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


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

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

Sticks & Stones (Variation #1)

Alexander William Kinglake, 1833

“Sticks and stones may break my bones

But words will never hurt me”

Sticks & Stones (Variation #2)

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

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

Sticks & Stones (Variation #3)

Absent Friends, 2004.

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

Catch A Nigger by His Toe

A Children’s Counting Rhyme (1888)

“Eeny, meena, mina, mo,

Catch a nigger by the toe,

If he hollers let him go,

Eena, meena, mina, mo”

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

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

My Dear Readers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The questions often asked include the following:

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

Avoidance? Distancing? Tricks? Self-deception?

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


Dear Dr. Kane,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Bless you Dr. Kane,

Wandering Alone Mount Vernon, WA 


My Dear Readers,

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

The 3R’s & The Survival of the Fittest

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

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

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Acceptance and Understanding

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

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

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

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

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

The Reality of Black & White

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

  • Margaret Beale Spencer, 2010

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

The Willingness to Tolerate Difficult Situations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You’re Fooling You

“Ah tell me who’s fooling who.

You ain’t fooling me.

You’re fooling you.

You’re Fooling You, The Dramatics (1975)

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

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

Olivia:   “Twice as good.”

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

Scandal. ABC. 2012-2018.

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

An Unequal Playing Field

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


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

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

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

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


Concluding Words-Dr. Kane

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

My Dear Young Man,

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

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

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

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

Five R’s of RELIEF

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

The Impact of “Time Heals Wounds”

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

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

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

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

Loving the Self

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

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

It just means I love me more.


Focus on the journey… not the destination.


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

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


Until the next time,

Remaining … in Our Corner

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

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

– Dave Sim, Cartoonist & Publisher


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

– Ijeoma Oluo, So You Want to Talk About Race


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

– Miles Davis, Miles: The Autobiography


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

– Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man


My Dear Readers,

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

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

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


“In the Spirit of Collaboration”

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

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

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

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


Intellectual Knowledge vs Experiential Persecution

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

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

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

– Richie Norton, Author

But when it is lived through repeatedly, statements like…

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

– R. Patient

Capture the depths of what is routinely being experienced.

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

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

Below is such a story…


Dear Dr. Kane,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Covering Up Pain, Seattle WA


My Dear Young Man,

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

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


The Exhausting Toll: The “Black Tax”

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

Bryant Gumbel, Real Sports host said it well,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Bryant Gumbel,


My Dear Young Man,

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

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

How did that work out for you?

Did the alcohol resolve your problems?

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

Did the black tax suddenly cease to exist?


The Journey of Self Discovery

My Dear Young Man,

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

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

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

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

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


The Five Levels of The Journey

My Dear Young Man,

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

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



In this walk we encounter five levels of experience:

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


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


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


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


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


Transformation &The Reflection in the Mirror

My Dear Young Man,

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

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

Speak the truth as to what you need to see?

Speak the truth as to what you want to see?

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

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

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

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


Walking the Landscape

My Dear Young Man,

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

Consider the five elements of Walking the Landscape:

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

In your specific situation:

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

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


Concluding Remarks – Dr. Kane

 My Dear Young Man,

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

In my statements to the readership, I said:

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


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


White Liberal Intent vs Impact

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Standing…. & Standing Alone

Now, in response to you…


My Dear Young Man,

In your letter, you concluded with the following:

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

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

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

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


I Just Want to Live

I’m a young black man

Doing all I can

To stand

Oh, but when I look around

And I see what’s being done to my kind


I’m being hunted as prey

My people don’t want no trouble

We’ve had enough struggle

I just want to live

God protect me

I just want to live

I just want to live.

Song by Keedron Bryant (2020)




Until the next time, Remaining … in Our Corner

In Our Corner: “Please Do Better”

“We want an immediate arrest because we don’t think there should be two justice systems in America – one for black America and one for white America.

– Ben Crump, Attorney for the Arbery family

“Until this country can truly acknowledge the ills of its system, we will continue to see black blood drain our streets. “

– James Woodall, President, Georgia chapter of NAACP

“Stop, stop, we want to talk to you.”

-Gregory McMichael (words spoken to Ahmaud Arbery moments before killing him)

911 Call Proceeding the Death of Ahmaud Arbery

Caller: “There is a black male running down the street.” 

Police Dispatcher: “I just need to know what he was doing wrong.”

Caller: …

Minutes later Arbery was shot and killed

“I saw my son come into the world. And seeing him leave the world, it’s not something that I want to see, ever.”

– Wanda Cooper Jones, Ahmaud Arbery’s mother

“It’s just heart wrenching for him that he has to look at his other son and daughter and try to make sense of it. He really thinks that his son was lynched.”

-Ben Crump, Attorney speaking of Ahmaud Arbery’s father

“It’s hurtful.  I just got to be strong for the rest of my family. I got to be strong for my two children.  I just got to be strong for their mama too.”

-Marcus Arbery Sr., father of Ahmaud Arbery

“Your neighbor at [redacted] Satilla drive is Greg McMichael. Greg is retired Law Enforcement and also a Retired Investigator from the DA’s office. He said please call him day or night when you get action on your camera. His number is [Redacted].”

– 12/20/2019 text message from Glynn Police Officer Rash to homeowner, Larry English regarding contacting Gregory McMichael.

My Dear Readers,

I find myself awake at 4:00 am on Memorial Day morning contemplating the state we, as a country, find ourselves in. By the time this blog is published, the American death-toll due to the COVID-19 health crisis will have surpassed 100,000 people. 

Just as the deaths due to COVID-19 seem to have no end in sight, the same can be said about police involved and police related shootings, abuses of authority, and actions taken under the assumption of white privilege that have impacted, ravaged and traumatized black and brown communities across this nation.

During the time of COVID-19:

  • In Brunswick GA, while jogging in his neighborhood, a young black man was stopped and fatally shot by a retired police officer/district attorney’s office investigator.
  • In Louisville, KY, an African American woman was shot eight times, while asleep, by the police executing an arrest warrant in the middle of the night. The deceased was an EMT.  Her offense: None.  The police had the wrong address.
  • In Chicago IL, police officers are under investigation for shooting a young African American male in the subway system. His offense: jumping between train cars.
  • In Pender County, NC, a group of armed white men, led by sheriff’s deputy (who was outside of his jurisdiction), broke into and entered the home of an African American mother and her 18-year-old son.  Their offense: None.  Mistaken identity.
  • In Miami, FL a black physician in front of his residence and family is handcuffed by a police officer.  His offense: Loading tents in his van to give to the homeless and responding to the pandemic.
  • In Wood River, IL, two young black adult males were observed being escorted out of Walmart store under the watchful eyes of a police officer grimacing, gripping his weapon and holster.  Their offense: refusal to remove their facemasks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rather than focus on these outrageous actions and inflicted horrors tolerated and condoned by the silence of the dominant group,  I have chosen to focus on the behaviors behind inaction by black and brown people who continue to experience violence while a nationwide pandemic unfolds. 

Watching the Sleight of Hand Trick & The Puppeteer

In this writing, I will avoid diving deeply into the “sleight of hand” trickery being played out by the dominant group acting against communities of color but, it must be addressed in order to understand why these communities, who consistently experience unspeakable violence, have remained quiet in the face of the acts listed above.

Government leaders, many of whom are members of the dominant group, give press conferences and release statements that are filled with language they think the impacted communities want to hear. They try to appease the people; they create the illusion that, this time, steps are being taken to prosecute those involved and prevent other incidents from happening in the future, when in all actuality, they are doing this in hopes of containing the reaction of the impacted community long enough for the all too short communal memory to kick in and these victims names are lost to history. For a bonfire to burn out, simply don’t feed it any logs.  Just stand by in silence, and watch the flames flicker down and burn out, then wait until life returns to normal.

Common Thread-Watching the Bonfire

With these types of incidents, there is a common series of actions that occur once they are brought to light. Black and brown communities:

  • Express public outrage through demonstrations, marches and, protests
  • Put pressure on public officials for statements of condemnation
  • Demand public investigations, both state and federal
  • Demand disciplinary actions, terminations, arrests
  • Call for criminal trials leading to incarnations
  • File civil lawsuits against local municipalities resulting in either depositions, legal settlements, or long, enduring, court room trials that are covered in social media

Although the writing will be centered on the tragedy of Brunswick GA, in which a black life was tragically taken, this is my story.  


My Dear Readers,

Recently in a LinkedIn posting, I reviewed an article in which two black men working as subcontractors for FedEx in Georgia, were fired for posting a video on social media showing a customer racially abusing them.  Among the comments, one stated:

“Good thing they weren’t jogging lol.”

