“I stand alone.” ABC… Assertive, Boldness & Collective…. Empowered. I stand alone.”
-Dr. Micheal Kane Psy.D. Clinical Traumatologist & Forensic Evaluator
“As an individual, the Negro is docile, tractable, lighthearted, carefree, and good natured. If unjustly treated, he is likely to become surly and stubborn. He is careless, shiftless, irresponsible, and secretive. He is immoral, untruthful, and his sense of right doing is relatively inferior. Crimes and convictions involving moral turpitude are nearly five to one compared to convictions of whites in similar charges.”
– Army War College Report 1936 Edgerton (p.121)
My Dear Readers,
In this blog writing, I return to a second installation of the new blog series, The Unspoken Truth. In this series, we focus on historical and inter-generational trauma experiences of members’ experiences of members of the African-American diaspora.
In the quote below, Edgerton quotes a White Officer on the USS Siboney who witnessed the forced isolation of the sole African-American officer aboard the ship as it returned from France following WWI. He states:
“Each night before retiring, it was my habit to take a number of turns around the deck and the Negro captain did the same, walking in the opposite direction. The first time we passed, I always said, “Good Evening Captain,” and he would reply “Good Evening Lieutenant.” To my best belief, these were the only words spoken to him during the nearly 10 days at sea.” Edgerton (p.99).
In the blog Standing Alone in the Black Community, I sought to focus on three variables that impact how we, as a community, a parent, or an individual psychologically interact with our daughters and sons: aloneness, shaming and abandonment.
I would be one of the first to acknowledge that my writing is deliberate, but not delicate. I write with love for the African-American diaspora and understand that this community does not yet love itself. As a result, the community tends to quickly turn against its own members and in doing so, psychologically destroys its best and brightest by isolating, shaming and abandoning them, like what happened to former Police Officer Arthur Williams of the Baltimore Police Department.
There is where the difference lies…. Officer Williams was under the mistaken impression that his superiors, fellow officers, union and community “had his back.” Therefore, he had “open and irrevocable trust.”
I am under no such impression. I stand alone. My objective is to teach, model and educate those individuals who are inclined to listen, and to also… Stand Alone. I remember to:
“Respect all, love all, yet remember that trust is earned, not given away to the undeserving.”
– Micheal Kane, Ten Flashes Of Light
This week, I received some reasonable criticism that I want to discuss.
Dear Dr. Kane,
I am a black man living in central Ohio. I am writing to share my opinion of a blog that a friend forwarded to me. Upon reading it several times, to be honest I had to have a shot of whiskey to contain myself.
I am truly disgusted with you and your words. Your words insulted me as a black man and embarrassed and shamed our community. I cannot believe that you would tell black children not to trust their elders. I am one of those men who are committed to the children’s success.
Each year a group of us arrived at a school to ensure that the children have a positive first day at school. We do form lines, clapping and cheering the children as they are entering the building. However, we also provide backpacks, school supplies and since funding is limited, we give funding for sports equipment. Some of the members stay for lunch and eat with the kids, sharing stories and asking questions about their lives.
You are wrong to say that we don’t care. You are wrong to say that the children should not trust us. You have caused a disservice to your people. At first, I even question whether you were really a black man. It was confirmed when I went online and saw your picture.
All I can do is shake my head. I wonder where did you grow up? Have you ever lived around black people? You clearly did not attend a HBCU. You write and think like a white man. Do black people really come to see you and listen to the garbage that you write about?
Instead of being a counselor, you need to be seeing a counselor and getting your own head examined.
There is only one word I got for you that is Uncle Tom. You are doing the white’s man work and messing us up. I hope you are ashamed of yourself. God knows, we are. Good Riddance
A Real Black Man
My Dear Readers,
Hmm. Usually in my opening statements I write to the “general readership” and at the end I direct my concluding remarks to a specific group or population. Today, however, I will direct ALL of my comments to my Black/African-American Brothers.
