCoy, Teacher of Forensic Sciences at Pebblebrook High School in Mableton, GA. Comments made concerning the upcoming anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s death. (Following her false and inaccurate comments she was called out by her students and subsequently placed on administrative leave)

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars, to change the world.”

– Harriet Tubman, “Black Moses”, Civil Rights Activist, Freedom Fighter and Conductor, Underground Railroad.

A Tribute to Bobbi

“My empowerment is not about him, it’s about me.

I am not to blame nor is the shame mine to own.

It’s simply my responsibility to make this life.”

“About …Self.”

– Dr. Micheal Kane, Clinical Traumatologist

My Dear Readers,

Once again it is with pleasure that I return to writing and with great sadness that I extend my condolences to the families of the 543,417 Americans as well as to the families of the more than 2.6 million people worldwide who have lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With March being Women’s History Month, and Monday of this week being International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, I honor the significance and importance of women’s contributions throughout history. However, in the spirit of empowerment and walking the landscape of self-discovery, I disavow the purely American celebration of Women History Month.

Regarding, Women’s History Month, I will advocate from the same position I took on the subject of Black History Month; Women’s History is and always will be American History and should be celebrated daily as such.

Just as I believe Black History Month unfairly relegates the whole of a people’s history, achievements, contributions, and the immensity of their pain and suffering to the shortest month of the year, then pack it away until next year, I hold similar views regarding Women History Month.

As I stated previously, Women’s History is and will always be American History. It is in my opinion it benefits systemic chauvinism to limit the acknowledgment of their history, achievements, contributions and, the immensity of their psychological suffering to 31 days a year and then place it all on dusty shelves until next year. 

In this post, I seek to honor and acknowledge the achievements, courage, and sacrifices of two African American women.

The first I seek to honor is Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner of Monroe, NC. She is a historical figure whose accomplishments, dur to systemic racism, have been hidden from view. Subsequently, with the ending of Black History Month, her accomplishments would have gone largely ignored if it had not been for the awareness of Belinda Kendall, CEO and Founder of Promise Media Group, a strong proponent of creating awareness of African American people’s contribution to history. The second person I seek to honor is a contemporary of today. Her confidential name is Bobbi.  Bobbi has been my patient for 10 years. Bobbi is a sexual abuse “striver.” As a striver, she has pushed beyond “survivorship” and is now pushing into empowerment, as she continues to walk the landscape seeking self-discovery.

Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner was an inventor and as such a public figure. Bobbi, is mother of four children, recently retired and as such is a very private person. But what these two women share, is the accomplishment of not only surviving, but they empowered themselves to strive despite the systemic racism they endured as African American women in this country.

Sharing their stories are not just footnotes in Black History or Women’s History, rather they are those of American History.

Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner (1912-2006)

Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner’s legacy has been denied from her by omission and silence. She is the inventor of the Sanitary belt with a moisture-proof napkin pocket. It was the first generation of what would become the sanitary pad. This was an idea she created when she was just 18 years old, long before the modern-day maxi pad and at a time when women were still using uncomfortable and poorly absorbent materials such as cloth rags or balls of cotton during their period. Shortly after registering her patent, Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner’s invention garnered interest from a manufacturing company but was quickly rejected once they found out that she was black. Systemic racism prevented her from experiencing any financial gain from her invention. Decades later, when her patent expired and her idea became public domain, it was taken, and copies were manufactured well into the early 1980’s without any mention of its original inventor.  

This information is significant because it transformed the lives of women. Yet, as important as it was, it was held from production and use for 30 years due to systematic racism adding to the psychological impacts and controlling the physiological trajectory of not only black women but all women regardless of race. 

As a man, and as a black man, I felt psychological impacted by this information which had been denied to me. I cannot imagine the impact this trauma has had on the lives of women. As a man, I wanted to speak out not just to be heard but to listen as well. In response to this story, which came to me by way of LinkedIn, I wrote:

“Hmm.  Interesting. WTF (frog)? Racism over sanitary pads? Racism over …WTF (frog), menstrual flow?  Good Lawd? Do I believe my lying eyes?”

I know it would be insensitive to laugh at the ridiculousness of this issue but the idea that racism found its way into something as ubiquitous as menstruation products garnered that initial response but while doing so, I recognize that it is the failure of particularly African American men to understand the psychological impacts and trauma of systemic racism as others seek to control the bodies and the normal human process of the black female body.

I had no idea of either this racist occurrence or that a black woman invented sanitary pads. This is the consequences when others holding hatred of dark skin, seek to control not only access, the credit for the patent, but then hiding their actions by limiting the information being shared and the timing in which the information is being disseminated.  

A black woman’s body being psychologically impacted by systemic racism and yet where do we as black men stand? What do we say? How do we educate our sons? What supports do we provide to our daughters?  Partners?  Spouses?

“So, you didn’t know? – Now, you do. What? Not your problem?  Really? It’s traumatic. – Make it your concern. Black Lives Matter… 365 including February. Uncovering the unspoken truths. Discovering and sharing what is learned. Recovering and healing the psychological wounds.”

– Dr. Michael Kane, clinical traumatologist, LinkedIn (published 03.08.21)

“Bobbi”

In the past I have shared excepts from the journals of Bobbi’s saga. Unlike Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner, Bobbi didn’t invent or patent items which transform the lives of others.  Instead, Bobbi’s saga, the life of one Black woman, represents the silence of the many whose voices have not been heard.

At the age of four, Bobbi was viciously raped by the landlord of her family’s home. Threatened with the deaths of her mother and sibling, she bored the silence of this traumatic physical and psychological injury. Between the ages of nine to twelve, she was repeatedly raped and sodomized by her stepfather. Following being told of his intent to impregnate her, she summed up the courage to tell her mother. 

Her mother reacted by physically beating her and threatening to blind her with her fork. When Bobbi resisted, her mother forced her into the foster care system then spread lies about her in the community and church saying, “she raised her hand to me.” By doing so, her mother kept her social image and bearing intact while destroying her daughter’s.

And what about Bobbi? Sexually assaulted by her stepfather, physically assaulted, and rejected by her mother, abandoned by extended relatives, and shunned by her church and community. By the age of 12, she was alone in the foster care system. Bobbi remained in foster care, residing in four different homes until she aged out at 18. She went on to have a successful career in public service, married and raised four children. She was intent on protecting them from experiencing the same abuse that she had endured. She succeeded.

For 50 years she kept the stories of her life to herself, suffering in silence and then following her children reaching adulthood, her world suddenly crashed, and she began psychotherapy. That was eleven years ago.  Eleven years of:

  • Uncovering the Unspoken Truths
  • Discovering and sharing what was learned
  • Recovering and healing the psychological wounds

And this writing today is a continuation of Bobbi’s Saga.

March 1st, 2021

“I had a session with Dr. Kane today. I spent the whole session reading my journal and talking.  Dr. Kane said it is getting lighter. Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. When I buy things for myself, I would feel like I deserved them because of all I went through in the past.  I know whatever I buy won’t relieve the pain, but it would make me feel better for a while.” 

“I was glad that I survived all the pain I went through. The pain also isolated me from others. I thought the pain would never go away. Only if I could had shared what happened to me with someone else. I remember when I first told my story to Dr. Kane. I was shocked that the pain didn’t go away or lighten.”

“I couldn’t tell anyone else. My husband was closed off and didn’t understand my pain. I didn’t share this with my kids. I thought others might think and look at me differently. I was so ashamed. I don’t think anyone understands how ashamed and dirty I felt. I felt that way for a long time.”

03.01.21 (evening)

“I remembered to call Dr. Kane tonight. He realized that today’s session was a difficult session.  I am still thinking about today’s session as the pain makes me want to isolate. It reminds me of how much I wanted from my mother. I wanted the love that she wasn’t able to give. I then married a man who loves me but isn’t able to show it.”

“I feel anxious and depressed tonight. I appreciate Dr. Kane talking to me on Thursday and Sunday nights. I haven’t had a suicidal thought in over a month. I hope they stay away. In talking with Dr. Kane, we talked about my experiences in foster care. Being alone, having a bedroom for the first time, food rationing, having to eat from 100 pounds of beans and 100 pounds of rice and no meat for a month. The other foster kids not wanting me there.”

“Me trying to kill myself in a receiving home by smoothing myself with a pillow but not being able to. How lonely I felt in foster care. Feeling that no one loved me or cared about me.  Living in intense pain knowing that I was in foster care being cared for as a source of money.”

“It is sad that Black people are not often foster care parents for the right reason. I decided when I was twelve that I would a foster parent when I grew up. I wanted to be a foster parent for babies or teenagers. I wanted to give back what had been given to me. I wanted to select the two ages that was most difficult to take care of. I planned on doing this when my kids became older.”

“When I told my husband what I had wanted to do and how important to was to me, he stated he wanted no part of it. I tried to explain to him why I wanted to be a foster parent and how long it had been a dream for me. He didn’t want to discuss it. He just said no. That hurt me. It meant the end of a dream. I had wanted to give back some of what was what was given to me.”

“I watched Meghan Markle on a special with Oprah tonight. Meghan said there was a point where she did not want to live. She went to the royal family and asked for help. She was told no, that wouldn’t look good. Oprah asked her ‘are you saying you were suicidal?’ She said yes and I was scared. She told her husband. He said he didn’t know what to do either. She had asked multiple people for help and was unable to get it.”

“I thought about my own suicidal thought and also about being scared. Meghan said she had thought every moment of the day.  I remember being like that. It said to me that it doesn’t matter how much money you have. It is the amount of pain you have and how much you can stand. Too much pain makes everything impossible to bear.” 

“People who haven’t had immense pain can’t imagine life not being worth living or the depth that pain can’t get to. It is difficult to explain that to others. One of the things Meghan said was she was so ashamed for having the thoughts. People without the pain can’t imagine being ashamed.”

“I am so relieved that the suicidal thoughts have been gone for two months. That makes me feel safer and not so alone. I told my husband and in telling him it was a relief to me. Tonight at 10:30 I was thinking about suicide and reflecting how those periodic nightly phone calls to Dr. Kane kept me alive. I appreciated those phone calls as they let me know that I could live another day.” 

“I recall the promise I made to Dr. Kane to call if I was going to commit suicide. I could never imagine making that phone call and I had promised. I am alive. I am still here. I will live to see another day.”

Concluding Words – Dr. Kane

“If you always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”

– Maya Angelou

I never met Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner. I wished there had been that opportunity to sit with her and listen to her story, her struggles, defeats, and achievements. One could say that she was a powerful black woman who overcame the psychological impacts of systemic racism, achieving a patent over a product that is beneficial in the lives of women around the world. I remember as a boy buying sanitary pads for my mother and my embarrassment in doing so. As a husband and father, I recall buying sanitary pads for my spouse and daughter, watching the female cashier hurriedly placing the items in a covered bag and just as quickly myself removing the items and proudly carrying them in arms for all to see.

There is no embarrassment or shame. No one can make you feel something that is not there.

Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner deserves recognition and appreciation in American history and on International Women’s Day and not to be isolated or forgotten on a dusted shelve following Black History Month or Women History Month.

Bobbi’s Saga

Bobbi is my hero.  Sexually abused at an early age. Betrayed by her stepfather, assaulted, and rejected by her mother and shunned by her church and community, Bobbi struggled, surviving in a state foster care system in which she knew no love and understood she was nothing more than a means for income for those taking care of her.

Shamed, feeling dirty and used by others, she graduated from high school while in foster care, aging out of the system.  For 50 years feeling she would be judged harshly, she never said a word to anyone about the terrible things that happened. Instead, she married, raised four children with the commitment to provide to them the protection in childhood and adolescence that she was denied.

Although she states it was her lifelong dream to become a foster care parent, clinically speaking, in reality, this was her identity and her “saving grace”.  Following her children, aging-out into adulthood, Bobbi was devastated by her spouse’s refusal to support her “dream” of becoming a foster parent.

Being a parent and seeking to foster parent was Bobbi’s way of not only protecting vulnerable others, but it was also a means of insulation from her own traumas which she had carried in silence for 50 years. With her children, grown and now denied the opportunity to provide a shield to others, she was left to face her traumas alone.

I believe in life things happen for a reason. Like in the story of the phoenix, the mythical creature that bursts into flames only to rise out of the ashes, Bobbi’s saga and the weight of silently carrying the psychological impacts for 50 years coupled with the devastation of no longer having others to protect, created a fiery inferno of hopelessness, powerlessness and impending death by suicide.

Her actions led her to psychotherapy, medication management and the desire and commitment to live. Bobbi rose from the ashes and is now actively involved in walking her landscape and in doing so, “living the life she wants and not the life she lived.”

Imagine, sitting in psychotherapy 2-3 times per week for 11 years, following the SELF (Self-Empowerment Leaping Forward) protocol.           

Placing oneself into

  • A safe and secure…
  • Space to either…
  • Sit in silence or…
  • Speak openly about…
  • Secretive (hidden and rooted)…
  • Submerged (unresolved)…
  • Substances (materials/impacts)…
  • Surfacing (arising) upon…
  • Self’s psychological landscape

Bobbi is not only my hero, she is my blessing. Where others may see courage and strength, they failed to see her empowerment. Where others would doom her to the status of being a “survivor” she has become empowered.

She has empowered her SELF to become a “striver,” setting her pace and direction as she continues to seek self-discovery and to walk her landscape.

Bobbi’s Saga, like Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner, is a story of American history. And like Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner, she too deserves recognition and appreciation in American history and on International Women’s Day and not to be isolated or forgotten on a dusted shelf following Black History Month or Women History Month.

Black Lives Matter… 365 including February. 

Uncovering the unspoken truths. Discovering and sharing what is learned. Recovering and healing the psychological wounds.”

Dreams -Nikki Giovanni

in my younger years

before i learned

black people aren’t

suppose to dream

i wanted to be

a raelet

and say “dr o wn d in my youn tears”

or “tal kin bout tal kin bout”

or marjorie hendricks and grind

all up against the mic

and scream

“baaaaaby nightandday

baaaaaby nightandday”

then as i grew and matured

i became more sensible

and decided i would

settle down

and just become

a sweet inspiration

Until the next journey…Bobbi’s saga continues…

The Unspoken Truth: Their Lives Matter: Honoring Our Unknown Heroes

“It’s important for us to also understand that the phase ‘Black Lives Matter’ simply refers to the notion that there’s a specific vulnerability for African Americans that needs to be addressed. It’s not meant to suggest that other lives don’t matter.  It’s to suggest that other folks aren’t experiencing this particular vulnerability.”

– Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States, Nobel Peace Prize Winner

“I swear to the Lord I still can’t see why democracy means everybody but me.” 

– Langston Hughes, Writer/Poet

“We all have dreams. In order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort.”

– Jesse Owens, World Record Setting Olympic Athlete

“We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers. Our abundance has brought us neither peace of mind nor serenity of spirit.” 

– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Pastor, Civil Rights Activist

“Defining myself, as opposed to being defined by others, is one of the most difficult challenges I face.”

– Carol Moseley-Braun, former US Senator from Illinois, 1st African American Woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate (1992)

“The hate you give is the pain we live.”

– Dr. Micheal Kane, Clinical Traumatologist

My Dear Readers,

It is my deepest pleasure that I once again return to writing. It is also with great sadness that I extend my condolences to the families of the 470,705 Americans and the families of the over 2 million people from around the world who have lost their lives to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

I sincerely apologize for not posting a new blog for the past several months. As much as I enjoy writing, my number one priority has been and will always be to the psychological care and mental wellness of my patients. My patient calendar has been stretched to its limits. My clinical practice has grown to an average of 45-55 patients per week, more than double the 20-25 patients that other private clinical practices may treat in the same amount of time, so I had to temporarily step away.

Today, the African American community faces not only the devastation due to COVID-19 but also the cumulative traumas of systemic racism and ongoing psychological impacts because of societal issues such as police brutality, judicial abuse, and mass incarceration.

In addition to the pandemic, the nation has been psychologically stunned by the January 06, 2021 breaching of the US Capitol Building by a mob of predominantly white insurrectionists who sought to overturn the lawful election of the 46th President of the United States. These treasonous actions resulted in vandalism, theft, destruction, and desecration of the halls of Congress. These people spread urine and feces on the walls and floors in the seat of power of the United States of America, the country they claimed to love.  

However, as a treating clinician, the greatest psychological impact that I have been asked to respond to has come from my African American patients: the sight of the confederate battle flag being waved in the House of Democracy. In the same house where, on January 1, 1863, Congress ratified the Emancipation Proclamation declaring “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free”.

I listen to the repeated words of my patients as they watched the Capitol Hill police officers treat the insurrectionists with kid gloves, taking selfies and allowing the hundreds if not thousands involved to simply walk away and return quietly to their homes, work, and communities. It was traumatizing, plain and simple.

In the end, five people had been killed including one officer, and many more police had been seriously injured. Property had been destroyed, hundreds had trespassed and physical assaulted government employees, domestic terrorist, insurrectionists had threatened and planned to take the lives of elected officials to the point where they were armed, carrying zip ties, and had constructed gallows to execute the Vice President of the United States and they were simply allowed to walk away. They were allowed to walk away while black men and women get executed for selling cigarettes, jogging, or simply fitting a description.

As I return to writing and thinking about how black Americans have been treated in this country, I am reminded of a picture I once saw. It was of a black soldier who had just returned from battle. He was exhausted, sitting on a stump holding his rifle. His back was whip-scarred, physical evidence of a life lived as a former slave. The picture was captioned “We’ve Loved America More Than It Ever Loved Us.”  These words are ever so painful and …ever so true.

(The picture was a composite image that combined art from the cover of issue # 6 of the Loveless graphic novel drawn by Marcelo Frusin and an interpretation of a quote from “Doc” Rivers, former NBA player and the current head coach of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers.)

‘I don’t want a Black History Month. Black History is American history.”

– Morgan Freeman, Actor, Academy Award Winner (2005)

I agree with Morgan Freeman. Black history is American history, but I do feel that Black History Month is necessary. The reason why we have a Black History Month is to counteract the intentional actions of white historians using racist systems and ideologies to deny the accurate telling of African American history and allow it to be truthfully and honestly explored.

Ignorance is simply the lack of knowledge. Whether it is willful, intentional, or unintentional, the impact and outcome on a people when their community is denied the truth is psychologically devasting. Even though African American history is American history, it has been denied its rightful place in antiquity. African American history, its teachings, information, and knowledge has been relegated to the 28-day month of February and once March 1st arrives, African American History disappears until the following year.

“Hate is too great a burden to bear.  It injures the hater more than it injures the hated.”

– Coretta Scott King, Civil Rights Activist

I was born in Harlem, NY but my developmental years were spent in the segregated south. As much as I admire Coretta Scott King, I must disagree with her conclusion that hate is more impactful on the “hater” than on the “hated”. I agree that “hate is too great a burden to bear” but for me personally and professionally, the destruction, devastation, the psychological effects, and the trauma that hate creates for the “hated” far outweighs the burden it supposedly imposes on the “hater”.

The “hater” can ignore, minimize and justify their actions. As we have seen so many times, this allows them to eventually forget what they have done leaving their actions unknown by future generations. 

I recently wrote in LinkedIn about a story of a black Coastguardsman, Charles Walter David, Jr. who served as a mess attendant aboard the Coast Guard cutter USCG Comanche during WWII.  At the time, the Coast Guard was segregated and the only occupations available for black men were menial work in ship kitchens or maintaining the officers’ quarters.

At 12:55 a.m. on February 3, 1943, while the USCG Comanche was escorting three transport ships off the coast of Greenland, one of the transport ships, the USAT Dorchester, was torpedoed by a German submarine. Nine-hundred men were forced into the frigid waters. Witnessing the crisis, David and several other men voluntarily climbed down into the lifeboats where they helped lift their fellow service men up onto the Comanche’s deck. Even though David was one of the lowest ranking men on his ship and his shipmates and country considered him to be a second-class citizen, he willingly put his life at risk to save fellow Americans.

When the Comanche’s executive officer fell overboard, David, without hesitation, dived into the frigid waters to save him.  David also saved another shipmate who had grown too weak to swim and lifted him back into the cutter. In addition to the two men whom David single-handedly saved, he and his shipmates successfully rescued 93 survivors from the Dorchester.  Shortly after his heroics, David contracted pneumonia and succumbed to the illness. The Coast Guard posthumously awarded David the Navy & Marine Corps Medal, its third highest award for bravery under fire from enemy action.

                              Wait… the story does not end here.

Following the torpedoing of the USAT Dorchester, four Army chaplains – representing Methodist, Jewish, Protestant and Catholic faiths guided soldiers trapped below decks to escape hatches.  The chaplains passed out life vests and when the supply ran out, they gave their own to men who had none.  Finally, they linked arms to pray and sing hymns as the Dorchester slipped beneath the waves.

These men of faith became known as the “Four Chaplains”.   The impact of the chaplains resulted in memorials and media coverage. Each of the four chaplains were posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, and the Purple Heart.  They were nominated for the Medal of Honor but were found to be ineligible as they had not engaged in combat with the enemy. Instead, Congress created a medal for them, called the Four Chaplains Medal (1960), with the same weight and importance of the Medal of Honor.

As of a result of their heroic actions, two documentaries, five publications, nine artistic pieces and numerous pieces of music were created in their honor. A commentative US postage stamp was created to honor their sacrifices. In 1998, February, 3 of that year was established as “Four Chaplains Day” to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the sinking of the USAT Dorchester and subsequent heroism of these men.

A national foundation, the “Four Chaplain’s Memorial Foundation”, a 501(c)(3) charity was established to honor the legacy of the Four Chaplains.  Its official mission statement is:

“… further the cause of “unity without uniformity” by encouraging goodwill and cooperation among all people.”

Furthermore, the organization states it “achieves its mission by advocating for and honoring people whose deeds symbolize the legacy of the Four Chaplains aboard the USAT Dorchester in 1943”.

“Truth is powerful, and it prevails.”

– Sojourner Truth, American Abolitionist & Woman Rights Activist

And so… What about the honors or recognition for black Coastguardsman Charles Walter David, Jr. who sacrificed his life saving the lives of 95 of his fellow crewmen including his executive officer?  What is the reason that he received the Navy & Marine Corps Medal, the third highest award for bravery whereas the Four Chaplains received the Distinguished Service Medal, the nation’s second highest medal for bravery?  What is the reason that Congress has failed to enact recognition for Seaman David’s bravery and sacrifice and bestow upon him a Congressional medal equal to that that was bestowed upon the Four Chaplains? 

What is the reason that Senate has not passed a resolution for a “day” acknowledging the actions of Seaman David saving the lives of 95 men during the same actions resulting in the sinking of the USAT Dorchester and the loss of the Four Chaplains? Where are the publications, documentaries artwork, music, commentative postage stamps and memorials honoring Seaman David who repeatedly dove into frigid waters, saving the lives of 95 men and sacrificing his own?  Reflecting on the earlier statement of the Union solder and former slave, exhausted from battle, remembering the words, “We’ve Loved America More Than It Ever Loved Us.”  Where are the honors, recognition and glory, due to black Coastguardsman Charles Walter David, Jr.? These words are frozen in time as they continue to be … ever so painful and ever so true.”

“In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.”

– Thurgood Marshall, first African American US Supreme Court Justice

Coastguardsman Stewards Mate Charles Walter David, Jr., a black man, volunteered to answer the call of duty and served his nation during wartime. Due to hate, racial prejudice and bigotry, he was treated as a second-class citizen; relegated to duties of mess attendant, cleaning and attending to the living quarters of white officers aboard his ship, he nevertheless volunteered and contributed strongly in the efforts to save the lives of white soldiers, sailors and coastguardsman.  In return for his heroic deeds, and the sacrifice of his life, he is denied in death the same if not similar acknowledgments given for bravery, valor and courage that were bestowed upon others. The only difference being of military rank, occupation and most importantly, the color of his skin. It is his race and the color that makes him invisible and allows others to abuse him today and forget about him tomorrow.

The Black Man… The Invisible Man

“I am an invisible man. – No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids — and I might even be said to possess a mind. Yet, I am invisible, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the floating heads you see in circus sideshows surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me, they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination — indeed, everything and anything except me”.

– Ralph Ellison, Writer

Concluding Words – Dr. Micheal Kane

“You’re not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face realty. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.”

– Malcolm X, Civil Rights Activist

My Dear Readers,

On January 6, 2021, insurrectionists, blinded with delusions of patriotism, breached the US Capitol Building. Regardless of their beliefs, their actions were wrong, and history will hold them to account. As Malcolm X has clearly stated “Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.”  It was wrong of America to deny Coastguardsman Stewards Mate Charles Walter David, Jr. equality in recognition of his bravery, courage under fire and supreme sacrifice with the “Four Chaplains”. His accomplishments, unlike the “Four Chaplains’” are unknown to many and his memory lies in obscurity.

 In White America, there is acknowledgment for heroism. These heroes are permanently memorialized in the hearts and minds of those who sacrificed their lives for their country. The African American community should also be allowed to memorialized its hero of that fateful event. The wrong that was done cannot be undone however, as a nation, as Thurgood Marshall once stated, “In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute”.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the changes that we seek.”

– Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States, Noble Lauriat

Ignorance can be the lack of knowledge. However, once we have knowledge and awareness, we are empowered to create transformation. As we are within days of the 78th anniversary of Coastguardsman Stewards Mate Charles Walter David, Jr. heroic actions and subsequent death, I am committed to begin a writing campaign that will address this wrong and allow the proper acknowledgment and honors that his actions warrant and for which he is truly due. I will be writing to President Biden, Vice President Harris, Honorable Members of Congress, The Secretary of Defense, The Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Commandant of the US Coast Guard.  I invite the readership to join with me by contacting their representatives in Congress as well as sending emails to me affirming your support of this endeavor. If you would like to join me, my email address is drkane@lovingmemore.com.

“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.”

– Langston Hughes (Writer/Poet)

My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”

– Desmond Tutu Human Rights Activist

 “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” 

– Nelson Mandela

Standing Alone… The Unspoken Truth

The Unspoken Truth: Finding Inspiration In Black Lives

“Shout out to the people who haven’t felt okay recently but are getting up every day and refusing to quit.  Stay strong.” – Unknown

“Fill your life with stories and experiences, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.” — Anonymous

“The only bird that will peck at an Eagle is the crow.   He sits on his back and bites his neck.  The eagle does not respond or fight with the crow. It doesn’t waste his time or energy.

It simply opens its wings and begins to rise higher in the sky.  The higher the flight, the harder it is for the crow to breath and then the crow falls due to lack of oxygen,

Stop wasting your time with the crows.  Just take them to your heights and they will fade.”- Unknown

“Don’t fake your lifestyle for anyone.  It is okay to be broke, scared, lost, struggling, blessed, happy and grateful at the same time.  That’s life on life’s terms.” -Anonymous

“When someone tries to trigger you by insulting you or by doing or saying something that irritates you, take a deep breath and switch off your ego.  Remember that if you are easily offended, you are easily manipulated.” – Unknown

“There is light at the end of this road.” -Unknown

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My Dear Readers,

As usual, I will begin this blog by acknowledging those who due to COVID-19 are no longer with us.  Tragically, as of September 28, 2020, 204,033 Americans have died from this dreaded disease.  At the same time, 7,059,087 people have been diagnosed with 311,102 new cases occurring within the last seven days. And there remains no end in sight. 

These numbers have names and their lives have meaning.  They include Shirley Bannister, age 57, of Columbia, South Carolina, who was the chairperson of the nursing department of Midlands Technical College, and her daughter Demetria Bannister, age 28, who was an elementary school teacher. Demetria died several weeks ago, just a few days after testing positive for COVID-19. Shirley died on Sunday, September 27, 2020.

In addition to the devastation created by COVID-19 this has been a week of remembrance psychological impact and loss. In this writing, I want to acknowledge the deaths of four of these individuals and focus on one brave soul in particular.

In the Media-BLM:  Does Black Lives Matter?

CNN reports that a majority of adults–55%– said this month that they support the Black Lives Matter movement, but it is a notable drop from the 67% who said the same between June 4 and 10.

