In Our Corner: Unwanted and Undesired Without The Village

“Donovan was unarmed, and he was abiding by police commands to come out of his room when he was shot in cold blood by Officer Anderson.”

-Rex Elliott, Attorney for the Lewis Family

“There was no justification—let me be clear—no justification for officer Anderson to shoot an unarmed man trying to get out of bed as police officers were instructing him to do so.  Donovan was asleep before officers arrived and had warning that CPD would burst into his apartment.”

-Rex Elliott, attorney for the Lewis Family

“They (the family) want this police officer punished, …. not permitted to be out on the streets again.  We anticipated filing an action against the police officer that engaged in this reckless conduct.”

-Rex Elliott, Attorney for the Lewis Family

“They are just a few of the many people that have had their lives altered forever because of the events of early Tuesday morning.”

-Rex Elliott, Attorney for the Lewis Family, referring to Donovan’s parents, siblings, grandmother, aunt and family friends

“He wasn’t armed. He wasn’t dangerous. He wasn’t America’s most wanted. He was just Donovan.”

-Reverend Jemimah Posey, comments at the Donovan Lewis funeral

“Fear is your enemy. Trust in God. The North Star will guide you.”

-The Black preacher advising Harriet as she prepares to flee bondage, the movie Harriet (2019)

My Dear Readers,

Here we go again. Another young Black life taken much too soon, under circumstances that are unimaginable yet imaginable, unbelievable yet very believable, and incomprehensible, yet expected by Black folks, having repeatedly endured this nightmare.

Donovan Lewis’s death by police action follows a line of recent deaths by police including George Floyd, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott and countless others, the most recent being Jayland Walker, who was shot 46 times, including 8 shotgun blasts, over a traffic violation. He had refused to pull over and ran from his vehicle.  The police allegedly recovered a firearm from the car, so they said.

Meanwhile, a worried community of Black folks, nationwide are sitting, nervously awaiting the outcome of the most recent shooting.  Here speaks the concerns and frustrations of one parent:


Dear Dr. Kane,

I am the mother of three sons ages 16, 12 and 8.  The killing of that black young man in Columbus OH by the police has frightened me to the point where I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, and I am unable to focus on work because I am so scared for the safety of my sons. I am southern born and raised, and although I now live in Washington State, I have long memories of police brutalizing and terrorizing Black males. I am very frightened and concerned.

I have no place to turn for help.  I have spoken to my pastor and all he tells me is to fear not, pray and trust in God.  I am a good Christian. School has now begun, and I place anointing oil on my sons every morning as I send them out to school and still it is simply not enough! I am so afraid for my children.

I just don’t understand the lack of response.  Black folks in church are talking about these killings and yet there is nothing being done about it.  It’s like since it hasn’t happened to them, they are not concerned, however, it may happen to my sons.  I am living in fear. I go to bed afraid and wake up afraid.

My sons are well mannered, are attentive and love school and sports. I know that they get profiled because of their race.  In reaching out to Black men for assistance, the attitude has been one of indifference.  More than one suggested that I need to get accustomed to police interaction and racial profiling as this is going to be an ongoing occurrence in their lives.  I have asked the men at the church to talk to my sons but all they want to do is to talk about football. 

It takes a village! I feel that my community– my village– church and black men have failed me.  I wish the Black men in the church would come together to teach our children how to be safe when interacting with the police.  I am unable to talk to my white coworkers as they think I am being paranoid.  I am concerned that my older son will mouth off should he be confronted by the police.  My middle child was recently stopped and questioned by the police because they said he looks older and my youngest is afraid to sleep in his bed after watching the news about that Black man being killed in his bed by the police.  He has now returned to wetting the bed and is afraid to sleep alone.

I have sought help from my church and the people in my community.  Although I am being told not to be afraid and to pray, I am more fearful and desperate for more help to protect my children.  When I get a notification on my cell from one of my sons, I become overwhelmed with fear. I can’t think, I am shaking. It is only until I have assurance that they are okay that I can relax.  And then there is the next time.   It’s like I am waiting for the negative to happen.  Am I being paranoid?  Do you have any suggestions? I would appreciate hearing back from you.

Village Mom Seeking Assistance, Bellevue, WA


My Dear Readers,

In the writer’s statement, she mentions that “it takes a village,” referring to the African proverb that speaks to the cultural and societal belief that family, community and communalism are needed to teach, develop, and protect a child through adulthood. While this sentiment has strong psychological and emotional roots within the values of Black Americans, the ongoing and consistent psychological and emotional pressures being faced by the Black American community, many caused by its own deficiencies and weaknesses, render it unable to protect itself from macroaggressions that result in the psychological harm and/or physical deaths of its children.  Although the idea of the “village” permeates the community, this is not the lived reality being experienced by this parent seeking assistance from her church and within the community.  Comments from the black men in her community merely acknowledge the indifference.  

It is the natural instinct for a parent to want to protect one’s child from danger.  However, as Black parents seek balance, it would be beneficial to teach our children how to empower themselves as they are being prepared to enter an environment that is hostile and suspicious to both their ethnicity, race and gender.

                        FEAR: Conceptualizing the Psychological & Emotional Impacts

Fear can be defined as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.  For this parent, several subtypes of trauma, including microaggression (racial profiling by the police) macroaggression (physical injury/death), and invisibility syndrome (fear that her sons’ talents, abilities and character are not acknowledged or valued) combine to induce the distress that she shares in her letter.

Fear has psychologically and emotionally impacted the African American community to the point where it has been stuck in the status of existence, that is, the acceptance of an imposed way of life and survival.

Historically, the Black community has faced continuous and consistent pressure in the form of violence, domestic terrorism and state sanctioned laws/ordinances such as the Black Codes, Jim Crow laws, Sundown laws, and redlining.  Although its members are capable of achieving and advancing in industry, economics, medicine, arts and letters, they remained blocked in stages of existing and survivorship and “living in FEAR,” a psychological and emotional status which continues to limit the community to this very day. Therefore, “living in FEAR” can be viewed as the following:

F (foundation) the justifications or cause of held beliefs.

E (expectations) strong beliefs that something will happen or be the case in the future.

A (assumptions) things that are accepted as true or certain to happen.

R (reality) the world that is being experienced or the state of things as they actually exist.

In this conceptualization of fear, African Americans are simply reacting to their deeply held beliefs and experiences based on their 403 years of experience in this country, through direct experience and passed downward intergenerationally. 

In reconceptualizing fear, it is essential that Black people recognize the psychological impacts of internalizing fear and seek transformation towards the following:

  • Fear is not the enemy. It is simply an emotion that is a normal response to a specific situation.  
  • Fear during times of danger can serve as a positive attribute in assisting the individual in being aware, alert, aroused, aloof and most importantly …staying alive.
  • Rather than rejecting fear, we must want to embrace and integrate it as an aid that can move the individual from surviving an ordeal to empowerment psychologically. 

By holding on to the illusion of village communalism as “acting as one,” the Black American community is not psychologically or emotionally prepared to conceptually transform from “living in FEAR” to “living with FEAR.”

Reconceptualizing FEAR

Psychologically and emotionally, “living in FEAR” has been a disservice because it limits the group’s options for response to this trauma to acceptance of a way of life and survival, or simply existing.

In reconceptualizing fear, it is essential that fear be viewed as a resource that can be utilized to move individual forward, not as preventing them from achieving goals, objectives and outcomes.

Therefore “living with FEAR” can be viewed as the following:

F (facing) confronting, accepting or dealing with a difficult task, fact or situation.

E (embracing) accepting or supporting a belief willingly and enthusiastically.

A (acknowledging) accepting or appreciation of the truth or recognition of fact or an object.

R (responding) the advocacy of reply as in words or in action.

To this end, the Black parent can consider the following:  

  • Letting go of the concept of the “village” i.e., communalism and accept the reality of the fragmented and weakened community structure. 
  • Reject the advice to “not be afraid” and view fear as what is simply is: an emotion to respond to.
  • Transform the response of desperation to one of empowerment. Develop strategies that will reduce feelings of helplessness and reinforce safety regarding the children’s interaction with police.

There can be nothing stronger, more meaningful and more built on belief, faith and trust, (BFT) than the love a Black mother has for her child.  Understanding their fears, given the history of police interaction with Black males and the risk of death, incarceration and trauma it is imperative that Black mothers transform from “living in FEAR” by implementing developmental strategies that will empower their children and thereby allowing the parent to be able to wake and sleep every day with empowerment “living with FEAR.

Behavioral Strategies-Police Interactions

“Mama said life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you are going to get.”

-Forrest Gump (1994),

In her letter, the Black parent alleges that she was told that she “need(ed) to get used to police interaction and racial profiling as these are going to be ongoing occurrences.”

These comments are partially correct; in the lives of Black people, especially with males, racial profiling and police interaction ARE going to be ongoing occurrences.  However, what is incorrect is the belief that this is something to get used to. Words can have powerful psychological impacts on those who hear them, and in this case, what comes across is further trauma and insensitivity to the lived experience.  Specifically, the word “need” as a verb, defined as to “require (something) because it is essential or very important. In essence, this Black parent is being told that it is very important for her to get used to these brutal injustices.

The Black parent (s) can best serve their children and themselves by

  • Transformation- moving from positions of survival and desperation to that of living, growth and development.
  • Education of their children and themselves in the expectation and normalizing of police interaction.
  • Psychological/emotional preparation for possible racial profiling. When interaction with the police occurs, it is unknown what type of prejudice (cognitive, affective or conative) will be involved in the interaction.

Understanding ABC’s of Behavior

The Black parent can also reinforce self-empowerment in their children by normalizing the police stop or interaction, and by teaching them to accept their internalized fears when responding to police directions and interactions.  The fear of police in our community is normal and some police want the individual to be fearful as it allows them to maintain control.  However, it is essential that the individual maintain a “sense of presence” by “living with FEAR” and not “living in FEAR”.  This can be achieved by teaching your children the following:

  • (A) AdvocacyKnow when to “hold” or “show” your cards.  Know when to speak and what to say.
  • (B) BalanceRemember that your power lies within you and cannot be taken from you without your consent.  Balance your anger with your wisdom.
  • (C) CalmnessUse your balance and your empowerment to project calmness to the outside world.  Use this to defuse the situation.

When Black Males Encounter the Police

 “My sons are well mannered, are attentive and love school and sports. I know that they get profiled because of their race.” 

-Village Mom Seeking Assistance

This is true of many black children. However, it is important to remember that police officers, in interacting with numerous different individuals on a daily basis, carry their internalized prejudices with them, including, but not limited to the belief that some individuals, particularly African Americans, are not “well mannered, or attentive”.  Black youth can impower themselves by planning out their actions and behaviors when they encounter law enforcement:

  • Know that the police officer will ask for identification and that it is legal for the police officer to do so.
  • Know that the police officer will seek verification in a criminal database to identify any warrants or other notices.
  • Know that the police officer will be looking for suspicious behavior from the individual being questioned or anyone who is in company of the individual.
  • Be prepared for a possible “stop and search” of one’s personal space (body) and belongings.

The Police Encounter

  • Never…Never.. Ever …run from the police.
  • Remember, that the police officer is entitled to use deadly force if he/she feels physically threatened.

The Black parent must emphasize these two points with their children as the first and most important parts of a process to ensure their safety during an encounter with the police. The rest of the process includes the following:

  • Immediately telling the police officer: I AM UNARMED.  I AM NOT A THREAT TO YOU
  • Always comply and follow the police officer’s instructions.  Speak in a respectful tone.
  • If you are under the age of 18, immediately inform the police officer of your age.
  • If you are under the age of 18, immediately request that your parent, legal guardian or legal representative be present prior to answering questions.
  • If you are above the age of 18, and have chosen not to speak, inform the police officer of your intent to remain silent until you have legal representation.  Afterwards, immediately stop talking.
  • Use your powers of observation.  Document the incident and any concerns regarding ant behaviors occurring during the encounter. Memory can lapse quickly.  Document immediately following the encounter.
  • Remember to document following information: the date, time and location; the license plate and vehicle number, the badge number of the police officer and the name of the police department.
  • DO NOT seek to resolve your complaint in the street.  File a formal complaint
  • with the Internal Affairs Section within the local sheriff or police department.

————————————————-

Concluding Words-Dr. Kane

“I have asked the men at the church to talk to my sons but all they want to do is to talk about football.” 

-Village Mom Seeking Assistance

“Black people love their children with a kind of obsession.  You are all we have, and you come to us endangered.”

-Ta-Nehisi Coates, Author “Between the World and Me. (2015)

Dear Village Mom Seeking Assistance,

In responding to your letter, I have sought to provide ideas, strategies, concepts and protocols that could be utilized in transforming fear and empowering your children and self. You have written that your village, church and Black men have failed you at the time in which you needed them the most.  I encourage you to transform from the positions of desperation and helplessness to that of empowerment and growth, preparing your sons to protect themselves during encounters with police.  Racial profiling is an uneasy reality in the lives of Black people.

Please dismiss the notion of paranoid as indicated by your white coworkers.  As a Black person, you are responding to your lived experience, which has included frequent incidences of brutality towards Black males.  As a parent with three sons, you are displaying vigilance to abnormal experiences that your white coworkers have no direct knowledge or experience with. Simply stated, when your white coworkers get encountered by the police, they receive “community policing, while your sons, during similar encounters, receive “law enforcement” instead.

Holding to your strength in your Christian faith, it is important for you to channel the belief, faith and trust you have in your village, church and Black men to the self, which will enable you to empower your sons in expecting and normalizing upcoming police encounters. Once again, it is essential to let go of the concept that “fear is the enemy” and instead, see fear as a desired and wanted emotion  that can assist you and your sons in keeping them  aware, alert, aroused, aloof and most importantly…alive.  It would be most advantageous for you to stop looking and depending on assistance that is not forthcoming and look within your abilities to provide the assistance in developing the strategies that will empower and protect your sons.

Wishing you the best,

Dr. Kane

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

“That is the philosophy of the disembodied, of a people who control nothing, who can protect nothing, who are made to fear not just the criminals among them but the police who lord over them with all the moral authority of a protection racket.  It was only after that I understood love that I understood the grip of my mother’s hand. She knew that the galaxy itself could kill me, that all of me cold be shattered and all of her legacy spilled upon the curb like bum wine.”

-Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between The World And Me

IN MEMORIAM of Black Males Killed in Police Related Deaths

The universe shrank
when you went away.
Every time I thought your name,
stars fell upon me.
Henry Dumas (poet, social activist, teacher)


Updated June 9, 2022

Donovan Lewis, Columbus, Ohio Shot by Columbus Police Officer August 30, 2022 Daunte Demetrius Wright,
October 27, 2000 – April 11, 2021

Brooklyn Center, Minnesota
Shot: Brooklyn Center Police Officer
Jayland Walker, Akron, Ohio Shot: 46 times by 8 Police Officers June 27, 2022 Marvin David Scott III,
1995 – March 14, 2021

McKinney, Texas
Asphyxiated: Collin County Jail Detention Officers
Patrick Lynn Warren Sr.,
October 7, 1968 – January 10, 2021

Killeen, Texas
Shot: Killeen Police Officer
Vincent “Vinny” M. Belmonte,
September 14, 2001 – January 5, 2021

Cleveland, Ohio
Shot: Cleveland Police Officer
Angelo Quinto,
March 10, 1990 – December 26, 2020

Antioch, California
Knee on neck/Asphyxiated
Andre Maurice Hill,
May 23, 1973 – December 22, 2020

Columbus, Ohio
Shot: Columbus Police Officer
Casey Christopher Goodson Jr.,
January 30, 1997 – December 4, 2020

Columbus, Ohio
Shot: Franklin County Sheriff Deputy
Angelo “AJ” Crooms,
May 15, 2004 – November 13, 2020

Cocoa, Florida
Shot: Brevard County Sheriff Deputies
Sincere Pierce,
April 2, 2002 – November 13, 2020

Cocoa, Florida
Shot: Brevard County Sheriff Deputies
Marcellis Stinnette,
June 17, 2001 – October 20, 2020

Waukegan, Illinois
Shot: Waukegan Police Officer
Jonathan Dwayne Price,
November 3, 1988 – October 3, 2020

Wolfe City, Texas
Tasered/Shot: Wolfe City Police Officer
Dijon Durand Kizzee,
February 5, 1991 – August 31, 2020

Los Angeles, California
Shot: Los Angeles County Police
Rayshard Brooks,
January 31, 1993 – June 12, 2020

Atlanta, Georgia
Shot: Atlanta Police Officer
Carlos Carson,
May 16, 1984 – June 6, 2020

Tulsa, Oklahoma
Pepper Sprayed/Shot in Head: Knights Inn Tulsa Armed Security Guard, former sergeant and detention officer with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office
David McAtee,
August 3, 1966 – June 1, 2020

Louisville, Kentucky
Shot: Louisville Metropolitan Police Officer
Tony “Tony the TIger” McDade,
1982 – May 27, 2020

Tallahassee, Florida
Shot: Tallahassee Police Officers
George Perry Floyd,
October 14, 1973 – May 25, 2020

Powderhorn, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Knee on neck/Asphyxiated: Minneapolis Police Officer
Dreasjon “Sean” Reed,
1999 – May 6, 2020

Indianapolis, Indiana
Shot: Unidentified Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer
Michael Brent Charles Ramos,
January 1, 1978 – April 24, 2020

Austin, Texas
Shot: Austin Police Detectives
Daniel T. Prude,
September 20, 1978 – March 30, 2020

Rochester, New York
Asphyxiation: Rochester Police Officers
Breonna Taylor,
June 5, 1993 – March 13, 2020

Louisville, Kentucky
Shot: Louisville Metro Police Officers  
Manuel “Mannie” Elijah Ellis,
August 28, 1986 – March 3, 2020

Tacoma, Washington
Physical restraint/Hypoxia: Tacoma Police Officers
William Howard Green,
March 16, 1976 – January 27, 2020

Temple Hills, Maryland
Shot: January 27, 2020, Prince George’s County Police Officer
John Elliot Neville,
1962 – December 4, 2019

Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Asphyxiated /Heart Attack/Brain Injury: Forsyth County Sheriff Officers
Atatiana Koquice Jefferson,
November 28, 1990 – October 12, 2019

