The Visible Man: The Inequity of “Protect and Serve”

 “On my honor, I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character or the public trust. I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions.”

– Law Enforcement Oath of Honor, 2020.

“I [patroller’s name], do swear, that I will as searcher for guns, swords, and other weapons among the slaves in my district, faithfully, and as privately as I can, discharge the trust reposed in me as the law directs, to the best of my power. So, help me, God.”

– Slave Patroller’s Oath, North Carolina, 1828.

“The history of police work in the South grows out of this early fascination, by white patrollers, with what African American slaves were doing. Most law enforcement was, by definition, white patrolmen watching, catching, or beating black slaves.”    

– Sally Hadden Author, Slave Patrols: Law and Violence in Virginia and the Carolinas, 2001.

“We are the hunters.  We hunt, that’s what we do.”

– Police Commander, (encouraging younger officers (2018).

“The video of George Floyd being slowly suffocated by a police officer on the streets of Minneapolis while three fellow officers looked on is sickening. It represents a disgusting abuse of power, and all four cops should go to jail for murder. I think it’s safe to say that most of the world agrees. People are marching in the streets across the country and around the world in the name of George Floyd. The outrage and anger is understandable, but blaming all police officers is not. The overwhelming majority of cops are good people doing a dangerous job. They became police officers to serve and protect, and 99.9 percent honor their duty.”

– Russell Kent, Columnist, Galion Inquirer, June 10, 2020.

“The wolf has somehow convinced the sheep that the sheepdog is the dangerous one and that he must be removed.  I pray for the sheep [when] the wolf has all the sheep to himself.”

– Maggie D., Detective Sergeant 

“There have been wolves masquerading as sheepdogs for 400 years. Now the true sheepdogs are paying for their silence for turning a blind eye while the wolves in sheepdog’s uniforms ravaged the sheep that they are sworn to protect and serve. Maybe the sheep have had enough or perhaps they should be patient and wait…. another 400 years?”

– Micheal Kane, Clinical Traumatologist

 

My Dear Readers,

In years past, I was repeatedly asked by white people variations of the question: “Why do black people…”

  • Distrust the police
  • Fear the police
  • Hate the police
  • Are paranoid about the police

The answer is as simple as it is complex.

 

Imagery & Reality

When it comes to the police, the imagery white people are taught focuses on community service, self-sacrifice, and the idea that the policeman next door is the thin blue line standing between the good-guys and bad-guys.

Black people live in the reality where community policing turns into law enforcement.  The police do not live next door.  Instead they act as hunters, barreling through neighborhoods seeking to punish and subdue. Black people, no matter guilt or innocence, young or old, minor infraction or major crime have been deemed “bad-guys” who deserve swift and ruthless punishment.

Our nation’s history and the well-documented experiences of black people in this country teaches police officers exactly why the relationship between them and the black community is so adversarial. It is about power and control.

The police have been given the power and the black community must be controlled and its males rendered powerless.

When speaking of policing, the lines are distinctively drawn. Strict belief systems serve to force people into diametrically opposed camps: strongly supportive or strongly against the police and their tactics.  In light of recent events, the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery by active and retired officers, police have been trying to sure up their image through reiterating their supposed commitment to their “Protect and Serve” oath and be on their best behavior in the communities where local policing actually exists. But cracks are beginning to spread and the image will soon fall away exposing the reality underneath.

 

Dominance & Control

The definition of dominant group is a group with power, privilege, and social status.  It is the social group that controls the value system and rewards in a society.  The dominant group is often in the majority but not necessarily.

The definition of minority group refers to a category of people who experience relative disadvantage when compared to members of the dominant social group.  Minority group membership is typically based in observable characteristics such as ethnicity or race.  They are easily targeted as they have relatively little social power.

The message that is consistently given by law enforcement and its supporters is the following:

“The overwhelming majority of cops are good people doing a dangerous job. They became police officers to serve and protect, and 99.9 percent honor their duty.”

 – Russell Kent Columnist, Galion Inquirer, June 10, 2020.

And yet there is no doubt of the impact through violence, trauma and psychological injury created by the 0.1 percent of the police officers who misuse their badges, dishonor their oaths and create distrust among the people they swore to “serve and protect.”

 

Fear: The Tool of Serve & Protect

Then there are the questions surrounding those who are serving and protecting:

  1. Who is being protected and from whom do they feel they need protection?
  2. How can the police officer serve and protect those who feel they are being targeted, profiled and look upon as suspects?

Which community, the dominant group or the minority group, holds a historical relationship with policing in the United States?  Answer? Both.  Historically the police have been used and manipulated by whites to enforce the laws created by the white community by whatever means necessary to control the black community and monitor the movement of its members, particularly males.

It is a historic stereotype created by the white community, is that black males are inherently violent and therefore require a heavy hand by those who know and understand their brute strength and wild animal nature.  Policing is the manifestation of that heavy hand historically used against blacks to control and monitor.

For many police officers today, the mandate remains the same. Police, once viewed as the scum of white society were needed to control those they feared, black males, but soon came to benefit the greater society leading to the formation of the symbiotic relationship between the Police and those who empower them.

 

Symbiotic Relationship: Serve & Protect

A symbiotic relationship is one in which people exist together in a way that benefits them all.  It is a relationship, each provides for the other the conditions necessary for the relationships’ continued existence.

There has been a symbiotic relationship between those who enforce the law (police) and the dominant community. That relationship embodies what the “serve and protect” oath was meant to be.

 

Inverse Symbiotic Relationship: Law Enforcement

An inverse symbiotic relationship is one in which, while interacting with one another, one member of the relationship becomes larger or stronger while the other becomes smaller or weaker. It is a relationship which is opposite or contrary in position, direction, order, or effect.

There has been an inverse symbiotic relationship that has existed historically between African Americans and the police since slavery originated in the American colonies.  The foundation of this relationship remains unbalanced and based on fear and intimidation to this day.

 

The Slave Patrollers or “Paddyrollers”

Historically, policing originated in the American South in South Carolina and Virginia as slave patrols (Sally E. Hadden, Slave Patrols. 2003).  They were created in the late 17th century and continued through to the end of the Civil War. County courts and state militias formed the patrollers and they were the primary enforcers of codes governing slaves throughout the south.

These patrollers were created due to whites living in constant fear of slave rebellions.  The responsibilities of the slave patrols were to control the movements and behaviors of the enslaved populations.  Slave patrols served three main functions:

  1. To chase down, apprehend and return to their owners, runaway slaves,
  2. To provide a form of organized terror to deter slave revolts and,
  3. To maintain a form of discipline for slave-workers who were subject to summary justice, outside the law.

Typically, slave patrol routines included enforcing curfews, checking black travelers for  permission passes, catching those assembling without permission, visiting and searching slave quarters, inflicting impromptu punishment, preventing any form of organized resistance and occasionally suppressing insurrections.

Through these actions, the slave patrols inspired well-justified fear on the part of the slaves.  The fear was reinforced as the “patrollers” generally made their rounds at night, with their activity and regularity differing according to time and place.

“Patrol duty” was often compulsory for most able-bodied white males.  Some professions were exempt, but otherwise avoiding duty required paying a fine or hiring a substitute.

As stated earlier, slaves lived in fear of the patrollers.  Sally E. Hadden cites a 1937 WPA interview with W.L. Bost, former slave:

“The paddyrollers they keep close watch on the pore niggers so they have no chance to do anything or go anywhere.  They jes’ like policemen, only worser.” (p. 71).

Hadden notes that the patrollers did face social and legal checks on how harshly they behaved, because slave owners “did not take kindly to excessive or unnecessary damage to their human chattel.”