The report by the Pew Research Center show that “Among respondents who say they strongly support the movement, support dipped to 29% between September 8 and 13 from 38% about three months ago.” (CNN 09.22.20)

If the support for the BLM movement is waning, what does that mean for the overall support and concern by the dominant group for African Americans?  If one examines the dominant’s group’s history regarding the impact of macroaggression against black people, we know that those memories fade rapidly.

While the kind of domestic terrorism that brought America 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995 may be forever memorialized,  very little attention is given to the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama on September 15, 1963.  In fact, The Seattle Times acknowledged the act of domestic terrorism in a paragraph consisting of three lines, treating the tragic event as “un-noteworthy.”

Although minimized in media reporting, the incident is worthy of mentioning in this blog writing.

  • 14-year-old Addie Mae Collins,  14-year-old Cynthia Wesley, 14-year-old Carole Robertson, and 11-year-old Carol Denise McNair were killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama on September 15, 1963. 
  • The bombing was the third in Birmingham, 11 days following the federal court order to integrate Alabama’s school segregated school system.
  • It is believed that the girls were intentionally targeted due to the 15 sticks of dynamite was planted directly under the girls restroom.
  • The bombing occurred at 10:19 in the morning and the resulting blast not only killed the four girls, but severely wounded 20 others church members.

Klan members were indicated for murder, but as later revealed, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover blocked their prosecution and shut down the investigation without filing charges in 1968. It was not until 2002, 39 years following the bombing, that the domestic terrorists were convicted of the bombing.

One World, Same Country & Two Realities.

Understanding & Knowing Your Place

In a homecoming reception in New Orleans for Black veterans returning from the military service in France during WWI, the following speech was given by a White city official:

“You niggers are wondering how you are going to be treated after the war.  Well, I’ll tell you, you are going to be treated exactly like you were before the war; this is a white man’s country and we expect to rule it.” (Barbeau & Henri 1974 p.174)

When I come across items like the motivational quotes shared at the beginning of this blog entry, I often wonder who the target audience is for such messages. I tend to question the relevance of these quotes to the life I live as a Black man and the experiences I have had while  “Walking the Landscape” otherwise known as Life. In this writing, I will restate the quote and apply it to the experiences of a Black man who continues to “Walk the Landscape” during these most difficult times.

In Plain Sight and Out of View

“I am the invisible man. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone; fiber and liquid-and I might be even said to possess a mind. I am invisible, simply because people refuse to see me.” -Ralph Ellison

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Quote #1

“Fill your life with stories and experiences, not things.  Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.” – Anonymous

Black people in America have had lives filled with experiences for over 400 years, and yet, neither our stories nor the “stuff” we have to show for that history have mattered. If my skin were white, would society hear the stories I have to tell?

However, my skin is black and because of the landscape I have walked and the experiences I have, there are many stories to tell and lots of things and stuff to show.

The experiences and things obtained in walking my landscape, my stories and my stuff although not important to many are important to me.

Black Lives Matter.

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Quote #2

“Shout out to the people who haven’t felt okay recently but are getting up every day and refusing to quit.  Stay strong.” – Unknown

Excellent points, “shout out to the people…. and refusing to quit.”. 

However “Stay Strong”? Really? Absolutely not.

Young people, my generation was also told to stay strong. We integrated all white schools. We were kicked, spat on, hit, ignored by teachers. We were the brave bunch.

Every day brought a new battle, new psychological impacts, and more trauma. And our parents kept telling us to “stay strong.” We did not have the resources to balance these impacts that we needed, namely the resources, counseling, individual and the group psychotherapy opportunities that would allow us to navigate these obstacles while still supporting our psychological selves.

We came up during the time in which counseling and therapy was frowned upon and only for “crazy white people.” We still suffer in silence today, many of us still subscribing to the same self-defeating beliefs, continuing to “stay strong.”

Young folks, instead of following your parents’ road, littered with worn out bodies and devastation; create your own path. Instead of strength, seek balance.  

Empower yourselves by balancing your strengths and weaknesses. Before you get overwhelmed and shut down, reach out, allow yourselves to be vulnerable, exposed and trusting to seek professional help.

You decide… choose to focus on strength and holding it in, or create your own path on your own landscape.


Black Lives Matter.

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Quote #3

“The only bird that will peck at an Eagle is the crow.   He sits on his back and bites his neck.  The eagle does not respond or fight with the crow. It doesn’t waste his time or energy.

It simply opens its wings and begins to rise higher in the sky.  The higher the flight, the harder it is for the crow to breath and then the crow falls due to lack of oxygen,

Stop wasting your time with the crows.  Just take them to your heights and they will fade.”- Unknown

I have opened my wings and have flown higher in the sky. And yet the crow is still on my back pecking away. Damn. How high do I have to fly before he fades away?

Apparently, he just being what he is … insignificant and yet an obstacle to contend with. Maybe that’s his message.

My message is simply this:  “We are not giving up, not giving in, and we are not letting go. 400 years plus one and counting.” Enjoy the ride, Crow, peck away. 

Oh, and about the traumatic experiences and wounding caused by the pecking? That’s what counseling and psychological assistance is for.

Heal the wound, create space for further traumas (i.e. more pecking) and achieve mental and emotional wellness. Keep flying.

Black Lives Matter.

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Quote #4

“Don’t fake your lifestyle for anyone.  It is okay to be broke, scared, lost, struggling, blessed, happy and grateful at the same time.  That’s life on life’s terms.” -Anonymous

So, let’s assume that a large number of African Americans are ok about being broke, scared, lost and struggling…. does that mean that they are “at the same time, blessed, happy and grateful?”

Is this really “life on life’s terms,” or is this simply an illusory concept created on a foundation of warmth and comfort? Black people have been here for 400 years plus 1… and counting… yet, it is hard to find any that are broke, scared etc. and nonetheless, still feel blessed, happy and grateful at the same time.

Just because some people are slurping down the Kool-aid doesn’t mean we all have to drink from the same straw.

Walking the landscape on our own terms. Now, that’s living life on life’s terms.

Black Lives Matter.

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Quote #5

“When someone tries to trigger you by insulting you or by doing or saying something that irritates you, take a deep breath and switch off your ego.  Remember that if you are easily offended, you are easily manipulated.” – Unknown


“Take a deep breath” & “switch off your ego?” Really? And then do what? Black people have been taking a deep breath and switching off the ego for 400 years plus 1…. and counting. Black people understand what it is to be easily offended and manipulated.

Actually, those are “western or Euro meditation” movements that would encourage black folks to accept this supposedly Eastern philosophy which seems to offer “peace and tranquility.” 

However, what is really being offered here is a “carrot” on the road to “nowhere”. This well used road is littered with the bleached bones of worn out African Americans and devastation.

Instead of the “carrot,” we can choose our own path, that being one of advocacy, balance and calmness. The real question is whether we have belief, faith and trust in self, or do we continue to munch on the delicious carrot that is so willingly being offered?

Micro aggressions are here to stay, and so are we.

Instead of the “carrot,” mental wellness through counseling or therapy can be our path. You decide.

Black Lives Matter.

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Concluding Remarks-Dr. Kane 

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

My Dear Readers,

The referred quotes are without a doubt well intended, meaningful and expressed with the intent to inspire and motive individuals.  But which individuals? What population? What experiences are being taken into consideration?

While well intended, these quotes, especially when used to address the pain that some individuals experience, can be psychological impactful and lead to emotional devastation. 

The last quote in its true “innocence” and well-being states .

“There is light at the end of this road.”

The question of “this road?”  Whose road? Why this road? Why can’t I choose the road that is best for me?  If one looks squarely at the quote it removes from the individual the “right of self-determination.”

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Quote #6

“There is light at the end of this road.” -Unknown

Hmm Interesting. Good points. The major one being “don’t give up.” Now, about that road…this is where I choose a different way. Yes, for those who choose to follow it,  there is a “light at the end of road.” However, is there really a light? For me? 

My reality is simple. The road, which is spoken of, was built by somebody or someone else. To get to the end… it will be by seeking or meeting the expectations of those who built the road. 

Consequently, the light at the end of the road can become nothing more than an illusory “carrot” created to trap the seeker.

Young people, instead of following another’s road, create your own path. Instead of settling for the light at the end of the road, look beyond and “walk the landscape.” 

The landscape is open, vast and wide. More important, the landscape is “yours”. The landscape is LIFE. 

For many BBIPOC, the road is littered with the bleached bones of the forgotten and devastation. Have belief, faith and trust in self. Walk your landscape.

Stand at the crossroads. Make your choice.

Black Lives Matter

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Do Black Lives Matter? 

According to the research studies, support from white people is fading.  The bombing in Birmingham Alabama, which snuffed out the lives of four black girls, was an occurrence, not just in African American history, it is American history, which also has faded away from white public interest.

Yes, Black lives matter.  Black lives are no more precious than white lives or blue lives.  Yet Black lives have been under siege since they were brought here in chains in 1619.

Black lives have fought ALL of this nation’s wars and have protected this nation from its enemies….and yet Black lives have returned home to segregation, systemic racism and fueled hate. And still Black lives defend the Constitution that once upheld that Black lives are worth 3/5 of a white life.

During the women’s suffrage movement, Black women were consistently denied a sit at the table by White women who hypocritically were demanding their right to vote and full equality to men while at the same time denying the same rights and opportunities to Black women.

Black Lives Matter.

“To be African American is to be African without any memory & American without any privilege.” -James Baldwin

“If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” -Zora Neale Hurston

“I say “Black Lives Matters” because “All” didn’t cover Black when they said “All Men Are Created Equal.”

I say “Black Lives Matters” because “ALL” didn’t cover Black when they said ”With Liberty and Justice For ALL”

I say “Black Lives Matters” because they’re still struggling with the definition of “ALL”

-Black Lives Matter Movement

The Unspoken Truth….. 400 years plus 1 and …counting.

In Our Corner: Responding to Microaggressions in the Pursuit of Self-Acceptance

Sticks & Stones (Variation #1)

Alexander William Kinglake, 1833

“Sticks and stones may break my bones

But words will never hurt me”

Sticks & Stones (Variation #2)

The African Methodist Episcopal Church. The Christian Recorder, March 1862.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never break me.”

Sticks & Stones (Variation #3)

Absent Friends, 2004.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can tear me apart.”

Catch A Nigger by His Toe

A Children’s Counting Rhyme (1888)

“Eeny, meena, mina, mo,

Catch a nigger by the toe,

If he hollers let him go,

Eena, meena, mina, mo”

“So, let me try to understand this video. Here are a group of young Black men who are wearing baggy clothes with their pants hanging off their waists acting like human beings. Go figure? Gentlemen, you make your families proud. Outstanding!!!!”

  • George Saint Louis. Writer, LinkedIn, July 28, 2020

My Dear Readers,

At the time of this writing, as our country continues to struggle with COVID-19, 6.09 million Americans have contracted the disease with over 185,000 deaths. That is the national toll, tangible numbers signifying the trauma that we all as Americans have experienced in the last six months. What is not as easily visible yet has also been widely experienced are the microaggressions suffered by black, brown, and Indigenous people of color (BBIPOC) at the hands of others.

Microaggressions are those common, daily, often brief, verbal, behavioral or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory or negative prejudicial slights and insults towards any group, particularly culturally or racially marginalized groups.

The words of George Saint Louis quoted in the opening of this blog are an example of these microaggressions.

Recently, I saw a video showing compassionate assistance given to an elderly white couple by a three, young-adult black men.  The elders were both nearing 100 years old. The men, upon seeing that the husband was unable to get his wife into their vehicle, assisted them by physically placing the woman into the vehicle and then helping the elderly man into the driver’s seat as well.

This video was viewed over 4.5 million times on Facebook and now was being shown on LinkedIn.

George Saint Louis’ statement was in response to this video.

His words were racist, sarcastic and demeaning. They were hurled with the intent to ridicule and inflict psychological harm on a group of young black men.

Instead of asking why George Saint Louis chose to respond in that manner, I ask what about the young men?

What follows after the psychological assault? How are they impacted as individuals? Are such assaults expected to be forgiven and forgotten? Are they expected to simply ignore the words and actions and brush them aside like the “Sticks and Stones” rhyme taught?

During America’s slave period, the whip also known as the “lash” was utilized to shame, humiliate and psychologically intimidate enslaved people into submission. Its impact was further increased when other enslaved people were required to observe the lashing of their peers to heighten the shame of the ordeal. Today, the observance and similar outcome is achieved via social media as seen by the 4.5 million Facebook viewers of the three young black men seeking to assist an elderly white couple.

The injuries endured from microaggressions remain permanent wounds embedded upon the psychological self that never, ever go away.  All African Americans have memories they could share of psychological trauma created by microaggressions.

For example, I remember as a child growing up in the segregated South, being told to leave the homes of white playmates for no other reason than for the color of my skin. I can attest that the psychological pain from incidences like that is everlasting and the wounds from these will reopen and bleed when such microaggressions occur later in life.

This continual reopening of wounds is due to the vulnerability of never knowing when, where or from whom, the comment, action, behavior or seemingly innocent question would be coming from.

In another example from my life, as a graduate student early-on in my program, one of my professors questioned whether white female students were writing my papers in exchange for “sexual favors.”  Evidently, the quality of the research work I was doing was “suspect”.

African Americans, like others in this country, walk the landscape of life. During the walk, there will be challenges, roadblocks, and obstacles made by others.  Some of these will be based out of fear, some out of ignorance, others out of jealousy and the remaining are simply from hate.

I currently spend dozens of hours, weekly, with African Americans engaging in a deliberate strategy that my white colleagues due to a combination of training, western orientation/approach or ignorance are unable to do… listening. Many of my colleagues simply hear and the information travels in one ear and out the other. In listening, I seek to provide a safe space for the expression and release of pain and suffering.

Yet, among patients, there is a common theme: avoidance, denial, rejection of what has been experienced, the few who choose to self-medicate through alcohol or drugs, or those who seek to hide in big houses, expensive cars and flashy clothes while suffering silently.

The questions often asked include the following:

  • How do I avoid these feelings?
  • When will the pain of hurtful words go away?
  • What tricks can I use to just forget about it?