Fort Worth, Texas
Shot: Fort Worth Police Officer  
Elijah McClain,
February 25, 1996 – August 30, 2019

Aurora, Colorado
Chokehold/Ketamine/Heart Attack: Aurora Police Officers and Paramedic
Ronald Greene,
September 28, 1969 – May 10, 2019

Monroe, Louisiana
Stun gun/Force: Louisiana State Police  
Javier Ambler,
October 7, 1978 – March 28, 2019

Austin, Texas
Tasered/Electrocuted: Williamson County Sheriff Deputy
Sterling Lapree Higgins,
October 27, 1981 – March 25, 2019

Union City, Tennessee
Choke hold/Asphyxiation: Union City Police Officer and Obion County Sheriff Deputies  
Gregory Lloyd Edwards,
September 23, 1980 – December 10, 2018

Brevard County Jail, Cocoa, Florida
Kneed, Punched, Pepper Sprayed, Tasered, and Strapped into a restraint chair with a spit hood over his head/Failure to Provide Medical Care: Brevard County Sheriffs
Emantic “EJ” Fitzgerald Bradford Jr.,
June 18, 1997 – November 22, 2018

Hoover, Alabama
Shot: Unidentified Hoover Police Officers
Charles “Chop” Roundtree Jr.,
September 5, 2000 – October 17, 2018

San Antonio, Texas
Shot: San Antonio Police Officer
Chinedu Okobi,
February 13, 1982 – October 3, 2018

Millbrae, California
Tasered/Electrocuted: San Mateo County Sheriff Sergeant and Sheriff Deputies
Anton Milbert LaRue Black,
October 18, 1998 – September 15, 2018

Greensboro, Maryland
Tasered/Sudden Cardiac Arrest: Greensboro Police Officers
Botham Shem Jean,
September 29, 1991 – September 6, 2018

Dallas, Texas
Shot: Dallas Police Officer
Antwon Rose Jr.,
July 12, 2000 – June 19, 2018

East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Shot: East Pittsburgh Police Officer
Saheed Vassell,
December 22, 1983 – April 4, 2018

Brooklyn, New York City, New York
Shot: Four Unnamed New York City Police Officers
Stephon Alonzo Clark,
August 10, 1995 – March 18, 2018

Sacramento, California
Shot: Sacramento Police Officers  
Dennis Plowden Jr.,
1992 – December 28, 2017

East Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Shot: Philadelphia Police Officer
Bijan Ghaisar,
September 4, 1992 – November 27, 2017

George Washington Memorial Parkway, Alexandria, Virginia
Shot: U.S. Park Police Officers
Aaron Bailey,
1972 – June 29, 2017

Indianapolis, Indiana
Shot: Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officers
Charleena Chavon Lyles,
April 24, 1987 – June 18, 2017

Seattle, Washington
Shot: Seattle Police Officers
Fetus of Charleena Chavon Lyles
(14-15 weeks), June 18, 2017

Seattle, Washington
Shot: Seattle Police Officers
Jordan Edwards,
October 25, 2001 – April 29, 2017

Balch Springs, Texas
Shot: Balch Springs Officer
Chad Robertson,
1992 – February 15, 2017

Chicago, Illinois
Shot: Chicago Police Officer
Deborah Danner,
 September 25, 1950 – October 18, 2016

The Bronx, New York City, New York
Shot: New York City Police Officers
Alfred Olango,
July 29, 1978 – September 27, 2016

El Cajon, California
Shot: El Cajon Police Officers
Terence Crutcher,
August 16, 1976 – September 16, 2016

Tulsa, Oklahoma
Shot: Tulsa Police Officer
Terrence LeDell Sterling,
July 31, 1985 – September 11, 2016

Washington, DC
Shot: Washington Metropolitan Police Officer
Korryn Gaines,
August 24, 1993 – August 1, 2016

Randallstown, Maryland
Shot: Baltimore County Police
Joseph Curtis Mann,
1966 – July 11, 2016

Sacramento, California
Shot: Sacramento Police Officers
Philando Castile,
July 16, 1983 – July 6, 2016

Falcon Heights, Minnesota
Shot: St. Anthony Police Officer
Alton Sterling,
June 14, 1979 – July 5, 2016

Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Shot: Baton Rouge Police Officers
Bettie “Betty Boo” Jones,
1960 – December 26, 2015

Chicago, Illinois
Shot: Chicago Police Officer
Quintonio LeGrier,
April 29, 1996 – December 26, 2015

Chicago, Illinois
Shot: Chicago Police Officer
Corey Lamar Jones,
February 3, 1984 – October 18, 2015

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Shot: Palm Beach Gardens Police Officer
Jamar O’Neal Clark,
May 3, 1991 – November 16, 2015

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Shot: Minneapolis Police Officers
Jeremy “Bam Bam” McDole,
1987 – September 23, 2015

Wilmington, Delaware
Shot: Wilmington Police Officers
India Kager,
June 9, 1988 – September 5, 2015

Virginia Beach, Virginia
Shot: Virginia Beach Police Officers
Samuel Vincent DuBose,
March 12, 1972 – July 19, 2015

Cincinnati, Ohio
Shot: University of Cincinnati Police Officer
Sandra Bland,
February 7, 1987 – July 13, 2015

Waller County, Texas
Excessive Force/Wrongful Death/Suicide(?) Texas State Trooper
Brendon K. Glenn,
1986 – May 5, 2015

Venice, California
Shot: May 5, 2015, Los Angeles Police Officer
Freddie Carlos Gray Jr.,
August 16, 1989 – April 19, 2015

Baltimore, Maryland
Brute Force/Spinal Injuries: Baltimore City Police Officers
Walter Lamar Scott,
February 9, 1965 – April 4, 2015

North Charleston, South Carolina
Shot: North Charleston Police Officer
Eric Courtney Harris,
October 10, 1971 – April 2, 2015

Tulsa, Oklahoma
Shot: Tulsa County Reserve Deputy  
Phillip Gregory White,
1982 – March 31, 2015

Vineland, New Jersey
K-9 Mauling/Respiratory distress: Vineland Police Officers
Mya Shawatza Hall,
December 5, 1987 – March 30, 2015

Fort Meade, Maryland
Shot: National Security Agency Police Officers Tony Terrell Robinson, Jr.,
October 18, 1995 – March 6, 2015

Madison, Wisconsin
Shot: Madison Police Officer
Meagan Hockaday,
August 27, 1988 – March 28, 2015

Oxnard, California
Shot: Oxnard Police Officer Janisha Fonville,
March 3, 1994 – February 18 2015

Charlotte, North Carolina
Shot: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer
Natasha McKenna,
January 9, 1978 – February 8, 2015

Fairfax County, Virginia
Tasered/Cardiac Arrest: Fairfax County Sheriff Deputies
Jerame C. Reid,
June 8, 1978 – December 30, 2014

Bridgeton, New Jersey
Shot: Bridgeton Police Officer
Rumain Brisbon,
November 24, 1980 – December 2, 2014

Phoenix, Arizona
Shot: Phoenix Police Officer
Tamir Rice,
June 15, 2002 – November 22, 2014

Cleveland, Ohio
Shot: Cleveland Police Officer
Akai Kareem Gurley,
November 12, 1986 – November 20, 2014

Brooklyn, New York City, New York
Shot: New York City Police Officer
Tanisha N. Anderson,
January 22, 1977 – November 13, 2014

Cleveland, Ohio
Physically Restrained/Brute Force: Cleveland Police Officers
Dante Parker,
August 14, 1977 – August 12, 2014

Victorville, California
Tasered/Excessive Force: San Bernardino County Sheriff Deputies
Ezell Ford,
October 14, 1988 – August 11, 2014

Florence, Los Angeles, California
Shot: Los Angeles Police Officers
Michael Brown Jr.,
May 20, 1996 – August 9, 2014

Ferguson, Missouri
Shot: Ferguson Police Officer
John Crawford III,
July 29, 1992 – August 5, 2014

Beavercreek, Ohio
Shot: Beavercreek Police Officer
Tyree Woodson,
July 8, 1976 – August 2, 2014

Baltimore, Maryland
Shot: Baltimore City Police Officer
Eric Garner,
September 15, 1970 – July 17, 2014

Staten Island, New York
Choke hold/Suffocated: New York City Police Officer
Dontre Hamilton,
January 20, 1983 – April 30, 2014

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Shot: Milwaukee Police Officer
Victor White III,
September 11, 1991 – March 3, 2014

New Iberia, Louisiana
Shot: Iberia Parish Sheriff Deputy
Gabriella Monique Nevarez,
November 25, 1991 – March 2, 2014

Citrus Heights, California
Shot: Citrus Heights Police Officers
Yvette Smith,
December 18, 1966 – February 16, 2014

Bastrop County, Texas
Shot: Bastrop County Sheriff Deputy
McKenzie J. Cochran,
August 25, 1988 – January 29, 2014

Southfield, Michigan
Pepper Sprayed/Compression Asphyxiation: Northland Mall Security Guards
Jordan Baker,
1988 – January 16, 2014

Houston, Texas
Shot:, Off-duty Houston Police Officer
Andy Lopez,
June 2, 2000 – October 22, 2013

Santa Rosa, California
Shot: Sonoma County Sheriff Deputy
Miriam Iris Carey,
August 12, 1979 – October 3, 2013

Washington, DC
Shot 26 times: U. S. Secret Service Officer
Barrington “BJ” Williams,
1988 – September 17, 2013

New York City, New York
Neglect/Disdain/Asthma Attack: New York City Police Officers
Jonathan Ferrell,
October 11, 1989 – September 14, 2013

Charlotte, North Carolina
Shot:, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer
Carlos Alcis,
1970 – August 15, 2013

Brooklyn, New York City
Heart Attack/Neglect: New York City Police Officers
Larry Eugene Jackson Jr.,
November 29, 1980 – July 26, 2013

Austin, Texas
Shot: Austin Police Detective
Kyam Livingston,
July 29, 1975 – July 21, 2013

New York City, New York
Neglect/Ignored pleas for help: New York City Police Officers
Clinton R. Allen,
September 26, 1987 – March 10, 2013

Dallas, Texas
Tasered and Shot: Dallas Police Officer
Kimani “KiKi” Gray,
October 19, 1996 – March 9, 2013

Brooklyn, New York City, New York
Shot: New York Police Officers
Kayla Moore,
April 17, 1971 – February 13, 2013

Berkeley, California
Restrained face-down prone:, Berkeley Police Officers
Jamaal Moore Sr.,
1989 – December 15, 2012

Chicago, Illinois
Shot: Chicago Police Officer
Johnnie Kamahi Warren,
February 26, 1968 – February 13, 2012

Dothan, Alabama
Tasered/Electrocuted: Houston County (AL) Sheriff Deputy
Shelly Marie Frey,
April 21, 1985 – December 6, 2012

Houston, Texas
Shot: Off-duty Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy
Darnisha Diana Harris,
December 11, 1996 – December 2, 2012

Breaux Bridge, Louisiana
Shot: Breaux Bridge Police Office
Timothy Russell,
December 9. 1968 – November 29, 2012

Cleveland, Ohio
137 Rounds/Shot 23 times:, Cleveland Police Officers
Malissa Williams,
June 20, 1982 – November 29, 2012

Cleveland, Ohio
137 Rounds/Shot 24 times: Cleveland Police Officers
Noel Palanco,
November 28, 1989 – October 4, 2012

Queens, New York City, New York
Shot: New York City Police Officers
Reynaldo Cuevas,
January 6, 1992 – September 7, 2012

Bronx, New York City, New York
Shot: New York City Police Officer
Chavis Carter,
1991 – July 28, 2012

Jonesboro, Arkansas
Shot: Jonesboro Police Officer
Alesia Thomas,
June 1, 1977 – July 22, 2012

Los Angeles, California
Brutal Force/Beaten: Los Angeles Police Officers
Shantel Davis,
May 26, 1989 – June 14, 2012

New York City, New York
Shot: New York City Police Officer
Sharmel T. Edwards,
October 10, 1962 – April 21, 2012

Las Vegas, Nevada
Shot: Las Vegas Police Officers
Tamon Robinson,
December 21, 1985 – April 18, 2012

Brooklyn, New York City, New York
Run over by police car: New York City Police Officers
Ervin Lee Jefferson, III,
1994 – March 24, 2012

Atlanta, Georgia
Shot: Shepperson Security & Escort Services Security Guards
Kendrec McDade,
May 5, 1992 – March 24, 2012

Pasadena, California
Shot: Pasadena Police Officers
Rekia Boyd,
November 5, 1989 – March 21, 2012

Chicago, Illinois
Shot: Off-duty Chicago Police Detective
Shereese Francis,
1982 – March 15, 2012

Queens, New York City, New York
Suffocated to death: New York City Police Officers
Jersey K. Green,
June 17, 1974 – March 12, 2012

Aurora, Illinois
Tasered/Electrocuted: Aurora Police Officers
Wendell James Allen,
December 19, 1991 – March 7, 2012

New Orleans, Louisiana
Shot: New Orleans Police Officer
Nehemiah Lazar Dillard,
July 29, 1982 – March 5, 2012

Gainesville, Florida
Tasered/Electrocuted: Alachua County Sheriff Deputies
Dante’ Lamar Price,
July 18, 1986 – March 1, 2012

Dayton, Ohio
Shot: Ranger Security Guards
Raymond Luther Allen Jr.,
1978 – February 29, 2012

Galveston, Texas
Tasered/Electrocuted: Galveston Police Officers
Manual Levi Loggins Jr.,
February 22, 1980 – February 7, 2012

San Clemente, Orange County, California
Shot: Orange County Sheriff Deputy
Ramarley Graham,
April 12, 1993 – February 2, 2012

The Bronx, New York City, New York
Shot: New York City Police Officer
Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.,
April 12, 1943 – November 19, 2011

White Plains, New York
Tasered/Electrocuted/Shot: White Plains Police Officers
Alonzo Ashley,
June 10, 1982 – July 18, 2011

Denver, Colorado
Tasered/Electrocuted: Denver Police Officers
Derek Williams,
January 23, 1989 – July 6, 2011

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Blunt Force/Respiratory distress: Milwaukee Police Officers
Raheim Brown, Jr.,
March 4, 1990 – January 22, 2011

Oakland, California
Shot: Oakland Unified School District Police
Reginald Doucet,
June 3, 1985 – January 14, 2011

Los Angeles, California
Shot: Los Angeles Police Officer
Derrick Jones,
September 30, 1973 – November 8, 2010

Oakland, California
Shot: Oakland Police Officers
Danroy “DJ” Henry Jr.,
October 29, 1990 – October 17, 2010

Pleasantville, New York
Shot: Pleasantville Police Officer
Aiyana Mo’Nay Stanley-Jones,
July 20, 2002 – May 16, 2010

Detroit, Michigan
Shot: Detroit Police Officer
Steven Eugene Washington,
September 20, 1982 – March 20, 2010

Los Angeles, California
Shot: Los Angeles County Police
Aaron Campbell,
September 7, 1984 – January 29, 2010

Portland, Oregon
Shot: Portland Police Officer
Kiwane Carrington,
July 14, 1994 – October 9, 2009

Champaign, Illinois
Shot: Champaign Police Officer
Victor Steen,
November 11, 1991 – October 3, 2009

Pensacola, Florida
Tasered/Run over: Pensacola Police Officer
Shem Walker,
March 18, 1960 – July 11, 2009

Brooklyn, New York
Shot: New York City Undercover C-94 Police Officer
Oscar Grant III,
February 27, 1986 – January 1, 2009

Oakland, California
Shot: BART Police Officer
Tarika Wilson,
October 30, 1981 – January 4, 2008

Lima, Ohio
Shot: Lima Police Officer
DeAunta Terrel Farrow,
September 7, 1994 – June 22, 2007

West Memphis, Arkansas
Shot: West Memphis (AR) Police Officer
Sean Bell,
May 23, 1983 – November 25, 2006

Queens, New York City, New York
Shot: New York City Police Officers
Kathryn Johnston,
June 26, 1914 – November 21, 2006

Atlanta, Georgia
Shot: Undercover Atlanta Police Officers
Ronald Curtis Madison,
March 1, 1965 – September 4, 2005

Danziger Bridge, New Orleans, Louisiana
Shot: New Orleans Police Officers
James B. Brissette Jr.,
November 6, 1987 – September 4, 2005

Danziger Bridge, New Orleans, Louisiana
Shot: New Orleans Police Officers
Henry “Ace” Glover,
October 2, 1973 – September 2, 2005

New Orleans, Louisiana
Shot: New Orleans Police Officers
Timothy Stansbury, Jr.,
November 16, 1984 – January 24, 2004

Brooklyn, New York City, New York
Shot: New York City Police Officer
Ousmane Zongo,
1960 – May 22, 2003

New York City, New York
Shot: New York City Police Officer
Alberta Spruill,
1946 – May 16, 2003

New York City, New York
Stun grenade thrown into her apartment led to a heart attack: New York City Police Officer
Kendra Sarie James,
December 24, 1981 – May 5, 2003

Portland, Oregon
Shot: Portland Police Officer
Orlando Barlow,
December 29, 1974 – February 28, 2003

Las Vegas, Nevada
Shot: Las Vegas Police Officer
Nelson Martinez Mendez,
1977 – August 8, 2001

Bellevue, Washington
Shot: Bellevue Police Officer
Timothy DeWayne Thomas Jr.,
July 25, 1981 – April 7, 2001

Cincinnati, Ohio
Shot: Cincinnati Police Patrolman
Ronald Beasley,
1964 – June 12, 2000

Dellwood, Missouri
Shot: Dellwood Police Officers
Earl Murray,
1964 – June 12, 2000

Dellwood, Missouri
Shot: Dellwood Police Officers
Patrick Moses Dorismond,
February 28, 1974 – March 16, 2000

New York City, New York
Shot: New York City Police Officer
Prince Carmen Jones Jr.,
March 30, 1975 – September 1, 2000

Fairfax County, Virginia
Shot: Prince George’s County Police Officer
Malcolm Ferguson,
October 31, 1976 – March 1, 2000

The Bronx, New York City, New York
Shot: New York City Police Officer
LaTanya Haggerty,
1973 – June 4, 1999

Chicago, Illinois
Shot: Chicago Police Officer
Margaret LaVerne Mitchell,
1945 – May 21, 1999

Los Angeles, California
Shot: Los Angeles Police Officer
Amadou Diallo,
September 2, 1975 – February 4, 1999

The Bronx, New York City, New York
Shot: New York City Police Officers
Tyisha Shenee Miller,
March 9, 1979 – December 28, 1998

Riverside, California
Shot: Riverside Police Officers
Dannette “Strawberry” Daniels,
January 25, 1966 – June 7, 1997

Newark, New Jersey
Shot: Newark Police Officer
Frankie Ann Perkins,
1960 – March 22, 1997

Chicago, Illinois
Brutal Force/Strangled: Chicago Police Officers
Nicholas Heyward Jr.,
August 26, 1981 – September 27, 1994

Brooklyn, New York City, New York
Shot: New York City Police Officer
Mary Mitchell,
1950 – November 3, 1991

The Bronx, New York City, New York
Shot: New York City Police Officer
Yvonne Smallwood,
July 26, 1959 – December 9, 1987

New York City, New York
Severely beaten/Massive blood clot: New York City Police Officers
Eleanor Bumpers,
August 22, 1918 – October 29, 1984

The Bronx, New York City, New York
Shot: New York City Police Officer
Michael Jerome Stewart,
May 9, 1958 – September 28, 1983

New York City, New York
Brutal Force: New York City Transit Police
Eula Mae Love,
August 8, 1939 – January 3, 1979

Los Angeles, California
Shot: Los Angeles County Police Officers
Arthur Miller Jr.,
1943 – June 14, 1978

Brooklyn, New York City, New York
Chokehold/Strangled: New York City Police Officers
Randolph Evans,
April 5, 1961 – November 25, 1976

Brooklyn, New York City, New York
Shot in head: New York City Police Officer
Barry Gene Evans,
August 29, 1958 – February 10, 1976

Los Angeles, California
Shot: Los Angeles Police Officers
Rita Lloyd,
November 2, 1956 – January 27, 1973

New York City, New York
Shot: New York City Police Officer
Phillip Lafayette Gibbs,
September 1, 1948 – May 15, 1970

Jackson, Mississippi
Shot: Jackson State University Police Officers
James Earl Green,
1953 – May 15, 1970

Jackson, Mississippi
Shot: Jackson State University Police Officers
Henry Dumas,
July 20, 1934 – May 23, 1968

Harlem, New York City, New York
Shot: New York City Transit Police Officer  

Until the next time,

Remaining … In Our Corner

In Our Corner: Reconceptualizing FEAR- Moving From Distancing to Embracing

“Black women don’t have respect for Black men.  And if they do, its all caked in patriarchy, religion and other nonsense.”