The comment was “liked” by two others as well as viewed by seven including me. Initially I was struck by the insensitivity, understanding that another young black life had been lost not too far from where the racially abusive actions had occurred.

I responded to the individual with the following (the name has been changed to protect their identity):  

“Robert, a family is grieving, and black and brown people are traumatized.  Parents are fearful of seeing their children for the last time as they go out and engage in activities.  Empathy and compassion are warranted and appreciated.  Please do better.  Be heartfelt, not heartless.”

I received the following from “Robert”:

“That wasn’t supposed to be funny, that was a serious statement.  But you work with the cops, so I don’t expect you to understand.  Please do better!!”

Initially, I was disturbed by the young man rudeness and sarcasm.  After clarifying my work responsibilities as well as explaining that I do not work for the police, I stated:

“It may be a generational issue however, upon reading your comment, I was unable, especially with the ‘lol’, to understand that you were making a serious statement. It may be that your statement is more of a reenactment of the “survival mentality” that African Americans have become accustomed to utilizing when feeling hopeless following a repeat of traumas that are forced upon our community. I do take seriously your comment, ‘Please do better.’ I will seek to do better as I will be writing a blog posting on LinkedIn in which among other feedback, I will feature the psychological impacts of your ‘Good thing they weren’t jogging lol’, comment. I will of course notify you when the blog is posted. I would be most interested in your feedback. Thank you for sharing.”

Keeping in mind a fellow writer on LinkedIn, Curtiss, who stated, in not so many words, “every experience ain’t about you”, I have taken a moment to breathe and use one of my own clinical models.

The Five R’s of RELIEF

In my clinical practice I have taught my patients the clinical model of the Five R’s of RELIEF:  Respite, Reaction, Reflection, Response and Reevaluation, which encourages proactive strategies and actions.  Looking at the situation through this lens, I began to realize that there was some truth in the young black man’s sarcastic retort of “Please do better!!”.

I was able to realize that if I responded defensively or in kind to the statement, that I would be furthering the sleight of hand trick being played by the “puppeteer”, the dominant group, and the “audience”, members of the marginalized group that maintain the status quo, would be focused on the argument between myself and the young man and not on the life tragically lost “jogging while black”.

The “I” Factor: I heard you…. But are you listening?

In the end, whatever message I sought to communicate would have been minimized by being only heard and lost because it was not listened to and understood. What is the difference? Simple.

When only hearing, words enter one ear and exit through the other.  Listening, using the following elements of my clinical model “The “I” Factor”, requires information, involvement, integration, implementation, and impact to lead to understanding.

So, with the focus on listening, I say that the comment of the young man with the initial reaction of laughter and the sarcastic retort of “Please do better” is not the main issue. It’s rather an outlying issue of how we treat or view each other within the African American community. 

Pointing the Finger… Black Silence

And what about “black silence”?

In response to the LinkedIn comment, “Good thing they weren’t jogging, lol” two individuals showed their support by “liking” Robert’s statements and another four individuals contributed their own comments to the main article. Yet none, other than I, responded to Robert’s words. There is no evidence that more than seven individuals even saw the article. 

But what if other African Americans saw Robert’s words. And, what if, after doing so, they simply chose to dismiss, ignore, and not respond?

Simply asking “Why did they choose to be silent?” is circular and we learn nothing from it.

The real question is…What is the foundation of the fear response causing the dismiss, ignore and be silent behavior?

Three answers:

  • Survival
  • Resilience
  • Lacking in post-traumatic growth  

Survival Mentality: “Good thing they weren’t jogging, lol”

Robert’s flippant response following the tragic killing of one of his community paired with his adamant claim that it was a serious, not sarcastic, statement shows that he may be living in fear. This could be an example of how black people respond to these violent events.

The response can also be an example of his survival mentality (believing that you are willing to do whatever it takes to survive), that was passed down to him inter-generationally from his parents, grandparents, and great grandparents and taught to him by his church, his school, and his community to use humor to dull the pain of repeated trauma.  

With that survival mentality, it allows you to see the fact that they weren’t killed as a victory and not as a symptom of the underlying malaise of race relations in America.

 The use by the dominant group of law enforcement as a weapon, individuals professing the right to stop and interrogate blacks and simply white privilege is not new.

Resilience: The Art of Surviving to Thriving

The western origin of the definition of resilience is a person’s mental ability to recover quickly from misfortune, illness, or depression.  Therefore, resilient people develop a mental capacity that allows them to adapt with ease during adversity. Bending rather than breaking under pressure.

The assumption is that the resilient person is strong, and that strength gives a person the ability to overcome. The dominant group has placed the African American individual on the pedestal of being resilient and therefor able to withstand any number of abuses and traumas.

 In return, African Americans have internalized the belief of resilience regarding their ability to survive actions of racism, oppression and discriminatory treatment in hopes of one day reaching identifiable symbols of success in order to try to exert control over the incidents of violence and oppression.  

Existing, Surviving, Driving, Striving & Thriving- The Illusions vs. the Truth

The African American community consistently fails to recognize the “sleight of hand” trick being played by the dominant group. The path, as I developed in the Five Stages of the Journey of Self Discovery, which begins at existing, is omitted by the dominant group.

 The focus by the dominant group is intentionally placed on surviving to thriving.  Thriving will consistently be denied to you because the stages of driving (empowerment) and striving (direction and pacing) are omitted. 

Furthermore, to keep the game in play, a few “chosen ones” are permitted to sit along with the dominant group however, they will never be fully accepted.  This is the “carrot” that is auspiciously dangled in order to maintain the imbalance of power between the African American community and the dominant group.

Post Traumatic Growth-Balancing & Not Overcoming Traumatic Impacts

African Americans daily face 12 forms of racism and 14 subtypes of trauma.  Although it is known that our children will continue to face regular acts or incidents that will be so traumatic and impactful that they would be carried over into adulthood, we still do not create measures to assist them to balance these traumas.  Rather, the focus is overcoming traumatic impacts through the falsehood of resilience (strength), and silence (shaming).

African Americans residing outside the land from which they originate are the wealthiest, the most educated and hold more homeownership and socio-economic status than other Africans.

Despite these accomplishments, African Americans continue to maintain a survival mentality, live in fear, and act in ways that are reactive and not proactive.

Concluding Words-Dr. Kane

The bonfire created by the tragic killing in Brunswick, GA will eventually burn out. The history of African American action is one of inaction such as waiting for someone, some Black Messiah to come along and lead our people to freedom. 

Yes, there have been such individuals like, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Marcus Garvey Shirley Chisholm, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X to name a few.  Yes, celebrities will lend their names and statuses and preachers and politicians will use this tragedy as a pulpit to keep their names alive.  Yet what will transform?  How will we transform? 

Who will be the next black person to die?

Will he or she be your child or mine?  Will she be in her home asleep only to die in a hail of bullets due to a mistaken address?  Or will he be jogging, walking or just sitting in his car in his neighborhood, one in which others have determined that he does not belong.

Dear Robert,

I want to thank you for sharing your comments.  You are right.  We must all… do better.  You have an opportunity to do so. Instead of defending, focus on the ABCs: achieving, believing and conceiving. Please do better.

Best regards, your elder, 

Dr. Micheal Kane


Honoring Our Heroes on Memorial Day

LT. Colonel Lemuel Penn

Lemuel Penn joined the Army Reserve from Howard University.  He served in World War II in New Guinea and the Philippines earning a Bronze Star with Valor.  Penn, father of three, was 48 years old at the time he was murdered by Klansmen.

The two Klansmen were tried in state superior court but were found not guilty by an all-white jury.  They were later found guilty of the lesser charge of “violation of civil rights” and received minimum sentences.

The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion

Led by its black female commander, Major Charity Adams Earley, it was the only all-female, African American battalion serving overseas in France during World War II.

At the time, there were more than seven million American troops stationed in Europe. The task of sorting and delivering mail was difficult due to common names, soldiers on secret assignments and wartime conditions. At the time, there were more than seven million American troops stationed in Europe and receiving letters from home was an important way to keep up the morale of the troops on the front lines.

These enlisted women worked eight-hour shifts, seven days a week, despite having to respond to racism and segregation while performing their duties.

Major Earley felt that reacting to racism caused more problems than it solved and insisted that the 6888th Battalion look past the prejudice directed at them by the men retuning from the frontlines. Major Earley’s efforts lead to a US recruitment tour to encourage more women to enlist and were instrumental in easing the inclusion of African Americans and women into military service.


