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

“I’m not jumping in after you.”

-Tempe AZ Cops as a Black Man drowned.

(Oxygen News)

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

(Headline, Los Angeles Times)

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

(Headline, CNN)

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

(Headline, VICE News)

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

(Headline, VICE News)

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My Dear Readers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dear Dr. Kane,

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

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

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

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

Chained & Broken,

Marysville WA

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My Dear Young Man (& My Dear Readership),

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

Balancing Vigilance, Not Paranoia

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

Understanding the Intrusions of Shame & Humiliation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Permanency of Psychological Trauma

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

-Dr. Micheal Kane

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

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

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

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

-Republican Congresswoman Mary Miller

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

– Dr. Micheal Kane

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My Dear Young Man,

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

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

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

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

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

The Five Elements of Embracing Aloneness

Alertness- Balancing being watchful with a wide-awake attitude

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

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

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

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

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Uncle Clarence,

I dedicate this poem to you.

-Dr. Kane

The Darkest Hour

James Baldwin 1925-1987

The darkest hour

is just before the dawn,

and that, I see,

which does not guarantee

power to draw the next breath,’

nor abolish the suspicion

that the brightest hour

we will ever see

occurs just before we cease

to be.

Standing Alone…The Unspoken Truth

The Unspoken Truth: No Place To Hide

“You just got to go for it.”

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

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

John Garcia, Sheriff, Erie County

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

Byron Brown, Mayor, City of Buffalo

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

John Flynn, District Attorney, Erie County, New York

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

Kathy Hochul, Governor, The State of New York

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

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

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

Dr. Micheal Kane Clinical Traumatologist

My Dear Readers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Kane,

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

M. (Seattle)

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Dr. Kane,

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

C. (Tacoma)

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Hey Doc,

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

J. (Tukwila)

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Dr. Kane,

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

V. (Bellevue)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Concluding Words- Walking the Landscape: Alone & Empowered

“You can run but you can’t hide.”

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

My Dear Readers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

President Joe Biden

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

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

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Dr. Kane,

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

-Corporate Lawyer (Seattle)

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

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

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

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

SITUATIONAL AWARENESS: HOW TO BE VIGILANT IN PUBLIC PLACES

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

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

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

Dr. Micheal Kane

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We Wear the Mask

BY PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR

We wear the mask that grins and lies,

It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—

This debt we pay to human guile;

With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,

And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,

In counting all our tears and sighs?

Nay, let them only see us, while

       We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries

To thee from tortured souls arise.

We sing, but oh the clay is vile

Beneath our feet, and long the mile;

But let the world dream otherwise,

       We wear the mask!

Standing Alone…Empowered … The Unspoken Truth

The Unspoken Truth: Are You Living or Just Alive?

“The consequence of ethnic self-hatred for families is often that they become deeply divided on these issues.  Because ethnic identity and pride are developmental and ongoing throughout the life course, some families can become splintered over how ‘ethnic’ each family member is.  Sometimes, accusing a family member of being too ‘White’ is a smoke screen for jealousy or resentment towards a successful person but those accusations also reinforce feelings of invisibility.”

-E. Wyatt, “Beyond invisibility of African American males: The effects on women and families.” Counseling Psychologist 27(6) p.805

“Not all ethnic minorities are confronted on a daily basis with the threats of death or injury to their physical well-being.  In addition, the trauma and emotional abusiveness of racism is as likely to be due to chronic, systemic and invisible assaults on the personhoods of ethnic minorities as a single catastrophic event.”

-V. Sanchez-Hucles, “Racism: Emotional abusiveness and psychological trauma for ethnic minorities.” Journal of Emotional Abuse 1(2) p.72

“The message from the (black) community is simple: We will isolate you, we will shame you and most important, in times of desperation and need, we will abandon you.”

-Micheal Kane, The Unspoken Truth: The Real Black Man Standing Alone. (09.24.18)

“I stand alone.” ABC… Assertive, Boldness & Collective…. Empowered. I stand alone.”

-Dr. Micheal Kane, Psy.D. Clinical Traumatologist & Forensic Evaluator

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My Dear Readers,

The African-American diaspora refers to communities of people outside of the United States who are descended from people of African descent who were enslaved in the United States or the prior British colonies along the east coast of North America.

In previous writings, several points of inter-generational trauma experiences have been identified:

  • The tactics of forced aloneness (isolation), shaming, and abandonment are often used by members of the African American community to instill fear and enforce compliance and adherence to group norms.
  • The identified methods are “holdovers” of the tactics and methods used by slave traders and slave owners to terrorize, indoctrinate and traumatize newly captured African male and female slaves.
  • The learned tactics of forced aloneness (isolation), shaming and abandonment has psychologically impacted the way in which members of the community view the psychological self, interpersonal relationships and most importantly, interfamily and spousal relationships.

In the last writing, I spoke of the concept of “the divided world of the black man”.  Specifically:

“Simply put, if we divide the world of black men in half, there are those who are permanently disabled and therefore discarded by a hostile and non-caring society, and there are those who are walking wounded, working through the ongoing struggle to maintain sanity in a hostile and non-caring society. The first group is the walking dead, waiting for the end to appear, whereas the second group seeks to empower themselves and create a psychologically healthy life…but only if they are willing to grasp the opportunity.”