-a Black man, on Black women

“Black women are fake. Black people are toxic. We don’t know how to talk to each other.  We hate each other.”

-a Black man, on Black women & Black people

“My mother and sister (both Black women) agreed…Black women are fucked up. Don’t deal with Black women.  Find someone of another group who does not have drama!”

-a Black woman, on other Black women

“My son knows his father ain’t nothing. Black men aren’t shit.  You can love them, but you can’t trust them.”

-a Black Woman to her son, on his father, and subconsciously about himself

“My mother taught me to never trust a Black man with your heart, he will fail you and break your heart …. Every time.”

-a Black woman on Black men

“In a Black man, I want a meaningful relationship and here I am at 55, all I found so far is heartache, drama, lies and betrayal.  I am sad, alone and yet better off by myself.”

-a Black woman, on relationships

“Why should I respect my elders? They don’t respect me.  You guys just want to play us. You guys are a bunch of losers.”

– an adolescent Black male, on adult Black males

—————————————

My Dear Readers,

It is once again my pleasure to write to you and in doing so, share clinical skill, experience and wisdom I have gained during my walk along my landscape, which is the LIFE I live with the opportunity to experience my surroundings.

Recently, I celebrated my 69th birthday.  To those living in the comfort of white privilege, reaching this “peak” may not be worthy of mentioning.  However, the reality remains that while we reside in the same country, we live in two separate distinct worlds.  One world is relaxed and comfortable in its protection from people characterized by the stereotypes and fears created by its citizens, while in another world, others are forced to live in a world of oppression, fear, and control through enforcement of the law.  In this second world, my world, small infractions can result in extreme and deadly consequences such as those suffered by Jayland Walker of Akron, OH, who was recently killed by police during a traffic stop.

However, today’s writing is not about the fear held by the privileged and powerful.  Here, my writing will speak to the fear that permeates the African American community.  I am referring to the fear that clouds the interactions between African American women, men, adolescents, and children. I refer to the fear that psychologically impacts intimacy in family and partner relationships. I speak of the same fear that is taught by adults to children, reinforced during adolescence and realized upon arrival into the young adult world.

African Americans face unique Choices at the Crossroads throughout their lives, and those lives are uniquely impacted by the decision as to the direction one takes. In my 35 years of clinical and therapeutic work, I have devised a clinical protocol, Self- Empowerment Leaping Forward (SELF), in which the individual has the following within the therapeutic environment:

  • Safe and Secure
  • Space to either
  • Sit with Silence or
  • Speak openly about
  • Secretive (hidden and rooted)
  • Submerged (unresolved)
  • Substances (materials)
  • Surfacing (arising) upon 
  • Self‘s psychological landscape.

My clinical work has shown that African Americans are and remain deeply clinically impacted by their historical, current, and daily experiences, particularly in interactions with those who seek to maintain privilege, power, and control over their movements.  From a clinical perspective, I place African Americans into two generalized groups: the Waiting Dead and the Walking Wounded.  The Waiting Dead can be defined as those who have all but given up on progressing and building a life for themselves and their families and are simply waiting for the end of their lives, whereas the Walking Wounded are the Survivors, who fight for dignity, power, and control day in and day out.

In these battles, where African Americans fail is that they often do not explore the impact that psychological trauma has had and is currently having on their lives, and how that manifests in the difficulties they experience with their mental wellness, ability to experience intimacy, and their relationships with their family and community. That, combined with an unwillingness to seek relief through valid psychological treatment approaches that can improve the quality of life, leads African Americans to instead seek measures that sustain survival methods, but do not provide sustained healing and resistance to the continued daily exposure to racism and psychological trauma.

In my work, I have seen that the African American community is a community of secrets that reinforces suffering in silence to gain temporary relief from the psychological pain it experiences every day.  The community also suffers from being silent about the psychological wounding within the family and between women and men. The African American community is bound together by secrecy, and yet continues to maintain distancing through the concept of FEAR. 

The root of this secrecy is that the African American family is vested in secrets that are not publicly shared for fear that this information may damage the image of the family.  One patient, who came out to his family about his homosexuality, recalled that his parents’ response and concern were more focused on whom he shared this information with, since their main concern was whether he would bring shame upon the family.  This individual, believing that his truth was a source of shame for the family, kept this secret for 15 years, creating additional psychological distress. This distress led to two suicide attempts and years of consumption of alcohol and drug abuse to medicate his psychological pain.

Fear simply defined is “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat”.  In this situation, the family’s fear was based on the threat to the family’s image within the African American community. From the son’s perspective, the parents saw the threat to his physical and mental health as a more tolerable risk than potentially losing their “good name.”  The fear of losing the relationship with the family, or worse, being blamed for the family’s shame, led the son to maintain the secret, sacrificing himself for the protection of his family.

Like other normalized emotions such as sadness, happiness, or disappointment, fear is simply an emotion.  However, the African American community has created its own concept of fear; taking it outside the range of normal emotions to create and reinforce a patten of behavior that includes running, distancing, exclusion, and isolation.

This concept can be best described as the common sentiment FEAR: (False Expectations (or Experiences) Appearing Real), consists of beliefs, values and comments that are reinforced by interactions among the African American community. The focus becomes how such beliefs, values and comments are being utilized to create and maintain distance, resulting in distrust, loss of communication, and effectively running away from achieving and establishing dialogue which can create new beliefs, values and open communication.

Reconceptualizing FEAR-Facing, Embracing, Acknowledging & Responding = EMPOWERMENT 

First, we can begin the reconceptualization by transforming our view of fear to be what it really is: an emotion that is normal just like other emotions.  Second, we can remove the negative aspect that is motivated with fear by viewing fear as a positive and desired emotion. Third, we can follow the following protocol:

  • Facing– The emotion of fear is to be confronted directly by the psychological self, rather than distancing the psychological self from it.  The objective is to transform our attitude towards fear to wanting it rather than rejecting it.   
  • Embracing-The emotion of fear is to be held within the entity of the psychological self, not to be pushed away.  It is for the individual to create the imagery of placing “one’s loving arms” around the object that is feared.
  • Acknowledging fear, as an emotion, is accepted by the individual as theirs and not one else’s. It is in aloneness that the individual seeks warmth for and from the specific fear.
  • Respondingthe individual continues to handle the fear warmly as the individual continues to move into the tomorrow with the fear.
  • Empowerment– The protocol culminates in transformation: the individual no longer seeks external power, but instead achieves empowerment, which is internalized within the psychological self.  It is within this transformation that the individual no longer holds on to the illusion of power, but now realizes that empowerment allows them to walk the landscape known as LIFE.

An example that illustrates this revised concept of FEAR:

Mr. P lives in a community of which he is one of a few African Americans.  He is a corporate professional driving an expensive automobile.  In session, he expresses his anger and frustration at being racially profiled, followed and being pulled over by the police during numerous traffic stops for “minor violations.”

“Dr. Kane, I felt l so angry, scared and just could not react when I saw that the cop with his hand on his weapon and standing in a stance as if he was going to shoot me.  My mind went blank, and I began to stutter as I answered his questions.  What the fuck was I supposed to do? He’s the law and I am supposed to trust him, but he looked like he was going to shoot me. I went home feeling weak, got drunk and cried like a girl.  I wished I had stood up to him.”

Clinical Observations and Considerations

As he describes his experience, the patient is reacting to the incident.  He is viewing himself as powerless and now sees his manhood as being challenged not only by the police, but by himself.  He risks placing the self in a situation in which an interaction with the police could be escalated.  Although he is a professional, a homeowner, and earns a six-figure salary, he is clinically at the Surviving stage of “Walking the Landscape.”  The clinical objective at this point is to help the patient progress to the Driving stage in which he becomes empowered and therefore responsive rather than reactive to the situation he is in.

We begin by transforming the way in which the patient views the incident.  In doing so, the objective is that the next time this happens, he plans specific behaviors rather than simply having a knee-jerk reaction, which, as he related in session, is about feeling powerless or lacking in power.  Let’s transform the concept of FEAR when being stopped by the police.

Facing: Understand that on the street, the police have the power and you do not.  The focus is to control yourself and the scene you are now a part of.  Understand that the police, like others, may believe stereotypes of Black males, and their interactions with you will be based on those stereotypes or their past interactions with other Black males.  Do not assume that an officer of similar racial ethnic background will treat you differently.  When you interact with a police officer, visualize the color BLUE and nothing more.  Understand that the police officer, when interacting with you, may also be psychologically impacted by his own experiences, stereotypes and fears.  

Embracing: Understand that your fear is simply an emotion that now has been alerted and aroused. Visualize placing your loving arms around your body and hugging yourself.  Allow yourself to be okay with what you are feeling and to normalize the feeling of distress.  Take a moment and visualize yourself in the future as momentarily detained and on your way to your destination prior to be stopped by the police.

Acknowledging: Understand that most importantly, you are no longer in control.  You are now under the control of the police.  Accept that for this short time, you are under the police officer’s direct control.  You cannot leave the area until the police officer grants consent for you to do so.  As you have already embraced your fear, now acknowledge and accept that given this specific situation, having fear is a positive and natural reaction to the situation, and not a weakness or a negative statement about you.

Responding: Understand that you can respond to the situation in a calm, collected, and calculated manner.  Provide the police officer with the requested information, such as your driver license, registration, and insurance card. Be polite in your responses.  Do not respond in ways that will lengthen the police stop or escalate the interaction.  Do not engage in arguments, actions or any behaviors in which the police officer can perceive as a threat to the officer’s safety.  If you feel that you have been treated unfairly by the police officer, do not seek to resolve the matter in the street, as you will lose.  Instead, hold the officer accountable by filing a written complaint with the Internal Affairs Section.  

Empowerment -Understand that although you lack power during the encounter, you have the empowerment to engage in a manner that will further your ability to be safe and achieve a safe outcome.

In later sessions, Mr. P reported having less concerns about being stopped or pulled over by the police.  He adds that having filed several complaints with the police chief and mayor’s office in his city, the police stops have ceased.

Concluding Comments

“Why should I respect my elders? They don’t respect me.  You guys just want to play us. You guys are a bunch of losers.”

-an adolescent Black male, on adult Black males

My Dear Readers,

This quote speaks of the psychological pain that continues to permeate the African American community. In session, a 15-year-old adolescent recalled his memories of elementary school when Black men would always arrive on the first day of the new school year.  They would be dressed in suits and ties or wearing uniforms of their various professions and occupations.  He states:  

“They would high five us kids, patting us on the back and applauding us as we walked between them into the school as they lined up in two rows.  And then after all that cheering, photo taking for the media, they would disappear.  The next time they were seen was the following year at the beginning of school.  They just wanted to look good in front of the cameras.  They didn’t care about us.  They used us.  They don’t respect us.  I don’t care about or respect them.”

His words reflect the common themes indicated in the quotes at the beginning of this blog.  As the community continues to wrestle with psychological trauma created by internalized hate, distrust, and distancing from each other, they also continue to react to the psychological trauma of micro aggressive and macro aggressive assaults that continue to appear without warming or notice. 

The 17 psychological traumas and 16 forms of racism, combined with psychological traumas within the community, exacerbate the psychological distress and create what I call the waiting dead and walking wounded. The waiting dead, having been bombarded by external assaults and continuing to ignored and unsupported within their communities and families have given up “wanting to live.” The walking wounded experience the same traumas but continue to hold to survivorship.  It is within the work of psychotherapy utilizing the protocol of Self- Empowerment Leaping Forward that the survivor can continue to walk their landscape and experience the stages of LIFE:  Driving (empowerment), Striving (setting the direction and pace) and Thriving (identification of goals and accomplishment of objectives).

Now than ever before, there are more African Americans wanting to seek mental health treatment. However, there are not enough mental health providers available to serve African American communities nationwide. Specifically, data from the American Psychiatric Association shows that only 2 % of the estimated 41,000 psychiatrists and 4% of psychologists in the US are African American.  Such low numbers of African American mental health providers are placing a heavy strain on the industry, forcing such providers to make difficult decisions in identifying which individuals will receive mental health services and treatment such as psychiatric hospitalization, medication and psychotherapy.  Understanding the pressures faced by African Americans, it explains the reasoning that African Americans have the highest rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)(8.7%) than any other ethnic groups.

A failure of the African American community is its focus on reacting rather than responding to the external challenges such as  microaggression/macroaggressions, or the internal challenges that face the Waiting Dead or Walking Wounded.  Clinically, what is desired, wanted and recommended is comprehensive planning and strategies within the clinical realm to assist its members to respond rather than react to the challenges as indicated.  One such strategy is to understand how the emotion of fear has been conceptualized and how the current concept continues to handicap the community’s belief system, values and self-imagery.  The recommendation would be to focus on reconceptualizing the emotion of fear so that the idea of fear would be constructive rather than destructive.

Throughout the years, African Americans have known suffering in this land for 403 years and this suffering is likely to continue as those who fear Black skin continue to seek power, privilege, and control over Black skin.  We cannot afford to wait for relief to come; for 403 years the relief has not arrived, and it is upon us to provide opportunities for ourselves to create mental health wellness as we seek to walk the landscape we know as life.

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

 The Negro Speaks of Rivers

BY LANGSTON HUGHES

I’ve known rivers:

I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.

I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.

I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.

I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I’ve known rivers:

Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

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

Until the next time,

Remaining … In Our Corner

The Unspoken Truth: Balancing Vigilance and Paranoia– Juneteenth & Independence Day

“I’m not jumping in after you.”

-Tempe AZ Cops as a Black Man drowned.

(Oxygen News)

“Coins depicting Border Patrol agent grabbing Haitian migrant trigger investigation”

(Headline, Los Angeles Times)

“New York man who was caught on camera claiming to be an ‘off-duty trooper’ while going on a racist road rage tirade has been charged with a hate crime.”

(Headline, CNN)

“City Paying Cop Who Posted Nazi Symbol in Office $1.5M To Go Away”

(Headline, VICE News)

“Cop Caught on Video Telling Black Driver ‘This is How You Guys Get Killed’”

(Headline, VICE News)

—————————————————-

My Dear Readers,

In writing this blog, I bring you greetings from my current travels in Paris, France and Lisbon, Portugal.  While in Paris, I had the opportunity to walk the Ricki Stevenson 8-hour Black Paris Tour (led by Miguel Overton Guerrero for a record fourth time! Not bad for a senior dude from Seattle!)

During the tour, we visited the areas where Black American celebrities, including dancer Josephine Baker and writers James Baldwin and Richard Wright lived and the restaurants they visited daily for their meals and gatherings with other Black American artists and writers.  I also visited the American Church where Martin Luther King preached after returning from Oslo, Norway, where he received his Nobel Peace Prize. 

During the tour, I visited the famous Arc de Triomphe where, following the Allied victory over Germany at the end of WWI, African American soldiers were not allowed to participate in the victory march due to the racist segregationist polices of the American military leadership. 

The tour culminated with a visit to a community within Paris known as “Little Africa,” where I was able to purchase items that would influence my clinical practice. Towards the end of my stay in Paris, I was able to secure a business contract with the world-famous Seattle-based chocolate chef Michael Poole, also known as “Hot Chocolat.”  Chef Poole, also African American, was trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. As we are both extremely busy individuals, it took a trip of 5,000 miles, crossing two continents, to forge a business contract for the chef to provide his deserts for the upcoming gala in July being sponsored by Kane & Associates.

I write to you now from Lisbon, Portugal. I wanted to come to Europe to get a different world perspective for this blog entry.  As a clinical traumatologist, responding to the mass killings of Black people in Buffalo, NY and the 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas was psychologically impactful.  As I enter July 2022, I begin the period of my professional and personal life that I have named “the Emergence”.  It is in the emergence that I further my determination to walk the landscape of my life, and to live the life I want, and not continue to live the life I have.