“Those who try to hold on to their world views following trauma are often more fragile, defensive and easily hurt.  Their wounded assumptions are at risked of being shattered again and again.

-Stephen Joseph (2011)

Until the next time,

Remaining … in Our Corner

In Our Corner: Self Hate and Pressure for Acceptance

“We’re men. Soldiers. And I don’t intend for our race to be cheated of its place of honor and respect in this war because of fools like C.J.”
– MSgt. Vernon Waters (character), A Soldier’s Play


“Remember, you’re the first colored officer most of these men ever seen. The Army expects you to set an example for the colored troops… and be a credit to your race.”
– Col. Nivens (character), A Soldier’s Play


“Any man ain’t sure where he belong, gotta’ be in a whole lotta pain.”
– CJ (character), A Soldier’s Play


My Dear Readers,

My, oh my…what a beginning for 2020! I recently returned from a five-thousand-mile, round-trip, journey to New York over a weekend to see the Broadway theater production of A Soldier’s Play. It is a WWII murder mystery story set on a segregated military base in Louisiana.

Following my earlier trip to see Slave Play, I was anticipating a second triumphant return to Seattle having experienced a play of similar brilliance but, what I experienced was nothing like I expected.

In Slave Play, I marveled at the playwright’s utilization of race, sex and trauma to shine a light on our society’s relationship with white supremacy, but A Soldier’s Play was different. It was more personal. It told how some African Americans internalized white supremacy then weaponized against one another. The pure self-hate and internal demand for acceptance being portrayed by a black cast, simply hit too close to home.

On the surface, A Soldier’s Play is about a black man’s desire to fight for his country during WWII. Underneath, there is the picture of the ongoing internal conflict with achieving status and acceptance while struggling with self-hatred and denial of dreams and opportunities.

A Soldier’s Play is invaluable as it seeks to portray the psychological landscapes of these men who struggle to be accepted as equals by whites while battling the internalized oppression and self-hatred that flows from their psychosocial wounds paralleling, with great accuracy, the struggle black men face today.

The play identifies the good, bad and ugly within the main characters Sgt. Waters and Capt. Davenport. Utilizing quotes from the stage play, I will seek to expose common themes and how those themes impact African Americans today.
Sgt. Waters:
Sgt. Waters is an African American holdover from WWI who, due to the military’s segregationist policies of the time, feels denied his place of honor and respect.

For him, WWII presents another opportunity to gain that respect and honor he feels he is due, and he is determined not to be denied his moment of glory and recognition. In the play, Sgt. Waters shares the following story of an experience in France during WWI:

“You know the damage one ignorant Negro can do? We were in France in the first war; we’d won decorations. But the white boys had told all them French gals that we had tails. Then they found this ignorant colored soldier, paid him to tie a tail to his ass and run around half naked, making monkey sounds.

Put him on the big round table in the Café Napoleon, put a reed in his hand, crown on his head, blanket on his shoulders, and made him eat “bananas” in front of all them Frenchies. Oh, the white boys danced that night… passed out leaflets with that boy’s picture on it.

Called him Moonshine, King of the Monkeys. And when we slit his throat, you know that fool asked us what he had done wrong?”

Sgt. Waters’ words and actions are clear indications of what he is willing to do to gain “honor and respect.” Now faced with a new war and thus an opportunity to gain “honor and respect”, Sgt. Waters is driven to oust any person he views stands in his way.

He subsequently targets a colored soldier, CJ. He plants false evidence to have him arrested, telling him

“Whole lot of people just can’t seem to fit in to where things seem to be going. Like you, CJ. See, the Black race can’t afford you no more. There used to be a time, we’d see someone like you singin’, clownin’, yassuh –bossin’… and we wouldn’t do anything. Folks liked that.

You were good. Homey, kind of nigger.

When they needed somebody to mistreat, call a name or two, they paraded you. Reminded them of the good old days. Not no more. The day of the Geechee is gone, boy. And you’re going with it.”

As a result of the stress being placed upon him, CJ commits suicide by hanging himself while being held in the stockade.
Later, Sgt. Waters, drunk and physically beaten, is found fatally shot in full military uniform and casted off on a muddy dirt road in the rain. As he lay dying, he screams at his killer:
“They still … hate you! THEY STILL HATE YOU!!”

Analysis – Dr. Kane:
It would be a mistake to misjudge Sergeant Waters or depict him as evil. He simply wants the acceptance, honor and respect that has been historically denied to him and those of his race. Sergeant Waters is a deeply conflictive man. His hatred of the white man is only matched with the hatred of other African Americans who due to their ignorant behaviors are preventing his quest for glory.

He therefore takes it upon himself to protect the black race from acts of shame and humiliation. As demonstrated in story of slitting a young man’s throat and creating false evidence resulting in the suicide of another, he shows the extent to which he is willing to go to prevent the race from being “cheated of its place of honor and respect”.

One of Sgt. Waters’ characterizations is shame-based behavior. True to form, in his shame, he is depicted as feeling unworthy, defective and empty. In acting out those feelings, he repeatedly committed acts of racism and inflicted psychological trauma and humiliation on others. Something black men have faced from previous generations to today.

Shame can be debilitating, toxic and extremely destructive. Shame works to separate the individual from the psychological self. It creates an internal crisis that attacks the inner core, triggering a shaming spiral of negative self-talk.

Shame can be defined in several ways:
• A painful emotion caused by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment, unworthiness or disgrace.
• An act that brings dishonor, disgrace or public condemnation.
• An object of great disappointment.

Another characterization of Sgt. Waters is an extreme fear of humiliation.

Humiliation is the infliction of a profoundly violent psychological act that leaves the victim with a deep wound within the psychological self. The painful experience is vividly remembered for a long time.
This includes:
• The enforced lowering of a person or group, a process of subjugation that either damages or strips away a person’s pride, honor or dignity.
• A state of being placed, against one’s will, in a situation where one is made to feel inferior.
• A process in which the victim is forced into passivity, acted upon, or made to feel helpless.

Humiliation differs from shame in that humiliation is public, whereas shame is private. Humiliation is the suffering of an insult. If the person being humiliated deems the insult as credible, then they will feel shame.

One can insult and humiliate another; but that person will only feel shame if one’s self image is reduced. Such action requires the person who has been humiliated to buy into or agree with the assessment that shame is deserved.

A person who is secure about their own stature is less likely to be vulnerable to feeling shame, whereas the insecure person is more prone to feeling shame because this individual gives more weight to what others think of him than to what he thinks of himself.

In the mind of Sgt. Waters, both individuals CJ the “singin’, clownin’, yassuh –bossin” individual and Moonshine, King of the Monkeys had to die. The humiliation was open and public, and the pain of shame was too much to bear.

It is ironic that in Sgt. Waters’ quest to avoid shame and humiliation, his death was just that, shameful, humiliating and at the hands of those he deemed unworthy.

Upon being caught his killer stated, “I didn’t kill much. Some things need gettin’ rid of. Man like Waters never did nobody no good anyway.”

These words, which may have been spoken 80 years ago, continue to be the sentiment that is being displayed against African Americans today as they continue to be impacted by racism and the resulting psychological trauma.


Capt. Davenport:
The military hierarchy, under pressure from the African American community and fearful of a possible race riot after the murder of a black soldier where the main suspects are the local Klansmen, sends a black investigator to look into the murder of Sergeant Waters. He is the first “Negro” officer that these men (including whites) have ever seen. He has been given three days to solve the murder. He has no authority and must be accompanied by a white officer when interviewing white witnesses.

Col. Nivens, the white base commander, wants him to quickly complete his assessment and be “in and out” of the military base ASAP. He seeks a quick investigation without finding any conclusions. He states
“The worst thing you can do, in this part of the country, is pay too much attention to the death of a negro under mysterious circumstances.”

In addition to being pressured to tread lightly and not solve the case, he is reminded by Col. Nivens that he is special and different. He is the first of his kind and carrying the responsibility to represent well. Col. Nivens states:
“Remember, you’re the first colored officer most of these men ever seen. The Army expects you to set an example for the colored troops… and be a credit to your race.”


Analysis –Dr. Kane:
The characterization of Capt. Davenport is a representation of the concept of “The Talented Tenth”. This is a term that was designated a leadership class of African Americans in the early 20th Century.

The term originated in 1886 among Northern white liberals with the goal of establishing black colleges in the South to train black teachers and elites. The term was later publicized by W.E.B. Dubois whose intent was to educate the best minds of the race and disseminate them into the greater black community allowing for the uplifting of the race.