 

Pleading: Protection from Policing

On December 3, 1865, after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the end of the Civil War in April of 1865, a group of Black Mississippians wrote the state’s governor demanding respect for their newly won freedom.  They stated:

“’All we ask for is justice and to be treated like human beings.’ They recalled vividly ‘the yelping of bloodhounds and tearing of our fellow servants to pieces by slave patrols’. They call for an end to these violent abuses.”

Take notice that even though the Civil War had ended and their freedom legally authorized, the slave patrols were still being used by white groups to enforce control and perpetrate violence against the now former slaves.

 

Common Themes of the Past & Present Symbiotic Relationship

Whites have consistently lived in fear and suspicion of blacks from slavery to this current day.

  • Whites have, using federal, state and local laws, restricted the movement and activities of blacks.
  • Whites have used policing as a method to control, impose restrictions upon and sanction the actions and behaviors of blacks.
  • Similar to the slave era where violent methodology was permitted or ignored as long as the patrollers did not commit “excessive or unnecessary damage to their human chattel,” today’s dominant group ignored or remained silent about violence perpetrated by police as long as they deemed the violence being done as “not excessive”.

 

The Coronavirus, Black Lives Matter, & Social Media: A Perfect Storm & The Loss of Control

COVID-19, which has sadly taken the lives of over 142,000 Americans, has played a major role in what has become an enormously effective movement for change. Hundreds of millions of Americans were quarantined in their homes with nothing more to do than watch TV and peruse social media. While doing so, the actions of the police in the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery sparked worldwide protests and showed the white community exactly what the black community had been experiencing under the guise of protecting and serving.

The white community could no longer deny the injustice that had been occurring since the 17th century.

 

The Sleight of Hand-We Have Been Played

The media, including print journalism and even entertainment companies, have teamed with the police to play up the image of the good cop chasing the bad guy.  Television shows showcasing the “hero cop” such as Dragnet’s Sergeant Joe Friday, are portrayed as honest, hardcore, fact-driven professionals who methodically gather evidence without prejudice or bias.

One memorable quote by Sgt. Friday best describes the perceived plight of the common police officer:

“You’re a cop, a flatfoot, a bull, a dick, John Law… they call you everything, but never a policeman”.

The first run of Dragnet had 100 episodes airing from 1951 to 1959 then revived for a second 98 episode run from 1967 to 1970 on NBC. This was by no means the only pro-police television program.

Cops, a television program filmed in a documentary/ reality style, ran for 31 seasons showing 1100 shows, sometimes 15 to 20 times a day inundating the viewing public with a false idea of what policing was. Dan Taberski, creator of the Running from Cops podcast stated:

“[The Cops television show] consistently presented bad policing as good policing, tasing people when they shouldn’t be tasing, using illegal holds, siccing dogs on people without proper warning – just over and over.”

 

Eight Minutes 46 Seconds: The Thin Blue Line-Crumbling

“George Floyd is not a wake-up call.  The same alarm has been ringing since 1619. Y’all just keep hitting snooze.”

The moment by moment replaying of the eight minutes 46 seconds that a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on the neck of George Floyd while three fellow police officer stood idly by protecting the police officer from concerned onlookers psychologically traumatized the dominant group. The callous disregard for life shook the foundations of who and what they were taught the police were. This was the first time they saw that “protect and serve” was not the same for everyone.

 

The Breach of the Symbiotic Relationship

The symbiotic relationship between the police who enforce the law and the dominant community they serve has been damaged and the people psychologically impacted. Now that black and white communities share in witnessing these events, they may bring them to a common understanding; trauma and fear of those who offer community policing to one and exert law enforcement upon the other.

 

Concluding Remarks-Dr. Kane

“He can run, but he can’t hide “

 – Joe Louis “The Brown Bomber” World Heavyweight Champion (1937-1949)

My Dear Readers,

White America, you knew about police treatment of black people.  You knew of the racial profiling.  You knew about their suspicious and negative feelings particularly about black males.  Be honest. Look in the mirror and embrace your truths.  You knew.  You had to know.  You heard the complaints of African Americans. You have listened to the whispers and read the stories.

The police have been living by the unwritten contract demanding they protect you from them.  From the time of slavery, whites have feared their slaves.  They have used the patrollers to control and monitor them.  The slave master stayed out of the way of the violence and abuse, being silent and only speaking up when the police went too far and “damage or destroyed” his property.

Following the freeing of the slaves, whites feared the former slaves even more.  They created laws, black codes and sundown ordinances and, once again, used the police to maintain order, surveillance, and control. The silent agreement was to ignore black peoples pleads for protection so that they could continue to exist willfully ignorant.

Unfortunately for both the police and white America, the death of George Floyd, just as in the days of slavery, this time, went… too far.  White America could not unseen it. White America may not have believed it could happen, yet it did. You and the world saw, for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, a police officer press his full weight onto the neck of black man and watched that man take his last breath. The brutality could no longer be denied.

As for black America, the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery are a continuation of the brutality exhibited by the patrollers from the slave days. Breonna Taylor, as she slept in her bed, was killed by police. The patrollers would come into the homes of slaves during the night unannounced, with actions that could lead to death of the slave. Ahmaud Arbery was killed by a retired police officer and his son who felt they had the authority to stop and question him while jogging. The patrollers or any white man had the authority to stop and question a slave or freedman and that person was at risk death as a result of the stop.

During the funeral services of George Floyd, Reverend Al Sharpton made the call for “change”.  I strongly disagree.

African Americans have endured change in this land for 401 years.  We have changed from slaves to freedmen and women.  We have changed during segregation, discrimination and, Black Codes.  We have changed through civil rights laws, voting rights legislation, equal housing and fair employment decrees.  We have changed through having to endure 12 forms of racism and 14 sub-types of traumas. We have seen change that contributed to high unemployment, high incarceration, high dropout rates, and high rates of addiction, mental illness and suicide.

However, what we have not seen is TRANSFORMATION.  In transforming there is no going back.  With transformation, we can only go forward.

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Loving Father & Creator,

I want to walk the landscape called life.  The landscape is open, it is vast, and it is wide.  The landscape is mine. Grant me transformation.  Let me go, my blessed Lord, so I can live the life I want and see more and achieve more than the trauma that is before me.

“I can’t breathe. I have my ID right here. My name is Elijah McClain. That’s my house. I was just going home. I’m an introvert. I’m just different. That’s all. I’m so sorry. I have no gun. I don’t do that stuff. I don’t do any fighting. Why are you attacking me? I don’t even kill flies! I don’t eat meat! But I don’t judge people, I don’t judge people who do eat meat. Forgive me. All I was trying to do was become better. I will do it. I will do anything. Sacrifice my identity, I’ll do it. You all are phenomenal. You are beautiful and I love you. Try to forgive me. I’m a mood Gemini. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Ow, that really hurt. You are all very strong. Teamwork makes the dream work. Oh, I’m sorry I wasn’t trying to do that. I just can’t breathe correctly.”

 – The final words of Elijah McClain.

He died on August 3, 2019 by physical restraint. A knee on his chest. During a police encounter as he was walking home.  The police stopped him due to a report of a black man acting suspiciously with a hoodie over his head.

 

Until We Meet Again… I am the Visible Man.

The Visible Man: Holding Space for Others & Responding to Privilege

“It might do well to read the details before falling to the intellectually lazy assumption of racism.”

– Tyler Arms, Gavin de Becker & Associates (GDBA), in response to a posting by Dr. Micheal Kane criticizing the shooting death of a black man by a white police officer in Atlanta, GA on 6/12/20, LinkedIn, June 14, 2020.

“Malcolm X asked, what does a white man call a black man with a Ph.D.? He answered: A nigger with a Ph.D.”