My life began during segregation, when being labeled as “colored” restricted my access to education and other opportunities.  As a child, I recall my first experiences of domestic terrorism including lynching, the church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama in which four little black girls were killed, and the horrors of police ordering dogs to bite defenseless protesters while firefighters used water hoses, battering defenseless children and adults.

Still, the African American community nationwide persevered, never wavering in its determination to achieve a better life for its children than the one endured by previous generations.  Yet, in its determination to achieve political and economic power and “forced” acceptance into the American Dream, which was well guarded by the dominant group, the African American community failed to provide emotional protection in the form of individual, family and/or group therapies necessary to respond to repetitive psychological traumatic assaults. 

Instead, the community continued to rely on faith-based institutions and family structures.  Neither have been able to develop comprehensive strategies, and today, community members collectively continue to seek political and economic power, continue to suffer psychologically due to repetitive traumatic intrusions and conscious and unconsciously racist actions by members of the dominant majority, denied the true elements of walking one’s landscape: driving (empowerment), striving (setting direction and pace), and thriving (achieving goals & objectives).

Below is the story of one individual, in the trap of the American Dream…

—————————————–

Dear Dr. Kane,

I hope life finds you well.  I have read your blog postings over the years and I hope that you can advise me.  I live in Marysville, WA which is a predominately white city.  I have always been a law-abiding citizen who contributes to the wellness of my community and yet, I feel very alone living here, and I have had numerous experiences where my freedom can be taken from me at a moment’s notice.  When I express these feelings to my white colleagues, I am not taken seriously—rather, they laugh or say that I’m being paranoid, oversensitive or overreactive.

Recently, I had an experience that shook me to my core. I am unable to talk about it as I am concerned as to how others will see me or somehow twist the story around to make it seem as if I was responsible for what happened.  I was at home when I noticed that there was someone on my property who appeared to be in distress.  I came outside to see this white woman who appeared homeless, disheveled and in tears.  I went to ask her how I could help her, and as I approached her, she snarled and yelled “Get away from me …nigger!” I stood there, dumbfounded, and shocked.  Her next words sent a chill up and down my spine. She stated in a very calm voice …” don’t make me take your freedom.” She suddenly stood up, and with a look of disdain and defiance, left my property.  I stood there in utter silence…watching her disappear down the street and to the back of my mind.

Despite my high six-figure salary, home ownership and community involvement, this homeless White woman had the power to “take my freedom,” and not only did she know it, she was willing to use it.  She left knowing what I knew:  that a complaint from her to the police would irrevocably change my life. At that time, she had me.  She had my freedom in her hands, and all it would take is her word to unleash hell on me.

I just stood there, saying nothing as she walked away.  I was ashamed and humiliated. I didn’t talk back.  I didn’t call the police.  I simply accepted the abuse.  I don’t want to tell anyone, especially my son—he’ll no longer respect me.  My son wants me to explain Juneteenth and given what happened to me, I feel unable to do so.  Can you help?  What do I say?  How can I forget about this terrible incident?  How do I get the thoughts to stop?  I am now having nightmares about the police taking me out of my home.  Please help.

Chained & Broken,

Marysville WA

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My Dear Young Man (& My Dear Readership),

I appreciate your willingness to write, sharing your experience with the readership and seeking consultation regarding the horrible situation in which you endured.  In responding to your concerns, I feel it is best to divide my responses in distinctive areas.  In my response regarding your experience, I will address my remarks directly to the readership as I’m sure that this will help other African American individuals who have experienced similar incidents and therefore can provide a proper or appropriate response.

Balancing Vigilance, Not Paranoia

Paranoia is a mental condition characterized by delusions of persecution, unwarranted jealousy, or exaggerated self-importance. It can also be suspicion or mistrust without evidence or justification. This young man did not go into the specifics of his experiences, but as an African American man living among a predominately white population, he has valid concerns about being susceptible to unconscious bias and vulnerable to conscious and unconscious racist actions.  Such vulnerability could lead to heightened vigilance, which, given the racial predominance of the community in which he resides, can be considered normal and appropriate.

Understanding the Intrusions of Shame & Humiliation

Shame is defined as painful feelings associated with the belief that there is something dishonorable, improper, or ridiculous about the self.  Humiliation, in contrast, refers to an event where unequal power in a relationship is displayed, where you are in the inferior position and unjustly treated.

Shame is an internal construct which is reinforced from within. Shame can induce the individual to:

  • Feel badly about the self
  • Express disapproval of one’s own actions and accomplishments
  • Feel inferior or experience loss of self esteem
  • Repeatedly blaming oneself for a mistake

Humiliation, on the other hand, is an external insult initiated by another person.  The painful experience is vividly remembered for an extended period.  Humiliation requires the involvement of three distinct parties:

  • The perpetrator exercising power
  • The victim who is shown to be powerless
  • There is the perception of witnesses or observers to the event

In this case, the humiliation begins with the white woman’s rejection of the African American man’s empathy by hurling the racist remark and demanding that he move away from her, even though she is on his property without permission.  Furthermore, the humiliation is completed when the African American homeowner acknowledges the homeless White woman’s power and his own powerlessness, coupled with his real fear of the negative consequences should she follow through with her threat to “take his freedom,” with the clear implication that she would use the police to do so.

As stated earlier, shame as an internal construct occurs when the victim reinforces his own negative self-esteem. Despite his attempts to prove himself worthy of respect through his high six figure salary and homeownership, he was deeply injured, and he is unable to repair the damage created by his mistake in not advocating for self when the incident and threat of loss of freedom occurred.  Now, due to his fear of loss of validation and respect from his son, he is unable to share with his son his wisdom and experiences.

The Permanency of Psychological Trauma

“We do not have to agree…We do want to understand.”

-Dr. Micheal Kane

There are clear misconceptions within the psychological self of the African American homeowner.  He blames himself for not rebuking his perpetrator.  He acknowledges not calling the police, but simply accepting the abuse.  Not only does he fear if he should he tell his son he will lose his respect, but he has already lost his own self-respect as we listen to his words and actions.  Now he seeks to have these ruminating thoughts removed and nightmares cease. Neither the thoughts nor the nightmares relating to this incident will stop.  

This individual, as well as ALL African Americans, can benefit by understanding this:  bad thoughts, nightmares, and incidents arising from psychological trauma do not simply go away.  African Americans are impacted by 17 subtypes of psychological trauma and 16 forms of racism daily.  Psychological trauma has permanency.  It never, ever goes away. When faced with horrific situations, the traumatized individual must, rather than react, craft a response through advocating, (reinforcing the integrity of self), balancing (the weight of traumatic impacts} and calmness (in both the psychological self and the external environment i.e., the world).

Concluding Words-The Unspoken Truth …… Dr. Micheal Kane

“President Trump, I want to thank you for the historic victory for white life in the Supreme Court today.”

-Republican Congresswoman Mary Miller

“To Uncle Clarence & The Supremes …. We will not surrender.  We will fight onward until victory is done.”

– Dr. Micheal Kane

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My Dear Young Man,

Again, I thank you for the willingness to share your situation with my readership.  In closing, I want to respond to your ending and most important question: ”What do I tell my son?”  My advice is simple: tell him the truth.  Tell him the truth about the power of “White Tears” being expressed by White women.  Tell him the truth about Emmett Till, the fourteen-year-old boy who was murdered based on a White woman’s word.  Tell your son the truth about your reasonable fears regarding interaction with law enforcement, which has its historical beginnings in slave catching and overseers, working in conjunction with slave owners, government officials and federal judges.   

When you speak of Juneteenth, tell him that American military commanders during WWI refused to allow African Americans to fight under the American flag and instead, gave entire segregated divisions of African Americans over to the French Army to fight in French uniforms under the French flag, and after the war, were prevented by the same American military commanders from participating in the Victory March in 1918. Tell your son that it took Congress 120 years to approve federal anti-lynching legislation and during these yearly debates, 4,000 African American children, women and men were lynched.

When you speak of the 4th of July Independence Day celebration, tell your son that the Supreme Court in 1857 ruled that the United States Constitution was not meant to include people of African descent.  Tell your son that African Americans have fought in every war for their country despite being forced to into slavery, responding to Black Codes, Sundown Laws, domestic terrorism, and other threats. 

I was traveling in Paris, retracing the steps of African Americans serving in France during WWI when the news came of the Supreme Court conservative majority overturning Roe v Wade. I am in Lisbon, Portugal making my way home… there is much work for us to do protect a Woman’s right to DECIDE, not simply choose.  It is my decision to live the life that I want and not live the life that is chosen for me by others. 

In closing I would suggest that in seeking to “Empower the Psychological Self,” that you consider holistically the decisions you make, the consequences and lessons you learn and the wisdom that flows from it all.  In Walking Your Landscape, remember that you stand alone, and it is in standing alone that one embraces aloneness.

The Five Elements of Embracing Aloneness

Alertness- Balancing being watchful with a wide-awake attitude

Awareness-Having knowledge and understanding of one’s surroundings that something is happening or existing within one’s immediate space.

Arousal-The awakening or causing of strong feelings or excitement in one’s sensation.

Abandon-The understanding that one has ceased to look for support from others and course of action, a practice or a way of thinking must come from within oneself.

Alive– Continuing the state of being alert, active, animated.  Walking the landscape having interest and meaning with fullness of emotion, excitement and activity.

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Uncle Clarence,

I dedicate this poem to you.

-Dr. Kane

The Darkest Hour

James Baldwin 1925-1987

The darkest hour

is just before the dawn,

and that, I see,

which does not guarantee

power to draw the next breath,’

nor abolish the suspicion

that the brightest hour

we will ever see

occurs just before we cease

to be.

Standing Alone…The Unspoken Truth

The Unspoken Truth: No Place To Hide

“You just got to go for it.”

Payton Gendron age 18, shooter (livestreamed video statement following the killing of 10 and wounding of 3)

“It was a straight up, racially motivated hate crime.”

John Garcia, Sheriff, Erie County

“The shooter was not from this community.  In fact, the shooter traveled hours from outside the community to perpetrate this crime on the people of Buffalo.”

Byron Brown, Mayor, City of Buffalo

“I assure everyone in this community, justice is being done right and justice will be done.”

John Flynn, District Attorney, Erie County, New York

“It strikes at our very hearts to know that there is such evil that lurks out there.  It is my sincere hope that the suspect will spend the rest of his days behind bars.”

Kathy Hochul, Governor, The State of New York

“My message is to make sure that we recognize that this is an individual.  This was not a white man from our community. This was not a white man from Buffalo.  This is a white person who was evil.”

Darius G. Pridgen, President, Buffalo City Council & Senior Pastor, True Bethel Baptist Church

”Fear is here forever.  It never left…. It has always been here, and it will always be here.”

Dr. Micheal Kane Clinical Traumatologist

My Dear Readers,

I write to you during a very difficult time.  My community, the African American community, has once again suffered from a great loss of innocent life. And less than two weeks following President Biden’s words of “no more” … another horrific mass killing of the innocent has occurred: 19 children and two adults slaughtered in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.  This time, the horror impacted the Mexican American community.  Once again, another “tsunami” of massive psychological impact, bringing a mountainous wall of grief, devastation, and unrelenting fear upon us.

The term “tsunami” is often used to describe a long, high sea wave caused by an earthquake or other disturbance.  It can also be described as an arrival or occurrence of something in overwhelming quantities or amounts. 

Over 2,500 miles separate Seattle, WA from Buffalo, NY.  On Saturday, May 14, 2022, a white supremacist, traveling 200 miles from his residence to Buffalo, NY; entered a supermarket in a predominately African American community and opened fire, killing 10 and wounding 3, bringing that “tsunami” to African American communities in Seattle and in cities across the country.

The initial impact was thunderous then, and shockwaves remain with us today.  African American communities across the nation are traumatized, grief stricken, and psychologically impacted by this instance of racial hatred, just like they were seven years ago, following a similar incident in Charleston, South Carolina in which another young white male supremacist entered the Emanuel AME Church and after being welcomed into Bible study, slaughtered nine African Americans, including the Senior Pastor.

For those who are not familiar with my clinical work, my focus as a clinical traumatologist is on the psychological impacts of clinical traumatology and racism. In 8 years of postdoctoral study and running a clinical practice for over 30 years, I have identified 17 subtypes of trauma and 16 forms of racism which African Americans are vulnerable to and exposed to daily, on which I have published, lectured and acted as a keynote speaker and clinical consultant for the Black Congressional Caucus conference.

And here I am today, utilizing the SELF™ Protocol for my patients daily: providing and holding a safe, secure space for those in emotional pain to either sit in silence or to release the substances surfacing on their landscape.

For me, it is a privilege and an honor to hold “space,” listening to the release of such emotional pain and suffering.  I define this as my “WOW” practice: Waiting (patiently), Observing (listening) Witnessing (Serving humanity).

Below are excerpts of darkness being lifted into the light….

Dr. Kane,

Please help me. Please. I have no other place to turn.  I am afraid all the time.  I can’t leave my home.  I can’t eat or sleep. My babies need food. I need to see you.  Please text me.

M. (Seattle)

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Dr. Kane,

My husband has armed himself.  He does not trust the police to protect him as they are always targeting him. I am afraid that should he be pulled over; they will kill him.  He won’t listen to me.  What can I do?  Will you talk to him?

C. (Tacoma)

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Hey Doc,

My name is J.  I am sick and tired of this shit.  I feel that I am a target waiting to be killed. I am the only Black teacher in my school.  I see them whispering when they are around me. I stay to myself.  You may think I am paranoid, but I feel I’m next up.  Keeping on the face is tearing me up inside.  Got any time to see me?

J. (Tukwila)

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Dr. Kane,

I just got off the phone with another black therapist.  I can’t get in.  Same damn story. Everyone is full.  Can’t talk to a white therapist; did that already; besides not being able to get it, the last one wanted to talk to me about my anger and being paranoid. Is he fucking serious?  Can you fit me in on your schedule?  Please call me back.

V. (Bellevue)

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So, what are the common themes? Fear, Hopelessness, Lack of control. 

The answer? Learning to live with fear and not in fear… Walking one’s Landscape with Hope, letting go of control and focusing on achieving balance.

From a clinical trauma viewpoint, repetitive psychological impacts during the last 403 years and counting, including slavery, emancipation, reconstruction era, segregation, Jim Crow, Black codes, race riots and massacres incited by Whites, civil rights movement, housing rights, voting rights, and so much more…are the reality that Black folks have existed and survived through while others such as White folks have strived and thrived throughout.

Economically and politically, African Americans enjoy higher living standards than any other people of African descent worldwide and yet, continue to live in fear of racial violence and terror, seeking protection from a law enforcement apparatus that is historically rooted in “slave catching” and even today, still views its African American citizens as second-class citizens.

For 403 years, African Americans have struggled against staunch resistance to achieve what many White Americans are born into: acceptance into what is identified as the fabric of America.  African Americans, after all this adversity, continue to achieve and will not be denied.

Yet, how does one continue to want to advance in the face of psychological decimation?  How does one walk their life’s landscape in the face of fear of harm/death to one’s loved ones or self? 

Concluding Words- Walking the Landscape: Alone & Empowered

“You can run but you can’t hide.”

Joe Louis, “The Brown Bomber” World Heavyweight Champion 1937-1949

My Dear Readers,

I originally wrote this piece after the Buffalo shooting but chose to rewrite this in light of the Uvalde shooting—that’s how quickly one followed the other. Gun violence due to unrestricted and easy access to weapons has resulted in the loss of 21 lives including 19 children and two teachers at Uvalde. 

This tragedy follows the mass loss of life in 2019 in which 23 persons were killed by a White supremacist in El Paso Texas. Similar to the Buffalo mass murders, the White supremacist in the El Paso Walmart shooting drove an extended distance (580) from his suburban community of Allen, TX to El Paso with the specific intent to target ethnic minorities i.e., Mexican Americans.  Like both the Buffalo, NY and Charleston, SC shootings, all three of the White supremacists were young (18, 21, 21), were able to purchase the weapons legally, and were strongly invested in the Great Replacement Theory, a racist, sexist doctrine being pushed in far-right circles. 

Another similarity is the murder of 8 persons in Atlanta GA of which 6 were Asian women.  Although there is no evidence at this time that the killing of the 21 individuals in the elementary school of Uvalde, TX have racial overtones, the common theme are the young ages of the shooters and easy access to firearms legally sold at the age of 18 years old.

Ethnic minorities have consistently voiced their outrage and concern regarding threats of physical harm and psychological impacts due to factors of white supremacy, easy access to weapons and the threats coming from young, radicalized individuals. These communities have been labeled “paranoid” and “mentally ill” regarding micro-aggressive assaults (deliberate and intentional slights such as, name-calling, avoidant behavior, and purposeful discriminatory actions) and macro-aggressive assaults (large scale or overt aggression leading to bodily harm, physical injury and/or death). 

And now, these same devastated and impacted communities are being asked to believe that the system of laws, which is only there to protect itself, will protect them from the fears that those systems have labeled as paranoia and mental illness.

Protection for ethnic minority communities is long overdue. Yet, the three branches of federal governance appear immobilized, incapable and mired in competing agendas that appear to ignore the concerns of these communities.

  • The Judicial Branch is in disarray preparing to overturn Roe v Wade.  The focus of the dominant group is abortion and not the interest of “Black Lives Matter.”
  • The Legislative Branch (Congress) took 120 years to pass a federal anti-lynching law that was regularly introduced on a yearly basis.  4,000 children, women, men young and old were lynched while they debated the issue.
  • The Executive Branch– In 2015, President Obama came to Charleston, South Carolina to extend his condolences regarding the murders of 9 church members by a young white supremacist. In 2017 during the racist march in Charlotteville, VA in speaking about white supremacy, President Trump stated “There were very fine people on both sides.” In 2022, President Biden came to Buffalo, New York to extend his condolences and stated

“White supremacy is a poison…and it’s been allowed to fester and grow right in front of our eyes.” … “No More.”

President Joe Biden

We send our children out every morning to school, vulnerable and exposed to the same or similar overt and covert racial experiences that have psychologically impacted us and still scar us to this very day. Yet we are “shocked” and in disbelief when our children returned home psychologically impacted.

