At The Crossroads: New Possibilities and New Directions

“You want to stand up for yourself, as a man, or as someone who was just doing his job, and say ‘hey, this isn’t right.’ But in the moment, I’m thinking: I’m a black man, and if I start emoting, I might not walk out of here.”

-Byron Ragland, USAF Veteran & Court Appointed Visitation Supervisor, after being forced by Kirkland, WA police to leave a frozen yogurt shop during a supervised visit because two white female employees were scared

“Casual racism is defined as a society’s or an individual’s lack of regard for the impact of their racist actions on others.

Casual racism is subtly packaged white fear of black skin and it is an inherently dangerous form of racism.

Casual racism has become more insidious of late as it has become expressed through white comfort and discomfort.  It combines micro-aggressions (statements, actions or incidents) and macro-aggressions (threats of physical force, law enforcement) with modern racism (beliefs and attitudes) to form aversive racism (engaging in crazy making) interactions with African-Americans.”

-Dr. Micheal Kane Psy.D. “Casual Racism”

 

“A Starbucks Moment occurs when a white person, due to emotional reactions from shock, fear, terror, or feeling threatened, deceives or manipulates the police to seek the investigation, removal, and/or arrest of a black person for a minor reason or infraction in a space that the black person would otherwise have every right to occupy.”

-Dr. Micheal Kane, Psy.D., “Starbucks Moment”

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My Dear Readers,

I am now approaching the time of year in which I normally take a two-month hiatus from blogging.

I began writing articles seven years ago as a way of grieving the loss of my Linda, my beloved spouse of 30 years.  Over the last seven years, I have written over 100 pieces focused on the psychological impact of trauma in the lives of African-Americans.

The writings have varied, from Bobbi’s Saga, which focuses on the journey of a woman recovering from profound childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse, to At the Crossroads, which focuses on the choices we make as we progress on the Journey of Self-Discovery.  The writings have sought to give visibility and voice to the experience of black people who go unseen and are feared by a frightened white society.

The blogs have been offered as a service to the African-American community, seeking to demystify mental health treatment.  During the course of writing the blogs I have discussed 13 sub-types of psychological trauma and 11 forms of racism that can psychologically impact the mental health wellness on a daily basis.  It is through these writings, my clinical work and finally, my own journey of self-discovery that I have learned advocacy, balance and calmness in responding to the psychological impacts associated with trauma and racism.

Byron Ragland is a United States Air Force veteran who has served multiple tours fighting for his country, and who now works as a court appointed visitation supervisor. Earlier this month, Ragland was supervising a visit between a mother and child when he was directed by two police officers to leave a local business because his presence created fear for the two white female employees.  Even through Mr. Ragland provided identification and documentation that he was there on official business as a visitation supervisor, the police officers still insisted that he leave the premises.

The City Manager and the Chief of Police have since apologized for the actions taken by law enforcement and have promised an “investigation by the council,  an internal police review of the officers’ actions and governmental legislation to prevent this terrible action from reoccurring again.”

Apologies, investigations and legislation; it seems that we have been down that same old road many times before.  This is not the first time that a African-American veteran has suffered racism and was forced to leave a food establishment.

In my book Our Blood Flows Red, I detail numerous incidences of racism experienced by black men serving in military service at the hands of white citizens and law enforcement officers.  One incident was the experience of Lieutenant Christopher Sturkey, who had won a battlefield commission and a Silver Star for bravery while fighting in Europe during WWII:

“When he arrived home to Detroit after the war in uniform with his medals, battle stars and campaign ribbons in full display, he stopped at an inexpensive neighborhood White Tower to order a hamburger.  The white girl at the counter coldly said, ‘we don’t serve niggers in here.’”

In another incident:

“In 1943, in Centerville, Mississippi, a white sheriff intervened in a fistfight between a white soldier and black one.  After the black man got the upper hand, the sheriff shot him to death, then asked the white soldier, ‘Any more niggers you want killed?’”

Same old road…. From 1943 Mississippi to 1945 Michigan to 2018 Washington …. What have we learned?  Only that apologies, investigations, and legislation cannot change the hatred and fear that lies in the in the hearts of others.