– George Yancy, ‘The Ugly Truth of Being a Black Professor in America’, The Chronical Review, April 29,2018.

“I did something good.  I made it famous. I made Juneteenth very famous. It’s actually an important event; it’s an important time. But nobody had heard of it.”

– Donald Trump, President of the United States, ‘Trump talks Juneteenth, John Bolton, Economy in WSJ Interview’. Bender, Michael C., The Wall Street Journal. June 18, 2020.

“What the hell, racism is a thing of the past. Why do we have colored ball players on our club? They are the best ones. If you don’t have them, you’re not going to win.”

– Calvin Griffith, Owner Minnesota Twins, 1978

“Asked repeatedly to say, ‘Black lives Matter’, Mike Pence (Vice President of the United States) says, ‘all lives matter’”.

– Carvajal, Nikki. ‘Asked repeatedly to say, ‘Black lives matter’, Mike Pence says, ‘all lives matter’, CNN politics. June 19, 2020.

 

My Dear Readers,

Several days have passed since the celebrations in honor of Juneteenth but this year, due to the coronavirus, I have decided to commemorate it rather than celebrate, as I stay hunkered down at home.

After months of treating patients through what is understood to be an unprecedented time in our history, I find myself experiencing waves of what is known as Vicarious Traumatization or, Compassion Fatigue. Vicarious trauma, in its textbook definition, can be described as:

 “The emotional residue of exposure that therapists have from working with people as they are hearing their trauma stories and become witnesses to the pain, fear, and terror that trauma survivors have endured” (Perlman & Saakvitne, 1995).

This definition fits the work of the typical white or Eurocentrically trained therapist while working with Black, Brown and, Indigenous Persons of Color (BBIPoC) because it, not only defines what vicarious trauma is, but it also explains the continuous failure of the white or Eurocentrically trained therapist to fully understand the impact of their patients’ trauma experiences.

The wording in the definition of vicarious trauma, “…while they are hearing…” allows the white or Eurocentrically trained therapist to recover quickly from vicarious trauma impacts because they have the freedom to eject the majority of what is being said (in one ear and out the other),  and not internalize it.

Of course, many if not most of my colleagues who are either white or Eurocentrically trained would assertively deny this, claiming that they “hear” what is being said but, the process of hearing, allowing the information to pass through you, is unconscious and it serves to protect the receiver of acutely difficult or traumatic information.

On the other hand, the BBIPoC therapist listens rather than just hears and in doing so becomes much more at risk for vicarious traumatization.  There are times in which micro-aggressive assaults directed at the therapist from outside sources impact the therapist-patient relationship, creating wounding for both individuals.  So, what is the response?

This is one such a story…

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Journal Entry

Dear Dr. Kane,

 I am a middle age black man residing in the Seattle area.  I recently read a response to a writing you did.  This person, this asshole verbally attacked you.  In his response he basically stated that you were an intellectually dumb lazy nigger.  I was expecting fireworks.  I was expecting an immediate response.

 For two days, you said nothing.  And then when you did respond, you thank him. WTF?! Thank him for what?  This asshole insults you and you thank him?  Do you realize the damage you have caused by your actions or should I say lack of actions?

 You are an educated man. People look up to you.  I look up to you.  And you let me down. I feel shattered.  You speak about walking the landscape.  What, with your head hanging down? This is not the landscape I want to walk.  Disappointed in you, Dr. Kane.

Upset, Renton, WA

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My Dear Young Man,

I understand that you were psychologically impacted by what was said and how you interpreted this writer’s words about me.  Furthermore, I understand that you were emotionally injured by what you believed to be an inadequate response by me but understand, I was psychologically impacted by the writer as well.

There will be times, and this is apparently one of them, when my writings or responses will fail to meet the standards of others.  My stance as a writer is one of sharing.  I write with passion for the work I am committed to do.

There will be those who may agree or disagree with my views.  However, the focus for me is to listen and to be listened to.  We are all here for a short time and while I am here, I will walk my landscape and live the life that I want and not the life that others may need of me.

I will take this as an opportunity for a teaching moment.

As I continue to “walk my landscape”, in this blog, I will utilize the following three clinical concepts:

  1. Walking the Landscape
  2. The Five R’s of RELIEF
  3. The I Factor

I will seek not to defend my words or actions.  Instead I chose to advocate for self, seek balance within and calmness in my external environment.

 

Walking the Landscape

All decisions have consequences”

 

My Dear Young Man,

First, we want to understand what Walking the Landscape means.  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 who we meet.

The term walk refers to what we do with our lives.  As we walk the landscape, we will have many different experiences. It is within the walk that we have crossroads or interaction points where barriers, challenges, experiences, and opportunities are presented.

It is within the offending writer’s words that you and I have reached an interaction point.  It is here where the following occurs:

  • 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 can be utilized for future experiences.
  • Transformation through Self-Empowerment is achieved.

So, my dear young man, this is where are we were act and so are the differences in our actions.  With the choices before us, you decided to react in anger, dismissing him with profanity and seeking an upcoming battle of words.  I decided upon a different path. Response.

The consequences of our actions are also different. The reader of your words will know that you are angry, and no doubt dismiss your reaction and relegate you to nothing more than the “angry black man, exhibiting out of control behaviors”.

On the other hand, my preference is to assist the reader in opening their minds and reaching the depths of the emotional self, leading to greater wisdom and transformation.

There is none provided in your reaction.

Those deaf ears will remain so as they continue to discount you and continue to live in fear of you as they have been for the last 400 years. As I continue this writing, I seek to offer to you a different option.

 

The Smugness of White Privilege

“What does a white man call a black man with a Ph.D.? A nigger with a Ph.D.”

 

My Dear Young Man,

In your entry you wrote concerning Mr. Tyler Arms’ comment:

“In his [Mr. Arms’] response he basically stated that you were an intellectually dumb lazy nigger.  I was expecting fireworks.  I was expecting an immediate response”.

Before addressing how Mr. Arm’s comments have psychologically impacted you, it is essential to provide the readership with more information and clarity.

Here is Mr. Tyler Arms’ comment (said in disagreement with my statement regarding the recently of killing of Rayshard Brooks, a black male by a white Atlanta police officer):

“It might do well to read the details before falling to the intellectually lazy assumption of racism.”

Did Mr. Arms actually call me, Dr. Kane, an “intellectually dumb lazy nigger”?  No, absolutely he did not. Can one infer that he called me an “intellectually dumb lazy nigger”?

Yes, absolutely.

In his actions Mr. Arms is using his white privilege.

What is “white privilege”? Compare the two definitions below:

  1. The inherent advantages possessed by a white person on the basis of their race in a society characterized by racial inequality and injustice.
  2. “It’s the level of societal advantage that comes with being seen as the norm in America, automatically conferred irrespective of wealth, gender or other factors. It makes life smoother, but it’s something you would barely notice unless it were suddenly taken away — or unless it had never applied to you in the first place” (Emba, Christine. ‘What is white privilege?’ The Washington Post. January 16, 2016).

A white person wrote the first definition whereas a black person wrote the second.

The first definition is composed of intellectualized jargon, words or expressions that are used by a particular group and, for some, are difficult to understand. The second, is grounded in experience and observation.

Mr. Arms is asserting his white privilege, (his advantage in not only in feeling like his views are seen as the norm in society but his freedom in telling others how they should respond to an incident) to inflict psychological injury and then state it vaguely enough attempt to hide any racist intent but Mr. Arms’ intention and message is very clear.

His statement is a tactical projectile that impacts any and all black males who would dare to consider the actions by the police office to be an act of racism. Though I was the one targeted, the psychological injuries that being experienced by other black men is the collateral damage.