Avoidance? Distancing? Tricks? Self-deception?

Following is a story of a man, who, while walking the landscape, has found his path blocked not only by others but by himself. Here is his story.

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Dear Dr. Kane,

 I am writing because I have lost my way.  I have read your writings and hope you can help me.  I am an African American male who has lived my entire life in white America.  I am responding to the trauma of whiteness and their power that is overwhelming me.

 I feel that my life has been one of surrendering my power to white people.  I grew up learning that they were always right and that I was wrong.

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest in a predominantly white town that has now become a mid-sized city.  My family was one of the very few black people in the area.  My playmates, classmates and friends were all white. 

 All through school I was known as Black Joe.  Not Joseph, my given name, or Joey or just Joe, but rather Black Joe.  When I was in the third grade, a white classmate called me a “nigger” and everyone laughed, and pointed fingers at me. At the time I did not know what a “nigger” was, but I knew from the way it was said and the laughter that followed, it was a bad thing.

 My parents did not speak up for me.  In fact, they remained quiet as I took the abuse.  They, just like the white people around me, never felt that I would be successful.  I went on to prove them wrong. I was smart, I knew I was going to be successful.

 My mistake was that in focusing on proving myself acceptable to them, I gave them my power.  As an adult, I paid a terrible price for my success. I had the high paying job, expensive car, and a big house but I also have had a series of extramarital affairs resulting in divorces, not being on speaking terms with my adult children, and a strong dependence on alcohol.

 I wanted to take back my power, so I made the commitment to attend a local Alcohol Anonymous meeting that was conducted via video conferencing due to the coronavirus outbreak.  For the first time, I spoke out about the pain of being a black man living in a white town. 

 I got a lot of positive feedback and I was feeling really good until someone spoke over the receiver, at first calling out my name and then repeatedly saying “nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger.”  The facilitator shut off the microphone, but it was too late.  I felt humiliated and ashamed.

 I felt so betrayed. I never returned to another AA meeting.  What was really telling was I had completely forgotten about the incident of being called a nigger in the 3rd grade but the incident at the AA meeting took me back to that time.  I am still drinking heavily to this very day. I am drinking an average of two half-gallons of scotch per week.

 I have sought acceptance from others and have failed to obtain this.  As I write to you, I don’t know what I want and yet, in your response, I hope to find wisdom that will show me the way.

 Bless you Dr. Kane,

Wandering Alone Mount Vernon, WA 

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My Dear Readers,

His story is similar to many African American men and women who have suffered emotionally while seeking to climb the “ladder of acceptance”. What they never really understand is that this ladder is an illusion.  Acceptance by others may never be achieved. And if it is, it may be withdrawn or snatched away without hesitation, justification, or notice.

The 3R’s & The Survival of the Fittest

Psychological trauma has been a key factor in the lives of African Americans beginning in early childhood.  Where their white peers are allowed to just learn the lessons of the 3 R’s (reading, writing and arithmetic) without the concern of racial bias, black children are abandoned in the white educational system and, barring strong parental interaction or oversight at school, they are left to navigate the educational landscape alone, expected to survive exposure to racism, rejection, and rebuke without support.

“I have sought acceptance from others and have failed to obtain this.”

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Acceptance and Understanding

“Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid. Needs lower down in the hierarchy must be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up. From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, the needs are physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.”

McLeod, Saul. “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs”. Psychology Today. March 20, 2020.

Once the physiological and safety needs are met, Maslow states that “the person… will hunger for affectionate relationships with people in general for acceptance into the group.”

Although acceptance can be defined as the action or process of being received by the group as adequate or suitable, it is also defined as the internalized need to be accepted as you are.  The desire to be accepted as you are, can also lead to the willingness to tolerate difficult situations.

It is the nature of human beings to want to be accepted, valued, validated, and viewed with esteem from a desired group. Problems develop when the value, validation and esteem is one sided or focused in one direction.

The Reality of Black & White

“We are still living in a society where dark things are devalued, and white things are valued.”

  • Margaret Beale Spencer, 2010

Due to the way that education system set up, and values are learned, the idea that they are superior is consciously reinforced to the white children while the idea that BBIPOC people are inferior is subconsciously, unconsciously, and continually reinforced to black and brown children. Nearly 67 years following the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education ruling and 12 years after the election of the country first black president, white children have an overwhelming white bias, and black children have a bias towards white (Spencer 2010).

The Willingness to Tolerate Difficult Situations

The trap that sucks in many African Americans is the willingness to tolerate difficult situations in order to gain acceptance.  In many cases, these situations are traumatic and psychologically wounding, often resulting in emotional and mental scarring.

The problem is that consciously we know that acceptance is not something that can be forced, yet subconsciously and unconsciously, there is a willingness to tolerate the difficult situation until acceptance has been achieved.

The Myth of Sisyphus: The Story of African Americans Being “Played”

In Greek mythology, Sisyphus is forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill only for it to roll down every time it neared the top, repeating this action for eternity.  Sisyphus was undeterred; he pushed the rock right back up every time it rolled down.  He refused to surrender to gravity.

The moral of this story is we must learn to embrace our purpose (the rock) in life. Once we accept it as the objective of our being, we should give everything it takes to achieve it.  Most importantly, no matter how much we lose in our quest, we must never back down until we fulfill our potential.

So, what is the bottom line we learn from Sisyphus?  Embrace the rock. Be persistent.  Work hard.  Never give up.

Now, let’s apply this to African Americans struggling to be accepted by a hostile group who view themselves as superior and those seeking “acceptance” are inferior.  In this modern-day uphill struggle, the “rock” is the acceptance African Americans seek to achieve from the dominant group.

The reality (and not moral) of this story is that African Americans are being played. They are allowing themselves to be believe the illusion that they will ever be acceptable to the dominant group.  Yet, as they continue to do so, to seek acceptance from others, they continue to embrace the rock. To be persistent.  To work hard.  To never give up.”

“You’re Fooling You

“Ah tell me who’s fooling who.

You ain’t fooling me.

You’re fooling you.

You’re Fooling You, The Dramatics (1975)

 The Golden Rule: “You Have To Be Twice As Good As Them”

Rowan: “Did I not raise you for better? How many times have I told you? You have to be what?”

Olivia:   “Twice as good.”

Rowan: “You have to be twice as good to get half of what they have.”

Scandal. ABC. 2012-2018.

For whites, there is a saying: “Whoever has the gold makes the rules”. For black people it is a statement of exclusion and survival. Variations of the preceding quote have been drummed into the minds of African Americans by their parents inter-generationally since slavery over 400 years ago.

An Unequal Playing Field

The effects of these parental demands upon black children is not only mentally taxing but can be emotionally overwhelming as well. They leave the children vulnerable to believing that striving for acceptance and eventually for personal success is like Sisyphus, rolling the rock up the mountain in order to “get half of what they have”. But before they even get there, they must first roll the rock up the mountain known as “acceptance.”

Self-Acceptance

It is known that acceptance and understanding are emotional needs to feel alright and to know that others accept you as you are.  However, this can be a slippery slope for African Americans who prioritized the “acceptance by others” over the acceptance of self.

Acceptance is an entity controlled from within the individual. Acceptance is an entity that cannot be forced.  Self-acceptance is an individual’s satisfaction or happiness with oneself, and it is a necessity for good mental wellness.

Self-acceptance, unlike acceptance by others, is an “alone” entity.  It involves self-understanding and a realistic, subjective awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses.

In conclusion, self-acceptance is extremely important. If a person does not accept themselves for who they really are, they will continuously create ongoing problems within their own life.

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Concluding Words-Dr. Kane

“I once was lost, but now I am found, was blind, but now I see”

My Dear Young Man,

I appreciate the sharing of your story.  It is one to which many African Americans can relate.  Yours is a story of endurance, pain and suffering.  It is also a story of accomplishments and socio-economic achievement.

However, as you sought like Sisyphus to reach the top of the mountain, you fell for the trap of seeking their acceptance instead of seeking self-acceptance.  The acceptance of others may or may not ever come.  And yet, you ignored the cries, pleas and calling of the person most important in your life, the Self.

It is true that you have gained success and wealth yet, look at the price you paid for it. In trying to self-medicate, you are consuming a gallon of alcohol per week. If you continue on this road traveled by so many black men before you, it will only lead to your demise. The black community will have lost another valuable soul… taken too soon.

Your landscape can be open, vast and wide.  Or you can continue to slip quietly away filled with bitterness.  Though it didn’t seem like it, the person who hid in the darkness during the AA meeting calling out “nigger, nigger, nigger” gave you a gift. The gift of exposure. It showed you that that environment was not a safe place for you to be.

Five R’s of RELIEF

Instead of drowning your anguish in the darkness of alcohol; reach out and take a respite (step away), embrace your reactions, be reflective (balancing feeling & thoughts), be responsive to self (talk to me), and constantly reevaluate what occurred and how it was experienced.

The Impact of “Time Heals Wounds”

Historically black parents, so focused on their children’s success, have neglected protecting them from the psychological wounding of microaggressions.  We have been told that “time will heal wounds.”  This is not true.  Time does not heal, it is the work we do in therapy, over time that will heal the wounds.

What is true is that microaggressive wounds lie deeply in the hearts of the victims. Such words or actions can come from strangers, coworkers, family members and friends you may have known for many years.  The objective is not to either ignore, react, or to rise above the insult. The objective is to understand that the traumatic impact remains, but the wound will heal to the point that the traumatic impact will be lighter and have a much smaller influence as you walk your landscape.

As for myself, I remained psychologically impacted by the racially and sexually charged statement leveled at me in graduate school.  I remembered those words as I spoke before the United State Congress in 2008 as the Clinical Consultant in Clinical Traumatology for the Congressional Black Caucus. Those words were painful but, because of my own acceptance of self, I was able to continue my journey of self-discovery despite their influence.

Now, what will you do? Continue down the road well paved with the souls of many lost black men or will you walk your landscape and seek your journey of self-discovery? If you choose to seek self-discovery, the first step is prioritizing self-acceptance over acceptance by others.  In doing this as you interact with others; allow the following statement to guide you along the way.

Loving the Self

As much as I love you, I love me more.

Loving me more doesn’t mean I love you less.

It just means I love me more.

More.

Focus on the journey… not the destination.

******************************************

“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”

  • John Robert Lewis (1940-2020), Former US Congressman and Civil Rights Activist

 

Until the next time,

Remaining … in Our Corner

The Visible Man: The Inequity of “Protect and Serve”

 “On my honor, I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character or the public trust. I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions.”

– Law Enforcement Oath of Honor, 2020.

“I [patroller’s name], do swear, that I will as searcher for guns, swords, and other weapons among the slaves in my district, faithfully, and as privately as I can, discharge the trust reposed in me as the law directs, to the best of my power. So, help me, God.”

– Slave Patroller’s Oath, North Carolina, 1828.

“The history of police work in the South grows out of this early fascination, by white patrollers, with what African American slaves were doing. Most law enforcement was, by definition, white patrolmen watching, catching, or beating black slaves.”    

– Sally Hadden Author, Slave Patrols: Law and Violence in Virginia and the Carolinas, 2001.

“We are the hunters.  We hunt, that’s what we do.”

– Police Commander, (encouraging younger officers (2018).

“The video of George Floyd being slowly suffocated by a police officer on the streets of Minneapolis while three fellow officers looked on is sickening. It represents a disgusting abuse of power, and all four cops should go to jail for murder. I think it’s safe to say that most of the world agrees. People are marching in the streets across the country and around the world in the name of George Floyd. The outrage and anger is understandable, but blaming all police officers is not. The overwhelming majority of cops are good people doing a dangerous job. They became police officers to serve and protect, and 99.9 percent honor their duty.”

– Russell Kent, Columnist, Galion Inquirer, June 10, 2020.

“The wolf has somehow convinced the sheep that the sheepdog is the dangerous one and that he must be removed.  I pray for the sheep [when] the wolf has all the sheep to himself.”

– Maggie D., Detective Sergeant 

“There have been wolves masquerading as sheepdogs for 400 years. Now the true sheepdogs are paying for their silence for turning a blind eye while the wolves in sheepdog’s uniforms ravaged the sheep that they are sworn to protect and serve. Maybe the sheep have had enough or perhaps they should be patient and wait…. another 400 years?”

– Micheal Kane, Clinical Traumatologist

 

My Dear Readers,

In years past, I was repeatedly asked by white people variations of the question: “Why do black people…”

  • Distrust the police
  • Fear the police
  • Hate the police
  • Are paranoid about the police

The answer is as simple as it is complex.

 

Imagery & Reality

When it comes to the police, the imagery white people are taught focuses on community service, self-sacrifice, and the idea that the policeman next door is the thin blue line standing between the good-guys and bad-guys.

Black people live in the reality where community policing turns into law enforcement.  The police do not live next door.  Instead they act as hunters, barreling through neighborhoods seeking to punish and subdue. Black people, no matter guilt or innocence, young or old, minor infraction or major crime have been deemed “bad-guys” who deserve swift and ruthless punishment.

Our nation’s history and the well-documented experiences of black people in this country teaches police officers exactly why the relationship between them and the black community is so adversarial. It is about power and control.

The police have been given the power and the black community must be controlled and its males rendered powerless.

When speaking of policing, the lines are distinctively drawn. Strict belief systems serve to force people into diametrically opposed camps: strongly supportive or strongly against the police and their tactics.  In light of recent events, the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery by active and retired officers, police have been trying to sure up their image through reiterating their supposed commitment to their “Protect and Serve” oath and be on their best behavior in the communities where local policing actually exists. But cracks are beginning to spread and the image will soon fall away exposing the reality underneath.

 

Dominance & Control

The definition of dominant group is a group with power, privilege, and social status.  It is the social group that controls the value system and rewards in a society.  The dominant group is often in the majority but not necessarily.

The definition of minority group refers to a category of people who experience relative disadvantage when compared to members of the dominant social group.  Minority group membership is typically based in observable characteristics such as ethnicity or race.  They are easily targeted as they have relatively little social power.

The message that is consistently given by law enforcement and its supporters is the following:

“The overwhelming majority of cops are good people doing a dangerous job. They became police officers to serve and protect, and 99.9 percent honor their duty.”