As I begin my hiatus, I leave the readership with stories of three African-American males who have chosen to refocus their lives and in doing so, move towards a new direction.  These are individuals who acknowledge that they are psychologically wounded, but are still  seeking advocacy, balance and calmness for themselves through psychotherapy and mental health wellness.  These are their stories:

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Thomas, age 30 (name changed for privacy) is responding to depression and anxiety.  The foundation of his feelings is his rejection by his father, which has reinforced a sense of inadequacy and questioning about role modeling and his direction in life.  In a letter to his father, Thomas cites his decision to refocus, letting go of past hurts and moving onward to a new path and new direction.

“Dear Dad,

I hope this letter finds you well, and I am writing this letter because I have questions only you can answer.  I am attending therapy sessions to heal the things that have bothered me throughout my life. 

The first thing I want to talk about is rejection.  I know that you did not want me. When my mother was pregnant with me, I know that you told her to get an abortion. 

I also know throughout my life you have rejected me; you have not spent any time with me.  I know you have other children and you have never claimed me as your own.  I’ve felt isolated and abnormal because I did not have a father who would support me or be there for me when I felt down.

I have looked to other people for acceptance, and just like you, they have also rejected me.  Even though you and I now live in the same city, you continue to reject me and avoid any interaction with me, despite the number of times I have attempted to connect with you. 

I am now 30 years old; several times in the last 18 months I have asked for time with you so you can get to know the person I have become.  Although you have made commitments to do so, you have failed to follow through.

Every day, there is a possibility that you may die.  So before you go, I want to utilize this opportunity to tell you who I have become… without you.

  • I have a college degree (Sociology) from a major university
  • I am a responsible adult; I am single, but I don’t have any children.
  • I am currently studying to obtain a professional license within my field.
  • I don’t have a criminal record.

Despite you and without you, I have been successful.  As you know, both my brother and my cousin were both killed due to their life in the streets.  I’m blessed that I did not follow that life.  Instead, I found my own way and although you rejected me, I grew up to be a healthy contributing member of society. 

I hope you can forgive yourself for not being involved in my life and for not being around to watch my growth and success.  I forgive you.

Love,

Thomas

Analysis

Thomas’s letter to his father is a “farewell” of sorts. It is the love and pain of a son who has been rejected by his father and is now saying “goodbye” as he continues to seek the newness of life without the internalized pulling for the love of his father.

His father never answered the letter, and Thomas never expected him to. Thomas’ goal in writing this letter was to free himself before his father died. In doing so, he reached his goal: he is now free to walk his new journey of self-discovery. At this point, what becomes of Thomas’s father or his father’s response is… irrelevant.

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Mr. Wilson (name changed for privacy) is an 80-year-old retired teacher and consultant. He has spent his entire life within the “movement,” fighting for equality with the belief that along with whites, blacks could work together to achieve equality in the United States. Mr. Wilson comes to therapy seeking to work on his unresolved anger.

In session, Mr. Wilson speaks about his regrets about integration and the loss of black communities, the exodus of black people from the urban cities, the loss of black businesses and most important, the loss of self-reliance and the desperation of seeking relief from the government and the whites who have themselves benefited from integration.

In session, Mr. Wilson said:

“I thought I was fighting to end racism.  I did not understand the depth of racism.  I am critical of white people and I am angry with me.  I criticize white people for their failure as a group to take responsibility for the harm they have created in the lives of others.  I hold whites as a group responsible for their willingness to talk about change and then fail to stand up for change when they see the results of the harm being caused.

I am angry with myself.  I feel that I have been duped.  I feel that I duped myself.  I thought that the civil rights movement could end racism.  Here I am 60 years later… racism is as strong as ever.  I was wrong.  Racism has made this country feel disquiet, unsettled, uncomfortable for me… I don’t feel safe.”

Prior to the recent midterm elections, Mr. Wilson spoke about leaving the country and becoming an expatriate.  He has decided to stay, since the outcome of the midterm elections has given him hope for the future. He now seeks to refocus his direction by providing mentorship for the next generation.