 

Microaggression

Plausibility & Believability

 

 My Dear Young Man,

The statements made by Mr. Arms are acts of microaggression.

Psychiatrist and Harvard University professor Chester M. Pierce coined the term microaggression in 1970 to describe insults and dismissals that are inflicted by whites upon African Americans.

This term was later redefined by Columbia University professor and psychologist Derald Wing Sue as “brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to certain individuals because of their group membership. The persons making the comments may be otherwise well-intentioned and unaware of the potential impact of their words”.

Was Mr. Arm’s comment well-intentioned and unaware? Did he not think that others may perceive his words as racist, patronizing and could be interpreted as “get the fact rights before you write, you intellectually lazy nigger”? Possibly, but as with all microaggressions, their real meanings are always shrouded in innuendo.

 

The Five R’s of RELIEF

Relief Along the Landscape

 

My Dear Young Man,

It is apparent that the statements made by Mr. Tyler Arms triggered you.  Indeed, I was triggered as well.  Imagine a scenario in which you are the only black male in your office, where you, without warning or preparation, are subjected to microaggressions on a daily basis.

      • What do you do?
      • What do you say to your assailant(s)?
      • What are your feelings? How do you release these feelings?
      • How will you handle the situation tomorrow? The next day or the following week?

In your letter to me, you stated the following:

      • “This person, this asshole verbally attacked you.”
      • “I was expecting fireworks.”
      • “I was expecting an immediate response.”

If you would have handled the situation in the way you expected me to with Mr. Arms, you would have been immediately terminated from your employment.  If “expecting fireworks and an immediate response” means physical or verbal combat, you would be risking arrest and criminal and/or civil charges. Now, with no employment and an inability to use your former employer as a reference, consider the following questions:

      • How would you support your family?
      • How would you buy groceries? Pay your monthly bills? Your mortgage or rent?
      • How would you pay the newly incurred legal fees?
      • Despite your excellent work skills, how do you explain your termination to perspective employers?

Besides death and taxes, there is a third reality in the life of a BBIPoC, that people like Mr. Tyler Arms are lying in wait to become an obstacle, barrier, boulder, or roadblock in your “Walking the Landscape.”.

In the clinical concept of Walking the Landscape, the elements of choice, decision, consequences, wisdom, and transformation are steps that only you can take.

 

Reaction vs Response

Your reactions as indicated in your response may lead to jail time as well as introductions to the judicial, probation or correction systems. Before walking in that direction, I recommend the clinical concept of Five R’s of RELIEF.  When confronted with a psychologically destabilizing situation, try to employ the following:

  1. Take a Respite. Allow yourself to step away emotionally form the situation. Do so for as long as you feel the need. Breathe deeply.
  2. Embrace your Reactions. These are your feelings and yours alone. Understand the fullness of your feelings.
  3. Reflect. Balance your thoughts with your feelings. Let go of the desire to control what you think and feel.
  4. Respond. Combine your now balanced thoughts and feelings to present a response that will serve you best on your journey of walking the landscape. Keep your initial reactions within.
  5. Revaluate. Be willing to take continuous reviews of your choices, decisions and responses made. Evaluate what you have learned and what could had been done differently to achieve the desired outcome.

 

The Gift & The Thank You

Rather than provide the “fireworks” and “immediate response” you so desired, I decided to do what was best for me and use this not as retribution but rather as a teaching moment to both you and my readership.

As you may recall in my response to Mr. Arms, I stated:

Hmm, Interesting.  Someone who was obviously asserting his white privilege inserted himself to “whitesplaining” in defending the actions of the police in the killing of a black man as I compared the outcome of similar situation whereas the white male was safely taken into custody.”

In his response, Mr. Arms accused me of “falling to the intellectually lazy assumption of racism” without thought or consideration to the subject at hand, he jumped to attacking me, and not the fact that an unarmed man was shot in the back and killed by the people who were trusted to protect and serve.

Thank you, Mr. Arms for exposing the readership your smugness, your arrogance, and your lack of humanity and compassion regarding the death of black man who, at the time,  was not a threat to the police officer’s safety.

 

Concluding Words – Dr. Kane

 

 The “I” Factor

Hearing vs Listening

 

My Dear Young Man,

I began this writing by speaking towards the difference ways the white or Eurocentric trained therapist and BBIPoC therapists respond and recover from vicarious traumatic impacts.  There is a similar common thread or theme regarding people holding privilege and those who do not.

Privileged individuals such as Mr. Arms are duplicitous. On one hand, they seek to have you as a black man listen to and internalize the idea of your inferiority while on the other, they seek to have other whites hear them as innocent of racist intent.

Please understand, it is the internalized idea of inferiority that creates the reaction that he and those like him are anticipating and are actively seeking from you.

In response consider the clinical concept of the “I” Factor:

  • Information. Calmly collect data regarding the challenges and obstacles you are facing.
  • Involvement. Thoroughly process the information you have collected. Focus on understanding what the information tells you about the journey
  • Integration. Compare the information with your overall path and objective. Let it inform your decision.
  • Implement the plan, course of action or decision
  • Impact. Evaluate the outcome of the actions taken. Consider what could have been done differently.

I will encourage my readership to determine whether the “falling to the intellectually lazy assumption of racism.” exists.

Again, thanks for exposing your truths. Mr. Arms.

 

New Possibilities

Life is a journey filled with new possibilities.

And sometimes because of the person that you are or have

become, You find yourself in the right

place at the right time for …. new possibilities. 

– Micheal Kane

 

 

White Privilege II

Pulled into the parking lot, parked it
Zipped up my parka, joined the procession of marchers
In my head like, “Is this awkward?
Should I even be here marching?”
Thinking if they can’t, how can I breathe?
Thinking that they chant, what do I sing?
I want to take a stance cause we are not free
And then I thought about it, we are not we
Am I in the outside looking in,
Or am I in the inside looking out?
Is it my place to give my two cents?
Or should I stand on the side and shut my mouth?
No justice, no peace, okay, I’m saying that
They’re chanting out, Black Lives Matter,
But I don’t say it back
Is it okay for me to say?
I don’t know, so I watch and stand

In front of a line of police that look the same as me
Only separated by a badge,
A baton, a can of Mace, a…

– Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_rl4ZGdy34

 

Until We Speak Again… I Am, The Visible Man

The Visible Man: When There’s No Place to Run and There’s No Place to Hide

Lessons of yesterday, conversation between a father and son

Son: “Daddy, what do you call a black man who doesn’t know his place?”

Father: “Hmm… uppity.”

Son: “How do you deal with him?”

Father: “Hmm… give him a carrot, a seat at the big table.”

Son: “And if that doesn’t work?”

Father: “Remove it.”

Son: “Remove the seat?”

Father: “No, the table, it’s an illusion; it was never there.”

– Micheal Kane Clinical Traumatologist, “The Sleight of Hand Artist & the Carrot.”

 

“He can run, but he can’t hide.”

   -Joe Louis “The Brown Bomber” ( said prior to the title fight with Billy Conn)

 

“When the looting starts, the shooting starts”

– Donald Trump, President USA

 

“What is the value of a black life? Not much. Black Lives Matter? Not really.  To white America all lives matter… Just ask Ahmaud Arbrey, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.”

– Anonymous (Patient)

 

My Dear Readers,

Following the tragic deaths of Ahmaud Arbrey, (GA), Breonna Taylor (KY), and George Floyd (MN), I sit here tonight writing this blog, thinking of the fact that I was able to wake up this morning without my front door having been kicked in because of poor police work and a no- knock warrant. That I was able to begin my day without my family having to stand traumatized on local television pleading for answers from the shaking heads and “no comment at this time” folks, realizing this simple act is something that has been denied to so many for no reason other than the color of their skin.