 – Russell Kent Columnist, Galion Inquirer, June 10, 2020.

And yet there is no doubt of the impact through violence, trauma and psychological injury created by the 0.1 percent of the police officers who misuse their badges, dishonor their oaths and create distrust among the people they swore to “serve and protect.”

 

Fear: The Tool of Serve & Protect

Then there are the questions surrounding those who are serving and protecting:

  1. Who is being protected and from whom do they feel they need protection?
  2. How can the police officer serve and protect those who feel they are being targeted, profiled and look upon as suspects?

Which community, the dominant group or the minority group, holds a historical relationship with policing in the United States?  Answer? Both.  Historically the police have been used and manipulated by whites to enforce the laws created by the white community by whatever means necessary to control the black community and monitor the movement of its members, particularly males.

It is a historic stereotype created by the white community, is that black males are inherently violent and therefore require a heavy hand by those who know and understand their brute strength and wild animal nature.  Policing is the manifestation of that heavy hand historically used against blacks to control and monitor.

For many police officers today, the mandate remains the same. Police, once viewed as the scum of white society were needed to control those they feared, black males, but soon came to benefit the greater society leading to the formation of the symbiotic relationship between the Police and those who empower them.

 

Symbiotic Relationship: Serve & Protect

A symbiotic relationship is one in which people exist together in a way that benefits them all.  It is a relationship, each provides for the other the conditions necessary for the relationships’ continued existence.

There has been a symbiotic relationship between those who enforce the law (police) and the dominant community. That relationship embodies what the “serve and protect” oath was meant to be.

 

Inverse Symbiotic Relationship: Law Enforcement

An inverse symbiotic relationship is one in which, while interacting with one another, one member of the relationship becomes larger or stronger while the other becomes smaller or weaker. It is a relationship which is opposite or contrary in position, direction, order, or effect.

There has been an inverse symbiotic relationship that has existed historically between African Americans and the police since slavery originated in the American colonies.  The foundation of this relationship remains unbalanced and based on fear and intimidation to this day.

 

The Slave Patrollers or “Paddyrollers”

Historically, policing originated in the American South in South Carolina and Virginia as slave patrols (Sally E. Hadden, Slave Patrols. 2003).  They were created in the late 17th century and continued through to the end of the Civil War. County courts and state militias formed the patrollers and they were the primary enforcers of codes governing slaves throughout the south.

These patrollers were created due to whites living in constant fear of slave rebellions.  The responsibilities of the slave patrols were to control the movements and behaviors of the enslaved populations.  Slave patrols served three main functions:

  1. To chase down, apprehend and return to their owners, runaway slaves,
  2. To provide a form of organized terror to deter slave revolts and,
  3. To maintain a form of discipline for slave-workers who were subject to summary justice, outside the law.

Typically, slave patrol routines included enforcing curfews, checking black travelers for  permission passes, catching those assembling without permission, visiting and searching slave quarters, inflicting impromptu punishment, preventing any form of organized resistance and occasionally suppressing insurrections.

Through these actions, the slave patrols inspired well-justified fear on the part of the slaves.  The fear was reinforced as the “patrollers” generally made their rounds at night, with their activity and regularity differing according to time and place.

“Patrol duty” was often compulsory for most able-bodied white males.  Some professions were exempt, but otherwise avoiding duty required paying a fine or hiring a substitute.

As stated earlier, slaves lived in fear of the patrollers.  Sally E. Hadden cites a 1937 WPA interview with W.L. Bost, former slave:

“The paddyrollers they keep close watch on the pore niggers so they have no chance to do anything or go anywhere.  They jes’ like policemen, only worser.” (p. 71).

Hadden notes that the patrollers did face social and legal checks on how harshly they behaved, because slave owners “did not take kindly to excessive or unnecessary damage to their human chattel.”

 

Pleading: Protection from Policing

On December 3, 1865, after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the end of the Civil War in April of 1865, a group of Black Mississippians wrote the state’s governor demanding respect for their newly won freedom.  They stated:

“’All we ask for is justice and to be treated like human beings.’ They recalled vividly ‘the yelping of bloodhounds and tearing of our fellow servants to pieces by slave patrols’. They call for an end to these violent abuses.”

Take notice that even though the Civil War had ended and their freedom legally authorized, the slave patrols were still being used by white groups to enforce control and perpetrate violence against the now former slaves.

 

Common Themes of the Past & Present Symbiotic Relationship

Whites have consistently lived in fear and suspicion of blacks from slavery to this current day.

  • Whites have, using federal, state and local laws, restricted the movement and activities of blacks.
  • Whites have used policing as a method to control, impose restrictions upon and sanction the actions and behaviors of blacks.
  • Similar to the slave era where violent methodology was permitted or ignored as long as the patrollers did not commit “excessive or unnecessary damage to their human chattel,” today’s dominant group ignored or remained silent about violence perpetrated by police as long as they deemed the violence being done as “not excessive”.

 

The Coronavirus, Black Lives Matter, & Social Media: A Perfect Storm & The Loss of Control

COVID-19, which has sadly taken the lives of over 142,000 Americans, has played a major role in what has become an enormously effective movement for change. Hundreds of millions of Americans were quarantined in their homes with nothing more to do than watch TV and peruse social media. While doing so, the actions of the police in the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery sparked worldwide protests and showed the white community exactly what the black community had been experiencing under the guise of protecting and serving.

The white community could no longer deny the injustice that had been occurring since the 17th century.

 

The Sleight of Hand-We Have Been Played

The media, including print journalism and even entertainment companies, have teamed with the police to play up the image of the good cop chasing the bad guy.  Television shows showcasing the “hero cop” such as Dragnet’s Sergeant Joe Friday, are portrayed as honest, hardcore, fact-driven professionals who methodically gather evidence without prejudice or bias.

One memorable quote by Sgt. Friday best describes the perceived plight of the common police officer:

“You’re a cop, a flatfoot, a bull, a dick, John Law… they call you everything, but never a policeman”.

The first run of Dragnet had 100 episodes airing from 1951 to 1959 then revived for a second 98 episode run from 1967 to 1970 on NBC. This was by no means the only pro-police television program.

Cops, a television program filmed in a documentary/ reality style, ran for 31 seasons showing 1100 shows, sometimes 15 to 20 times a day inundating the viewing public with a false idea of what policing was. Dan Taberski, creator of the Running from Cops podcast stated:

“[The Cops television show] consistently presented bad policing as good policing, tasing people when they shouldn’t be tasing, using illegal holds, siccing dogs on people without proper warning – just over and over.”

 

Eight Minutes 46 Seconds: The Thin Blue Line-Crumbling

“George Floyd is not a wake-up call.  The same alarm has been ringing since 1619. Y’all just keep hitting snooze.”

The moment by moment replaying of the eight minutes 46 seconds that a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on the neck of George Floyd while three fellow police officer stood idly by protecting the police officer from concerned onlookers psychologically traumatized the dominant group. The callous disregard for life shook the foundations of who and what they were taught the police were. This was the first time they saw that “protect and serve” was not the same for everyone.

 

The Breach of the Symbiotic Relationship

The symbiotic relationship between the police who enforce the law and the dominant community they serve has been damaged and the people psychologically impacted. Now that black and white communities share in witnessing these events, they may bring them to a common understanding; trauma and fear of those who offer community policing to one and exert law enforcement upon the other.

 

Concluding Remarks-Dr. Kane

“He can run, but he can’t hide “

 – Joe Louis “The Brown Bomber” World Heavyweight Champion (1937-1949)

My Dear Readers,

White America, you knew about police treatment of black people.  You knew of the racial profiling.  You knew about their suspicious and negative feelings particularly about black males.  Be honest. Look in the mirror and embrace your truths.  You knew.  You had to know.  You heard the complaints of African Americans. You have listened to the whispers and read the stories.

The police have been living by the unwritten contract demanding they protect you from them.  From the time of slavery, whites have feared their slaves.  They have used the patrollers to control and monitor them.  The slave master stayed out of the way of the violence and abuse, being silent and only speaking up when the police went too far and “damage or destroyed” his property.

Following the freeing of the slaves, whites feared the former slaves even more.  They created laws, black codes and sundown ordinances and, once again, used the police to maintain order, surveillance, and control. The silent agreement was to ignore black peoples pleads for protection so that they could continue to exist willfully ignorant.

Unfortunately for both the police and white America, the death of George Floyd, just as in the days of slavery, this time, went… too far.  White America could not unseen it. White America may not have believed it could happen, yet it did. You and the world saw, for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, a police officer press his full weight onto the neck of black man and watched that man take his last breath. The brutality could no longer be denied.

As for black America, the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery are a continuation of the brutality exhibited by the patrollers from the slave days. Breonna Taylor, as she slept in her bed, was killed by police. The patrollers would come into the homes of slaves during the night unannounced, with actions that could lead to death of the slave. Ahmaud Arbery was killed by a retired police officer and his son who felt they had the authority to stop and question him while jogging. The patrollers or any white man had the authority to stop and question a slave or freedman and that person was at risk death as a result of the stop.

During the funeral services of George Floyd, Reverend Al Sharpton made the call for “change”.  I strongly disagree.

African Americans have endured change in this land for 401 years.  We have changed from slaves to freedmen and women.  We have changed during segregation, discrimination and, Black Codes.  We have changed through civil rights laws, voting rights legislation, equal housing and fair employment decrees.  We have changed through having to endure 12 forms of racism and 14 sub-types of traumas. We have seen change that contributed to high unemployment, high incarceration, high dropout rates, and high rates of addiction, mental illness and suicide.

However, what we have not seen is TRANSFORMATION.  In transforming there is no going back.  With transformation, we can only go forward.

***************************************

Loving Father & Creator,

I want to walk the landscape called life.  The landscape is open, it is vast, and it is wide.  The landscape is mine. Grant me transformation.  Let me go, my blessed Lord, so I can live the life I want and see more and achieve more than the trauma that is before me.

“I can’t breathe. I have my ID right here. My name is Elijah McClain. That’s my house. I was just going home. I’m an introvert. I’m just different. That’s all. I’m so sorry. I have no gun. I don’t do that stuff. I don’t do any fighting. Why are you attacking me? I don’t even kill flies! I don’t eat meat! But I don’t judge people, I don’t judge people who do eat meat. Forgive me. All I was trying to do was become better. I will do it. I will do anything. Sacrifice my identity, I’ll do it. You all are phenomenal. You are beautiful and I love you. Try to forgive me. I’m a mood Gemini. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Ow, that really hurt. You are all very strong. Teamwork makes the dream work. Oh, I’m sorry I wasn’t trying to do that. I just can’t breathe correctly.”

 – The final words of Elijah McClain.

He died on August 3, 2019 by physical restraint. A knee on his chest. During a police encounter as he was walking home.  The police stopped him due to a report of a black man acting suspiciously with a hoodie over his head.

 

Until We Meet Again… I am the Visible Man.

In Our Corner: The Seen, The Unseen and the Dimming of the Bonfires

“Once a profound truth has been seen, it cannot be ‘unseen’. There’s no ‘going back’ to the person you were. Even if such a possibility did exist… why would you want to?”

– Dave Sim, Cartoonist & Publisher

 

“Our police force was not created to serve black Americans; it was created to police black Americans and serve white Americans.”

– Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race

 

“I know people get tired of hearing it but black people have got to keep saying it, throwing our conditions up into these people’s faces until something is done about the way they have treated us. We’ve just got to keep it in front of their eyes and their ears like the Jews have done. We’ve got to make them know and understand just how evil the things are that they did to us over all these years and are still doing to us today.”

– Miles Davis, Miles: The Autobiography

 

“I can hear you say, “What a horrible, irresponsible bastard!” And you’re right. I leap to agree with you. I am one of the most irresponsible beings that ever lived. Irresponsibility is part of my invisibility; any way you face it, it is a denial. But to whom can I be responsible, and why should I be, when you refuse to see me?”

– Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

 

My Dear Readers,

Well, the “walking back,” has begun.  The explosion of anger and outrage following the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer that ignited protests and riots across the nation is waning, and the bonfires of action lit within the dominant group have begun to die out.

Still, the process is working. The people are finally being heard. State legislation regarding police reform is being passed and laws are being enacted.  Even President Trump, after a protracted silence, got involved and signed a watered-down executive order that, on its face, pretended to alter police policies but ultimately left it up to the agencies to enact.

The white liberal progressives are also adding their support. One social work organization is urging its members to pressure their representatives into acknowledging that Trump’s executive order is not “as strong as the organization would wish, but it is a start” and suggest that we work together in the “spirit of collaboration”. Really?

 

“In the Spirit of Collaboration”

This statement is loaded with catch phrases that signal that it is time to return to normal. “Not as strong as the organization would wish”, and “It is a start…” is language that coddles those in power into thinking that their half-hearted attempts at pacifying the enraged masses is “a step in the right direction” as if an actual effort was made. Working together “in the spirit of collaboration”, means nothing more than a return to the old normal with flowery new language and more black blood in the streets.

On June 12, 2020, another black man, Rayshard Brooks, was shot and killed by a white police officer in Atlanta, GA. Four days afterward, on June 16, 2020, Trump issued the Executive Order “Safe Policing for Safe Communities”.

Less than a week later, on June 21, 2020, an NYPD police officer was suspended without pay following video showing him using an illegal chokehold on an African American man.

Are the police uninformed or is it a return to business as usual?

 

Intellectual Knowledge vs Experiential Persecution

Knowledge of racism, microaggressions, and macroaggressions can be learned about academically or experienced; known intellectually or lived through and felt.

When racism has only been observed from afar, its impacts can be rationalized down to…

“Privilege is the right to remain silent when others can’t.”

– Richie Norton, Author

But when it is lived through repeatedly, statements like…

“Every time the neck of a black man, woman or child is pinned to the ground by the knee of a police officer, every time a black man, woman or child is chased down in the street and shot simply for being there, every time a black man woman or child is judged purely because of color, every time a white individual crosses the street to avoid walking past a black man, woman or child, avoids sitting beside a black man, woman or child on public transport or says or does nothing when a black man, woman or child is being subjected to abuse is, in itself, a modern day lynching.” 

– R. Patient

Capture the depths of what is routinely being experienced.