In Uvalde, Texas, 19 children went to school one morning and due to easily accessible and legal ownership of firearms…they did not come home.  They are lost forever.  The psychological impacts of mass shootings in a supermarket in Buffalo NY and an elementary school in Uvalde, TX have long lasting ramifications to our children and leave their parents with being psychologically impacted and hopeless in protecting their children.  Below is such an indicator.

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Dr. Kane,

I am at work today. My son H, called me from school sobbing, stating the white classmates have been told by their parents not to play with him because they could be killed in a drive by. My son is 8 years old! And he is asking me, “why do White people hate me?  What do I say? I am in tears.  I got to work with these people.  I can’t tell them this.  I can’t let them see me like this.

-Corporate Lawyer (Seattle)

Who is the patient?  The mother or the eight-year child? (Answer- both…individual, play, family, group therapies)

Where do they refer to? (All the Black therapists in the local area are full.  White therapists? Lacking in understanding the Black experience? Lack of cultural competency?  Lack of trauma focused training & experience?).

What do they do? (They continue to survive, suffer in silence, wear the “face” or the “mask” and wait… wait .. for the next shooting.

WHAT CAN WE DO?  We can empower ourselves to by considering the protocol of The Five Elements of Embracing Aloneness, and maintain situational awareness in being vigilant in public places.

SITUATIONAL AWARENESS: HOW TO BE VIGILANT IN PUBLIC PLACES

  1. REDUCE AND AVOID DISTRACTIONS. … 
  2. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES. … 
  3. MAKE YOURSELF A DIFFICULT TARGET. … 
  4. TRUST YOUR GUT. … 
  5. PRACTICE PREDICTING POSSIBLE INCIDENTS. … 
  6. SITUATIONAL AWARENESS IS OBSERVING YOUR SURROUNDINGS. … 
  7. CARRY ITEMS FOR SELF-DEFENSE.

As Joe Louis stated, “You can run but you can’t hide.” Or you can stop running and empower your children and yourself.

“You either live the life you want… or continue to live (exist) in the life you have.”

Dr. Micheal Kane

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

We Wear the Mask

BY PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR

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, O 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!

Standing Alone…Empowered … The Unspoken Truth

At The Crossroads: The Captain/Savior Complex or Making A Difference?

“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” – Unknown

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“Ducks quack and complain while eagles soar high and above.  So, soar like an eagle and stop quacking like a duck.” – Chinese proverb

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“I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else.  If you have some power, your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.”

Toni Morrison, Author & Recipient, Nobel Prize for Literature (1993)

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“Appreciate every step you are walking in your journey.  Even if it’s not where you want to be.  Every step has its purpose.” -The Mind’s Journal


Dear Dr. Kane,

I am writing to you out of frustration.  I am a Black Teaching intern at a high school in Tacoma, Washington, in the Puget Sound region of the Pacific Northwest.  I teach in a behavior-focused class consisting of mostly African American males, Latino males, and a few White males.  The school feels like a precursor to the prison system with the students acting as inmates, running the institution.   Although there is a dress code, a behavioral code, and a code regarding the use of cell phones in school… all of this is ignored by the students and not regulated or directed by the faculty or administration.   

Daily, I see young girls dressed inappropriately, students smoking weed in the parking lot during the day, students being destructive in the back of the classroom, and using their cell phones in the classroom either texting their friends or playing video games, all of this being ignored by the teachers. I also run the study hall for the football players after school, which is just a place for the students to cut up, talk loudly and do anything but study and focus on their schoolwork.

I am very concerned about the school-to-prison pipeline.  When I talk to the students about this issue and  about preparing to go to college, they ignore me and laugh. However, when I look at these young men, I see me.   When I was their ages, I remember having Mr. Bates, a Black teacher, inspire me, stay on me, encourage, and support me.  He gave back to his community and here I am, wanting to do the same.  I want to help uplift these young people. Yet every day, I arrive at school energized and I leave at the end of the day feeling defeated.

Recently, our school sent a contingent of Black students to a student event focusing on Black leadership of the future, focusing on leaders in the field of sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).  While the other three high schools in the district contributed 225 students combined, my school sent only 7 students, and of the 7, all were young women!  The students from other schools provided a display of projects completed at their home schools during Black History Month, where my school administration waited three days into Black History Month before acknowledging it, and none of the faculty created any activities to honor the significance of Black achievements. Even though the faculty knew about the students attending the STEM event, nothing was done to assist or prepare the students for the event.  They went to the event empty handed, and I was so disappointed.

It is unclear to me whether the administration and the faculty understand the significance of Black History Month or how at risk these kids really are.  I spend my time focusing on the most vulnerable of them, doing what Mr. Bates did for me so long ago. I spent countless hours mentoring, encouraging, and supporting one of these students, who I will call Steven, in hopes of improving his grades so that he would have the chance to be, like me, the first one in his family to attend college.

One day, he passed by me as I returned to class from lunch, and I was almost floored by the strong smell of weed arising directly from him.  He tried to speak to me, and I turned away, telling him to go to his seat.  I was so disappointed in him.  I was in the process of writing to my dean at an all-Black Male college, urging that that they take him, but I’m not sure I want to advocate for him now.  I really wanted this for him.  I feel like a fool.

My time as a teaching intern is ending soon, and I will soon earn my teaching credentials, which will allow me to lead my own classroom.  However, I am having second thoughts as to whether I should continue to go in this direction.  I don’t feel that my efforts are valued by the students, the parents are unresponsive, and the administration and faculty remain silent in the face of what is clearly young Black people being set up to fail in early adulthood.

I don’t know whether the school administration is even aware of these issues.  In fact, the school will be graduating 400 Black students this year and 70% of them now have failing grades.

Recently, I was contacted by a recruiter from a global technology firm, suggesting that my skill sets would work well for their industry.  The financial package and incentives offered is almost three times what I would make starting out as a teacher.  I am confused as to what I should do. Regardless of where I go in my decision, I want to continue to serve as a mentor to Black students.  Can you offer me some advice?  Should I consider talking to a counselor?  I know I have unresolved issues from my own childhood and adolescence that is holding me back. 

Confused & Stuck

Tacoma, WA


My Dear Young Man,

In your words, I see a young man committed to his community and to assist others less fortunate. You are committed to mentoring and preparing these young people for the realities facing them in the adult world and to help them avoid the fate of the school to prison pipeline, and this is being frustrated by the inaction of your school administration and faculty.

The urgency you feel about the school-to-prison pipeline is warranted. Three out of four young black men have served time in prison, and as many as 80% of young African American men in the US today have criminal records that will subject them to legal discrimination for the rest of their lives.

In your writing you speak highly of your former teacher and mentor Mr. Bates.  You also spoke of your intense disappointment in Steven’s decision to smoke cannabis during the lunch break, making you reconsider recommending him for the college you attended.

Although your signature line ends with Confused & Stuck, it is apparent that instead of being confused, you are conflicted in your desire to serve the community you come from and balancing both with your concerns/fears for the students under your purview, while wanting to pursue and maintain your own mental health and happiness.  

Understanding your commitment to your community and mentoring Black students, your frustrations are magnified in your inability to get others to see the danger ahead: 

  • What makes them oblivious to the danger that you see?
  • Or maybe because of their age and inexperience, they are unable to see?
  • Is it my role as an adult to get them to see what I see?
  • Do I continue to push, implore, and demand that they listen to me?
  • What am I doing wrong?

Let’s respond to the last question first:  “What am I doing wrong?” The issue here is the Captain/Savior Complex.  This is where a person, the Captain/Savior, saves another from danger and expects to be regarded with that person’s reverence and respect for saving them. This is a common pattern befalling many aspiring young African Americans seeking to “give back” to their community. 

Within the African American community, we are raised with specific messages that ingrain service, giving, community, collectivism, and most importantly, sacrifice for others into our psychological landscapes.  These messages include:

  • Each one, teach one.
  • He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.
  • A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
  • It takes a village to raise a child.

Although these sayings are well intended, the problem is that the Captain/Savior’s actions may not be aligned with the desires of the people they want to help. Those individuals may not want assistance from the Captain/Savior.  Furthermore, any obligations that the Captain/Savior has to their own life, such as family, church, community, must be balanced against the needs of the people that the Captain/Savior is trying to help, and they often suffer.  As a result, the Captain/Savior is often forced to deplete their own psychological resources, continuously investing time, energy, and effort into mentorship, advocacy, and other supporting efforts, hoping that something will resonate.

Let’s examine the realities of these idioms that you may be staunchly guiding oneself by:

  • Each One, Teach One
    • Truth: Even in your limited teaching experience,  you are not observing this directly.  There is no commitment to either teach or learn from each other.
  • He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother
    • Truth: He is heavy! The fact that he is my brother does not take away the reality of interacting with a person who is psychologically impacted and weighing me down as I am seeking to help him.
  • A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste
    • Truth: In your daily experience, you see the potential of brilliance and the possibilities of tomorrow being wasted by lack of discipline and behavioral reinforcement.
  • It Takes a Village to Raise a Child
    • Truth: The villagers have scattered; some are fearful of their own children and are therefore incapable of raising them. For the children of the village to succeed, their parents must be deeply involved in academic learning.  However,  when seeking to choose between focusing on providing food, clothing and shelter or being actively involved in daily learning, those parents are forced to choose the basics of life over their child’s academic development.

Young Man, you benefited from the mentorship offered to you by your beloved Mr. Bates.  However, the problem here is that as you seek to follow in his steps, you are failing to take into consideration that you chose to accept Mr. Bates’ assistance and the resources he had to offer.  The error in your actions is your unwillingness to accept your students’ decision to “go their own way.”  Perhaps you assume that because of their youth, “they either don’t understand or are oblivious to the life that you believe is waiting for them. 

Such thoughts can be condescending and patronizing as these do not acknowledge or respect  the freedom of your students to experience life on their own and to learn the lessons these experiences provide. You can lead those horses to the water, but you cannot make them drink it.

Or, you can leave the horse at the watering hole and allow it to figure it out, or not.  It may sound cruel or heartless to suggest that upon seeing a person walking towards what you believe is impending disaster, not to intervene.  However, you do not have the same vantage point or perspective as the person you are trying to help. After repeatedly “saving” that person from himself and they still insist on their previous course of action….is it your role to continue to step in their way?  The answer is no. Like you, those individuals have the freedom to make their own choices about their lives, whether those choices benefit them or not.

“Live the life you want or continue to live the live you have.  You must decide.  You cannot do them both.”
-Dr. Micheal Kane

Young Man, regarding being frustrated and disappointed in Steven regarding his decision to smoke cannabis during lunch and return artwares to class, consider the following questions:

  • Was Steven forced to smoke cannabis or did he exercise free will in his decision?
  • How are you personally impacted by Steven’s decision and actions?
  • Most importantly, what did you learn about yourself in relation to Steven’s actions?

As you ponder your responses to these questions, consider the Five Elements in Walking the Landscape:

  • Choices– there are choices at the crossroads affronting the individual as to the direction one will take.
  • Decisions– must be made. It is one path or the other. One cannot go in two different directions at the same time.
  • Consequences– are the responses to the decisions one has made and what one does or does not …do.
  • Lessons Learned– bring experience, wisdom or …they don’t.
  • Transformation is the desired outcome here; permanency and empowerment are the objectives we seek from the choices and decisions made at the crossroads.

When examining the model, we can realistically understand and accept the following:

  • Steven has free will and made the decision to smoke cannabis
  • Consequently, by his actions he was observed by you being high returning to class
  • Steven’s ability to be successful in learning has now been impacted by his behavior and actions.
  • Now you, as the teaching intern, must decide whether you are going to move forth with staking your credibility on Steven’s judgment and choices by writing a letter of recommendation to your college’s dean, or accept that, based on Steven’s actions, he is not ready to proceed with your help.

The Shakiness of the Captain/Savior Complex-The Soft Pillow Landing

Young Man, by taking personal offense to Steven’s decisions and actions, you create an imbalance between your thoughts and feelings that impacts how you see Steven and how you see yourself.  You seek to save him from a life that he may in fact prefer and enjoy, regardless of the challenges he may face. Furthermore, you seek to protect him from learning about and appreciating his biggest adversary and his biggest ally in life: himself.  You want to offer him something that clearly is beyond your scope: safety and security in a land that is inherently hostile to him as a young black man.   

Young Man, stop seeking to be another Mr. Bates. Mr. Bates did not rescue you from yourself.  He instead provided you with the knowledge of and opportunity to enter a world that was not previously accessible to you.  Through his mentorship, he helped you clearly see the choices before you and helped you make a decision that transformed the trajectory of your life. While Mr. Bates gave you guidance and information, you were the one who had the wisdom to utilize that knowledge to make the right choices for yourself.  If you chose to go in a different direction, Mr. Bates would have had to let you go your own way, just as you must want to let Steven go his own way.

Young men like Steven have the right to accept or reject your counsel, wisdom, or direction.  They have the right to decide their own fate even if it leads directly to the adversity that you see ahead. The soft pillow landing you seek to provide for Steven actually belongs to you.  Steven tossing the pillow back to you is not a rejection of you.  It is a statement of his autonomy, and even if you disagree with it, it is his decision to make and for you to respect.

Young Man, am I suggesting that you give up on our young people? Or sit idly by and watch them fail whereas you know that they have the capacity to be successful? No, of course not.  I am suggesting that you stop being the Captain/Savior of the community and instead, be a symbol, a role model, and an example of what your students can be. Celebrate the students who take advantage of the knowledge and education that you can offer to them. 

In the example of the STEM event, focus on the 7 young students who attended. They are the ones who are interested, committed to education, and want to attend a four-year university, not the people who did not attend.   Be the beacon who lights their way on their journey as they follow their interests, encouraging and extending empowerment and hope to them.  Be the sources of support, resources, positive esteem and self-regard.  Do for those students what Mr. Bates did for you!


Black History Month & the Silence of the School Administration and Faculty

Recently, I met with a former corrections supervisor now retired after 30+ years working in penal institutions.  In acknowledging the school to prison pipeline, he stated that as a corrections professional, he had a job to do, and he did his best to be fair and implement the policies of the institution fairly, while offering mentorship and support. Some of the young Black males listened and readily sought him out, where others just did their time or dealt with the consequences of their actions.  Those who want help will seek it out and those who don’t won’t.

American schools and prisons share common characteristics, particularly the lack of emotional and societal maturity existing in both places and the onus placed on students and inmates respectively to seek assistance for themselves if they desire it.  In schools, just like penal institutions, once black students and inmates leave the institution, it is unlikely that they will return to the communities in which their White teachers and jailers live and work. 

For some teachers, teaching is a calling and a passion and like many in the corrections system, it is a means of providing income and supporting their families and nothing more.  While it is important for you and others of your community to celebrate and encourage Black achievement, do not assume that others feel the same way or are committed to the cause like you are.  Many protests and other forms of social action were organized and deployed by high school students in the Civil Rights Movement and activities following into the 1970s.  Nothing prevents modern students today from mobilizing and continuing those efforts.  

Ducks quack and complain while eagles soar high and above.  So, soar like an eagle and stop quacking like a duck.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer


Concluding Words- Dr. Kane

My Dear Young Man,

It is alarming that your school may be graduating students who perform lower than their grade level. It is alarming that these students will be sent into the world unprepared and potentially fall prey to a system that would be happy to incarcerate and institutionalize them.

As you come to the end of the academic term and attend graduation exercises, be prepared for the sights you will see: Black parents who you may have never seen at parent-teacher conferences or who have not responded to your emails and phone calls, proud that their children are obtaining pieces of paper that simply pass them out of high school into whatever future they may pursue. You may note that these students do not have the skills to either obtain an entry-level job or be competitive enough to enter a four-year college. The school superintendent will give speeches, the teachers, parents, and students will be smiling, and the prison pipeline will be preparing for the arrival and welcoming of new attendees.

The decision to continue your teaching career or transition to Corporate America and the high-tech industry is a decision that only you can make.  Your commitment to your community is obviously very important to you, so you must remember to balance your personal desires and wants with the needs of your community, while being careful not to sacrifice yourself for that community. Be aware that your community will continue to struggle with the imbalance resulting from more than 403 years and counting of oppression and will always be pressuring you to service. You must prioritize yourself above the needs of the community, lest you find yourself unable to help because you have nothing left to give.  

To be of assistance, mentorship, and service to others, you must first want to be an advocate for self, working toward being balanced emotionally and psychologically and achieving calmness in a world that will at times aggressively come at you because you are a black man. In my 35 years of clinical experience in trauma and psychological impacts, I have identified 17 subtypes of psychological traumas and 15 forms of racism that impact African Americans daily. Consequently, faced with daily battles in the workplace, the stress of constant vigilance during daily activities and interaction with white people and other people of color, the larger African American community is ill-equipped to prepare its young people, particularly males, for the passive or open hostility that awaits them.

African Americans have histories of being psychologically impacted.  Trauma is permanent, meaning that traumatic impact never, ever goes away.  The objective is to learn how to live with trauma and not live in trauma. Learning to do this requires therapeutic intervention.  However, therapeutic intervention is more successful when it is enthusiastically sought, versus when it is viewed with contempt and suspicion.

As a clinician, I view African Americans in two groups that are targeted by those holding privilege:

  • The Walking Dead and Wounded: those who are existing (barely alive) and surviving (day to day) and,
  • The Living: those seeking to drive (being empowered), strive (setting the pace and direction) and thrive (achieving goals and objectives).

The system started in 1619 following the first slaves arriving in America with the creation of “slave catchers,” the ancestors of today’s modern police. This is set up to maintain large numbers of African Americans in the Walking Dead category and control the access of those seeking success in the Living category. 

Whether you continue teaching or move into technology walking your landscape successfully would suggest ongoing therapeutic involvement to achieve and balance emotional and psychological wellness. Learn from your elders, as to what has happened to them in their lives.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I want more? Or will I continue to settle for less?
  • Do I want to live the life I want? Or do I continue to live the life I now live?
  • In walking my landscape, not that of my family or my community, how do I walk my landscape smarter and not harder?

Best wishes on your journey of self-discovery!


“Some people will never like you because your spirit irritates their demons.”

-Denzel Washington, Actor & Academy Award Winner


“As much as I love you,

I love me more.

Loving me more,

Does not mean,

I love you less.