Capt. Davenport’s character is the first Negro officer these people have ever seem. He is viewed as the “top” or ‘crème de la crème” of his race. He is given an impossible task to investigate (quietly) without solving the murder of Sgt. Waters.

He is viewed with suspicion by whites and in awe by blacks. He is given three days to complete the task and is mindful that he must represent both the Army, that enforces segregation and mistreats blacks, and try to deliver justice to the African American community which is waiting hungrily for the results.

The character of Capt. Davenport continues to permeate the psychological self of African Americans today. Following sixty years since the ending of legal segregation, the strategies of the dominant group has also transformed. Although diversity has transformed to add inclusion, equity and social justice, African Americans continue to find themselves impacted by acts of racism and psychological trauma.

Thanks to the scriptwriters in the movie “A Soldier’s Story” and the theatrical production, A Soldier’s Play, both conclude on a “positive note”. The murder is solved, the military hierarchy is happy, and the African American community nationwide can celebrate another small victory.

The African American community is left with a sliver of optimism to hold onto in hopes of a better future.


Concluding Words-Dr. Kane:
In this fictional story all ends well. The murder has been solved. No race riots. No more national outcry for civil rights investigations. The peace and calm of segregation and psychological traumatization of black soldiers and civilians can one again go back to normal.

In the film conclusion, the scriptwriters offer a slightly different, more accurate portrayal of black-white interpersonal relationships, a tension that exists to this very day: In an exchange between a white officer and Captain Davenport:

Capt. Taylor: I guess I’ll have to get used to Negroes with bars on their shoulders, Davenport. You know, being in charge.

Capt. Davenport: Oh, you’ll get used to it, Captain. You bet your ass on that. You’ll get used to it.

However, what is clearly left open are the questions about the strength of self-hatred and the pressure of acceptance by others that is truly captured in the scripts and holds true for African Americans today. Specifically, CJ referring to Sgt. Waters: “Any man ain’t sure where he belong, gotta’ be in a whole lotta pain.”

It remains to be real in today’s lives of African Americans who can endure, daily, fourteen subtypes of psychological traumas and eleven forms of racism.

The concept of the “talented tenth” was constructive and necessary when developed, but today, is a concept that is ill-suited and destructive because it demands that the individual sacrifice the psychological self on behalf of the impoverished community. Rather than bolster the community, the concept’s success is dependent upon disempowering the psychological self and creates insecurity and detachment and it weakens generation after generation.

What can be done? What can we do to model for our children and future generations? We can…. Walk the Landscape.

What is the Landscape?
The landscape is life.
One of the essential realities of life is that death is a certainty. What remains uncertain is:
• How we live our lives
• What we experience during our lifetimes
• The memories we leave with the individuals we interact with.

Life at the Crossroads
Waiting at the crossroads are possible experiences, submerged materials such as incidents, situations and conflicts that may surface directly in one’s path. Such materials demand to be addressed.

Interaction Points
These crossroads are interactions points where barriers, challenges, experiences with difficult individuals and opportunities are presented. At the crossroads:
• Choices are presented
• Decisions are made and directions are chosen
• Consequences for choices and decisions are foreseen.
• Wisdom is gained, lessons are learned, and both are utilized for future experiences
• Transformation through Self-Empowerment is achieved

The Journey of Self-Discovery is actualized upon understanding that:
• All decisions have consequences
• The fullness of life is measured not just by one’s success but by failures as well.


“We cannot think of unity with others until we have first united among ourselves. We cannot think of being acceptable to others until we have proven acceptable to ourselves.”
– Malcolm X


“Be willing to walk alone. Many who started with you won’t finish with you.”
– Shaniqua King


“Truth…it’s about Walking the Landscape and in walking, one simply exposes one’s truth.”
– Dr. Micheal Kane

Until the next time,
Remaining … in Our Corner

Join us at our new website:

In Our Corner: Casual Racism and the Lives We Live

“Harassment will not be tolerated.”

-“Golfcart Gail” calling 911 on black man who was cheering for his son during a soccer game.  She claimed he was “exhibiting threatening behavior.” (10.17.18)

“Anybody can call the police at any time for any reason,” one deputy said of the call. “We’ll respond.”

– St John’s County Sheriff Deputy

“It is what it is,” he tells Lewis. “Do you understand?”

-Police Officer, providing an explanation to the black male being racially profiled and detained by the police while providing childcare to two white children

“That’s false and heartbreaking,” she said, telling KTVI that she’s legally married to an African-American man. “Those are words that cut deep.”

-Hilary Thornton, on being vilified online as a racist for blocking a black man from entering his own apartment. (10.12.18)

“Being racially profiled…I feel like I am in a can with the its top…sealed.  I’m being suffocated.  I can’t take it any longer.”

-William age 30


My Dear Readers,

In this 100th blog posting, it is fitting that we listen to the experiences of African-American men who are psychologically impacted by repeated incidents of racial profiling.  I will examine four recent incidents of racial profiling occurring just this month, October 2018.  My objective in doing this is to:

  • Utilize these incidents as teaching moments for African-American males in understanding how to react and response when racial profiling occurs
  • To encourage individuals to accept responsibility for achieving and balancing their own emotional and psychological wellness
  • Educate the readership on the dangers of “casual racism” and the psychological impact (trauma) that racial profiling has on the person who has been so victimized.

We begin with the stories of Calvin and William (names changed to protect their confidentiality), who shared their experiences with me in session.


The Impacts of Racism & Trauma

 “It Pierced My Heart”

Calvin is a 41-year old man married, two children. He is employed as a community college instructor. Calvin spoke of his feelings of a recent incident in which he felt racially targeted and profiled.

“It was a great day, I was feeling good and I had stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few things.  As I was going down one of the aisles, picking up items, I passed by this middle age white woman who upon seeing moved her handbag from her cart, sharply securing it under her arm.  

She stared at me as if in fear, following my steps as I passed her.  She continued to stare intensely at me as I turned to walk down the next aisle.   It did not impact me physically, but I felt sad, frustrated and angry. I wanted to blow up (yell, scream) on her. 

 In the 41 years I have been alive, racial profiling has happened to me hundreds if not thousands of times.  And yet I am still impacted by it.”


When Emotions Are Running High

William is a 30-year-old single engineer employed by a corporate firm in Seattle. William spoke of his feelings of being racially profiled.

“I am tired of the adult way of dealing with this shit i.e. (racial targeting).  Sometimes I just want to punch them in the face and yet I know that if I do so, I am the one who is going to lose out. 

I realize when I fucked up.  I desired and prayed for freedom.  I went to school, got a degree and then got a good paying job. My mistake was that I did not define what freedom meant for me and what I was willing to do to get that freedom. 

Women ask me all the time when I am going to get married, settle down and have kids.  No way do I want to bring children into this shit.  I would never want to pass on inter-generational trauma to my kids. 

I feel like I am in a can with the top sealed.  I’m being suffocated.  I can’t take it any longer. The Five R’s of Relief go out the window when I am in this state of anger.  I know that to them, I am expendable but Doc, right now, I simply do not care.”


Clinical Summary-Dr. Kane

Calvin and William have anxiety and depression.  They have been impacted by repeated incidents of racial profiling, which have resulted in them becoming psychologically overwhelmed.

Both men have been victimized by three forms of racism: attitudinal, behavior and individual. Specifically:

  • Attitudinal racism – an individual belonging to a certain group is defamed due to characteristics they share with their group, such as skin color.
  • Behavioral racism-an individual is specifically denied fair and equal because of characteristics they share with their group or visible ethnic group membership.
  • Individual racism the belief in the perpetrator that their own race is superior. This requires actual behaviors perpetrated on the victim that express and enforce the belief held by the perpetrator that the other person is inferior because of their racial characteristics or membership in a different ethnic group.

In addition, two sub-types of trauma have psychologically impacted both men:

  • Micro-aggressive assaults the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to individuals based solely upon their race or group membership.
  • Just World Trauma People have a need to believe in a just world, one in which they get what they deserve and deserve what they get. For non-white individuals, however, the trauma of racism shatters the just world hypothesis—they are subjected to behavior that they did not deserve, which would generally be an “out-of-the-ordinary” event and is directly experienced as a threat to survival and self-preservation. As these events become more ordinary, however, the individual’s belief in a just world begins to erode, increasing the trauma.