I watched the skies turn red as cities across the country burned, including our nation’s capital, and felt the pain and anguish of so many of its citizens. The crisis was so traumatic that even the President, Donald Trump, who intended to pour gasoline on the flames by encouraging violence, momentarily sought safety in a secured bunker.

As a clinical traumatologist, my responsibility is to provide a safe space for people to voice their feelings and to offer a psychological toolkit to empower them in responding to an often bruising, hostile and unwelcoming environment.  This space, called the S Protocol, is a safe and secure place to either sit in silence or speak to the secrets or unresolved issues affecting them on their journey.

As we assess the smoldering and looted ruins of downtown Seattle, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and other cities around the country, I am reminded of the “Night of The Broken Glass” also known as the Kristallnacht in which, on November 1, 1933, the Nazis began a reign of terror and violence throughout Germany against Jews.

In just two days:

  • Over 250 synagogues, were burned,
  • 7,000 Jewish businesses were trashed and looted,
  • Dozens of Jewish people were killed,
  • And Jewish cemeteries, hospitals, and schools were destroyed.

The police and fire brigades stood by and did nothing.

The traumas created by the “Night of The Broken Glass” demonstrated acts of unbridled hatred instigated by the governing body, the Nazi Party, against its citizens, whose only alleged crime was their ethnicity and religion.

In my lifetime, African Americans have experienced victimization and brutal treatment by law enforcement authorized by the dominant group.  Legislation, black codes, sundown ordinances and curfews have been enacted to control and oppress citizens for the alleged crime of having black or brown skin.

I was seven years old when the Watts Riots occurred.  It lasted six days causing

  • Involved 34,000 people,
  • Resulted in 34 deaths and 1,032 injuries,
  • 4,000 arrests,
  • With the destruction of 1,000 buildings and
  • Over $40 million dollars in damages

Twenty-one years later, the LA Riots centered around the brutalization of Rodney King occurred.  It resulted in:

  • 50 people dead
  • 2,000 injured
  • More than 1,000 buildings damaged or destroyed and
  • 1 billion in damages

Today, I find myself busy responding to a full calendar of angry, scared, traumatized, and disillusioned patients seeking answers and a safe place to offload their fears about their children being profiled and killed by police. Then there is the uneasiness about what tomorrow will bring. Will the fires, looting and rioting continue? Will the entire country become embroiled in the unrest and will that cause the police to become even more brutal to try to regain control?

In addition to my patient’s therapeutic needs, I have the opportunity to read their journal writings and stories and listen to their oral traditions that formed them into the people I see every day.  Below are one individual’s words:

 

Dear Dr. Kane

I am a 35-year-old black man raised in Los Angeles, CA.  I work for a small tech company in the Puget Sound (Seattle) area.  I am the only African American in my company.  I am also a military veteran having served in Afghanistan.

I essentially live and work in a white world.  I like my work; my coworkers and I make a good income.  Yet, I feel so angry and so alone. At work there are times in which my coworkers make me feel like I am invisible.

Like others, I have repeatedly watched, George Floyd calling for his momma, taking his last breath and dying. The man was begging for his life and the cop had his knee on the man’s neck and no one, cops or bystanders watching would do anything.  There were black people watching and not one person did a goddamn thing!

 George Floyd’s life was taken from him, for what?  I feel numb, guilt and shame. I feel imbalanced like can’t show any emotion to the world.  All the whites in my group are talking about this but I don’t feel like I can.  And the riots, the looting and fires… it’s Los Angeles 1992 all over again.  I feel like I just want to go somewhere and hide.

 I remember the LA riots.  It is a trauma that I, as much as I try to, will never forget.  I remember when it first started; I was at a friend’s home.  Because there was so much death and destruction on the streets, it was nine days, before I could get home.  Not being able to contact my parents, they did not know whether I was dead or alive.

 After not hearing from me, my parents assumed the worse, contacting emergency rooms and the county coroner.  I had never seen my father cry.  When I walked through that door, he went down on his knees and all his anguish poured out. I will never ever forget that day.  Now I too, am a father and I fear for my children’s safety.

I can’t talk to my white coworkers.  I am in pain.  They are good people, but I know that they don’t understand that each time, they ask me if I am okay, or want to express their feelings about George Floyd, I am in pain.  I am living in fear.  I am numb.

I feel like I am going to explode and snap on someone.  I don’t know what to do. I feel like a fraud. I don’t know what to say to my coworkers, or how to protect my children.  I fear that my sons will be racially profiled by whites and at risk of being harmed by the police. I am living with fear so I keep them close.  I want to overcome these feelings.

 Please help me find the answers. When will the police stop harassing and killing us? When will racism end? What can I do to protect my family and keep us safe? What can I do?

I am so angry and I feel so lost.  I just want to go somewhere and hide.  I am praying for help. In your work you speak about belief, faith and trust.  I feel broken Please advise.

Losing It, Seattle WA

 

My Dear Young Man,

The questions you ended your writing with about police brutality, the ending of racism and protecting your loved ones have been asked by African Americans for over 400 years.

 

God’s Deliverance

Since the time of slavery, African Americans have prayed and looked for the coming of God’s deliverance. This prayer process was codified by the historians as beginning on December 31, 1862 and was realized by the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863. This acknowledgment now know formally in the African American community as Watch Night services was actually an ongoing process long before the date now recognized by historians.

The common thread in the African American experience is trauma. It began upon the first arrival of enslaved people in 1619 to the Emancipation Proclamation, continuing to this very day following the election of the first African American President of the United States.

The deliverance that African Americans have wanted, pleaded and desired that arrived in the form of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 has been replaced by local, state and laws, Black Codes, Sundown ordinances and segregationist polices and values of the dominate group and reinforced by the police as the instrument of controlling and subjugating its black citizens.

 

Trauma Along the Landscape

My Dear Young Man,

Please understand that as a descendant of enslaved people, a member of the African American community, and as an individual, you are responding to not only one trauma but rather several types of trauma that may impact you daily, and without warning.

The trauma that your community has endured is historical trauma. The trauma that has been passed down from your father to you and in turn will be passed down to your children is inter-generational trauma.

The sense of invisibility that you feel at work may be trauma associated with the invisibility syndrome. The traumas of racism may be that of micro-aggressive assaults whereas the concern of safety and harm from interaction with the police may be indication of macro-aggressive assaults.

Childhood traumatic experiences, like the LA riots, in which exposure to various traumatic events of an invasive and interpersonal nature are known as complex trauma. The hopelessness you feel in your ability to live a normal life, working hard to provide for your family is an indication you are responding to just world trauma.

The fear of racial profiling that you have for your children being viewed as criminals or being questioned or harmed by the police is a form of insidious trauma.  The fact that you have served your country during war, that you have risked your life only to return to living in fear for your safety and the safety of your children may be viewed as a violation of explicit and implicit trust, which is betrayal trauma. The concerns of feeling like a “fraud” may be the response to trauma associated with the impostor syndrome.

 

Am I Living with Fear?

My Dear Young Man,

In your writing, you stated that you were “living with fear” I beg to differ. The words you have chosen and the actions you have taken are clear indicators that you are living IN fear and not living WITH fear. Furthermore, you have indicated a strong desire to conquer these feelings.

When living in your fear, you are seeking to conquer the emotions that are there to sustain you.  In doing so, you are seeking to live your life by inching your way over the gap that exists between existence and survival.

On the other hand, if you were living with fear, you would be living empowered. You would acknowledge the fear but use it to persevere. I suggest this as a healthy and positive alternative.