The words of Norton, a white author, are no less true than those of Patient, but there is a difference. Norton only knows of the brutality and injustice, while to Patient, it is known and felt emotionally.

Today the dominant group can speak intellectually and rationally about the need for police reform however, having not experienced this, they cannot feel the trauma of police brutality and oppression. They cannot conceive of the suffering that comes from the understanding that policing arises from slavery and is intended for the control and oppression of black and brown people, today’s descendants of slaves.

Below is such a story…

*************************************************************************************

Dear Dr. Kane,

I am feeling helpless.  And I am so angry. I am a black man working in the corporate world.  I have had to put up with microaggressions all my life living in the Pacific Northwest. 

 I lived my life and shouldered my aches and pains with no one giving a damn.  I remembered one incident while walking with my white peers to lunch being stopped and questioned by the police.  They said I resemble a person of interest. 

They detained me, “handcuffing me for my safety” and after a few minutes and checking their computer system, let me go. Those bastards gave me a warming to be good and stay out of trouble.  There was no apology. 

 All this happened with my peers standing right there. They did nothing. They did not come to my aid. I was so humiliated. I graduated, top of my class gaining my MBA, and these bastards, the police tell me to be good and stay out trouble.

  It was a supposed to be a networking lunch.  No one said a word; I sat at the restaurant in silence.  I got up twice to go to the restroom to collect myself.  I was so angry, but I couldn’t scream or yell.  All I could do is cry like a girl. 

 Finally, I made an excuse and left, going home for the day.  When I got home, I got drunk and stayed drunk for two days calling in sick.  I know they knew the truth.  When I returned to work, they all pretended nothing had happened.

 Now some time later, George Floyd gets killed on video and now they are concerned about my welfare.  I am so sick and tired of the “I had no idea” or “is it really is that bad?” or approval of “Black Lives Matter.”  This is all bullshit.  They knew.  How could they not know?  My life wasn’t important before and now it is?

I am so confused and conflicted.  I want their help. Black lives do matter.  I am tired of being afraid when I see the cops driving behind me.  I know they are running my plates.   I get these aching feelings in my chest and stomach.

 I know we cannot succeed without their help.  White people and people of color have got to come together to make changes and undo racism.  But I am afraid that they will walk away like they have done so many times before.  I know the history.

 Now that I’ve got visibility, I don’t want to lose it.  I want change. What can I do besides drinking my pain away?

Covering Up Pain, Seattle WA

 ************************************************************************************

My Dear Young Man,

You are seeking something from me that is beyond my skill to provide. I cannot make your pain go away. As a black man in America, no matter who you are, rich, poor, educated etc., your blackness will be weaponized against you.

Black men in powerful positions within government such as Cory Booker, US Senator of New Jersey, and Eric Holder, former Attorney General of the United States, have been racially profiled and stopped by local law enforcement.  Black women are not exempt from such microaggressions either. In July 2017, Aramis Ayala, state attorney for the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, was profiled and pulled over in a stop occurring in the same county that she is the top prosecutorial official.

 

The Exhausting Toll: The “Black Tax”

There is a hidden tax that you pay for your freedom to be a black person in America.  It is not a formal tax, it is not listed in any of the local, state or federal tax codes.  It is a tax that is demanded by any white person with privilege at any time against a black person simply for being assumed as suspicious or by creating arbitrary rules on the basis of the color of one’s skin.

Bryant Gumbel, Real Sports host said it well,

“…It’s about the many instances of disrespect and incivility your color seems to engender, and being expected to somehow always restrain yourself, lest you not be what white Americans are never asked to be, a credit your race.”

To add clarity to his words, Gumbel provides the following examples:

“It’s about your son getting arrested for doing nothing more than walking while Black.”

“It’s about having to be more concerned than your white friends and associates for the safety of your grandkids.”

“It’s about the day in and day out fatigue of trying to explain the obvious to the clueless.”

“It’s about being asked to overlook blue failings and white failings so they can be conveniently viewed as Black issues.”

“It’s about being asked by so many what they should do or say about race when the easy answer lies in the privacy of each person’s heart. It’s the ‘Black tax.’”

 “It’s paid daily by me and every person of color in this country, and frankly, it’s exhausting.”

– Bryant Gumbel, https://people.com/tv/bryant-gumbel-explains-black-tax-hbo-real-sports/

 

My Dear Young Man,

To restate Bryant Gumbel, “It’s exhausting.” Many have crumbled under the weight of the burden of the black tax.  Many have failed due to the lack of belief, faith and trust in Self and gambled on the hope that others will rise to their aid.

You stated that your peers stood silently by while the police were humiliating you.  You added that you “cried like a girl” and went home and got drunk over two days…

How did that work out for you?

Did the alcohol resolve your problems?

Did the short term “feel good” resolve the long-term problem?

Did the black tax suddenly cease to exist?

 

The Journey of Self Discovery

My Dear Young Man,

Your failure in your actions was looking for others to speak up for you and when they didn’t, you became angry and disappointed in both them and in yourself.  You looked to them to support you and your safety and then when they failed, you drowned the wounded Self in alcohol and pity, then found when you returned to work, life had gone on as if nothing ever happened.

Those who hold the privilege have the choice to utilize it as a resource for good in helping others or as a tool of manipulation in which the benefit remains with the privileged.

“We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Rather than drown the injury with alcohol, make the choice of healing the wound while you seek to empower the psychological Self.  Rather than view your tears as a gendered weakness, have the insight to view them as a normal human response to your injury, as representation of your essence and your quality of being.

 

The Five Levels of The Journey

My Dear Young Man,

The journey of self-discovery is yours and yours alone.  You restrict or inhibit your journey by holding to destructive cultural and gender norms such as “real men do not shred tears” or expressing emotions is “validating weakness.”  Such internalized of beliefs will trap you in a mental and emotional enslavement that is now being maintained by the dominant group.

I will not validate the concept of resilience nor will I touch-on the concept of the shield, spear, and fire.  For all are illusionary for a Black male seeking Self while walking the journey of self-discovery.  It is within this frame that I suggest the following clinical concept: The Five Levels of The Journey to self-empowerment.

 

Self-Empowerment

In this walk we encounter five levels of experience:

  1. The journey is bleak and lifeless for the individual. Life is barely lived, let alone enjoyed or even really experienced. Nothing is produced or gained by the individual at this level.

 

  1. The focus of the journey is to remain alive and breathing. The individual attaches minimally to life, lives in fear, and is in a constant state of desperation and upheaval.  There is little gain for the individual at this level.

 

  1. At this level, the search for empowerment begins. The individual wanders, seeking direction, and in doing so, learns to balance and reinforce the psychological self.  The individual understands the difference between living in fear and living with fear; and is balancing and implementing empowerment strategies in their life.

 

  1. The individual has gained balance within their life and is fully experiencing the psychological Self. The individual has internalized the concept of living with fear and is successfully implementing empowerment strategies in their life.

 

  1. The individual has obtained both full realizations of the psychological Self and transformation through self-empowerment has been achieved.

 

Transformation &The Reflection in the Mirror

My Dear Young Man,

In my work as a clinical traumatologist and psychotherapist, I serve as a companion and guide to those seeking to Walk the Landscape.  It is my personal and professional opinion that the therapeutic process is of value when we embrace both my role and the process as a whole.

Though I could ask where you think you fall along the five levels as identified above, would you:

Speak the truth as to what you need to see?

Speak the truth as to what you want to see?

Speak the truth as what is actually being reflected in the mirror?

Interestingly enough, your words are an indicator of what level you are.  You said,

 “I want change. What can I do besides drinking my pain away?”

This is an indication that you are teetering between existing and surviving with clear signs that as black man, you are dealing with unhealed wounds from previous psychological injuries.  Furthermore, there appears to be a lack of Self who desires or wishes for the support of others to be whole. As these desires or wishes have not been met, there is the relief sought via alcohol.

 

Walking the Landscape

My Dear Young Man,

First, stop seeking change. What you are currently doing is “change.”  The change you are involved in is oscillating between existing and surviving.  Instead, seek to reframe and refocus and move toward transformation in which there is no going back. Movement is forward.

Consider the five elements of Walking the Landscape:

  1. Choices are presented.
  2. Decisions are made and directions are chosen.
  3. Consequences for choices and decisions are foreseen.
  4. Wisdom is gained, lessons are learned, and both can be utilized for future experiences
  5. Transformation through Self-Empowerment is achieved.

In your specific situation:

  1. Choices: There are two paths.
    • Continue the path of consuming alcohol to medicate your pain and continue to be one of numerous black men who exist and survive as the “walking wounded”. OR…
    • Choose an alternative path; seek individual psychotherapy. Cease looking to others to provide support or wholeness.
  1. Decisions: Make and Embrace your decision.
    • Accept your reality and continue to suffer, medicating your psychological injuries with alcohol. OR
    • Work toward developing empowerment strategies. Learn to stand alone as you develop belief, faith, and trust in self.
  1. Consequences: are your reactions and responses.
    • Allow your reactions (anger, disappointment, disillusionment) to be your response. OR
    • Embrace your reactions, learning (anger, disappointment, disillusionment) and developing as well as sharing your response.
  1. Wisdom: the foundation for the future.
    • I am a failure. I cannot succeed. The world is against me. OR
    • I am solid. I am good.  I will achieve, despite the barriers and obstacles being placed before me.
  1. Transformation
    • I am defeated. I have accepted my path. OR
    • I am empowered. I have achieved self-discovery and continue Walking the Landscape that is mine and mine alone.

So young man, which path would you choose?  It is your landscape, your choice and most importantly…. your life.

 

Concluding Remarks – Dr. Kane

 My Dear Young Man,

I am now left with the difficult task of tying together the themes from my beginning statements directed to my beloved readers and the comments in response to your letter.

In my statements to the readership, I said:

“…the “walking back,” has begun.  The explosion of anger and outrage following the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer that ignited protests and riots across the nation is waning, and the bonfires of action lit within the dominant group have begun to die out.”

Also…

“The white liberal progressives are also adding their support. One social work organization is urging its members to pressure their representatives into acknowledging that Trump’s executive order is not “as strong as the organization would wish, but it is a start” and suggest that we work together in the ‘spirit of collaboration’.”

 

White Liberal Intent vs Impact

The white, liberal, and progressive leadership within the dominant group know that the core of white America has grown tired of governmental and public health restrictions due to COVID-19. This has led to a willingness to forego adhering to CDC guidelines (face masks and social distancing), even as case numbers and deaths rise, in favor of forcing an ill-timed “economic recovery”. Under this pressure, the dominant group is reluctant to continue adopting sweeping and decisive actions to protect the public health.

This same story is playing out with the Black Lives Matter protests.

The white liberal and progressive leadership see that the bonfires of action lit within the dominant group have begun to wane. That the Black Lives Matter protests may soon no longer be a priority for those involved. Now, in the “spirit of collaboration”, the white, progressive leadership is willing to bargain away the lives and liberties of black and brown Americans in favor of getting what they want while they can. People of color have once again become commodities.

They can do this out of pure, arrogantly used white privilege. The same white privilege shown by signers of the Declaration of Independence, of which 34 of the 47 (including John Hancock, Robert Livingston, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson) were slave owners. The idea that they can and will make decisions about and for you without consulting you.

The reality of white privilege is simple; it can either be used for manipulation and the reinforcement of trauma of others or it can be utilized as a resource to assist others to achieve the quality of life they are entitled to.

Though they intend to use it to assist, I hope, ultimately, that the arrogance of white privilege does not blind the progressive liberals from seeing the impact of carnage they are about to create.

I appreciate the message from Sheryll Cashin to those holding privilege.  She states:

“If you are white, you have an obligation to at least understand where the concept of whiteness comes from and to decide how you will proceed with that knowledge. I hope your journey will include an intentional choice to acquire dexterity.” 

 

Standing…. & Standing Alone

Now, in response to you…

 

My Dear Young Man,

In your letter, you concluded with the following:

“I know we cannot succeed without their help.  White people and people of color have got to come together to make changes and undo racism.  But I am afraid that they will walk away like they have done so many times before.  I know the history.”

For a person to act as if they are sightless and place his belief, faith, and trust in the hands of others, leaves him to wander and stumble without direction, existing and surviving as he creeps along the landscape.  You can see.  Open your eyes.  Regardless whether you stand with others or you stand alone, be empowered, and walk your landscape. It is yours and yours alone.

“If you believe in a cause, be willing to stand up for that cause with a million people or by yourself.”

– Otis S. Johnson, From “N Word” to Mr. Mayor: Experiencing the American Dream.

 ************************************************************************************

I Just Want to Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIuSLBX74Ac

I’m a young black man

Doing all I can

To stand

Oh, but when I look around

And I see what’s being done to my kind

Everyday

I’m being hunted as prey

My people don’t want no trouble

We’ve had enough struggle

I just want to live

God protect me

I just want to live

I just want to live.

Song by Keedron Bryant (2020)

 

*************************************************************************************

 

Until the next time, Remaining … in Our Corner

The Visible Man: Holding Space for Others & Responding to Privilege

“It might do well to read the details before falling to the intellectually lazy assumption of racism.”

– Tyler Arms, Gavin de Becker & Associates (GDBA), in response to a posting by Dr. Micheal Kane criticizing the shooting death of a black man by a white police officer in Atlanta, GA on 6/12/20, LinkedIn, June 14, 2020.

“Malcolm X asked, what does a white man call a black man with a Ph.D.? He answered: A nigger with a Ph.D.”

– George Yancy, ‘The Ugly Truth of Being a Black Professor in America’, The Chronical Review, April 29,2018.

“I did something good.  I made it famous. I made Juneteenth very famous. It’s actually an important event; it’s an important time. But nobody had heard of it.”

– Donald Trump, President of the United States, ‘Trump talks Juneteenth, John Bolton, Economy in WSJ Interview’. Bender, Michael C., The Wall Street Journal. June 18, 2020.

“What the hell, racism is a thing of the past. Why do we have colored ball players on our club? They are the best ones. If you don’t have them, you’re not going to win.”

– Calvin Griffith, Owner Minnesota Twins, 1978

“Asked repeatedly to say, ‘Black lives Matter’, Mike Pence (Vice President of the United States) says, ‘all lives matter’”.