Calvin is in conflict and denies both his feelings and the psychological injury that he has suffered.  He admits to having experienced similar acts of racial profiling “hundreds if not thousands of times,” but he is angry not only at this particular woman in this particular incident; he is also angry at himself for believing in the “just world” and allowing himself to vulnerable and exposed to once again be impacted by the act.

William, on the other hand, is not only angry and disenchanted at being racially profiled, he is angry at himself for believing in the “just world;” that through obtaining success via an education and employment he could “escape” and obtain freedom from traumas associates with such incidents.

Both men, well educated, employed and successful in their careers remain at risk if they stay in the “survival” stage of living. In this stage, it is difficult to consistently draw upon the internal psychological resources to advocate for the healing of their wounds, and to gain balance in their internal worlds, which then leads to facing these incidents (or the potential for these incidents) with calmness, and thus, finding empowerment.  William acknowledges this in referring to the empowerment strategy of The Five R’s of Relief—in his state of anger the strategies “go out the window.”

Both men view their situations as outside their control and themselves as powerless to stop them.  Both men have the desire to “strike out” physically at their oppressor, but both also realize the very real consequences that will follow, mainly being negatively labeled an “ABC” (Angry Black Man out of Control) and the consequences that will result: police intervention, arrest and banishment.

Historically, the solution for men like Calvin and William has been to quietly stuff their psychological wounds (and in doing so, create more distress for themselves,) and seek other means to medicate themselves, such as educational, material, and economic success, or via alcohol or drug use.

Although neither Calvin or William currently use these self-harming methods to medicate their psychological wounds, unless they initiate self-love and self-care empowerment strategies, they remain at extreme risk.  Calvin has already made the decision to deny himself the joy of birthing a child due to his fear of duplicating inter-generational trauma.

The form of racism that has been normalized and accepted by the dominant society and has impacted African-Americans like Calvin and William is known as casual racism. Casual racism is not a scientific term, but it is used to refer to society’s or an individual’s lack of regard or concern for the impact of their racist actions or behaviors upon another person.

In recent days, casual racism has become more insidious as it has become expressed through white comfort and discomfort.  We have seen numerous examples of law enforcement being called by white women on African-Americans doing things that would be considered normal if done by white people.  Because the presence of an African-American makes an individual uncomfortable, they call law enforcement to police that behavior.   This is seemed in the recent incidents of racial profiling by white women against black men during October 2018.


Lessons of Emmett Till: White Women Enforcing Power & Control Over Black Men

 “Anybody can call the police at any time for any reason,” one deputy said of the call. “We’ll respond.”

-St. John’s County deputy, responding to incident alleging harassment (10.17.18)

In 1955, 14-year-old African-American adolescent Emmett Till was kidnapped, brutally beaten, and lynched in Mississippi based on the word of a white woman alleging he had “disrespected” her.  An all-white jury acquitted the white men accused of his murder.  The white woman recanted her accusation in a recently published book.

In general, racial profiling is not limited to gender. We focus today on this particular dynamic because of the historic association of the fear of black men taking advantage of white women and stereotypical beliefs regarding black males regardless of their age.


Babysitting While Black

(10.10.18) A white woman calls 911 on a black male who is driving two white children he is babysitting.  When the white woman demands that the black man allow her, a stranger, to question the children, she follows his vehicle to his home and calls police.  The police detain the man and after questioning and releasing him, an officer told him: “It is what it is. “Do you understand?”

 Cheering While Black

(10.17.18) A white woman calls 911 on a black man who was cheering on his son at a soccer game.  The woman told him “harassment would not be tolerated”.  Even though the man offered to leave the area, the woman called 911 because of her concern that he was exhibiting “threatening behaviors.”  Following being detained by the sheriff deputies, the man was let go.  Regarding the 911 call, a sheriff deputy is quoted stating: “Anybody can call the police at any time for any reason. We’ll respond.”

Being a Child While Black

(10.10.18) A white woman calls the police on a 9-year old black child she accused of sexual assault. The child, is seen on video crying, fearing he is going to jail for something he did not do. Two days later, surveillance video footage shows that the boy’s backpack had accidentally brushed up against her. The woman issued the following apology through the media: “Young man, I don’t know your name, but I’m sorry.”

Going Home While Black

(10.18.18) A white woman sought to deny entry to the black male tenant that she claims that she did not recognize. Even through the tenant provided evidence of his keys, she followed him into the elevator and sought to enter his residence.  She contacted 911 stating that she felt threatened, although the video footage taken by the man showed that he did not approach her at all. Following the social media outcry, she stated in an interview that since she was legally married (now separated) to a black man, she could not be racist and that the accusations that she was were “words that cut deep.”


Clinical Analysis-Dr. Kane

“Anybody can call the police at any time for any reason. We’ll respond.”

Unfair criticism has been directed towards law enforcement for responding to incidents that are founded on racial profiling.  However, law enforcement, due to its primary mission of public safety, is responsible to respond to all calls seeking emergency assistance.  Clearly the responsibility lies upon the dominant society, which has been silent and unwilling to examine its biases, stereotypes and fears of black males.

In three of the racial profiling incidents the victimized men are quoted stating

  • “In 2018 prejudiced people exist. We are still being judged.  We are still being discriminated against.”
  • “I was kind of blown away, shocked, and, like, wow,” it’s sad that what happened to him is “something that is recurring in America.”
  • “All because I got two kids in the backseat that do not look like me, this lady has taken it upon herself to say that she’s going to take my plate down and call the police,” “It’s crazy. … It’s 2018 and you see what I’ve got to deal with.”

Despite the expectation of being treated equally, this society continues to undervalue or invalidate black males based on their race and gender. Black males, regardless of age, must take on the responsibilities of empowering themselves to respond to and minimize psychological wounding and traumatic injury.


Empowerment Strategies Vigilance-Preconditioning to Racial Profiling

ABC’s– Advocacy, Balance, and Calmness

  • Advocacy accept that you may be alone; be alert and aware of your surroundings.
  • Balance maintain balance within during stressful times; accept that you are being observed.
  • Calmness– keep your focus on your responsibility to exit the incident and return home safe to your loved ones


Five R’s of RELIEF

During stressful times i.e. pre, during or post incidents of racial profiling:

  • Respite-take a breath, close your eyes and mentally step away from the incident.
  • Reactions-embrace your emotions. You have a right to feel what you feel. Give yourself permission to experience these emotions. This is where healing begins.
  • Reflect- process, bring your feelings and thoughts into balance.
  • Response-using your inner voice, speak to the psychological self, then calmly share your words with those individuals occupying your external environment.
  • Reevaluate-Review the steps and process taken. Explore lessons learned from the experience.


Concluding Words-Dr. Kane

My Dear Readers,

I close with questions regarding casual racism:

  • Who is the holder of beliefs supported and reinforced by casual racism?
  • Are they villains? Evil?
  • Filled with hate, disease and disgust?

No.  They are simply people who live in fear of change.

A good friend recently aided me with the following wisdom:

“To live is to deal with change.  Our fear of change is about failure.  We fear if we fail we won’t recover.  Don’t be afraid of change.”

-Crystal Cooper Siegel, MPA

I only disagree with the part “don’t be afraid of change.”

Humankind has always been afraid of change.  And yet, with or without humans, change has and will continue to occur.  I would suggest and hope for the following that instead of change that we can focus on transformation—that is, transforming our country into respecting itself and the diversity that makes up this nation.  In doing so, I hope we can be willing to live with our fear and not as we currently do now:  in fear of one another.



Suffering in Silence

To end the suffering

We must no longer be silent

If we do not speak

It is a certainty that no one will listen

Words will never arise from silence


-Dr. Micheal Kane



Until the next time,

Remaining …….. in Our Corner

In Our Corner: Living The Dream, or Existing In The Illusion?

“Flattery will get you nowhere.  Flattery does not work.”  -Idiom

“One thing is certain in life… we will all die one day.  Thus, the focus must be on those we touch, how we live, and what we experience.”

-Dr. Micheal Kane, Clinical Traumatologist

“There is no growth without discomfort.  Being honest can be uncomfortable. It is freedom that comes from being honest.”

-Delbert Richardson, Ethno-Museologist,                                                                           American History Traveling Museum, Seattle, WA


My Dear Readers,

In the last blog, I asked for “white people of good conscience to work within their communities as we black folk continue to work within our own.”

As I expected, I received strong responses from readers,  one in particular that was strongly critical of my direct focus on men’s issues within the African-American community at the expense of a focus on black women, or reflection about the role that I play regarding sexism within my community.

This writer, an outspoken black woman, has a good point.  She points out that having traditionally focused on white privilege and its impact on the African-American community while ignoring privilege within the community, key members continue to suffer in silence.