 

The Five Levels-In Walking Your Landscape

My Dear Young Man,

As you live your life, you are “walking the landscape”. During this process, you have the opportunity to engage in the “Journey of Self Discovery”.  In this journey there are five levels:

  1. Existence: bareness of life
  2. Surviving: desperation
  3. Driving: empowerment
  4. Striving: pacing, goal setting
  5. Thriving: objective attainment, life’s overview

Your writing indicates you are living in fear and are simply surviving. As you live in your fear, you become increasingly vulnerable to slipping into just existing where the possibilities of self-medicating with drugs, alcohol and, other means of distraction await you.

 

Cause & Effect

My Dear Young Man,

To move beyond survival, as you review the 10 subtypes of trauma and its various impacts upon you, consider Cause and Effect.  Cause and Effect is a relationship between events or things, where one is the result of the other.

Essentially, the cause is the thing that makes other things happen and the effect refers to the result of that action. As this concept relates to trauma, trauma can be viewed as the cause, the why something happened and the resulting psychological and emotional distress is the effect, or the what that followed.

 

Need & Reaction: Hiding in the Shadows

My Dear Young Man,

Your need to hide is a direct reaction to traumas (cause) resulting in distress (effect). The traumatic impact is cumulative and increases in quantity, and degree with each successive incident. Any of these traumas, may they be individual or grouped, can occur without advance warning or notice.

Following such a repetitive onslaught of traumas, it is understandable that you may want to “go somewhere and hide” but all that would be achieved is complacency bred from apathy that leaves you wedged between existing and surviving. This is nothing more than living in fear and makes you even more unwilling to step out into the unknown and move towards developing a new comfort zone.

 

The Uncharted Territories

My Dear Young Man,

The alternative to hiding away is to develop strategies that are proactive and allow you to achieve the three progressive phases of The Levels of the Journey of Self Discovery, driving (empowerment), striving (pacing, goal setting), and thriving (objective attainment, life’s overview).

Your concern for your children is understandable but it is important that you empower yourself first so that you will be equipped to model strategies and behaviors for them.

One such empowerment strategy is The ABC’s, the gateway to The Uncharted Territories:

  • (A) Advocacy: Become an advocate for yourself. Only you can speak on your own behalf.  Depending on others to speak for you dilutes your message.  Embrace your responsibly to speak for yourself.
  • (B) Balance: Be reflective about your actions. Make sure your thoughts and actions are balanced and aligned with your inner self.
  • (C) Calmness: Be aware that the environment around mirrors your internal environment. When you achieve calmness within your inner self, it is reflected in your external environment.

 

Response: Living With Fear, Not In Fear

My Dear Young Man,

In utilizing the ABC’s for yourself and modeling for your children, you are able to transform your reaction to cumulative trauma into responses that reframe fear into its correct context; it is simply an emotion that a person has when they are frightened or worried by someone or something identified as dangerous, painful or bad.

The outcome you seek to achieve is the phase of Driving or empowerment.  Therefore, instead of reacting, “going somewhere and hiding”, you can face the fear directly and respond.  As you respond, you can embrace your fear and in doing so, understand that fear is no longer something to fight or avoid but something that can be embraced and responded to.

 

Concluding Words- Dr. Kane 

“…That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, and now am found, was blind, but now I see.”

– John Newton

 

My Dear Young Man,

Referenced in an earlier blog “The Visible Man: Choosing Between Being a Sitting Duck or Running the Race Smarter Not Harder” (June 5, 2020):

“Angry is good… Angry gets shit done.”

– Mr. Nancy, American Gods, television series (2017-)

I agree with Mr. Nancy. Angry is good, angry does get shit done, but that anger must be directed.

Right now, our country, our nation is boiling while its leader cowered in a bunker under the guise of an “inspection”.  The diverse citizenry of the United States is protesting by the hundreds of thousands in cities in every state, calling for social justice and freedom from police brutality.  Black, white, brown, Asian, Indigenous People, and many others are stating the truth that BLACK LIVES MATTER. That abuse is not OK, that policies, procedures, and ideals of this country must change, and it needs to happen now. It is their voice, their anger that is “getting shit done.”

You have stated being angry, feeling lost, wanting to hide, and being unable to protect your children. Just realize that anger is a normal human emotion and utilize strategies to transform your reactions into responses. Like the protesters, refocus you anger into clear attainable objectives. Cease settling for existing and surviving and work toward achieving the levels of driving (empowerment), striving (pacing, goal setting) and thriving (objective attainment).

George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbrey may they rest in peace.

Focus on… walking your landscape and in doing so… seek to live the life you want and not continue to live the life you live.

 

Let America Be America Again

Langston Hughes (1901-1967)

Let America be America again.

Let it be the dream it used to be.

Let it be the pioneer on the plain

Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—

Let it be that great strong land of love

Where never kings connive nor tyrants’ scheme

That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty

Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,

But opportunity is real, and life is free,

Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,

Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?

And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,

I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.

I am the red man driven from the land,

I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—

And finding only the same old stupid plan

Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,

Tangled in that ancient endless chain

Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!

Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!

Of work the men! Of take the pay!

Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.

I am the worker sold to the machine.

I am the Negro, servant to you all.

I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—

Hungry yet today despite the dream.

Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!

I am the man who never got ahead,

The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream

In the Old World while still a serf of kings,

Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,

That even yet its mighty daring sings

In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned

That’s made America the land it has become.

O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas

In search of what I meant to be my home—

For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,

And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,

And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came

To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?

Surely not me? The millions on relief today?

The millions shot down when we strike?

The millions who have nothing for our pay?

For all the dreams we’ve dreamed

And all the songs we’ve sung

And all the hopes we’ve held

And all the flags we’ve hung,

The millions who have nothing for our pay—

Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—

The land that never has been yet—

And yet must be—the land where every man is free.

The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—

Who made America,

Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,

Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,

Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—

The steel of freedom does not stain.

From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,

We must take back our land again,

America!

O, yes,

I say it plain,

America never was America to me,

And yet I swear this oath—

America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,

The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,

We, the people, must redeem

The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.

The mountains and the endless plain—

All, all the stretch of these great green states—

And make America again!

 

Until We Speak Again… I Am, The Visible Man

The Visible Man: Choosing Between Being a Sitting Duck or Running the Race Smarter Not Harder

“Mama, I’m through. Please, please, please, I can’t breathe.  My stomach hurts.  My neck hurts.  Everything hurts.  [I need] water or something.  Please, please.  I can’t breathe, officer… I cannot breathe.  I cannot breathe.”

  • George Floyd (his final words, calling to his mother who died two years ago)

“What we saw was horribly, completely messed up.  This man’s life matters.  He was someone’s son, someone’s family member, someone’s friend. He was a human being and his life mattered.”

  • Jacob Frey, Mayor, City of Minneapolis

“We heard his repeated calls for help.  We heard him say over and over again that he could not breathe. And now we have seen another horrifying and gut-wrenching instance of an African American man dying.”

  • Amy Klobuchar, US Senator, Minnesota

“It was nine minutes on his neck.  Just imagine what George Floyd endured for those nine minutes, begging for breath, begging for life.”

  • Benjamin Crump, Attorney representing the Floyd family

“We cooperate, we die. We run, we die. We fight back, we die. We beg, we die. We lie down, we die. We put our hands up, we die. We mind our business, we die. We’re unarmed, we die. We’re detained, we die. Tell us, what the HELL are we supposed to do to keep the cops from killing us?” #icantbreathe#GeorgeFloyd

  • Gary Hussain Goodridge, twitter contributor

My Dear Readers,

My soul is numb.  There are no tears remaining.  Recent deaths of African American men on public streets in broad daylight as well as the killing of an African American woman in her home, in the middle of the night while she was sleeping by members of law enforcement have left me psychologically impacted and traumatized my family and community.