My Black/African-American Brothers,
To begin with, I appreciate that “A Real Black Man” spoke respectfully while sharing his opinion, and I respect that he took the time to share that feedback with me. Having said that, there are some points that I want to share with this reader.
In general, I find that the moniker “A Real Black Man” is problematic—this comes as no surprise to regular readers of this blog for reasons I have expounded upon in earlier writings and will likely do again, but that is not what I want to focus on here. The flaw in his feedback on the piece is not in his perception of himself, however, but with his inability to sit with his feelings before sharing such feelings as his response. “A Real Black Man” alleges the following:
- He is disgusted and insulted. My words have embarrassed and ashamed the community. Consequently, he needs a shot of whiskey to contain himself in order to deal with my statements.
- The group provides backpacks, school supplies and funding for sporting equipment. Some of the group members stay for lunch and eat with the kids, sharing stories and asking questions about their lives.
- I am wrong to say that the group of men doesn’t care. Furthermore, I am wrong to say that the children should not trust them. Lastly, I have done a great disservice to black people
Then come the personal attacks:
- Questioning whether I am actually black and where I grew up or whether I grew up among black people
- Questioning the school I attended and racial types in the manner of my thinking and writing
Then profession attacks:
- Questioning whether black people come to see me as a counselor
- Suggesting that instead of providing counseling, I should be seeing a counselor i.e. have my head examined
And in conclusion, deriding my racial heritage:
- Defining me as an “Uncle Tom”
- Individual shaming – i.e. “You should be ashamed”
- Group shaming – i.e. “God knows we are”
- Abandonment i.e. “Good riddance”
What does this tell us about “A Real Black Man?”
He is disgusted and insulted. My words have embarrassed and shamed the community. He requires a shot of whisky to contain himself.
At the end of the last blog, I suggested the following:
My brothers, 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.
As black men, we are psychologically wounded. We have endured. We have suffered. And we have survived. Healing is our responsibility. Now is the time to empower the psychological self.
The missed opportunity in “A Real Black Man’s” response result from his inability or unwillingness to “sit with his feelings.” In his failure to do so, he does not allow himself the space to embrace what he is feeling and evaluate it and craft a response. Instead, he makes the error of allowing his feelings to be his response.
My advice to “A Real Black Man” and others who of similar disposition is to engage in the clinical processing of “The Five R’s of RELIEF. Specifically:
- Respite-take whatever time is desired, step away from what you have read.
- Reactions –embrace whatever you are feeling, because these feelings are yours and must stay with you.
- Reflections- continue to process your feelings and thoughts. Find your center.
- Response- respond to your internal world and then share a response with your external environment.
- Reevaluate-review your actions and behaviors. Consider what was done and whether such actions are to be revised and/or repeated.
Furthermore, I would encourage “A Real Black Man” and others who of similar disposition not to engage in consuming alcoholic drinks to relieve their distress. One should consider and weigh the impacts of alcohol as a requirement to process information. Such behaviors are clear indicators of inappropriate ways and means of handling distressful situations.
The group provides backpacks, school supplies and funding for sporting equipment. Some of the group members stay for lunch and eat with the kids, sharing stories and asking questions about their lives.
Although the provision of backpacks, school supplies and funding for sporting equipment may be beneficial to young black boys and girls, as well as sharing lunch, stories etc., most of these children are in psychological and emotional need from the group of black men. What is needed is to clinch the Five Cs of Connective Understanding:
- Commitment-partnership between the group, the individual student(s), the school district.
- Consistency-involvement that transcends the “opening day welcome to school”
- Comradeship-creation, ownership, and maintenance of individual relationships
- Community-the group of men must want to become a permanent installation of the school setting, maintaining a presence in the classroom, the hallways, and through mentorship
- Communications-vulnerability, exposure and trust in developing and maintaining “open” communication with individual students, teachers and parents
It is wrong to say that the group of men doesn’t care. Furthermore, it is wrong to that the children should not trust them. Lastly, I have done a great disservice to black people.