This week, we will further explore the concept of the “walking dead” and the “walking wounded.” We start with a young man’s pain and suffering.

Here is his story……….

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Dear Dr. Kane:

 Your last blog intrigued me.   Given what you said about the “Walking Dead,” I feel that it fits me.

 Like you, I too am a black man.  Unlike you, I do not love myself.  This shows as in being afraid and allowing others to define me rather than seeking to define myself. 

 I am in my late 20’s.  I am single and have a college degree.  My father is not in my life although we both live in the same community.  

 My mother told me that it was his suggestion to abort me.  The excuses I have heard from people around me is that my mother has prevented him from being in my life.  Now that I am an adult, however, he still refuses to interact with me.  I feel betrayed by him.

 People laugh at me for not being in the social norm.  They make me feel unwanted.  Because I am educated, people say that I speak “white” and call me “white boy.”

 When I am doing things that are not the social norms, I hide from others, not wanting them to find out.  I spend a lot of time alone drinking and smoking marijuana.  It’s relaxing, but nothing is changing for me.

 You wrote about black men being the “walking dead” and “walking wounded.” How come you did not include black women?  Don’t they go through the same issues that men do? 

 What do I want?  I want to define myself. I want to stop looking for handouts from others or depending on them to define me.  I want to live.  All I am doing now is hurting myself. 

 I am 29 years old.  My father has other children that he claims, but he does not claim me. I feel like I am dying.  Am I the walking dead?  Is there a way out for me?

 Questioning in Seattle

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My Dear Young Man,

Before I respond to the questions you have asked, I want you to know that your words have touched me.  You are a very special person.

I want to reach out to your psychological self and hope that within the traumatized and painful wounds you carry as a survivor, that you are open to listen; you now have an opportunity to live the life you want and not the life you live.

As I begin, I want to acknowledge and speak to three painful wounds that you carry.  In addition, I will clarify what I meant by the “Walking Dead” and the “Walking Wounded.”  Specifically, I will address:

  • The Wound of Betrayal Trauma
  • Responding to the Pain of Denial & Rejection
  • Appropriate Self Care in response to psychological pain

I want to leave you with words that will assist you as you move forward in the struggle we know as the journey of LIFE.

The Wound of Betrayal Trauma

My Dear Young Man,

I do not perceive your wounds as you have experienced them. I suggest you look at your wounds differently to help encourage healing and to reduce psychological pain.

Betrayal is the violation of implicit and explicit trust.  This can occur in many ways, including but not limited to:

  • Gaining trust with the intent to do harm or exposing allies to an enemy through treachery and disloyalty.
  • Being intentionally unfaithful or negligent in a relationship or guarding or maintaining information shared in confidence.
  • Intentionally revealing or disclosing information shared in confidence.

Betrayal trauma is distinct because to be successfully inflicted, an individual must have allowed the betrayer access to the psychological self’s three internal resources: belief, faith and trust.

As you can see, the only criterion for betrayal is “being intentionally unfaithful or negligent in a relationship.”  However, the standard is not met due to your father’s unwillingness to access your psychological self’s three internal resources: belief, faith and trust.

Does this mean that you are wrong in your feelings of pain and suffering?  No, of course not.   The focus here is merely to clarify the specific type of psychological wound.  In doing so, one can understand how best to develop a plan that will start healing.

There are 13 distinct traumas that can impact African-Americans daily.  Betrayal Trauma, due to its ability to access the psychological self’s three internal resources is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult psychological wounds to heal.

So, if it’s not betrayal trauma, what is it?

Responding to the Pain of Denial & Rejection

My Dear Young Man,

Humans, regardless of race, creed, gender, or sexual orientation, arrive into life with the basic desires and demands of acceptance, and validation.  Humans are social animals, so denial and rejection from the social group is even more emotionally painful because we are wired to want that acceptance.  Research shows that denial and rejection trigger the same brain pathways that are activated when humans experience physical pain.

Your story is full of the pain you have experienced by the rejection and denial of your father.  Your suffering continues to this very day as you seek validation and acceptance from your father and community.  As you continue this behavior, the psychological wounds deepen and the pain increases to where you start to seek external, and sometimes harmful, ways to minimize the pain.

Appropriate Self Care in Response to Psychological Pain

  • Advocacy, Balance & Calmness
  • Five Cs of Calmness

Using drugs and alcohol to dull your pain does not serve you. The wound will not heal and as time goes on, more drugs and more alcohol will be required to get the numbness you seek. When you do this, you are only treating the symptom of your wound, not addressing the root cause.  Seek to heal your wounds via utilizing the clinical concept of ABC i.e. advocacy, balance and calmness.  Specifically:

  • Advocacy– Acknowledge the denial and rejection. Seek self-validation, and in doing so, commit to healing the wounds of the psychological self.
  • Balance-Embrace your anger and depression—only you can understand its true meaning. Balance what you are feeling with what you are thinking.
  • Calmness-Understand that denial and rejection are the refusal to accept reality or fact of a painful event. Seek acceptance and in doing so achieve calmness in your internal world and external environment.