Recently, my sleep was interrupted by a late-night call from my daughter who simply wanted to hear my voice.  She was in tears, shouting “I can’t do this anymore.” She had also called her sister. Her intention was to seek reassurance that law enforcement had not killed her 67-year-old father and 5-year-old nephew.

Just imagine, the fear, uncertainty, and hopelessness that is occurring in the hearts, souls, and minds of millions of black and brown people throughout our country.  For 400 years, we have endured domestic terrorism including lynching, cross burnings mass destruction of our communities and so on but now, during the post Obama era, a time when racism supposedly over, we are again being traumatized by domestic terrorism being freely displayed by those whose purpose is to “serve and protect”.

I encouraged my daughter to relax and assured her that I was safe in my home.  But am I safe? Am I a well-known and respected member of my community… Am I safe in my neighborhood?

  • Will I be roused from a deep sleep and riddled with bullets?
  • Can I take a walk in my neighborhood, my home for the last 20 years without being viewed with suspicion, without the police being called?
  • Can I enter my home without the police being called and having to show identification that I do live here and in fact, own this nice home?

I have spent the last three months responding to the pandemic.  Recently the death-toll from COVID-19 passed the 100, 000 with 25, 000 being African Americans.  Now, in addition to that, I am also responding to the fear of possibly losing a loved one just simply leaving the home for a daily activity. The fear of loss from police violence is just as insidious and real as the fear of loss from the COVID-19 virus.

There are those in my community who fear the mental health and the trauma work that I do.  Being vulnerable, exposed and trusting, expressing one’s pain and suffering in order to heal is not seen as of value. Instead the expectation is to be resilient, keep quiet or wait upon pastoral leadership. As a result, the community continues to suffer in silence.

And then another death happens… Jogging while black, (Brunswick GA), sleeping while black (Louisville KY), simply breathing while black (Minneapolis MN). The result, a raging bonfire that is at risk of exploding throughout the country.

Here is a story of one person being directly impacted by the unrest.

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

Dear Dr. Kane

I saw a man die the other day.  I watched the video of a police officer with his knee on a black man’s neck for five minutes, crushing the life out of him.  I can’t get it out of mind.  I wake up in the middle of the night screaming.  I get up constantly checking my two son’s bedrooms to ensure that they are safe.  I am afraid for their safety.  I am afraid that the police will stop, shoot and kill them.  I am overwhelmed that I am unable to protect my children.

I realize that you do not know me however I am very familiar with your work within Seattle’s African American community.  I currently work for a Pacific Northwest governmental agency in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion, with the focus being on social justice.  Like you, I am an African American man.

I am writing to you because the recent shooting /killings of black men in Chicago, Brunswick, and now Minneapolis have left me twisting in anger, frustrated and lacking in belief in the mission of the organization I work for.  I have come to realize and accept that regardless of a black man’s socioeconomic status, level of education, achievements or “good citizenry”, one’s blackness, the color of one’s skin will be used as a weapon against you. 

When I talk to my white peers, colleagues and acquaintance, I am met with the attitude of disbelief, that this is the post Obama era and that “You are making it up” or comments that indirectly ask “what about black on black crime?” I know they really don’t care; they are really just saying “don’t you niggers kill each other every day? So what is the big deal?”

And interacting with black folks is not any better. Black professionals keeping their heads down and collecting their paychecks while worrying whether they will be alive to greet their families or be viewed in a casket. These same individuals will sit on their asses; take to social media, protesting as Twitter fingers, Facebook feeders and Instagram instigators yet publicly remain silent.

And what about you Dr. Kane? How do you do this and feel no pain? How do you get to a place in which these events do not affect you? You have a way of getting through this without resulting to anger, using alcohol or marijuana to cope.

What is the trick? What’s the mumbo jumbo you use to get through?  It doesn’t seem to affect you as it does others.  I want to be like you. Or is it that because you have made it in the white world, they give you a pass and the police leave you alone?

I come from a Christian background of “love thy neighbor.”  After being mistreated by the cops and dealing with racists all my life, I have developed a serious hatred for white people.  Although I know some good ones, I am being to look at by them all with suspicion.  I can’t help it. 

I feel hopeless. Damn, like a flying duck waiting to be blown out of the sky.  But, like the duck, I’ve got to fly though. Like the duck, I feel there is nothing I can do to stop from being hunted down and killed.  Summer is coming and I am unable to protect my children as they leave the home. 

Do you have any answers for me?  I hope you have time to respond and take my concerns seriously. My pot has just about boiled over.

Between Simmering, Steaming & Smoking Hot in Seattle, WA.

My Dear Young Man,

Prior to responding to your comments, I want to get down on my knees and thank God for the following:

  • I was able to sleep through the night without my front door being smashed and my home invaded by the police and killed by the police (Breonna Taylor-Louisville, KY).
  • I was able to walk in my neighborhood without strangers seeking to abruptly stop and kill me (Ahmaud Arbery, Brunswick, GA)
  • Following purchasing groceries, I was able to walk out of the store, without having a police officer place his knee on my neck, while other police officers stood by, doing nothing, watching me die (George Floyd, Minneapolis, MN)
  • While sitting in my residence and having to protect my children from a mob of 15 white men looking for a black suspect (Monica Shepard, Pender County, NC)

Trauma(s) & Racism(s)

“Angry is good… Angry gets shit done.”

  • Mr. Nancy, American Gods movie (2017)Young man,

Regarding your experiences, you are entitled to your anger.  From my viewpoint as a clinical traumatologist, it is apparent that you may be responding to a combination of subtypes of trauma and various forms of racism, specifically:

  • Trauma(s) (subtypes) – including (historical, inter-generational, just world, invisibility, impostor syndrome, racial profiling, micro-aggression, and macro-aggression.
  • Racism(s) (forms) – including attitudinal, behavioral, individual, institutional, modern, and aversive

The main question is what will you do? Will you do allow your anger to be used or manipulated to create havoc within you or your community?  Or will your anger be constructively utilized to assist you in walking your landscape; your journey, and benefit your life, your family and the welfare of your community.

Surviving the Hunt  

Young man,

It is clear from your comments regarding hopelessness, inability to protect your children and the resulting night traumas, that you are in midst of survival. Take to heart that you come from a long line of survivors.

  • Your ancestors arrived in the New World, shuddering in fear as they were sold the American slave blocks into slavery. They survived.
  • Your great-grandparents dodge the slave catchers, law enforcement, Black Codes and the self-proclaimed “patrollers” who kept “nigras” in line. They survived.
  • Your grandparents endured racial segregation, lynching, burning crosses and churches, murder and rape. They too survived.
  • Your parents lived the civil rights movement, forced busing and integration. They lived to see the first black man to be elected president of the United States. And they along with the rest of your generations also…survived
  • And now during the post Obama era where racism is supposedly a thing of the past, you face racial profiling, being viewed with suspicion due to the color of your skin and be granted the white privilege of wearing a “facemask” into a place of business. As like those who came before you; you too will survive.  And in doing so, you will teach your children like the parents before you … the art of survival.

The art of survival is intergenerational, having been passed down through  families over 400 years.   The art of survival has been taught by parents, has been reinforced by the family, the church, the school system and other institutions within the African American community.  The foundation of this survival is “fear”. This fear is the blood trauma carried the heart and the mind of the individual.