– Carvajal, Nikki. ‘Asked repeatedly to say, ‘Black lives matter’, Mike Pence says, ‘all lives matter’, CNN politics. June 19, 2020.

 

My Dear Readers,

Several days have passed since the celebrations in honor of Juneteenth but this year, due to the coronavirus, I have decided to commemorate it rather than celebrate, as I stay hunkered down at home.

After months of treating patients through what is understood to be an unprecedented time in our history, I find myself experiencing waves of what is known as Vicarious Traumatization or, Compassion Fatigue. Vicarious trauma, in its textbook definition, can be described as:

 “The emotional residue of exposure that therapists have from working with people as they are hearing their trauma stories and become witnesses to the pain, fear, and terror that trauma survivors have endured” (Perlman & Saakvitne, 1995).

This definition fits the work of the typical white or Eurocentrically trained therapist while working with Black, Brown and, Indigenous Persons of Color (BBIPoC) because it, not only defines what vicarious trauma is, but it also explains the continuous failure of the white or Eurocentrically trained therapist to fully understand the impact of their patients’ trauma experiences.

The wording in the definition of vicarious trauma, “…while they are hearing…” allows the white or Eurocentrically trained therapist to recover quickly from vicarious trauma impacts because they have the freedom to eject the majority of what is being said (in one ear and out the other),  and not internalize it.

Of course, many if not most of my colleagues who are either white or Eurocentrically trained would assertively deny this, claiming that they “hear” what is being said but, the process of hearing, allowing the information to pass through you, is unconscious and it serves to protect the receiver of acutely difficult or traumatic information.

On the other hand, the BBIPoC therapist listens rather than just hears and in doing so becomes much more at risk for vicarious traumatization.  There are times in which micro-aggressive assaults directed at the therapist from outside sources impact the therapist-patient relationship, creating wounding for both individuals.  So, what is the response?

This is one such a story…

*************************************************************************************

Journal Entry

Dear Dr. Kane,

 I am a middle age black man residing in the Seattle area.  I recently read a response to a writing you did.  This person, this asshole verbally attacked you.  In his response he basically stated that you were an intellectually dumb lazy nigger.  I was expecting fireworks.  I was expecting an immediate response.

 For two days, you said nothing.  And then when you did respond, you thank him. WTF?! Thank him for what?  This asshole insults you and you thank him?  Do you realize the damage you have caused by your actions or should I say lack of actions?

 You are an educated man. People look up to you.  I look up to you.  And you let me down. I feel shattered.  You speak about walking the landscape.  What, with your head hanging down? This is not the landscape I want to walk.  Disappointed in you, Dr. Kane.

Upset, Renton, WA

*************************************************************************************

My Dear Young Man,

I understand that you were psychologically impacted by what was said and how you interpreted this writer’s words about me.  Furthermore, I understand that you were emotionally injured by what you believed to be an inadequate response by me but understand, I was psychologically impacted by the writer as well.

There will be times, and this is apparently one of them, when my writings or responses will fail to meet the standards of others.  My stance as a writer is one of sharing.  I write with passion for the work I am committed to do.

There will be those who may agree or disagree with my views.  However, the focus for me is to listen and to be listened to.  We are all here for a short time and while I am here, I will walk my landscape and live the life that I want and not the life that others may need of me.

I will take this as an opportunity for a teaching moment.

As I continue to “walk my landscape”, in this blog, I will utilize the following three clinical concepts:

  1. Walking the Landscape
  2. The Five R’s of RELIEF
  3. The I Factor

I will seek not to defend my words or actions.  Instead I chose to advocate for self, seek balance within and calmness in my external environment.

 

Walking the Landscape

All decisions have consequences”

 

My Dear Young Man,

First, we want to understand what Walking the Landscape means.  The landscape is life.  One of the essential realities of life is that death is a certainty.  What remains uncertain is:

  • How we live our lives?
  • What we experience during our lifetimes.
  • The memories we leave with the individuals who we meet.

The term walk refers to what we do with our lives.  As we walk the landscape, we will have many different experiences. It is within the walk that we have crossroads or interaction points where barriers, challenges, experiences, and opportunities are presented.

It is within the offending writer’s words that you and I have reached an interaction point.  It is here where the following occurs:

  • Choices are presented.
  • Decisions are made and directions are chosen.
  • Consequences for choices and decisions are foreseen.
  • Wisdom is gained, lessons are learned, and both can be utilized for future experiences.
  • Transformation through Self-Empowerment is achieved.

So, my dear young man, this is where are we were act and so are the differences in our actions.  With the choices before us, you decided to react in anger, dismissing him with profanity and seeking an upcoming battle of words.  I decided upon a different path. Response.

The consequences of our actions are also different. The reader of your words will know that you are angry, and no doubt dismiss your reaction and relegate you to nothing more than the “angry black man, exhibiting out of control behaviors”.

On the other hand, my preference is to assist the reader in opening their minds and reaching the depths of the emotional self, leading to greater wisdom and transformation.

There is none provided in your reaction.

Those deaf ears will remain so as they continue to discount you and continue to live in fear of you as they have been for the last 400 years. As I continue this writing, I seek to offer to you a different option.

 

The Smugness of White Privilege

“What does a white man call a black man with a Ph.D.? A nigger with a Ph.D.”

 

My Dear Young Man,

In your entry you wrote concerning Mr. Tyler Arms’ comment:

“In his [Mr. Arms’] response he basically stated that you were an intellectually dumb lazy nigger.  I was expecting fireworks.  I was expecting an immediate response”.

Before addressing how Mr. Arm’s comments have psychologically impacted you, it is essential to provide the readership with more information and clarity.

Here is Mr. Tyler Arms’ comment (said in disagreement with my statement regarding the recently of killing of Rayshard Brooks, a black male by a white Atlanta police officer):

“It might do well to read the details before falling to the intellectually lazy assumption of racism.”

Did Mr. Arms actually call me, Dr. Kane, an “intellectually dumb lazy nigger”?  No, absolutely he did not. Can one infer that he called me an “intellectually dumb lazy nigger”?

Yes, absolutely.

In his actions Mr. Arms is using his white privilege.

What is “white privilege”? Compare the two definitions below:

  1. The inherent advantages possessed by a white person on the basis of their race in a society characterized by racial inequality and injustice.
  2. “It’s the level of societal advantage that comes with being seen as the norm in America, automatically conferred irrespective of wealth, gender or other factors. It makes life smoother, but it’s something you would barely notice unless it were suddenly taken away — or unless it had never applied to you in the first place” (Emba, Christine. ‘What is white privilege?’ The Washington Post. January 16, 2016).

A white person wrote the first definition whereas a black person wrote the second.

The first definition is composed of intellectualized jargon, words or expressions that are used by a particular group and, for some, are difficult to understand. The second, is grounded in experience and observation.

Mr. Arms is asserting his white privilege, (his advantage in not only in feeling like his views are seen as the norm in society but his freedom in telling others how they should respond to an incident) to inflict psychological injury and then state it vaguely enough attempt to hide any racist intent but Mr. Arms’ intention and message is very clear.

His statement is a tactical projectile that impacts any and all black males who would dare to consider the actions by the police office to be an act of racism. Though I was the one targeted, the psychological injuries that being experienced by other black men is the collateral damage.

 

Microaggression

Plausibility & Believability

 

 My Dear Young Man,

The statements made by Mr. Arms are acts of microaggression.

Psychiatrist and Harvard University professor Chester M. Pierce coined the term microaggression in 1970 to describe insults and dismissals that are inflicted by whites upon African Americans.

This term was later redefined by Columbia University professor and psychologist Derald Wing Sue as “brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership. The persons making the comments may be otherwise well-intentioned and unaware of the potential impact of their words”.

Was Mr. Arm’s comment well-intentioned and unaware? Did he not think that others may perceive his words as racist, patronizing and could be interpreted as “get the fact rights before you write, you intellectually lazy nigger”? Possibly, but as with all microaggressions, their real meanings are always shrouded in innuendo.

 

The Five R’s of RELIEF

Relief Along the Landscape

 

My Dear Young Man,

It is apparent that the statements made by Mr. Tyler Arms triggered you.  Indeed, I was triggered as well.  Imagine a scenario in which you are the only black male in your office, where you, without warning or preparation, are subjected to microaggressions on a daily basis.

      • What do you do?
      • What do you say to your assailant(s)?
      • What are your feelings? How do you release these feelings?
      • How will you handle the situation tomorrow? The next day or the following week?

In your letter to me, you stated the following:

      • “This person, this asshole verbally attacked you.”
      • “I was expecting fireworks.”
      • “I was expecting an immediate response.”

If you would have handled the situation in the way you expected me to with Mr. Arms, you would have been immediately terminated from your employment.  If “expecting fireworks and an immediate response” means physical or verbal combat, you would be risking arrest and criminal and/or civil charges. Now, with no employment and an inability to use your former employer as a reference, consider the following questions:

      • How would you support your family?
      • How would you buy groceries? Pay your monthly bills? Your mortgage or rent?
      • How would you pay the newly incurred legal fees?
      • Despite your excellent work skills, how do you explain your termination to perspective employers?

Besides death and taxes, there is a third reality in the life of a BBIPoC, that people like Mr. Tyler Arms are lying in wait to become an obstacle, barrier, boulder, or roadblock in your “Walking the Landscape.”.

In the clinical concept of Walking the Landscape, the elements of choice, decision, consequences, wisdom, and transformation are steps that only you can take.

 

Reaction vs Response

Your reactions as indicated in your response may lead to jail time as well as introductions to the judicial, probation or correction systems. Before walking in that direction, I recommend the clinical concept of Five R’s of RELIEF.  When confronted with a psychologically destabilizing situation, try to employ the following:

  1. Take a Respite. Allow yourself to step away emotionally form the situation. Do so for as long as you feel the need. Breathe deeply.
  2. Embrace your Reactions. These are your feelings and yours alone. Understand the fullness of your feelings.
  3. Reflect. Balance your thoughts with your feelings. Let go of the desire to control what you think and feel.
  4. Respond. Combine your now balanced thoughts and feelings to present a response that will serve you best on your journey of walking the landscape. Keep your initial reactions within.
  5. Revaluate. Be willing to take continuous reviews of your choices, decisions and responses made. Evaluate what you have learned and what could had been done differently to achieve the desired outcome.

 

The Gift & The Thank You

Rather than provide the “fireworks” and “immediate response” you so desired, I decided to do what was best for me and use this not as retribution but rather as a teaching moment to both you and my readership.

As you may recall in my response to Mr. Arms, I stated:

Hmm, Interesting.  Someone who was obviously asserting his white privilege inserted himself to “whitesplaining” in defending the actions of the police in the killing of a black man as I compared the outcome of similar situation whereas the white male was safely taken into custody.”

In his response, Mr. Arms accused me of “falling to the intellectually lazy assumption of racism” without thought or consideration to the subject at hand, he jumped to attacking me, and not the fact that an unarmed man was shot in the back and killed by the people who were trusted to protect and serve.

Thank you, Mr. Arms for exposing the readership your smugness, your arrogance, and your lack of humanity and compassion regarding the death of black man who, at the time,  was not a threat to the police officer’s safety.

 

Concluding Words – Dr. Kane

 

 The “I” Factor

Hearing vs Listening

 

My Dear Young Man,

I began this writing by speaking towards the difference ways the white or Eurocentric trained therapist and BBIPoC therapists respond and recover from vicarious traumatic impacts.  There is a similar common thread or theme regarding people holding privilege and those who do not.

Privileged individuals such as Mr. Arms are duplicitous. On one hand, they seek to have you as a black man listen to and internalize the idea of your inferiority while on the other, they seek to have other whites hear them as innocent of racist intent.

Please understand, it is the internalized idea of inferiority that creates the reaction that he and those like him are anticipating and are actively seeking from you.

In response consider the clinical concept of the “I” Factor:

  • Information. Calmly collect data regarding the challenges and obstacles you are facing.
  • Involvement. Thoroughly process the information you have collected. Focus on understanding what the information tells you about the journey
  • Integration. Compare the information with your overall path and objective. Let it inform your decision.
  • Implement the plan, course of action or decision
  • Impact. Evaluate the outcome of the actions taken. Consider what could have been done differently.

I will encourage my readership to determine whether the “falling to the intellectually lazy assumption of racism.” exists.

Again, thanks for exposing your truths. Mr. Arms.

 

New Possibilities

Life is a journey filled with new possibilities.

And sometimes because of the person that you are or have

become, You find yourself in the right

place at the right time for …. new possibilities. 

– Micheal Kane

 

 

White Privilege II

Pulled into the parking lot, parked it
Zipped up my parka, joined the procession of marchers
In my head like, “Is this awkward?
Should I even be here marching?”
Thinking if they can’t, how can I breathe?
Thinking that they chant, what do I sing?
I want to take a stance cause we are not free
And then I thought about it, we are not we
Am I in the outside looking in,
Or am I in the inside looking out?
Is it my place to give my two cents?
Or should I stand on the side and shut my mouth?
No justice, no peace, okay, I’m saying that
They’re chanting out, Black Lives Matter,
But I don’t say it back
Is it okay for me to say?
I don’t know, so I watch and stand

In front of a line of police that look the same as me
Only separated by a badge,
A baton, a can of Mace, a…

– Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_rl4ZGdy34

 

Until We Speak Again… I Am, The Visible Man

The Visible Man: When There’s No Place to Run and There’s No Place to Hide

Lessons of yesterday, conversation between a father and son

Son: “Daddy, what do you call a black man who doesn’t know his place?”

Father: “Hmm… uppity.”

Son: “How do you deal with him?”

Father: “Hmm… give him a carrot, a seat at the big table.”

Son: “And if that doesn’t work?”

Father: “Remove it.”

Son: “Remove the seat?”

Father: “No, the table, it’s an illusion; it was never there.”

– Micheal Kane Clinical Traumatologist, “The Sleight of Hand Artist & the Carrot.”

 

“He can run, but he can’t hide.”