It simply means

I love me more.

More.”

-Dr. Micheal Kane

Until the next crossroads….. the journey continues…

Bobbi’s Saga: Hitting a Brick Wall, Running with No Place to Hide

CAUTION: TRIGGER WARNING. Contains descriptions of sexual and physical abuse. Please read at your own discretion.

“The assault stole my soul.  I became a sneaky person.  I kept the secret of my rape. I carried the secret for 40 years before telling anyone. I was mad, ashamed, and disgusted with myself. I lived in fear that someone would find out about my secret.”

“The booze kept her demons at bay.”

–        Bobbi’s remarks about the movie Respect (2021).

“I got demons too Ree. Would you help me fight mine? …. and I will help you fight yours.”

–        Scene from Respect (2021). A plea by Ree-Ree’s (Aretha Franklin) husband following his physical assault upon her.

“There are no demons … it is the pain you have been running from your whole life.”

–        Scene from Respect (2021). Statement by Ree-Ree’s pianist to her at a highly emotional moment.

“I thought about killing myself.  I did not because of the pain I would leave behind.”

–        Bobbi’s statement restated recently which was made 10 years ago.

My Dear Readers,

In writing this blog, I want to attest, recognize, and acknowledge the recent activities of Suicide Prevention Week September 5th – 11th, 2021. There are those among us who may seek to end their lives.  They are often judged, criticized, and frequently misunderstood.  No one knows how much an individual can endure before they finally lose hope.  I choose, rather than to judge or criticized, to have empathy and compassion. Show human kindness for their long-suffered pain. It is my hope that the empathy, compassion, and human kindness shown to someone in pain becomes a model for, and appreciated by, others outside of clinical or therapeutic environments.

In writing about Bobbi’s Saga, I have sought to tell her story and in doing so provide clinical insight into the work that we have been doing.  Bobbi, a pseudonym used to protect her confidentiality and privacy, is only one of many sexual assault victims, females, and males, that I have worked with in the African American community.  These individuals, both young and old, have suffered in silence; a silence of shame and trauma that has been reinforced by the community’s demand to keep quiet and protect the image of the adults, family and community that is bonded by 400 plus years of depravation, degradation and deeply held self-hatred.

Bobbi has been my patient for approximately 10 years. I have sat with her over hundreds of hours, listening to her story as her pain ascended to the surface of her emotional landscape. There have been times in which recovery seem possible and others in which the therapeutic work seemed to hit a brick wall.  This blog is the result of hitting that brick wall.

During the last two months of therapeutic contact, namely sessions twice weekly with phone calls and emails 2-3 times per week, Bobbi acknowledged that she was at a point in which she could go no further and seriously questioned the possibility of suicide.  As the question of suicide was constant in every session for the previous four weeks, I felt that unless there was a drastic, direct, and immediate intervention, all hope for Bobbi’s possible recovery was coming to an end.

For those unfamiliar with Bobbi’s horrific saga, at the age of 4 years old, while left home to babysit her 2-year-old brother, she was viciously raped by the building’s landlord. Upon his threats of killing her mother and brother, she stayed quiet regarding her assault.  Then at the age of 9 years old and for the next three years she was repeatedly raped by her stepfather.  Once again, she kept the “secret” and it was only until after achieving her first period and being told by her stepfather that she was going to have his child, she finally gained the courage to tell her mother.

Rather than protect Bobbi, her mother physically assaulted her and threatened to blind Bobbi with a fork. Following Bobbi’s attempt to defend herself, her mother threw Bobbi out, at the age of 12, into the street and reported to the state authorities that she was “incorrigible”.  Bobbi went on to spend the next 6 years moving around the state foster care system, aging out at 18.

During her later years in adulthood, Bobbi learned the lengths her mother would go to protect her “reputation and image” within the local African American community.  Bobbi learned that her mother had gone to the state welfare authorities to “claim” the intake documents in which Bobbi identified her stepfather as sexually assaulting her.  When this was foiled, her mother began a campaign within her personal circle and church community to tarnish her daughter’s reputation, alleging she had put her out because Bobbi had defied her and attempted to strike her.

The strategy of Bobbi’s mother was well conceived.  During this time (and it continues today) African Americans were forced to tolerate a complete lack of respect from white people so the idea of not receiving respect from people within the community was unacceptable.  Furthermore, the idea that one’s child would raise her hand against the parent was inconceivable.  Therefore, in telling this one-sided story, Bobbi’s mother won “acquittal” in the court of public opinion within her community of being a “bad mother” and justified in tossing her daughter into the state foster care system.

Bobbi’s mother rejected her; the mother’s friends and the community in which Bobbi was raised also turned their backs on her.  However more betrayal was forthcoming.  Later, as an adult, Bobbi learned that her mother for whatever reason, turned against her husband and wrote a letter to the Senior Pastor of their church, formally notifying the church hierarchy of the three years of rape/incest by her husband against Bobbi.

The stepfather, at the time of the assault, was a senior member of the church’s Deacon board.  It is known that both the Pastor and the Deacon Board had knowledge of the acts and met to discuss the formal letter and took NO ACTION against the stepfather nor did they reach out to provide resources to Bobbi.  There was no formal response to the letter. Why? Why remain silent, why protect the stepfather?

Why not protect the children of the church? As a member of the deacon board, the stepfather has access to the children through church related activities. The answer is simple …. Protect the reputation of the church at all costs even at the expense of one of its youngest, most vulnerable members.

The way Bobbi was sexually abused, the physical assault by her mother and the abandonment by her community and church has triggered within Bobbi not only her downward spiral over the last 50 years it also reinforced her shame and disgust towards that nine-year-old girl who endured the sexual abuse in silence for three years.  Recently this self-disdain exploded when in session, Bobbi acknowledged she wanted to beat on the little girl for keeping quiet and not doing anything to stop the abuse. This statement, stemming from her pain, shocked Bobbi and resulted her deciding to take drastic steps to end it.

Drastic steps by Bobbi demanded direct and decisive intervention.  The traditional Western approach of having her committed to inpatient psych care would have me as her therapist following correct measures to protect Bobbi from self-harm however such action would be temporary as the main issues of self-loathing, abandonment, and the unwillingness to forgive the nine-year-old child within would continue until Bobbi had achieved a final resolution.

(The remainder of this writing is descriptive of the direct and decisive intervention part of which included Bobbi, accompanied by Dr. Kane, attended a viewing of the movie Respect (2021). It is the story of the life of Aretha Franklin. The writing will feature journal entries pre and post review of the movie, followed by clinical insight and conclusion provided by Dr. Kane)

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

Bobbi’s Saga

Journal Entry: Thursday, 09.02.21

“It is the evening following the session with Dr. Kane.  He discussed our attending the movie Respect and discussed the safety protocols designed to keep me safe. The plan is to have a debriefing session following the movie at Dr. Kane’s office.  I am extremely anxious; it is now almost midnight. I have tried to keep busy, but my mind kept wondering what [will be] in the movie.  Dr. Kane thought it wouldn’t be a good idea to talk about the movie in today’s session. I appreciate all the help, support, energy, and time Dr. Kane is doing to make tomorrow’s intervention happen.”

“Today, we also talked about suicide again.  I felt like I need to hear what to do again. We went over all the steps including calling the crisis clinic.  Yesterday, suicide was on my mind so much.  I was terrified of myself.  I was disgusted, depressed, anxious, and scared I might do something bad. I have all these thoughts of ways to carry out the suicide.”

“I was feeling so ashamed.  I have so many things to be ashamed of.  I wish I could believe that there was nothing I could have done about the rapes.  I was 40 pounds, and the landlord was 200 pounds.  As to my stepfather, he knew what he was doing was wrong, but he convinced me otherwise.  I was taught to believe and trust adults.  He said my mother wanted me to do these things.  I believed him; I wanted to make my mother happy. I feel ashamed about the sensations, even if they were automatic.”

“Tomorrow is the movie.  I am anxious and don’t know what to expect.  I am going to go to bed now and pray for tomorrow.  It is going to be difficult to sleep.  I want to sleep and be rested for tomorrow.”

Journal Entry: Saturday, 09.06.21

“I am writing up yesterday’s session. I had wanted to do this last night, but I was too overwhelmed and exhausted.  I took some medication and was able to sleep for five hours.  Yesterday was an intense day.  We had a session at Dr. Kane’s office prior to leaving for the movie. He reaffirmed yesterday’s discussion that I could walk out of the movie anytime I become too anxious.  We acknowledged that walking out into the hallway didn’t mean I was ready to leave the theater; it meant I needed space or time to respond to my anxiety.”

“Dr. Kane also restated that I could leave and return home at any time. Furthermore, he had agreed that we would have a post movie session at his office.  Prior to seeing the movie, I was already so anxious as I couldn’t imagine what could be in the movie about a singer. I felt so anxious inside that my stomach was flipping.  I hadn’t been normal.  I had been crying about this.  But I was willing to the movie if it was going to help me.  I was having extreme anxiety.”

“When I saw the man in the movie say to a young Ree-Ree (Aretha Franklin) ‘We can be friends’ and then shut the bedroom door, I knew bad things were going to happen.  I can recognize scenes like that in movies before they happen.  It also sends a trigger to me of the first time I was sexually assaulted. Ree-Ree was about the same age I was when it started. She had that look of innocence.”

“The next scene in the movie in which her grandmother keeps asking her, ‘What happened? You know you can tell me anything.’ Ree-Ree still denied anything had happened.  That also was like me.  There was nothing my mother could have said to me that would have [made] me tell on the landlord.  I was protecting her and my little brother.  Loving her cemented my inability to tell what the landlord had done.” 

“Love for my mother and fear of the landlord cemented my lips.  I would keep that secret for over 40 years. The secret made me become a frightened, guilty, ashamed, isolated child. I was always afraid, alone, isolated, and secretive.  I kept the secret long after the landlord was dead.  Keeping the secret made me unhealthy and anxious.”

“When I saw Ree-Ree in the movie, you could see the changes in her following being raped.  Her childhood was gone [along] with her senses of joy, peace trust and love now replaced with guilt, shame, anxiety, fear, loneliness, and ongoing thoughts that it is going to happen again as well as extreme depression and questioning if life is worth living.”

“The next scene in the movie that made me gasp, hold my shawl and use it to wipe the tears running down my face.  It was the scene that Ree-Ree, a young child dressed in maternity clothes.  She looked like a child, had the face of a child but she had clothing that you could tell she was pregnant. As I saw the scene, the thought kept screaming in my head! She wasn’t singing.  Her pride and joy in herself and singing was gone.”

“I kept crying and hearing the screaming in my head ‘that could have been me, that could have been me.’ I recalled that when I told my mother that I had started my period, she had told my stepfather.  I was at the top of the stairs getting ready to come down. He said “Your mother doesn’t want to have any more children.  Now you and I can have a baby.”

“I didn’t reply.  That was the worst thing to hear.  I quickly walked down the stairs.  I was terrified.  I remembered thinking no one would believe me.  I knew that no one would believe the baby was his.  He will deny it.  I knew I had to leave before it happened.  I knew I had to go.  I didn’t know where.  I had no one who loved me.  Not even my mother.”      

“I cried through a lot of the movie.  Dr. Kane asked me repeatedly if I was okay and if I wanted to leave.  I said no.”

“The movie goes on to Aretha as an adult.  She had severe depression and often thought of the abuse as a child. It affected her adult life. She called the past thoughts, her demons.  They invaded her life and made it sometimes impossible to sing.  Her songs had lyrics of abuse and sadness. Some songs lyrics were full of what she wanted and yet did not have in her life.”

“Aretha’s father controlled her life.  He controlled what she sang, how she dressed and her behavior.  Her first husband who was a copy of her father did the same thing.  She eventually found the strength to speak up and stand up for herself….to love herself.”

“I felt so sorry for little Ree-Ree (Aretha).  All this time I didn’t think of being sorry for the little girl in me.  The little girl that had all the pain and shame; having to keep it a secret.  Being scared, the young part of her life that someone would find out and think and see her differently.  Then scared later in life that someone would find out and her shame would increase. Being fearful, that people would think she was a bad person, and it was her fault.”

“On the ride returning to Dr. Kane’s office for the post-movie session, I still had tears rolling down my face.  I kept thinking of the scenes in the movie that reminded me of my life. I kept reflecting on the rape, pregnancy, demons following her.  I kept thinking about the depression, the changes after the rapes and the demons that followed her for most of her life.”

“At the post session, Dr. Kane restated the progress note questions.  Then we discussed how my life reflected the movie.  I cried and talked about my pain, flashbacks, and memories.

  • I spoke of the memories of having objects pushed inside me
  • Being forced to do oral sex with his hands held behind my head
  • Being forced to gag as he pushed his penis down my throat 
  • Being told by him to rub my chest daily to make breasts grow
  • Trying to scream while the landlord was covering my mouth
  • Thinking I was going to die, wanting to die
  • Suicidal thoughts and old thoughts of how to commit suicide.”

“I left the office after a short talk about the paintings and artwork in Dr. Kane’s office. When I got home and started thinking of Ree-Ree again, I started crying again.  I told my husband if he wanted to talk about today, he should ask me tomorrow as I am too exhausted now.  Today, he never asked or mentioned it.”

“I am still thinking about the pregnant little girl and how that could have been me.  I am still anxious it is over 24 hours.  Feeling such empathy for Ree-Ree has made me think about myself differently. I questioned ‘how could I have such empathy for a movie character and not have empathy for myself?’”

“I understood why Dr. Kane used the movie as a teaching tool.  I have had empathy for others but been extremely hard on myself. All these years I have been thinking that it was my fault.  Having a disconnect between feeling it was my fault and I now know there was nothing as a small child I could do against a grown man.”

“Now I hope I can control my intense suicidal thoughts.  I still feel depressed, anxious, and overwhelmed.  I know now that it is worth living.  I do not want to let my rapists win.  If I take my life, they will win long after the rapes happened.  I want to remember the flashbacks as demons. Panic attacks… I think I have been having panic attacks for the last two weeks.  I am having periods of rapid heartbeats, rapid breathing, and repeated sobbing.  I worry about my flashbacks as these can last for hours.”

“Dr. Kane made a comment in the session prior to the movie that he feared that I was slipping away.  I wonder what he meant by that.  I will ask him during the next session. One of the things I told Dr. Kane was I had never heard of loving yourself until I started therapy.” 

“Thank you, Dr. Kane.”

Complex Trauma

Complex trauma does not go away by

Simply pushing to the back of your mind

It is a thief that lurks around until it

finds an open door, a crack.  it flashes. It

screams as it leaps into your soul.

It is a thief that steals in the day or in the night

Enough is never enough

It steals and steals and steals

It plucks and sucks the life, slowly from me.

– Dr. Micheal Kane

Clinical Analysis – Dr. Kane

Intervention Guidelines

There are three audiences to which my comments are directed: 1) those who have endured sexual abuse; 2) the lay community who has interest in the topic of the psychological impacts of trauma regarding sexual abuse; and 3) colleagues, peers and students who are engaged in or seeking to engage in this important work within the Black, Brown, Indigenous and People of Color (BBIPOC) communities.

Attention has been given to balancing and contextualizing content and language so those not familiar would be able to follow the dialogue as well.  The clinical concepts, interventions, and protocols are based on my education, clinical training, consultation and most importantly the transformation (and not integration) of Western theoretical and therapeutic approaches into one that is based on a combination of feminist and multicultural orientations which are focused on the work of self-psychology and the self-relational psychotherapy.

As I begin the analysis, it is essential to state that the only changes made in Bobbi’s journal entries are the bullets points highlighting her sexual abuse from her 9/06/21 entry. This was an editorial decision made to give the reader an understanding of how the abuse impacted Bobbi.

The objective of my analysis is to provide clarity as to the intended outcome of the intervention as well as to address comments made in Bobbi’s journal entries. Bear in mind that this was not a traditional method of treatment but, it was one that was felt would benefit the patient and help her through her crisis allowing her an aid in processing her thoughts and feelings.

This method of intervention was chosen based on several factors such as:

  • What was the history of this patient’s life?
  • What was the impact of the sexual assaults, abuse, abandonment?
  • What has shaped the patient’s life to this very day?
  • What was the perceivable outcome of the current actions internalized by the patient?

These factors are unique to this patient and have been partially addressed in the introduction to Bobbi’s Saga and her current journal entries.

To ensure that the methods use were within the standards of ethical behavior, patient care and confidentiality was maintained and the following protocols were devised and followed.

  • Documentation of all levels of the intervention are recorded in the progress sessions notes
  • Mini mental status examinations were conducted prior to and following the intervention – viewing the movie Respect (2021).
  • Therapy sessions were conducted twice, within the confines of the known therapeutic environment prior to the intervention and immediately following. In addition, two following up telephone calls were in placed in conjunction with the follow up sessions
  • Protocols as to patient safety were devised (as follows):
  • The patient was informed of having the choice to remain or decision to leave the theater at any time
  • There were several means provided for the patient to communicate distress –
  • Numbering: One finger displayed (safe), two fingers displayed (concern), three fingers displayed (distress).
  • Verbal cues: Green (safe), Yellow (concern), Red (distress),
  • Verbal Statements & Movements: leaving the theater, relaxation exercise in the hallway or outside the theater or exiting temporally or permanently. All at the patient’s discretion.
  • Discretion of the therapist to stop the intervention due to either over stimulation or distress of the patient.
  • Patient confidentially was maintained.  No information or designation of clinical involvement of the patient.
  • Due to the intervention being a teaching method outside the confides of the therapeutic environment there were no fees charged.  Furthermore, the costs of the admissions for the intervention were paid for by the clinical practice.  Receipts and ticket stubs are clearly documented in the patient record.
  • Consultation via the consulting Trauma Group will be noted in the patient record.

Case Specifics

Bobbi’s case is complex. She is an African American female in her 60’s, she is responding to numerous traumas inflicted upon her during the developmental stages of early childhood, middle childhood, adolescence, early adulthood, middle adulthood and old age. Specifically,

  • Early childhood – raped by an adult at the age of 4 years old
  • Middle childhood – raped by stepfather from the ages of 9-12 years old
  • Adolescence – physically assaulted and abandoned by her mother, church, and community, placed into the state foster care system at age 13.
  • Early adulthood – aged out of the state foster care system at 18, disconnected from her family, marriage
  • Middle adulthood – raising her family; rapes and traumas left untreated, maintenance of the “secret” for 40+ years
  • Old age – grown children, parenting issues no longer the focus, rapes left untreated. Begins treatment.