The writer is correct when she refers to misogynistic behavior within the African American community. It is hypocritical for a community to be united in its commitment against racism, but then remain silent regarding male privilege and misogynistic behavior.

Misogyny is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women and girls.  It can appear in numerous ways, including social exclusion, hostility, patriarchy, male privilege, belittling of women, violence against women and sexual objectification.

What lies at the root of misogyny is the conscious or unconscious habit of placing a masculine point of view at the center of one’s worldview, thereby systematically marginalizing the feminine point of view.

Without question, rampant misogyny is an issue within the African-American community, and yet it is not one that we are willing to engage with.  We speak in one voice to the role of the black woman in the family, the church and community, but we encourage silence instead of dialog when we deny actions that denigrate the women in our community.  We say we want to hear what women in our community have to say, but when the words are not flattering, the woman speaking becomes a “man-hater” and “usurper of the black man’s role in the community.”

In the blog “Showing Up As Real MEN and Leaving As Little Boys,” I shared one woman’s regarding her interactions with black men and got the following response from a reader:

“[I was]Using a Black woman (?) to spew vitriol and hatefulness, giving her a sanctimonious platform to castigate Black males. She sounded as though she had multiple issues needing immediate attention.”

The reader may have been correct that the woman had “issues” needing “immediate attention.” In my therapeutic work I have listened to numerous black women express similar feelings, sharing the impact of psychological wounds received from sexism and misogyny within our community.

In this case, however, the reader is not genuinely concerned about the woman’s health; this is an attempt to derail the conversation and distract from the role that black men can play and have played in creating these “multiple issues needing attention.”   The women who exposed their feelings may be utilizing this platform posting as a means of empowerment— something that I strongly support and encourage them to continue to do.

And, I strongly encourage black men to not just hear what is being said…  but to listen.


Dear Visible Man,

I am writing to share my concerns regarding the sexism and misogyny that is occurring within the African-American community. I have two real examples: my lazy-ass brother and my dependent, can’t-seem-to-take-care-of-himself-uncle.

You write often about white privilege and I acknowledge and agree with you that white privilege is a major concern for black people.  However, you clearly choose to remain silent about black male privilege that is also a daily reality in the black community.

It burns me up to watch these two worthless fools come over for Sunday dinner and be waited on hand and foot by my mother and grandmother.   When I complain, these misfits shut me down, calling me a hater.

Both are living in their dreams.  My brother spends his time smoking weed and still trying to play pro basketball, which he aged out of long ago.  His backup plan is to be a rapper. Imagine how likely that is.

My uncle, on the other hand, not only drinks and smokes weed, but he spends his social security money on the lottery, hoping for that one big win.  I have a son and I don’t want my son to hang around them and pick up their shameful behaviors.

I am sick of enduring this bullshit at home and then having to deal with sexism and the racist bullshit that occurs within my workplace.

So, Dr. Kane, instead of talking about white privilege, maybe you should trying focusing on saving these privileged black men who are living off the sweat of others in their own community.

-Pissed Off Sister Who Has Seen Enough, Seattle, WA


My Dear Woman,

I want to thank you for your remarks.  Your words are direct and speak to your experiences as a woman and mother within the African-American community. I acknowledge that for empowerment and growth to occur within our community, there must be voices raised, avenues provided, and foundations developed so that we encourage meaningful dialogue as we seek to engage on this topic.

There are some things that you described that I want to directly respond to:

  • The behaviors of your uncle and brother
  • The concern regarding your son mimicking or modeling his male relatives’ behavior

First things first: my goal in this work is not to “save” anyone, and I apologize if anything I have written implies that.  As a clinical traumatologist, I serve as a companion and guide walking with those who are seeking the journey of “self-discovery.”   Rather than to save, my role is to assist those who want to empower themselves.

I agree that a sense of privilege is deeply implanted within the African-American community.  However, the actions and behaviors of your male relative you have identified are not examples of that privilege.  Those are  the actions and behaviors of people who are existing and surviving.

The difference is this: within the Journey of Self Discovery, there are The Five Levels: existing, surviving, driving, striving and thriving.

  • Existing-The journey is bleak and lifeless for the individual. Life is barely lived, let alone enjoyed or even experienced.  Nothing is produced or gained by the individual at this level.
  • Surviving-The focus of the journey is to remain alive and breathing. The individual attaches minimally to life, lives in fear, and is in a constant state of desperation.  There is little gain, but not that much for the individual at this level.
  • Driving-At this level, the search for empowerment begins. The individual wanders, seeking direction, and in doing so, learns balance and reinforces the psychological self.  At this level the individual learns the importance of empowerment.
  • Striving– At this level, the individual has a solid hold on their life and is fully experiencing their psychological self. The individual lives with their fears, and is successfully implementing empowerment strategies in their lives.
  • Thriving- The individual has attained full realization of the psychological self and completed the Journey of Self Discovery. The individual has mastered their self-empowerment strategies, and can use this knowledge to support others and as a foundation for future journeys.

It appears that your uncle is simply existing, where your brother is surviving.  I understand your frustration and concern for the welfare of your male relatives, but these are your frustrations and concerns, not theirs.

Your uncle and brother are not living their dreams at all.  Dreams are workable hopes and desires that can be made true.  Instead, your brother and uncle are just two of the many African-American men who are, by their inaction and destructive behavior, “living in their own illusions.” Furthermore, their behavior may be a way of medicating psychological wounds through the utilization of alcohol and drugs.

This isn’t to say that you should just accept their behavior, especially when it is truly unacceptable and impacts your household.  And yes, in recent history, black women have been taught to give men benefits of the doubt that many do not deserve.  However, this appears, from my experience, to be something quite different.

The questions to be placed before your uncle and brother are the following:

  • What do you want for the psychological self?
  • What are you willing to do in order to achieve what you want?
  • What is your motivation? What are your ultimate goals before you close your eyes forever?

I would recommend that you allow your uncle and brother to serve as role models for your developing son.  The definition of a role model is a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by young people.

However, role models can also examples of failures to be observed, learned from and not to be emulated by young people.

  • Interact with males who behaviors you want your son to model. Consider conducting comparison and contrast situations with male relatives (or non-relatives) whose behavior you deem appropriate for your son.
  • Consider the psychological and emotional damage you can inflict on your son by shielding him from this and not being there to help him understand the difference between “dreams” and “illusions.”
  • Create a space where your son can be open and vulnerable with you so that he can openly discuss feelings associated with his observations.

One of the most important responsibilities of a parent is to prepare the child for their entry into the adult world.  Under your close guidance, there are lessons and experiences that your son and others can gain, and in doing so, add to their developing foundation and psychological self.

As for your uncle and brother, it is never too late to learn new skills or transform their behavior.  However, to do so is based on their desire to do so, and not your concerns or your needs.  Staying within an illusion is a choice; one you may not agree to and yet one you must want to respect.


Concluding Words-Dr. Kane

You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there.” 

-Edwin Louis Cole


My Dear Brothers,

I have no flattering remarks for you.

I write for the general readership, but in my In Our Corner blogs, I want to direct my concluding remarks specifically to black men as we walk the journey of self-discovery.

Regardless of our social status, education and achievements, black males for the majority are not valued by white society.  However, this is neither an excuse nor an explanation for the psychological wounds we inflict on the members of our own community, specifically black women.

There will be those among us who, due to their own psychological wounds and lack of self-concept, will be unable to look within themselves, and would rather focus on questioning my personal motives. This is expected, but not productive.

Transformation can only begin with embracing acceptance and letting go of denial. There are those who are not ready to transform themselves, so their journey of self-discovery will not be complete until they accept themselves, the roles they have played, the mistakes they have made, and the impact those things have had on others.  For some, that journey is a short one.  For others, it never began.

If you are angry after reading this, I invite you to be with that anger.  Feel it out and inquire of yourself why you feel that way. Accept that anger as a natural part of you but get curious about what you have experienced that has triggered that in you.  Transformation and self-discovery can only occur by exploring the depth of your feelings and finding the root cause of it, instead of mindlessly finding a way to just dull the symptoms of it. Be willing to walk the journey of self-discovery with yourself, warts and all.


Searching for meaning is like drawing

Etching for life.

Asking for direction can bring

Breath for tomorrow

Risk taking has its challenges

Earning another opportunity to

Endure which bring wisdom.

Zest is what it’s about

Experience the Journey of Self-Discovery

-Dr. Micheal Kane


Until the next time,

RemainingIn Our Corner.