   -Joe Louis “The Brown Bomber” ( said prior to the title fight with Billy Conn)

 

“When the looting starts, the shooting starts”

– Donald Trump, President USA

 

“What is the value of a black life? Not much. Black Lives Matter? Not really.  To white America all lives matter… Just ask Ahmaud Arbrey, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.”

– Anonymous (Patient)

 

My Dear Readers,

Following the tragic deaths of Ahmaud Arbrey, (GA), Breonna Taylor (KY), and George Floyd (MN), I sit here tonight writing this blog, thinking of the fact that I was able to wake up this morning without my front door having been kicked in because of poor police work and a no- knock warrant. That I was able to begin my day without my family having to stand traumatized on local television pleading for answers from the shaking heads and “no comment at this time” folks, realizing this simple act is something that has been denied to so many for no reason other than the color of their skin.

I watched the skies turn red as cities across the country burned, including our nation’s capital, and felt the pain and anguish of so many of its citizens. The crisis was so traumatic that even the President, Donald Trump, who intended to pour gasoline on the flames by encouraging violence, momentarily sought safety in a secured bunker.

As a clinical traumatologist, my responsibility is to provide a safe space for people to voice their feelings and to offer a psychological toolkit to empower them in responding to an often bruising, hostile and unwelcoming environment.  This space, called the S Protocol, is a safe and secure place to either sit in silence or speak to the secrets or unresolved issues affecting them on their journey.

As we assess the smoldering and looted ruins of downtown Seattle, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and other cities around the country, I am reminded of the “Night of The Broken Glass” also known as the Kristallnacht in which, on November 1, 1933, the Nazis began a reign of terror and violence throughout Germany against Jews.

In just two days:

  • Over 250 synagogues, were burned,
  • 7,000 Jewish businesses were trashed and looted,
  • Dozens of Jewish people were killed,
  • And Jewish cemeteries, hospitals, and schools were destroyed.

The police and fire brigades stood by and did nothing.

The traumas created by the “Night of The Broken Glass” demonstrated acts of unbridled hatred instigated by the governing body, the Nazi Party, against its citizens, whose only alleged crime was their ethnicity and religion.

In my lifetime, African Americans have experienced victimization and brutal treatment by law enforcement authorized by the dominant group.  Legislation, black codes, sundown ordinances and curfews have been enacted to control and oppress citizens for the alleged crime of having black or brown skin.

I was seven years old when the Watts Riots occurred.  It lasted six days causing

  • Involved 34,000 people,
  • Resulted in 34 deaths and 1,032 injuries,
  • 4,000 arrests,
  • With the destruction of 1,000 buildings and
  • Over $40 million dollars in damages

Twenty-one years later, the LA Riots centered around the brutalization of Rodney King occurred.  It resulted in:

  • 50 people dead
  • 2,000 injured
  • More than 1,000 buildings damaged or destroyed and
  • 1 billion in damages

Today, I find myself busy responding to a full calendar of angry, scared, traumatized, and disillusioned patients seeking answers and a safe place to offload their fears about their children being profiled and killed by police. Then there is the uneasiness about what tomorrow will bring. Will the fires, looting and rioting continue? Will the entire country become embroiled in the unrest and will that cause the police to become even more brutal to try to regain control?

In addition to my patient’s therapeutic needs, I have the opportunity to read their journal writings and stories and listen to their oral traditions that formed them into the people I see every day.  Below are one individual’s words:

 

Dear Dr. Kane

I am a 35-year-old black man raised in Los Angeles, CA.  I work for a small tech company in the Puget Sound (Seattle) area.  I am the only African American in my company.  I am also a military veteran having served in Afghanistan.

I essentially live and work in a white world.  I like my work; my coworkers and I make a good income.  Yet, I feel so angry and so alone. At work there are times in which my coworkers make me feel like I am invisible.

Like others, I have repeatedly watched, George Floyd calling for his momma, taking his last breath and dying. The man was begging for his life and the cop had his knee on the man’s neck and no one, cops or bystanders watching would do anything.  There were black people watching and not one person did a goddamn thing!

 George Floyd’s life was taken from him, for what?  I feel numb, guilt and shame. I feel imbalanced like can’t show any emotion to the world.  All the whites in my group are talking about this but I don’t feel like I can.  And the riots, the looting and fires… it’s Los Angeles 1992 all over again.  I feel like I just want to go somewhere and hide.

 I remember the LA riots.  It is a trauma that I, as much as I try to, will never forget.  I remember when it first started; I was at a friend’s home.  Because there was so much death and destruction on the streets, it was nine days, before I could get home.  Not being able to contact my parents, they did not know whether I was dead or alive.

 After not hearing from me, my parents assumed the worse, contacting emergency rooms and the county coroner.  I had never seen my father cry.  When I walked through that door, he went down on his knees and all his anguish poured out. I will never ever forget that day.  Now I too, am a father and I fear for my children’s safety.

I can’t talk to my white coworkers.  I am in pain.  They are good people, but I know that they don’t understand that each time, they ask me if I am okay, or want to express their feelings about George Floyd, I am in pain.  I am living in fear.  I am numb.

I feel like I am going to explode and snap on someone.  I don’t know what to do. I feel like a fraud. I don’t know what to say to my coworkers, or how to protect my children.  I fear that my sons will be racially profiled by whites and at risk of being harmed by the police. I am living with fear so I keep them close.  I want to overcome these feelings.

 Please help me find the answers. When will the police stop harassing and killing us? When will racism end? What can I do to protect my family and keep us safe? What can I do?

I am so angry and I feel so lost.  I just want to go somewhere and hide.  I am praying for help. In your work you speak about belief, faith and trust.  I feel broken Please advise.

Losing It, Seattle WA

 

My Dear Young Man,

The questions you ended your writing with about police brutality, the ending of racism and protecting your loved ones have been asked by African Americans for over 400 years.

 

God’s Deliverance

Since the time of slavery, African Americans have prayed and looked for the coming of God’s deliverance. This prayer process was codified by the historians as beginning on December 31, 1862 and was realized by the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863. This acknowledgment now know formally in the African American community as Watch Night services was actually an ongoing process long before the date now recognized by historians.

The common thread in the African American experience is trauma. It began upon the first arrival of enslaved people in 1619 to the Emancipation Proclamation, continuing to this very day following the election of the first African American President of the United States.

The deliverance that African Americans have wanted, pleaded and desired that arrived in the form of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 has been replaced by local, state and laws, Black Codes, Sundown ordinances and segregationist polices and values of the dominate group and reinforced by the police as the instrument of controlling and subjugating its black citizens.

 

Trauma Along the Landscape

My Dear Young Man,

Please understand that as a descendant of enslaved people, a member of the African American community, and as an individual, you are responding to not only one trauma but rather several types of trauma that may impact you daily, and without warning.

The trauma that your community has endured is historical trauma. The trauma that has been passed down from your father to you and in turn will be passed down to your children is inter-generational trauma.

The sense of invisibility that you feel at work may be trauma associated with the invisibility syndrome. The traumas of racism may be that of micro-aggressive assaults whereas the concern of safety and harm from interaction with the police may be indication of macro-aggressive assaults.

Childhood traumatic experiences, like the LA riots, in which exposure to various traumatic events of an invasive and interpersonal nature are known as complex trauma. The hopelessness you feel in your ability to live a normal life, working hard to provide for your family is an indication you are responding to just world trauma.

The fear of racial profiling that you have for your children being viewed as criminals or being questioned or harmed by the police is a form of insidious trauma.  The fact that you have served your country during war, that you have risked your life only to return to living in fear for your safety and the safety of your children may be viewed as a violation of explicit and implicit trust, which is betrayal trauma. The concerns of feeling like a “fraud” may be the response to trauma associated with the impostor syndrome.

 

Am I Living with Fear?

My Dear Young Man,

In your writing, you stated that you were “living with fear” I beg to differ. The words you have chosen and the actions you have taken are clear indicators that you are living IN fear and not living WITH fear. Furthermore, you have indicated a strong desire to conquer these feelings.

When living in your fear, you are seeking to conquer the emotions that are there to sustain you.  In doing so, you are seeking to live your life by inching your way over the gap that exists between existence and survival.

On the other hand, if you were living with fear, you would be living empowered. You would acknowledge the fear but use it to persevere. I suggest this as a healthy and positive alternative.

 

The Five Levels-In Walking Your Landscape

My Dear Young Man,

As you live your life, you are “walking the landscape”. During this process, you have the opportunity to engage in the “Journey of Self Discovery”.  In this journey there are five levels:

  1. Existence: bareness of life
  2. Surviving: desperation
  3. Driving: empowerment
  4. Striving: pacing, goal setting
  5. Thriving: objective attainment, life’s overview

Your writing indicates you are living in fear and are simply surviving. As you live in your fear, you become increasingly vulnerable to slipping into just existing where the possibilities of self-medicating with drugs, alcohol and, other means of distraction await you.

 

Cause & Effect

My Dear Young Man,

To move beyond survival, as you review the 10 subtypes of trauma and its various impacts upon you, consider Cause and Effect.  Cause and Effect is a relationship between events or things, where one is the result of the other.

Essentially, the cause is the thing that makes other things happen and the effect refers to the result of that action. As this concept relates to trauma, trauma can be viewed as the cause, the why something happened and the resulting psychological and emotional distress is the effect, or the what that followed.

 

Need & Reaction: Hiding in the Shadows

My Dear Young Man,

Your need to hide is a direct reaction to traumas (cause) resulting in distress (effect). The traumatic impact is cumulative and increases in quantity, and degree with each successive incident. Any of these traumas, may they be individual or grouped, can occur without advance warning or notice.

Following such a repetitive onslaught of traumas, it is understandable that you may want to “go somewhere and hide” but all that would be achieved is complacency bred from apathy that leaves you wedged between existing and surviving. This is nothing more than living in fear and makes you even more unwilling to step out into the unknown and move towards developing a new comfort zone.

 

The Uncharted Territories

My Dear Young Man,

The alternative to hiding away is to develop strategies that are proactive and allow you to achieve the three progressive phases of The Levels of the Journey of Self Discovery, driving (empowerment), striving (pacing, goal setting), and thriving (objective attainment, life’s overview).

Your concern for your children is understandable but it is important that you empower yourself first so that you will be equipped to model strategies and behaviors for them.

One such empowerment strategy is The ABC’s, the gateway to The Uncharted Territories:

  • (A) Advocacy: Become an advocate for yourself. Only you can speak on your own behalf.  Depending on others to speak for you dilutes your message.  Embrace your responsibly to speak for yourself.
  • (B) Balance: Be reflective about your actions. Make sure your thoughts and actions are balanced and aligned with your inner self.
  • (C) Calmness: Be aware that the environment around mirrors your internal environment. When you achieve calmness within your inner self, it is reflected in your external environment.

 

Response: Living With Fear, Not In Fear

My Dear Young Man,

In utilizing the ABC’s for yourself and modeling for your children, you are able to transform your reaction to cumulative trauma into responses that reframe fear into its correct context; it is simply an emotion that a person has when they are frightened or worried by someone or something identified as dangerous, painful or bad.

The outcome you seek to achieve is the phase of Driving or empowerment.  Therefore, instead of reacting, “going somewhere and hiding”, you can face the fear directly and respond.  As you respond, you can embrace your fear and in doing so, understand that fear is no longer something to fight or avoid but something that can be embraced and responded to.

 

Concluding Words- Dr. Kane 

“…That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, and now am found, was blind, but now I see.”

– John Newton

 

My Dear Young Man,

Referenced in an earlier blog “The Visible Man: Choosing Between Being a Sitting Duck or Running the Race Smarter Not Harder” (June 5, 2020):

“Angry is good… Angry gets shit done.”

– Mr. Nancy, American Gods, television series (2017-)

I agree with Mr. Nancy. Angry is good, angry does get shit done, but that anger must be directed.

Right now, our country, our nation is boiling while its leader cowered in a bunker under the guise of an “inspection”.  The diverse citizenry of the United States is protesting by the hundreds of thousands in cities in every state, calling for social justice and freedom from police brutality.  Black, white, brown, Asian, Indigenous People, and many others are stating the truth that BLACK LIVES MATTER. That abuse is not OK, that policies, procedures, and ideals of this country must change, and it needs to happen now. It is their voice, their anger that is “getting shit done.”

You have stated being angry, feeling lost, wanting to hide, and being unable to protect your children. Just realize that anger is a normal human emotion and utilize strategies to transform your reactions into responses. Like the protesters, refocus you anger into clear attainable objectives. Cease settling for existing and surviving and work toward achieving the levels of driving (empowerment), striving (pacing, goal setting) and thriving (objective attainment).

George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbrey may they rest in peace.

Focus on… walking your landscape and in doing so… seek to live the life you want and not continue to live the life you live.

 

Let America Be America Again

Langston Hughes (1901-1967)

Let America be America again.

Let it be the dream it used to be.

Let it be the pioneer on the plain

Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—

Let it be that great strong land of love

Where never kings connive nor tyrants’ scheme

That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty

Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,

But opportunity is real, and life is free,

Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,

Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?

And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,

I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.

I am the red man driven from the land,

I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—

And finding only the same old stupid plan

Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,

Tangled in that ancient endless chain

Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!

Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!

Of work the men! Of take the pay!

Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.

I am the worker sold to the machine.

I am the Negro, servant to you all.

I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—

Hungry yet today despite the dream.

Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!

I am the man who never got ahead,

The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream

In the Old World while still a serf of kings,

Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,

That even yet its mighty daring sings

In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned

That’s made America the land it has become.

O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas

In search of what I meant to be my home—

For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,

And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,

And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came

To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?

Surely not me? The millions on relief today?

The millions shot down when we strike?

The millions who have nothing for our pay?

For all the dreams we’ve dreamed

And all the songs we’ve sung

And all the hopes we’ve held

And all the flags we’ve hung,

The millions who have nothing for our pay—

Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—

The land that never has been yet—

And yet must be—the land where every man is free.

The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—

Who made America,

Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,

Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,

Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—

The steel of freedom does not stain.

From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,

We must take back our land again,

America!

O, yes,

I say it plain,

America never was America to me,

And yet I swear this oath—

America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,

The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,

We, the people, must redeem

The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.

The mountains and the endless plain—

All, all the stretch of these great green states—

And make America again!

 

Until We Speak Again… I Am, The Visible Man