As I listen to your story, the error I see is that you continue to reach out to a person you call father, a person who is so trapped in his own denial that he simply refuses to experience it.  Furthermore, you compound your pain by reaching out and seeking acceptance from a community that does not love itself and therefore, is incapable of loving you or accepting your “difference.”

The calmness that you and other young people like you in similar situations require cannot be attained from those whose own  inter-generational trauma keeps them in the same situation you experience.

Standing Alone at the Crossroads

 Crossroads represent opportunities for the individual to create new realities as they move forth in the journey known as life.   During this journey of Self Discovery, the individual seeks self-empowerment and the reinforcing of the psychological self and is likely to do so without the benefit of a larger support group, such as their family, community or society.

The calmness that results from acceptance and validation can only be achieved from within the psychological self.  To assist with achieving calmness there is the clinical   model Five Cs of Calmness.  Specifically:

  • Contentment– An unruffled state under disturbing conditions. Here the individual seeks to bring their internal peace to the confusion and conflict in the external world.
  • Calculation– The individual cannot remain indefinitely at the crossroads. They must want to assess the impact of taking both paths.
  • Clarification-The individual must want to accept their feelings as normal. Free the psychological self from having to conform to what the larger group expects of you.
  • Cohesion-A direction is chosen and the individual finds connection with the psychological self.  The individual transforms the initial fear into an informed response.
  • Collective– The individual empowers the psychological self. Take notice of what has been from the experience at the crossroads.

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Concluding Words-Dr. Kane

My Dear Readers,

In the movie Gladiator, as Maximus prepares to go to battle in the arena, Proximo states:

“We are nothing but dust and shadows.  Dust and shadows.”

Proximo is correct.  As we come into life, we understand that one day we all must die.  However, for those willing to grasp the opportunity, one can choose to “live the life you want and not the life you live.”

The question is: how?

The Walking Wounded & the Walking Dead  

It is important to clarify what the makeup of both groups may look like. For example, although African-American women face similar challenges i.e. types of racism and traumatization as African-American men, there are differences in how this group is perceived externally outside their community and internally within their community.

Despite inter-generational and historical traumatization, African-American women have developed support networks and emotional foundations by networking, sharing resources and communicating intimate and sensitive information to assist through difficult as well as desperate times.  On the other hand, African-African men, due to societal norms associated with masculinity and maleness, have not been able to develop consistency in these areas or pass such norms and resources intergenerationally.

The Walking Wounded & The Sad Sista Club

In the previous blog, in writing about the Walking Wounded, I stated the following:

 “… if we divide the world of black men in half, there are those who are permanently disabled and therefore discarded by a hostile and non-caring society, and there are those who are walking wounded, working through the ongoing struggle to maintain sanity in a hostile and non-caring society.”

The same can be stated regarding black women.  However, the difference is that black men lack the openness of connection that black women have created—a connection that serves as a protective layer for individuals in the ongoing struggle to maintain sanity not only in a hostile and non-caring society, but also in responding to terse interactions with black men.

Whereas such men are designated the “Walking Wounded” as they struggle individually to maintain sanity within a hostile and non-caring society, black women due to their collective sharing, are designated as the “Sad Sista Club”.  The common themes of both genders are the basic forms of existence and survival that only serve to reinforce the lack of empowerment within the psychological self.

In the previous blog, in differing between the Walking Dead and the Walking Wounded, I stated the following:

“The first group are the walking dead, waiting for the end to appear, whereas the second group seeks to empower themselves and create a psychologically healthy life…but only if they are willing to grasp the opportunity.”

One way of seeking psychological wellness to be aware of the possible stages that can impact the journey of life.  I call these the “Five Levels of The Journey of Self Discovery.”

  • Existing– 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.
  • 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 a little gain, but not much for the individual at this level.
  • DrivingAt 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 meaning and 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 fear 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.

Questioning in Seattle is not a member of the Walking Dead—however, he is at the stage of survival, which carries its own risks. Should he continue on the same downside spiral with alcohol and drugs, he is certain to hit bottom, and therefore, become a member of this permanently disabled group.

However, he does have the option to empower himself and create a psychologically healthy life, but only if he is willing to grasp the opportunity to progress through the levels of the Journey of Self-Discovery.

As you began your own Journey of Self-Discovery, consider the following:

  • What am I doing to improve better/improve my life, my community and my surroundings?
  • Am I connected to my psychological self? Do I seek to advocate for self and seek balance within and calmness in my external environment?
  • How am I seeking to motivate, uplift or impact positive outcomes with family, friends and community?

“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

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Searching for meaning is like drawing

Etching for life.

Asking for direction can bring

Breath for tomorrow

Risk taking has its challenges

Earnings another opportunity to

Endure which brings wisdom

Zest is what life is about

Explore the Journey of Self-Discovery

-Dr. Micheal Kane

 

Standing Alone….. The Unspoken Truth