In Our Corner: The Silence of Black Suicide

Do you ever wonder
That to win, somebody’s got to lose
I might as well get over the blues
Just like fishing in the ocean
There’ll always be someone new
You did me wrong ’cause I’ve been through stormy weather                                                      And the beat goes on.

-“And The Beat Goes On,” The Whispers, R&B Vocal Group

“Very few suicidal people want to die; they just don’t want to live the way they’re living.”

-Althea Hankins, MD, FACP, Director, Germantown Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA

“Every year, without any treatment at all, thousands stop suffering from depression.  Because it kills them.”

-Dr. Paul Greencard, 2000 Nobel Laureate in Medicine


My Dear Readers,

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

In the past week, the world was shocked to hear of the suicides of two celebrities: fashion designer Kate Spade and food critic/chef Anthony Bourdain.  Following the deaths of Spade and Bourdain, the Washington Post reported that suicide is being viewed not only as a mental health problem, but also as a public health problem.  Specifically:

  • Nearly 45,000 suicides occurred in the United States in 2016 –more than twice the number of homicides
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 15 to 34
  • In half the states, suicide among people ages 10 and older increased more than 30%.

Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the US Center for Disease Control observes:

“The data is disturbing.  The widespread nature of the increase, in every state but one, really suggests that this is a national problem hitting most communities.”

Professional health care organizations are frustrated by the lack of action by governmental agencies.  Nadine Kaslow, a past president of the American Psychological Association, states:

“At what point does it become a crisis?  Suicide is a public health care crisis when you look at the numbers, and they keep going up.  It’s up everywhere.  And we know that the rates are actually higher that what’s reported.”

So, what is the impact of suicide in black communities across the country?  The American Association of Suicidology reports the following:

  • African-American women are more likely than African-American men to attempt suicide.
  • Firearms are the predominant method of suicide, followed by suffocation.
  • Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for blacks of all ages and the third leading cause of death for black males between the ages of 15 and 24.
  • The number of suicides for black boys ages 5-11 have doubled in the last 20 years.
  • Hanging deaths among black boys have nearly tripled while suicide among white youth has declined in the same category.

The research shows that black males and females have similar suicidal behavior to whites including:

  • Serious thoughts of suicide
  • Making suicide plans
  • Attempting suicide and
  • Needing medical attention for attempted suicide

In essences, if a tree falls in a forest, who hears it depends on which community it has fallen in.

In white communities, two well-known individuals committed suicide quietly and alone—yet, the world erupts in shock and devastation.  There are fears that copycat suicides will follow, like the 2,000 deaths in the four months following Robin Williams’ 2014 suicide.

It is not the case in the forest of the black community.  Eight black men per day commit suicide across the U.S., and all we hear is the weeping of family members and the deafening silence from the media.

Recently in Spokane, WA, a young black man, a loving father and beloved son, legally brought a firearm, went into the bathroom of his home, and shot himself to death.

Like Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, this young man was alone when he took his life.  He too leaves behind grieving family and friends.  The difference is that unlike the focus on suicide prevention following the deaths of Spade and Bourdain, the silence continues in the black community… and life goes on.

Are black people disinterested in the welfare of their loved ones? If they do care, why do they respond like this?

In past writings, I have suggested that “why” questions invite answers that circle back on themselves and as a result, they do not lead us to a full understanding of the foundation of the issue.

A more useful method of inquiry would be focusing on the “what,” instead.  Specifically,

  • What has been the view of mental health and suicide in the black community?
  • What creates distance between black and white communities when it comes to working together on the issues of mental health and suicide?

What has been the view of mental health and suicide in the black community?

Stoicism- the endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint.

Historically and inter-generationally, African-Americans have created specific internalized methods such as “grin and bear it” and “quietly handling one’s business” to protect themselves during times of suffering. However, such methods create hurtful roles that African-Americans are expected to live up to, such as “the strong black woman,” and expecting men to “man up,” by not expressing emotion.

These methods serve only to reinforce the perception that mental health and suicide are “white people issues”.  It creates pressure to maintain “face and image” within the community, even as they suffer in silence.  Needless to say, these methods are psychologically destructive.

What separates the black community from the white community on the issues of mental health and suicide?

 “The truth is that I can’t go anywhere.  And let’s get real: With the whites in the white coats and it’s mostly us getting sent to the loony bin, I don’t have much of a choice.”


Racism. Most African-Americans believe that racism and stereotypical beliefs held about African Americans prevents the establishment of trusting relationships with white healthcare professionals and the white community.

A recent study on racial empathy gaps found that people, including medical personnel, assumed that black people feel less pain than white people. The researchers concluded that people assume that “blacks feel less pain because they faced more hardships relative to whites.”

The lack of black professionals in the mental health field exacerbates the lack of trust.  Although African-Americans are 12% of the population, in the mental healthcare nationwide, they are only:

  • 2% of the psychiatrists,
  • 2% of psychologists, and
  • 4% of social workers.

The dearth of black healthcare professionals reinforces the misbelief that mental health and suicide are “white people issues.”

What Can Be Done Regarding Mental Health in The Black Community?

“Not everything that is faced can be changed.  But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

-James Baldwin, Author

Normalize Suicidal Ideation

There are times in life when we feel hopeless, helpless and overwhelmed with emotional pain.  Suicidal thoughts can result when a person experiences too much pain without having enough resources to cope.  The emotional pain never seems to stop, and it seems impossible to resolve when all other ideas and possible solutions to alleviate it have been exhausted.

For others, suicide may be a way of punishing others, or letting them know how much pain you are in.  However, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  Given time and work, more and clearer options and alternatives can arise.

Those Thoughts Can and Will Pass

Depression, the basis of these suicidal thoughts, often feels permanent, even though the suicidal thoughts are temporary.  Depression can and does come and go.

Suicidal thoughts are a temporary crisis and are your psychological self’s attempt to stop emotional pain.

 Helping Those with Suicidal Thoughts

  • Ask the person if they are thinking about killing themselves. Ask directly, even though the question may seem awkward.
  • Let the person know that you are concerned about them and the situation they are in.
  • Find out if they have a specific plan, and if so, how far the person has gone to carry out the plan.
  • Let the person know the importance of getting help, and that treatment can really help make a difference.
  • Get the person professional help immediately. Contact a suicide prevention hotline, hospital emergency room, local crisis center or dial 911 for assistance.
  • Make an agreement with the person that they will not commit suicide.
  • Check in with the person to find out how they are doing.
  • Encourage the person to seek follow-up care.
  • Keep in mind that a quick recovery from suicidal thoughts and feelings may be the person’s attempt to deny, consciously, or unconsciously, the intensity of the depression.
  • Understand that suicidal thoughts and feelings may return.

What NOT to Do

  • Don’t assume that the situation will take care of itself.
  • Don’t leave the person alone.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be sworn to secrecy.
  • Don’t act shocked or surprised at what the person may say about their thoughts and feelings.
  • Don’t challenge, dare, or use verbal shock statements.
  • Don’t argue or debate moral issues.
  • Don’t offer alcohol or drugs to cheer up the person


You are not responsible for the actions of others.  You can encourage a friend or loved one to get professional help, but you cannot stop someone who is intent on committing suicide. 


Concluding Words-Dr. Kane

In my academic scholarship, forensic and clinical practices, I have found that African-Americans react and respond to 13 different types of traumas and 10 forms of racism daily. It is not surprising that suicidal thoughts arise in people who consistently withstand the intense psychological pressure from this constantly hostile external environment, and that anyone under such pressure may consider suicide to escape or relieve themselves of such intense emotional or psychological pain.

Suicidal thoughts, attempts and completion are not evidence of one’s weakness.  These are the reactions and responses to pressure that has brought the individual to the brink of termination.

We must seek to end the silence of mental health and the denial of suicide in the African-American community. In doing so, we embrace and normalize our pain so that we are no longer isolated and exposed to the pressure that our environment visits upon us.


“When truth is replaced by silence, the silence becomes a lie.”

-Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Russian Poet

“Our lives begin to end the day we are silent about things that matter.”

-Martin Luther King Jr.


 Until the next time.  Remaining…In Our Corner.


In Our Corner: Erik Killmonger and the Inner Pain Of African-American Men

“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.”

-Paul Dunbar, We Wear The Mask

“I want to return to the scene of the crime.

I do not want to go back.

Going back can only bring pain, suffering and unresolved memories

Returning, I am armed with wisdom and knowledge, which I can take into my future.

I am empowered.

Whatever I was, I am no longer.

The past is what is what it was.  It cannot be recovered.