Again, “A Real Black Man,” without taking a respite or embracing his feelings, is allowing his feelings to be his response to my writing. The question is not whether the group of black men care—I assume that they do. The questions are these:
- What are the psychological impacts of “caring” without follow through?
- What can be done to either prevent psychological wounding or bring healing to those currently wounded?
Clearly a psychological tool to be added to a child’s “toolkit” is empowerment. In “Ten Flashes of Light,” I encourage black children to:
- To be successful with school and workplace politics: decide after careful consideration who to trust.Then trust with caution and consistently verify.
- Respect all, love all, yet remember that trust is earned, not given away to the undeserving.
- When a person exposes the true self to you, embrace the action and treat it as a gift.
Personal & Professional Attacks
The personal and professional attacks by “A Real Black Man” are examples of forced aloneness (isolation), shaming, and abandonment trauma that are often used by members of the African-American community to instill fear, force compliance and, and ensure adherence by members to group norms. Such methods are “holdovers” from methods used by slavers and slave owners to terrorize and traumatize newly captured black male and female slaves.
These methods continue to be used inter-generationally to traumatize current and future generations. Again, an example would be former police officer Arthur Williams who went from being a loving community icon to becoming a pariah in his community.
The message from the community is simple: We will isolate you, we will shame you, and most importantly, during your time of desperation and need, we will abandon you.
Concluding Words-Dr. Kane
My Dear Brothers,
In 1670 John Ray wrote that:
“The road to hell is paved with bricks made with good intentions.”
An intention is an idea that you plan (or intend) to carry out. If you plan to carry it out, if you mean something, it’s an intention. Your goal, purpose, or aim is your intention. Where we often fail is in failing to balance the outcome with the intent. My Brothers, there is a saying:
“Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.” – Virgil, The Aeneid (II, 49)
It means to not trust enemies bringing who bring you presents, for they could very well be playing a trick. You may not be the enemy in this situation, but encouragement and no follow through causes one to consider whether or not you are bringing gifts full of false promises leading to psychological and emotional wounding.
For example, in showing up at different elementary schools year after year, offering cheers, words of encouragement, maybe staying for lunch and getting that “photo opportunity” there may be the intent to do “good works” and yet there is no consideration of the possible outcome of psychological or emotional impacts once you or your group leaves until next year.
Again…. Rather than attack the messenger for delivering the message, take a moment; 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.
Have the willingness to ask yourselves the following questions:
- Are my actions (not my intention) creating a possible psychological or emotional wounding for these children?
- Remembering my own childhood, how did I feel about loss? How did I respond to a significant figure stepping into my life and subsequently disappearing?
- What can I do to create a positive and consistent impact on a child’s life?
My Brothers, in wrapping up my comments, I want to acknowledge that we as men can love our community, be concerned about our children and in doing so, select multiple ways to accomplish our objective. I also want to acknowledge that many of us if not all have suffered psychological wounds along the journey we call LIFE.
How we address our individual journeys relies on how we choose to treat our wounds. There are those who will seek the validation of others; there are those who will seek relief through drugs, alcohol, sex, and there are those who will seek domination via control and violence.
As a black man striving for psychological wholeness in a psychologically unforgiving environment, my preference is to sit on a therapist’s couch and find a safe place where I can allow the release submerged feelings and in doing so, not take my rage out on a world that seeks to minimize or ignore my pain.
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 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.
My objectives are simple:
- To aid in healing the psychological and emotionally wounded,
- To reinforce the psychological self and in doing so assist others to walk the journey of self-discovery,
- To teach, model and mentor those who chose the difficult path as I have chosen that being to … STAND ALONE.
I have been wounded. I can heal the Self.
I can bend… I will not be broken.
I will fail. I have fallen..
I have risen. I will succeed.
I am determined.
Standing Alone…I will walk the journey of Self. Discovery
-Dr. Micheal Kane
Standing Alone….. The Unspoken Truth