The mistake that is often made is the assumption that trauma is simply trauma.  The reality is that there are 17 subtypes (along with 15 forms of racism) of trauma that people of African American descent are vulnerable to and can be exposed to daily and Bobbi has been exposed to the following subtypes during her life:

  • Intergenerational Trauma
  • Historical Trauma
  • Insidious Trauma
  • Racial Profiling
  • The Imposter Syndrome
  • The Stereotypical Threat
  • Betrayal Trauma
  • Micro-Aggression Assault
  • Macro-Aggression Assault
  • Just World Trauma
  • The Invisibility Syndrome
  • Complex Post-Traumatic Stress

Major psychological impacts resulting in extreme wounding of the psychological self, occurred during early childhood, middle childhood, and adolescence.  As Bobbi got older, she continued to carry the secrets of her abuse while simultaneously battering the inner child trapped at those three developmental stages. 

In the 40+ years that Bobbi has maintained the “secret” she, because of family and cultural mistrust of the medical community, has never sought treatment.  This may have been wise due to the likelihood of being misdiagnosis with a dissociative mental illness if she sought help from a professional who was not well versed in treating members of the BIPOC community.  (Dissociation can be defined as a mental process of disconnecting from one’s thoughts, feelings, memories and or sense of identity.) 

On the contrary, Bobbi has not lost connection.  It is the connection with her thoughts, feelings and memories that has been the foundation of her survival.  The one constant theme of Bobbi’s belief is that the child/ adolescent within all three development stages, could have done something to prevent the sexual assaults and therefore the child/ adolescent is responsible for the abuse and should carry the blame and shame associated with the sexual assaults.

During the last ten years in therapy, she has made progress through the stages along the journey of self-discovery (driving – empowerment, striving – setting pace and directions, and thriving – achievement of defined objectives and goals) and it has been my role using the clinical techniques of self-relational psychotherapy grounded in self-psychology, to be the guide as she progresses through life.  There have been times when this progress was rough and unforgiving. This is one of those times.

Towards the ending of one of Bobbi’s journal entries, she describes a comment made as:

“Dr. Kane made a comment in the session prior to the movie that he feared that I was slipping away.” 

Her comment was rock solid.  For the past ten years, I have worked alongside of Bobbi as she relived traumas, nightmares, and flashbacks.  Now that she has reached the developmental stage of “old age,” I was struggling to assist her to hold a safe place for the inner children of early and middle childhood as well as the young girl of adolescence. 

The issues here were complex. In one way, the adult woman knew that the child/adolescent was not responsible for the sexual assaults and the other abuses that she’d experienced, yet within her, were the demands of the child/adolescent to be held responsible, accountable and hold on to the shame, guilt, and blame of what others had inflicted upon her.

A major crisis occurred when recently, following weeks of consistent intrusions from the traumas and resulting psychological impacts from nightmares and flashbacks, Bobbi, the adult, begin to agree with the child/adolescent that they should have prevented the sexual assault and therefore were responsible for the acts and following abuses.

To make matters worse, following a recent session when I attempted to advocate on the part of the child/adolescent, Bobbi chided me both verbally and in her journal for being stern with her.  It was my concern that for the first time in ten years, we were going to be opposites as I sought not only to assist Bobbi during her difficult time but to aid her in finding the ABC’s (advocacy, balance, and calmness) for the three entities she carried within the psychological self.  The situation worsened when Bobbi exclaimed in session that she wanted to hurt or punish the child/adolescent for their roles in not protecting her from the sexual assaults. 

The situation then struck critical mass when Bobbi began reengaging in suicidal ideation and consequently planning for the care of her beloved animal following her death.  It was at this point I felt a sense of hopelessness that after ten years of difficult work, Bobbi was surrendering to her traumas and wounds.  In my opinion before my eyes, she was “slipping away”.

In this difficult work there are two groups of therapists, one who has lost a patient to suicide and the other who will lose a patient to suicide.  In my 35 years, I have lost two patients.  Both having done so after enduring years of extreme traumas, Bobbi would not be a third.

When working with Bobbi, there is the focus on balancing the “needs” and the “wants”.  Simply stated, needs are primal, essential for survival, fundamental. Whereas wants are secondary, grounded in growth and development.  As Bobbi is responding to “self” on three distinctive developmental stages, early childhood, middle childhood, and adolescence, two clinical concepts (among others) are constantly present within the therapeutic environment; transference and projective.  These two are defined as:

  • Transference – occurs when people redirect emotions or feelings about one person to an entirely separate individual.
  • Projective Identification – is a defense mechanism in which the individual projects qualities that are unacceptable to the self

Blocks, Hurdles etc.

There were several major blocks and hurdles impeding Bobbi’s movement within therapy.

  1. The consistent affirmation that she did not do enough to prevent the sexual assaults and the need to hold the child & adolescent responsible for the sexual assaults and resulting abandonment by the family and community
  2. The internal conflict of not being able to connect her mental awareness as an adult with empathy and compassion to inner child having endured the repeated sexual assaults
  3. The consistent shame, disgust, and disdain for self-regarding the sexual acts as a child she was forced into leading to the resulting solid emplaced beliefs that “I am a bad person” all of these held firmly despite the large amount of evidence to the contrary.

Despite therapeutic interventions by both Bobbi’s therapist and psychiatrist, who provided both medication management, adapted therapeutic intervention, as well as internet searches done by Bobbi attesting to the lack of responsibility in her abuse, Bobbi was adamant about holding the inner child at a distance and targeting the self with ongoing shame, blame and disgust.  All leading to the current downward spiral.

The Film… Respect (2021)

The reason for using the film Respect as a clinical intervention tool was because there was a need to develop a strategy from which the patient could benefit, utilizing the clinical concept of the I Factor, described below, which the movie provided.

  • Information – sharing of knowledge, wisdom, experience
  • Involvement – the internal shaping of what is being shared
  • Integration – the rooting/centering of what has been taken within
  • Implementation – the movement of what has been learned and experienced
  • Impact – the transformation into new knowledge, wisdom, and experience 

The objective was to assist her to voluntarily move from a state of need (survival) to a state of want (growth).  This would entail consciously letting go of the entrenched defenses and allowing herself to be vulnerable, exposed, and trusting (VETING) to new information. The film provided that push. Understanding the impact of the push and the means to access the psychological self was built on the clinical work, belief, faith, and trust (BFT), the patent had established with the therapist during the previous ten years of involved psychotherapeutic sessions.

Process & Protocols

The process entailed meeting the patient at the office, escorting the patient to the event, and returning the patient to the office to continue in the post session. This process was implemented to ensure patient safety because it was unknown how the patient would be psychologically impacted following observing the events in the film. The immediate follow up session after the film was designed to:

  1. Achieve a mental status examination
  2. Provide an opportunity for the patient to debrief, emote and decompress
  3. Provide emotional balancing as the patient distanced emotionally from what had been observed

The process included examination of the patient’s emotional fitness via mini mental status examination (PRE) prior to the film and another mini mental status examination (POST) following reviewing the film. Safety protocols, as stated above were implemented while watching the film.

During the movie, the patient remained nonverbal, non-communicative and appeared to be consistently in dept of thought, emotion, and processing.  She appeared to be consistently oriented to “X4”. Specifically, person, place, time, and situation.  I observed numerous emotional and tearful response, deep gasps, and a consistent and tight grasping/clutching on the shawl she carried which was used to either cover her face or wipe away tears as needed. After the movie and following the protocol, there was silence during the drive returning to the office allowing the patient the opportunity to process what was seen with the either emotional distancing or psychologically integration.

The Benefits of Visual Observation

Bobbi’s method of maintaining control was conflictive. While she sought to free herself of the pain, memories, and flashbacks she also sought to hold the inner child/adolescent at a distance and responsible for failing to stop the sexual abuses which ultimate led to her abandonment by her mother, church, and community.  Upon watching the film, she was unable to maintain the entrenched defensive distancing and allowed the psychological self to be vulnerable, exposed, and open to trusting what she was seeing and experiencing.

Post-movie Comments

Referring to Bobbi’s journal entry

  1. The issue of empathy – Specifically on the following quotes
  2. “Feeling such empathy for Ree-Ree has made me think about myself differently. I questioned how could I have such empathy for a movie character and not have empathy for myself?”
  3. “I have had empathy for others but have been extremely hard on myself. All these years I have been thinking that it was my fault.”

The observations and integration from the film allowed Bobbi, in seeing the portrayal of Ree-Ree, see herself and begin having the empathy for self which she had denied throughout her life.

  1. The issue of a child being responsible for her sexual assaults
  2. (Prescreening) “I wish I could believe that there was nothing I could have done about the rapes.  I was 40 pounds, and the landlord was 200 pounds.” 
  3. (Post Screening) “All these years I have been thinking that it was my fault.  Having a disconnect between how I feel it was my fault and I now know there was nothing a small child could do against a grown man.”

Outcome – Bobbi was able to not simply reject her long held belief of being responsible for the sexual assaults, she was able to transform these beliefs, cease accountability and punishing self for the actions of her assailants.

  1. The clinical concepts of transference and projective identification
  2. “I still had tears rolling down my face.  I kept thinking of the scenes in the movie that reminded me of my life. I kept reflecting on the rape, pregnancy, and demons following her.  I kept thinking about the depression, the changes after the rapes and the demons that followed her for most of her life.”
  3. “As I saw the scene, the thought kept screaming in my head! It was the scene that Ree-Ree, a young child dressed in maternity clothes.  She looked like a child, had the face of a child but she had clothing that you could tell she was pregnant. She wasn’t singing.  Her pride and joy in herself and singing was gone.”
  4. “I kept crying and hearing the screaming in my head ‘that could have been me, that could have been me.’ I recalled that when I told my mother that I had started my period, she had told my stepfather…”
  5. “I felt so sorry for little Ree-Ree (Aretha).  All this time I didn’t think of being sorry for the little girl in me.”  The little girl that had all the pain and shame; having to keep it a secret.  Being scared, the young part of her life that someone would find out and think and see her differently.  Then scared later in life that someone would find out and her shame would increase. Being fearful, that people would think she was a bad person and that it was her fault.
  6. (Grandmother) “You know you can tell me anything.” Ree-Ree still denied anything had happened.  That also was like me.  There was nothing my mother could have said to me that would have had me tell on the landlord. 

Outcome – Bobbi was successful in holding, balancing, and redirecting the themes of transference and projection identification

  1. Holding onto to life
  2. “Now I hope I can control my intense suicidal thoughts.  I still feel depressed, anxious, and overwhelmed.”
  3. “I know now that it is worth living.  I do not want to let my rapists win.  If I take my life, they will win long after the rapes happened.  I want to remember the flashbacks as demons.”

Outcome – Bobbi is now focused on control and was able to move toward the clinical conceptual stage of advocacy moving towards driving (empowerment), striving (setting pace and direction), and thriving (achievement of objectives and goals).  

  1. Demons – Placing a name on the flashbacks
  2. “I kept thinking of the scenes in the movie that reminded me of my life. I kept reflecting on the rape, pregnancy, demons following her.” 
  3. “I kept thinking about the depression, the changes after the rapes and the demons that followed her for most of her life.”

Outcome – Bobbi was able to firmly designate, naming the flashbacks as demons.  In accepting Aretha Franklin’s story, she is understanding that the demons are lifelong.  Accepting this makes it more possible for Bobbi to develop the “want” i.e., empowerment to balancing the demons and in doing so bring calmness into her life.

One week following the clinical intervention, I received the following email from Bobbi:

“Hello Dr. Kane,

I don’t know [what] you thought of the movie.  I believe it is making a difference.  I appreciate you taking the time, doing the planning, time, support, caring, thoughtfulness, money, and extra sessions.  I am feeling lighter, and the demons aren’t beating me down as much.  I know I will win this battle with your support.

Thank you,

Bobbi”

“In walking the landscape known as life, the terrain can be rough and unforgiving.  We focus on the journey and not the destination.  It is what we observed, experience and embrace along the way.”

–        Dr. Micheal Kane

Concluding Words – Dr. Kane

In Search of … self.

The space you are looking for

Escape

Is within

Self

You can run,

And yet

You cannot hide

From Self

Explore. Allow me to …

Find you.

– Dr. Micheal Kane

At the beginning of the analysis, I said that in the conclusion I would state the motives for accompanying Bobbi to viewing the film “Respect” and utilizing the film as a form of clinical intervention.  Ironically, this interaction began at the start of National Suicide Week. It was a concern that despite 10 years of vigilant work by Bobbi, she was soon to be lost to suicide and thus disappear. I took a bold gamble, created protocols and processes to protect my patient and stepped out of the private therapeutic environment. 

Would I do this again or recommend such actions to another colleague?  I would say no. This approach worked because of the ongoing, ten-year therapeutic relationship developed with Bobbi. For novice or newly minted therapist-client relationships there is too much risk of patient safety, possible malpractice claims and possible occurrences outside the control of the therapist to be used as a consistent treatment method.  I would recommend this action as a clinical intervention understanding the specific circumstances and needs of the individual only if conducted within the confines of the therapeutic environment.

I also want to address concerns both professionally and personally about the film.  I felt the film gave an accurate portrayal of sexual assault, domestic violence, and male/female relationships within the African American community.  I believe that my patient was able to see within the film examples of the shame, blaming and psychological impacts evident in her own suffering.  Furthermore, she was able to see the secrecy held in the family, church and community regarding the sexual abuse, pregnancy, childbirth and rearing of Aretha Franklin and her children. 

The film, as stated by Bobbi’s journal entry, portrayed Ree-Ree’s (Aretha) father and her first husband in the following context “Aretha’s father controlled her life. What she sang. How she dressed and her behavior.  Her husband #1 did the same thing. She selected the first husband like her father.  She eventually found the strength to speak up and stand up for herself.  To love herself.”

I am reminded by words within Bobbi’s journal entry when she states, “One of the things I told Dr. Kane was I had never heard of loving yourself until I started therapy.”  This is the essence of the psychological wound reinforced by repeated trauma within the family, church and community portrayed in the film and mirrored in the actual family, church and community in which Bobbi lives.  The psychological wounds of the family, church and community hides its secrets to protect its image and to do so is willing to sacrifice its children.

I reflect on the words of Ree-Ree’s friend and pianist who told her “There are no demons … it is the pain you have been running from your whole life.” I believe that he was partially incorrect.  There are demons. For example, Bobbi’s father was a senior deacon in his church.  He was hiding in open sight.  Both the Pastor and the board of Deacons had knowledge of the sexual assaults and yet took no action. The demons are the pain, and it is the pain, that the family, church, and community seek to hide to protect its image and, in the process, keep running from their responsibilities to the members of the community.

The film portrayed the lead male characters, Aretha’s father and first husband as violent, controlling, manipulative and emotionally as well as psychologically abusive.  The lead and co-lead female characters Aretha, her sisters, grandmother, and father’s girlfriend are portrayed as struggling to survive and banding together gaining strength and independence from these men. Some may suggest that the community is “broken” and that would not be true. As portrayed in film, following the death of Marin Luther King Jr, people are waiting for a leader (male) to appear. The community, rather than be broken, is psychological wounded.  The repair and healing of the wound can begin by teaching and reinforcing techniques of “loving the self” and “loving me more”. 

Until then, as a father, I fear the future of our children epically our daughters. Currently in Texas, men have passed laws seeking to control women’s bodies and access to healthcare. One woman, Denise Pitcher, Executive Director of Caribbean Centre for Human Rights, recently wrote “Men should not be making laws about women’s bodies.”

The film “Respect” affirms my response. “As long as men seek to hold the reins of power and privileged, women will never be free of their desperate grasping for control.”  Insecure men need, seek, and fight for power through which they manipulate.  Secure men let go of the want for power, seeking to empower the psychological self.  In doing so, share resources in a way that benefits all.”

African American men, have work to do.

Therapy… anyone?

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.

Experience the Journey of Self Discovery.

-Dr. Micheal Kane

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

Family Secrets

The road to hell begins with this statement…

“What happens in this family stays in this family.”

Solution: Cut a new path

Take care of self.

As much as I love you…

I love me more.

More.

– Dr. Micheal Kane

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

Welcome My Brothers the Consumer

Welcome!

We welcome you among us.

Stay as long as you would like.

We have a revolving door policy.

The lights stay on 24 hours a day.

The only darkness in the cells are the inmates.

And the beat goes on.

Welcome,

And be consumed.

– Dr. Micheal Kane

Until the next time … Bobbi’s saga continues ….

Bobbi’s Saga: Vivid Memories

*WARNING – GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT*

“Dark eyes…. with a grin… he was enjoying it… raping me.”

“Your mother wants me to do this… It’s going to hurt.”

“I trusted him…. I called him… Dad.”

“I was so confused.  I didn’t know what to do.  I believed him.  I believed she knew and didn’t want to talk about it.”

“I worked so, so hard to bury it (my memories). I felt unloved, uncared for and unwanted. I dug a hole to bury it. I thought I did a good job of burying it.”

My Dear Readers,

As our country and the international community continues to try to recover from the death, sorrow, and loss created by COVID-19, we are also responding to the other deaths, destruction, and psychological impacts from the collapse of the condominium in Miami and the assassination of the President of Haiti resulting in turmoil and uncertainty for its citizens.

Recently, intense media attention has also been given to the controversy surrounding the release of Dr. Bill Cosby, whose sexual assault conviction was overturned on a legal technicality and vacated by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Much fervor has been casted about this outcome many see as black man being able to receive “justice” in a legal system that has historically been silent when it comes to black men. 

Ironically, if we accept Senator Scott’s assertion that “America is not a racist country”, then why does the race of this individual become the issue? Why has the release of Dr. Cosby been constantly compared to the acquittal of OJ Simpson other than the fact that they are both black? White America wants to believe that it is not racist and yet is consistent in pointing out that these two black men “beat the system”.  While, on the other hand, there are African Americans who rejoice, albeit quietly, that a black man, compared again to OJ Simpson, finally received “justice”. As both groups engage in countless hours of debate over the cases of Dr. Cosby and OJ Simpson, they fail to appreciate the one commonality that both men share with yet another group – the rich. While Senator Scott seeks to hide racism for political manipulation and America seeks to deny racism even exists, the reality is simple though race is the central topic when discussing these men in social circles, both men used their money to manipulate their way through the legal system.