I live today, to understand and uncover.

I seek tomorrow.  To explore and discover…


-Dr. Micheal Kane, Returning to the Scene of the Crime


My Dear Readers,

In the previous blog, I wrote about the  the unconscious messages of betrayal and loyalty within black male and female relationships in the movie Black Panther.   I observed that in the movie, black women were portrayed as being loyal, committed and unquestionably trustworthy, while black men were characterized as being deceptive, disloyal, and therefore, untrustworthy.

The responses to my commentary on the portrayals of the film’s depiction of male betrayal and trustworthiness were immediate and wide-ranging, from hostility and suspicion, to questioning my motives, to accusing me of taking the movie too seriously in my analysis.

All of these response types have one common underlying theme: fear.  It is normal for an individual or a society as a whole to fear what they do not understand.  In this case, the film itself and my analysis of it may have exposed  feelings that are generally unconscious until one is faced with something that challenges black men to look within their psychological selves.

Charles from Fort Lauderdale, FL writes:

“Your article Black Panther got me to think about my own betrayal of relationships throughout my life.  As I sit here typing, I am allowing myself to feel the trauma as well.

I can see now that I don’t trust women but tend to use women, which I believe is the root of my own pain.  So now I have learned not to ask the why question but rather, the what is the foundation question.  I just would like to say thank you for walking with me on this journey.”

In this, our third In Our Corner post,  we return to Black Panther, which has now grossed over $1B.   This week, we will focus on the villain Erik Killmonger.

  • Why is Erik Killmonger a key representation of African-American men?
  • Why is he cast as a dark, yet sympathetic villain?
  • Why is he being depicted as an angry black man, raging out of control?

I have written before that why questions provide responses that are circular back to themselves, so as a result, they do not help us to understand the foundation of the question we ask, which often gives us a more useful answer than simply why one thing or another happened. So, we ask:

  • What is it about the character of Erik Killmonger that he captivates the audience as the sympathetic villain?
  • What is the impact of the pain, the hurt, anguish, and the rage that lives within Erik Killmonger?

Erik Killmonger’s appeal to African-American audiences comes from his character being a clear and direct representation of the generational and psychological trauma of the North Atlantic Slave Trade, but not as a depiction of being sold into slavery and the ensuing centuries of racism, discrimination, and oppression, but as the result of that sordid experiment—generations of people who were, despite that severe adversity, able to thrive and become successful.

In this respect, Killmonger’s is a story of his success in gaining education and skills, mastering the cruelty that he was shown as a child, and wielding it with an efficiency and glee that surpasses even the most evil slave master.

However, this is not how he was born; this is what was crafted by King T’Chaka abandoning young Erik in America after killing his father, and Killmonger is who he had to become in order to survive: to emotionally detach from himself as a human being, and the feelings associated with that, evident in his comment to his father N’Jobu on the ancestral plane, when N’Jobu noticed that Erik shed no tears for his memory.  Erik, a dry-eyed child, simply said:

 “People die every day.  That’s just part of life around here.”

What motivates Erik Killmonger? A frighteningly rational and focused hate for King T’Chaka’s and Wakanda’s traditional stance of non-intervention in the face of the profound suffering that he and other African descendants of the ones who were taken have experienced, feeding into a righteous anger. Where Wakanda could have helped, yet did nothing for generations, Killmonger, knowing his royal lineage and having prepared for ritual combat and to take the throne all his life, is more than willing to use what he has to help those that he knows suffer throughout the world.  In essence, by killing T’Challa, the last of his line, in ritual combat, he kills Wakanda’s apathy of the suffering of Africans in the entire diaspora.

“I lived my entire life waiting for this moment.  I trained a lot.  I killed in America, Afghanistan, Iraq… I took life for my brothers and sisters right here on this continent!  And all this death just so I could kill you.”

But, it’s not all just an altruistic desire to liberate Africans around the world.  Killmonger, the abandoned child of Wakanda, is different from most African-Americans in that he actually knows what country he is from, and knows for sure that they abandoned him intentionally, and in that, there is a desire, also coldly rational, within Killmonger to inflict the same or greater harm on those who inflicted such catastrophic harm on he and his family, and to put an end to anyone else who would have adopted that same philosophy that harmed so many.

“The world took everything away from me.  Everything that I ever loved!  But Imma make sure we’re even.  Imma track down anyone would even think of being loyal to you! And Imma put their ass in the dirt, right next to Zuri!”

What is Erik Killmonger?  He was a little boy who lost his father.  He was a child who was abandoned by his family.  He is the psychological self, seeking attachment, belonging and connection.  He has the words and actions of a villain, yet he has many redeeming qualities, and a more than valid ax to grind against the other members of Wakanda’s royal family.  Still, he is dangerous: he is the “angry black man” who cannot be reasoned with, he is believed to “lack control,” and he must be destroyed.

In the final fight scene, many will question why T’Challa offers to heal Killmonger and save his life—this is because T’Challa sees the error in his father’s (and in Wakanda’s) attitude towards the world and specifically, those who were taken from African countries and their plight, and sincerely wants to make a change.

But, Killmonger rejects the gesture—his inner pain and the fact that he failed in his life’s mission means that he truly has nothing left. He can’t use vibranium to liberate the Africans outside of Wakanda that he wanted to help.   He couldn’t possibly live in the society he tried to destroy as a citizen, much less as a prisoner who murdered both Zuri and a member of the Dora Milaje. (His attempted murder of T’Challa was done through ritual combat, so it wouldn’t count as a crime towards him.)  Rather than be locked up, Killmonger responds:

“Nah. Just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from the ships because they knew that death was better than bondage.”

That quote made me and many others in the theater gasp upon first hearing.  Of course, this is who we as African-Americans would have wanted to be, right?  The ancestors who chose death over bondage?  Who kept their dignity instead of succumbing to generations of rape and murder and cruelty?

But there is something different here.  Our ancestors jumped into the ocean to get away from unjust, barbarous chattel slavery.  Killmonger, on the other hand, simply doesn’t want to face punishment for using the colonizer’s tools and tactics to murder two of the African people he claims to want to lead.  The African-Americans in his mother’s lineage who survived slavery enough to create him as a descendant would have something to say about death being better than bondage when they had to endure bondage to ensure that their bloodline, which led to him, survived.   Surely we can revere those who endured as much as we can revere those who refused, right?

This isn’t to say that the lessons of Killmonger cannot assist us in our own journey of self-discovery.  They can.


Concluding Words- Dr. Kane

My Dear Brethren,

I write for my general readership, but as with all In Our Corner blogs, I want to direct my concluding remarks specifically to black men as we walk the journey of self-discovery.

Black Panther is an excellent movie, and both its conscious and unconscious messages are breathtaking and worthy of uninterrupted discussion regarding psychological trauma in the African-American community.

For those who question my motives and intentions, I seek to influence the intellectual mind by keeping it balanced with the psychological self.  These discussions are incredibly important for the African-American community, and specifically for black men in that this film allows its black male characters to have rich emotional lives, and they are not simply heroes and villains—they are real, complex people, in real, complex situations.

A clear yet unconscious message in Erik Killmonger is that he was abandoned by family, he utilized the country he was left in to transform himself into a stone cold assassin, and used that unimaginable strength to impose his will on the country that abandoned him. While his success is admirable, the pain in the psychological self that drove that success also contributed to his failure and eventual demise because he never integrated that pain and transformed it into something that served him better.

You can hear Killmonger’s psychological self screaming when he talks about the pain he grew up in, and the pain he feels for other Africans in the diaspora.  This is a result of complex trauma, a myriad of 13 separate types of traumas that African-Americans face on a daily basis, which can be draining and overwhelming.

Mark, age 32, describes his trauma:

“I get on and off the mat every damn day.  Every day I go in and face people who either ignore or disrespect me.  At the end of the day, I feel alone and abandoned.  Every day I trudge forward.  Every day.”

Trauma is a permanent etching on the psychological self.  The memory of the incident at point of traumatic wounding or injury will never ever go away.

However, in choosing to opening up to others, such as friends and loved ones, and when wanted, seeking counseling or therapy, the individual can learn to balance the traumatic wound or injury achieving advocacy, balance and calmness in walking the journey of self-discovery.

Steppin’ Into Tomorrow

We cannot step back into our past,

Nor must we want to.

It is our fear of the unknown that chains us.

The future holds new possibilities

We can journey into the future

Holding onto Belief, Faith and Trust …

In Self.

-Dr. Micheal Kane

Until the next time…Remaining In Our Corner.