Analysis

Mr. Wilson acknowledges that he is psychologically wounded and impacted by racism that has been a daily factor in his life.  Prior to entering the therapeutic process, Mr. Wilson has tried to “man up,” suppressing his anger and suffering in silence.  Now at age 80, he wants to dispel the anger that is so negatively impacting his life and those around him.

In therapy, Mr. Wilson has learned that he can find healing in embracing his anger.  From there, he can acknowledge what is and is not in his ability to address, and in doing so, he is able to go in a new direction in his life.  He can understand that even at 80 years of age a person can move forth to seeking a new journey of self-discovery.

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I end with the stories of refocus and new direction with myself …. Dr. Micheal Kane

I started in the field of clinical traumatology by writing on the subject as my doctoral dissertation topic.  I have gone to postdoctoral studies achieving four certificates in the study of clinical traumatology.  I have written a publication that has been utilized by graduate schools and the Department of Veterans Affairs.  I have had the privilege on serving as a clinical consultant to the Black Congressional Caucus.

However, the best honor and privilege I have had is being married 30 years to my beloved spouse, My Linda.  It was during her illness that I began blogging.  Following her death, it was the consistency of writing for my readership that has helped me regain my own balance over the last seven years.

In my clinical work, I have developed clinical strategies to respond to complex trauma, how black males should interact with law enforcement and ways to respond to suicide.  As a therapist, I have been a companion and guide in the deepest darkness of human misery ever imagined.

Truly, my work is God’s gift.   I do not consider the suffering of others as a job or occupation.   It truly is my passion to help and provide a safe space for my patients to heal from the wounds they have suffered.

In the seven years of blogging I have written 100+ articles.  In the combination of roles as healer, teacher, diagnostician, evaluator, and blog writer, I am now responding to my own desire for self-care.

 

Analysis

Sir William Osler once said:

“The doctor who treats himself has a fool for a patient.”

Rest assured, I am not diagnosing or treating myself.  I simply recognize that  the time has come to take my practice and my passion in a new direction.  In my practice I have consistently focused on self-health, healthy narcissism and empowerment.  It is now my opportunity to do the same and in doing so, “practice what I preach.”

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 Closing Words

My Dear Readers,

Earlier, I indicated that I was now approaching the time of year in which I normally take a two-month hiatus from blogging.  Although I still have the passion for my clinical and forensic work, I no longer have the passion to blog on a consistent basis.

I have decided to suspend my blog writing for a period of one year with consideration that I may return in 2020 or sometime following.  I will continue my clinical and forensic work, and I will begin in the next year or two begin working on another publication focusing on my work working with trauma suffers within communities of color.

My writing has been read by a diverse readership spanning continents and numerous countries. I have sought to provide the readership with a different view of trauma within my community and possible strategies of recovery and empowerment.

I believe that advocacy, balance and calmness can lead to empowerment of the psychological self.  I believe we make choices in whether we remain survivors or transform ourselves as we move towards achieving self-discovery.

I want to thank you for the words of encouragement, support and passion you have shown for my work.

I bid you all wellness.  I encourage you to seek advocacy for the self, attain balance within your internalized world, and calmness in your externalized environment. Best wishes to you all in your future journeys of self-exploration.

Best regards,

Dr. Micheal Kane

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The Undiscovered Territory

The past is what it was

The present is what it is

In the future lies what is to be uncovered

It is the undiscovered territory

Waiting for you.

-Dr. Micheal Kane

 

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Steppin’ into Tomorrow

We cannot step back into our past,

Nor must we want to.

It is our fear of the unknown that chains us.

The future holds new possibilities

We can journey into the future

Having Belief, Faith and Trust in Self

As we step into the Tomorrow

-Dr. Micheal Kane

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New Possibilities

Life is a journey filled with new possibilities.

And sometimes because of the person you are (or have become), you find yourself in the right place at the right time for….

New possibilities.

-Dr. Micheal Kane

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Farewell for now…….

Until the next crossroads… The journey continues…

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