Victims of sexual assault across the country were rightfully indignant about the ruling that allowed Dr. Cosby to be released from prison, but it must be stated that his release does not absolve him of his actions. (I address him as Dr. Cosby because the American media, against Senator Scott’s assertion, routinely refuses to acknowledge his educational achievements) Yet as we listen to the voices of his victims who have been denied vindication or justice, others who were also sexually victimized, scrape by in the shadows either ignored or simply suffering in silence.

In my role as a clinical traumatologist and psychotherapist, I have been working with one such individual on a weekly basis for 10 years.  I have listened to her ongoing stories of childhood sexual abuse, despair, abandonment traumas, and psychological impacts occurring at the age of four when she was raped by the landlord of her residence and then repeatedly raped by her stepfather from the ages of nine to twelve. It was at the age of twelve, upon reaching her first period and her stepfather insisted that she have his child, that she had the courage to tell her mother and to her shock, her mother physically assaulted her, using a fork threaten to blind her and forced her into foster care under the label of “incorrigible”.

The story that I am about to share doesn’t involve celebrities, and will not be highlighted in the local, regional or national media.  This is story of one person who to protect her confidentiality I have named “Bobbi”.  There will be those who will question the relevance of both writing the details and listening to her story. There may be those who will be left impacted by her words and her experience. And there will be those who want to turn their heads, close their eyes, minds, and ears to the pain she has suffered.

Her story told thorough her journal writings deserved not to only be heard, but her story deserves to be listened to and understood.  Bobbi speaks for the many Bobbi’s who have, regardless of race, ethnicity, or origin, lived in the shadows of America ignored and who are now, no longer silent.

Trauma is impactful and permanent.  It intrudes without notice, creating flashbacks from the simplest observations reflecting or challenging memories. Trauma is a permanent etching on the psychological self. It is a testimony of the horrific moment experienced by the individual.  Trauma never, ever – I repeat, never, ever – goes away. It is the objective of the work of self-relational psychotherapy to learn how to balance the trauma experience (psychological intrusion and impact) and in doing so, learn to live and not just exist or survive so the individual can have the life they want and not be forced to live the live they currently have.

I will conclude with an analysis of my work with Bobbi.  It is my honor to present Bobbi’s Saga …. this is her story.

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

07/05/21

“I had a difficult session with Dr. Kane today.  We talked about SWIPE.  At one point Dr. Kane noticed my hands were shaking. I hadn’t noticed I was shaking.  I was feeling scared, anxious and the feelings from the past were coming back.”

(*NOTE- SWIPE is an acronym divided into three components Spacing (S) as in creating emotional space from the disturbance; the process of “Work In Progress” (WIP) as the focus is on the work utilizing time and “Empowerment” (E) movement toward the attainment of achieving the desired objectives of walking the landscape.  It is technique used to momentarily distract, relax and subsequently normalized the process as the individual continues to manage the subjects that arise from the traumatic experience.)

“I could feel his penis being rubbed all over my body while he called out instructions for what he wanted me to do.  When I remember that it makes me cringe. Me below him while he moved himself over my body. He would be on his knees above me.  I hated the way it looked and felt.  Why didn’t I do something? I could have bitten him hard or screamed as loud as I could.  Why didn’t I tell in the beginning? Why did I wait until I was being beaten and was so depressed and sick?”

“When I did yell it to her (mother), she didn’t believe me.  She called me a liar and continue[d] to beat me [with] the broom.  When I think back, my behavior had changed.  At 8 years old, I was afraid of getting into trouble.  Once the abuse restarted with Bennie (stepfather) my behavior changed as I was still scared from the first rape (Bobbi had been raped at age four by the landlord) and then Bennie started. It increased my guilt and shame.”

“How could 2 different men want me?  What was I doing wrong? Was I giving out the wrong vibes? How could I have stopped this? I was still following the rules. And I was so mad.  Mad at my mother.  She was my mother. Why was she so mad at me? Why didn’t she believe me? I was so mad.  She was supposed to protect me. Instead, she believed him.  Instead, she called me bad names and accused me of doing bad things and being a whore. Telling me about having sex with boys and telling me I was going to get pregnant.  Telling me I had to go, if I got pregnant…. that, no fast pregnant kids were living in her home.  She said when you old enough to have babies, you are old enough to live on your own.”

“I left Dr. Kane’s office feeling low, disturbed, and depressed.  The memories seem so close.  The smell is so strange.  I am not sure why. These memories, thoughts, and flashbacks are rising up.  I buried them so deep.  They haven’t risen for years.” 

“Last week, when I became overwhelmed with the feelings, I thought I couldn’t take it any longer.  Sometimes, the only way out is to relieve the pain by suicide.  I told Dr. Kane I wanted peace.  I wanted a few moments of not being scared, ashamed or feeling guilty.  Dr. Kane said what I call peace by another name is freedom and freedom is not free!”

“I have so many emotions now; shame from [what] happened and bad guilt from what was happening.  I also feel guilty because I had weird body reactions to what he was doing to me.  Why would this happen?  What is wrong with my body?  I didn’t choose or want this.  Why is my body feeling strange? This is really making me feel like a bad person.  How could this happen? Why is my body doing this?  I don’t understand at all.”

“I am breathing hard and fast.  My heart beats rapidly.  I am crying.  I feel so low, dirty, and shamed.  I have no self-esteem. I don’t know what to do.  I am not going to call Dr. Kane.  I am shaking.  I feel so bad. I feel like I am swimming in pain. I feel like I am drowning.  I am going to bed. Why are these feelings rising?”

07.07.21

“Today I woke up thinking about Bennie and my abuse.  I want these feelings to become lighter.  I feel these feelings have control of me.  I closed my eyes and clenched my hands into fists.  This is not how I wanted to start my day.  During the day, I had intrusive thoughts.  I had no suicidal thoughts.  I want this to continue becoming lighter.  I feel like I am struggling now.”

“Bennie was so cruel.  I had thought of him as a father.  Even though he was my stepfather, he was the only father I ever had.  We called him dad.  He took us to fun places.  My mother was happy because of him.  To have a person I had trusted turn into a monster, destroyed my sense of self.  I lost the small amount of self-esteem I had.  I already felt bad about myself at 9 years old.  I didn’t know what was happening.  I also been taught to obey adults.  This was so hard.  I was so confused.  I didn’t know this didn’t happen in all families.”

“Then one day at school when I was 12 years old, they taught us sex education.  They said your body belongs to yourself.  They said not to let anyone touch you in that way.  Then I became really confused.  My mother was not protecting me.  I thought she knew.  Why did she hate me so much?”

I knew I had to leave home, but I was 12 years old; where would I go?  I knew no one would believe me.  I was scared, depressed, and wanted to die; I didn’t know what to do. All my fears turned into depression and anger.  I was angry because I had no choice. I couldn’t tell any of the teachers.  I wasn’t a bad student.  I didn’t feel any of the teachers cared.  I was lost.”

“Even though it has been over 50 years, it still feels so close. I will be glad when it becomes lighter.  I know these flashbacks and memories will never go away.  I want balance in my life. Balance, that will allow me to have a vivid flashback and not have it take me away from reality.  I am working with Dr. Kane to make this happen.  I know unless I continue to work with Dr. Kane, the vivid memories will rise up like a fire blowing dragon.”

Analysis – Dr. Kane

The usual Eurocentric treatment modalities were not helpful in providing relief for this patient.  Typically, she would have been diagnosed with PTSD, recommended for a medication evaluation for prescriptive medications, therapeutic interventions of group therapy and a nominal number of individual therapy sessions and labeled as a “survivor of sexual abuse”.  Bobbi would have failed to comply with these reasonable “recommendations” and in her no show and/or lack of compliance, she would have been designated either “resistant” or a ‘failure” in treatment.

Everything above is a setup for failure.  First, she would not have had any appreciation for the full impact of the diagnosis.  Second, understanding the mistrust African Americans have of white physicians following decades of mistreatment, it would be unlikely that she would have agreed to psych meds. Third, the concept of therapy within the African American community carries the stigma of being for the “crazies” or the “weak minded”.  The idea of sitting with a therapist, a stranger, particularly one who is white and ignorant of her culture, history or background or sitting in group sessions with other “survivors of sexual abuse” would be is unfeasible.  Lastly and most dangerously is the labeling of Bobbi as a “survivor”.

Bobbi is in her mid 60’s. She has been struggling with the trauma of being raped repeatedly for 9 of her most formative years. The inaccuracy of Eurocentric treatment modalities while treating African Americans is its failure to take into consideration, with the difficulties that African Americans face in this country, labeling someone as a “survivor” is not a badge of resilience and strength. It can, in situations such as these, reinforce victimization, hopelessness and powerlessness.

In the Eurocentric methodology, the clinician given the limits of one’s training, may have hasten to diagnosis Bobbi with simple or uncomplicated PTSD.  Symptoms of uncomplicated PTSD include avoidance of trauma reminders, nightmares, flashbacks, irritability, mood changes and changes in relationships. In making such a diagnosis, the clinician would had made a most grievous error.  It is only through a clinical examination utilizing survey instruments designed to gather from psychological, social, and cultural perspectives that Bobbi can be correctly diagnosed and only then be encouraged to involve herself as a full participating partner in her clinical treatment plan.

Rather than uncomplicated PTSD, Bobbi is responding to complex PTSD.  This relates to an individual having suffered numerous traumatic events often beginning in childhood and continuing through adulthood.  The repetitive nature of the traumatic events often means that a person’s mental, physical and emotional states are all affected.  It is often very difficult to function at work and impedes and/or hinders involvement in interpersonal relationships.  Complex trauma is the exposure to adverse experiences such as violence, abuse, neglect, and separation from a caregiver repeatedly over time and during critical periods in a child’s life.

Having provided context to the specifics that Bobbi continues to endure, more must be stated on several other traumas that have created psychological impacts.  Specifically:

  • “Just World” Trauma – People have the need to believe in a just world, one in which they “get what they deserve and deserve what they get”.  The just world theory corresponds to the principle of “goodness” and that the goodness of an individual is a primary factor determining his or her lot in life.  Trauma shatters the hypothesis of the “Just World” Theory because the traumatic response occurs as a result of an “out-of-the-ordinary” event and is directly experienced as a threat to survival and self-preservation.

In the circumstances surrounding Bobbi she is confused, the inner child is a good girl, she follows the rules, does well at school, is obedient and in return, she is brutally raped by two men once at the age of four and then repeatedly by her stepfather.  There is the back and forth of blaming herself for not doing enough to resist, scream or fight off her stepfather coupled with questioning as to what she was doing “wrong” and whether she was sending off vibes resulting in self blaming and seeking to hold herself accountable for the repeated rapes she endured.  There is Bobbi, balancing the emotions of both the matured yet emotionally wounded and psychologically traumatized adult seeking to view the world through the lens of the child, helpless, powerless, abandoned who was casted into the unknown world for actions not of her doing.  As the adult she knows that being either a 4-year-old or 9–12-year-old, she was being controlled and manipulated by adults.

As the child, she seeks to believe in a just world and yet as the adult she knows from the 50+ years of carrying her pain, she knows the “Just World” does not exist.

  • Betrayal Trauma – is a violation of implicit and explicit trust.  Betrayal trauma that extends over time is traumatic and the closer the relationship, the greater the degree of betrayal.  In the circumstances surrounding Bobbi, this occurred at several stages in her life; the first being at the age of 4 when she was viciously raped and threatened with death by the building’s landlord, second stage when she was repeatedly raped by her stepfather, the person she honored as “Dad” and the third stage occurring at the age of 12 when finally,  upon the fear of pregnancy from rape, mustering up the courage to tell her mother about the repeated sexual assaults, she is rejected, physically assaulted, threatened to be blinded and abandoned by her mother.
  • Intergenerational Trauma – also known as “Blood Trauma” occurs when trauma leaves a chemical mark on a person’s genes which then can be passed down is transmitted genetically.  The symptoms of intergenerational trauma include lack of trust of others, anger, irritability, nightmares, fearfulness and the inability to connect with others. All of these symptoms are descriptive of the actions and behaviors of Bobbi’s mother.  Bobbi’s inner child is confused, angry and resentful as she even as the adult today continues to question Why? …. Why did this happen to me? Why does my mother hate me?  It is normal for the child to seek, to demand, and to want the love of the mother.  Yet in this situation, the mother cannot provide for Bobbi the love that she never received from her mother.  It can be hypothesized that Bobbi’s grandmother, likewise, was just as lacking in trust, angry, fearful, and unable to connect with her daughter.  Bobbi, now as an adult, can grasp the concept that her mother’s actions stemmed from self-hatred and therefore she was unable to provide to Bobbi the love that she, herself, never learned.  Yet there remains the conflict of the inner child still seeking …love.
  • Impostor Syndrome – can be described as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that routinely challenge positive information that the psychological self holds to be true.  Individuals who suffer from this experience profound self-doubt.  Because these wounds are self-inflicted, it is also psychologically destabilizing, as the individual is essentially attacking their own psychological self.  In Bobbi’s circumstance, shame, blame, and guilt are viewed through her lens both as a child and today as an adult.  Although successful in her marriage, family and career, Bobbi is consistent in her lack of belief in herself and the minimization of her successes, competency, and skills.  This destabilization can be directly linked to her traumatization beginning in childhood and endured throughout her life.

Understanding the complexities of the traumas impacting her life, Bobbi has made remarkable improvement and achieved successes in improving her emotional and psychological wellness. Ten years into treatment, she consistently, works to uncover (validate the experiences) discover (process its psychological impacts) and recover (the continual healing of the wounds).  She has partnered with the “psychological self” in learning ways to advocate for self (advocacy), focus on internal balance (balancing) and seek to achieve peace (calmness) in her external world.

When Bobbi first engaged in intensive outpatient therapy with me, she was a survivor spiraling out of control.  In fact, she was the verge of suicide.  Today, she has achieved the stage of driving (empowerment).  Whereas before she lived IN fear of her traumas and its pursing nightmares and flashbacks, today she is able to live WITH fear and not IN fear.  She understands that the traumas are permanent, but she has learned to walk her landscape, empowered, balancing her feelings, and managing the occasional suicidal thought.

Bobbi’s work is predicated on the ability to gain maximum utilization of the community-oriented methodology of the SELF Protocol: Self-Empowerment Leaping Forward. 

In this method, as Bobbi walks the landscape known as LIFE, the therapeutic environment becomes a safe and secure space to either sit with silence or speak openly about secretive (hidden or rooted), submerged (unresolved), substances (materials), surfacing (arising) upon the Self’s psychological landscape.

In closing this section, I want to extend my gratitude to Bobbi for the willingness to allow me to be her guide and companion on her “Journey of Self Discovery.” She consistently stated that it is because of her therapist that she is alive today. She seeks to give credit to me, but I have to respectfully disagree. It is her work and determination in moving forward on her journey that has helped her. Though it is my honor to walk along side her, she deserves the credit.

I remember the early days. Therapeutic sessions three times per week rotating phone calls 2-3 times a week.  I remember the anguish and tears she would express.  And in every session there the same damn question she would ask that I never shy away from: “When will the traumas, the flashbacks and the pain be over?”.  My response was always the same…. Never.

Over the toll of 10 years Bobbi has integrated in her belief system that trauma is permanent. She now accepts that though it will never go away, she understands that she is driving (empowered) and advocating for self.  She is now working towards striving (pacing) in balancing so she can live with her traumas and flashbacks and moving towards thriving (personal achievement) in lightening the impact of the traumatic intrusions.

In “Walking the Landscape,” Bobbi has full appreciation and understanding that “freedom, peace … is not free”.

Concluding Remarks-Dr. Kane

“There is a system for white people and a system for black people.  This is what we face every day.”

– Scott X Sedale Connecticut State NAACP President (03/18/18)

I do not agree with the assertion of the US Senator from North Carolina, Tim Scott, that “America is not a racist country.”  On the contrary, 400 years plus years of institutionalized, structural, and systemic racism has been woven into the fabric of America.  There are numerous African Americans and other members of communities of color who like Bobbi are either denied, rejected or unable to access mental health treatment due to the lack of culturally responsible care.  When culturally responsible care is not a priority for those dominating the power structures and hierarchies, it will not be a priority in professional, graduate, or medical school or training. Subsequently, mental health professionals will be ill-equipped and unable to assist these ever-growing communities resulting in the failure of the system to provide treatment and continued victimization.

“Black folks in this city have never had anything to call their own except humiliation and despair.  We need you Coach Boone; you are the answers to our prayers.”

Movie “Remember the Titans (2000)

This well acted dramatization of a black high school football coach in Alexandria Virginia arriving to save the African American community from humiliation and despair is currently being played out in real life in the availability of African American mental health providers to treat their community.  African Americans make up 13% of the US population.  Yet of the 41,000 psychiatrists in the country only 2% are African American. Furthermore, of the 171,500 psychologists in the US only 5.3% are African American. Women of color make up less than 5% of all psychiatrists, psychologists and clinical social workers combined.

African American are vulnerable to being exposed to the psychological impacts from a minimum of 12 forms of racism and 15 subtypes of traumas daily with multiple racisms and traumas often occurring simultaneously. 

Unlike the dramatization of Denzel Washington, in Remember the Titans where he heroically saves the day and wins the championship, highlighting achievements for the community, mental health and wellness is individual and should be a priority for the community seeking survival in the face of those in positions of power and control.

It is Bobbi’s hope that her journal entries will assist others who suffer in silence and want to empower the psychological self in walking their landscape to seek mental health treatment that is culturally responsible. 

Remember Freedom…. Is not Free.

Complex Trauma

Dr. Micheal Kane

Complex trauma does not go away by

Simply pushing it to the back of your

mind

It is a thief that lurks around until it

Finds an open door.  It flashes

It screams as it leaps into my soul

It is a thief that steals in the day or in the

night

Enough is never …. Enough.

It steals and steals and steals

It plucks and sucks the life, slowly

From me.

Until the next journey…. Bobbi’s saga continues….

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…