Walking the Landscape: Empowered & Alone

Young Man,

So, you want to be like me?  Well, there are three reasons that is not possible:

  1. You cannot be a follower. You must not be afraid to walk your landscape.
    • You cannot let the words and feelings of others be more important than what you think and feel about yourself
    • You must not allow the lack of belief, faith, and trust in self to carry over and negatively impact those around you.
    • Be sure that envy, insecurity and lacking in empowerment does not destabilize any foundation that has been built within you.
  2. You don’t know how to love yourself. All of your life you have been taught to reach out… to love others and to receive love from others but not to focus on self.
    • There is a lacking in self-validation. This has been dismissed, diminished, and sacrificed for the wellness of others.
    • The self-importance is not a priority and viewed as selfishness
    • This concept is fear-based and reinforced via the family, church, school, and community.
  3. You cannot medicate your psychological wounds with alcohol and marijuana to respond to daily impacts of traumas and racism.
    • Self-medicating reinforces the behaviors of living in fear and removes the want to live with
    • The family and the community are divided and, in their silence, condone and reinforce your feelings of inadequacy.
    • Imagery and illusions sustain your existence whereas the lack of belief, faith and trust reinforces your survival mentality.

The Trick, Mumbo Jumbo & The Get-Out Free Card

Young Man,

On the first day of school, every year, groups of African American men gather at local elementary schools to welcome the girls and boys returning for a new school year.  These men are well dressed in suits or the uniform of their professions or occupations.

The protocol is usually the same: form two parallel lines and applaud the children as they pass between them and enter the school building with some groups, some even staying for a short time either in the hallways, lunchrooms, libraries or classrooms.

However, the ending is always the same, they vanish; disappear only to reappear next year to repeat the same performance.  The children tend to be excited only to be disappointed as these “role models” exit.  They are therefore left alone to endure another year of psychological impacts from adults who for the majority don’t look like them or understand their experiences.

The reality is, for the majority of these men, in returning to these schools, they are reliving their own psychological traumas they experience as children in similar environments.  Many of them continue to suffer from such memories and are relieved to leave and needing only to return the following year to provide their “community service”.

Consequently, due to the ongoing psychological traumas and abuses suffered by many African American, these men have become today’s legion of walking wounded and as a result, these men have limited their abilities to be vulnerable, exposed and trusting of others.

The objective for you is to be proactive rather than be like Dr. Kane.

Running the Race Smarter not Harder

  • Be willing to walk your landscape created by your path and not the road that has been engineered by others
  • Learn new concepts; focus on prioritizing yourself in deference to your community and in doing so, loving the self, you will find that your family and community will benefit more.
  • Learn to listen to the “inner self” to achieve belief, faith, and trust in yourself. You can stand alone and empowered. By doing so, you will find that your family and community will benefit more.

“Mumbo Jumbo”

Stop reducing the concepts of therapy or counseling to “mumbo jumbo” and stop seeing those who seek it as crazy, weak, or unfit. Therapy can actually be very beneficial.

  • As African American men, we can routinely face 14 subtypes of traumas and 12 forms racism. As a result, we are often at risk of being repeatedly impacted both psychologically and emotionally.
  • It can provide safe spaces where men can bond, risk vulnerability, expose their inner pains and work towards developing trusting relationships
  • It can help you create personal goals and objectives that will assist in “shaking things up” thereby allowing you to unlock your full potential

“The Get-Out Free Card”

There is no “get-out free” card. There is no level of education or accomplishment that precludes you from experiencing trauma, as Malcolm X asked during a recorded exchange, “What does a white man call a black man with a Ph.D.?”  He answered, “A nigger with a Ph.D.”.

I recalled during the WTO protest in Seattle (1999) Richard McIver, the only African American Seattle city council member at that time, complained of being mistreated by the police as they failed to recognized him and subsequently sought to drag him out of his car roughing him up.  He stated, “They treated like I was some nigger.”

Yes, to them that is exactly how they saw, and so consequently, treated him; because like the dominant group they too are unable to individualize black men and can only contextualize us by the color of our skin.

Concluding Words-Dr. Kane

My Dear Young Man,

I go to bed tonight not knowing whether the police will be battering down my door or whether I will receive the dreaded phone call announcing that one of my loved ones has been involved in an “unintended” police shooting.

The Flying Duck

This becomes transformative once you, as an individual, are able to realize that the duck is a sitting duck whereas you can avoid falling into hopelessness by following the ABC’s, achieving, believing and conceiving, when “Walking The Landscape.”

To do so, seek to redirect, reframe and refocus.

  • Redirect your hate. Transform the negative energy into empowerment
  • Reframe your foundation to rebuilding. Prioritize your wants balanced with fulfillment of your needs
  • Refocus on you. Learn to listen to yourself.  It is the first step of building belief, faith, and trust in yourself.

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

Choosing to Walk the Landscape

People are going to talk no matter who you are or what you do. The question is what are you doing for self? As you move closer to the finish line, are you running the race smarter, not harder? Let us move forward both individually and as a community.

Let the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery become beacons and not bonfires. Walk your landscape, live your life. Be assured, there will be barriers set by those who seek to stand in your way but, empower the self and, in doing so, love you more.

Dr. Micheal Kane

Until We Speak Again… I am, The Visible Man.

The Visible Man: Transforming From Ejection to Empowerment

“Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letter, U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, there is no power on earth that can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship.”

-Frederick Douglass

“Get, get, you don’t belong here, you don’t belong here, you don’t belong here.’”

-Ruby Howell, campground manager pulling gun on black couple having picnic on Memorial Day

“The fact that she used ‘get, get’ like we were a dog. You say ‘get, get’ to a stray dog that’s on your porch.”

-Franklin Richardson, after being threatened by Ruby Howell

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My Dear Readers,

A belated Memorial Day greeting and a heartfelt thank you to those in our military that gave their lives for our nation.  Once again, I leave my self-imposed retreat to communicate to my beloved readership.

In this writing, I direct my focus to an incident that speaks to how important it is that all Americans, regardless of racial or ethnic origin, understand the psychological wounding created and supported in environments immersed in  hostility and hate.

African Americans have an extensive history of psychological rejection by whites and physical ejection from places where whites feel that African Americans do not “belong.”  Historically, whites have utilized laws and “black codes” to restrict and control the movements of African Americans.

In modern times, while the hostility and hate continue to flourish, the methods of restriction and control have transformed.  Today, whites call the police on African Americans who are #WalkingWhileBlack, #SleepingWhileBlack, and #SellingWaterWhileBlack, among others, leading to what I call a Starbucks Moment.  Named for the 2016 story where two African-American males were arrested for sitting in a Starbucks in Philadelphia, a Starbucks Moment: 

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

-M. Kane, (2016)

White people continue to employ this strategy to this day. Some take matters into their own hands by violence.  In 2018, a white retired firefighter was convicted of assault with intent to do great bodily harm for shooting a 12-gauge shotgun at a black adolescent that was lost and knocked on the firefighter’s door seeking directions to his school.   The firefighter’s spouse testified:

“He didn’t look like a child.  He was a rather big man standing there, and also if he was going to school, we have no schools in our area.”

Most recently, an African-American couple searching for a space to celebrate Memorial Day with a picnic, unwittingly wandered onto a private campground.  The campground manager, an older white woman, immediately confronted them with a firearm, saying:

“Get, get, you don’t belong here, you don’t belong here, you don’t belong here.”

While capturing the incident on video, the black couple departed without further comment. Franklin Richardson, a non-commissioned officer in the US National Guard, having recently returned from a nine-month tour in the Middle East, commented:

“You go over there, and you don’t have a gun pointed at you,” he said of his time serving overseas. And you come home, and the first thing that happens is that you have a gun pointed at you.  It’s kind of crazy to think about.”

The video of the incident has gone viral on social media, sparking discussion within the wider African American community, leading some of my readers to reach out to me.

Below are their stories….

——————————

Dear Dr. Kane:

I am a black veteran who has served several tours in Iraq.  I have been wounded, diagnosed with PTSD and I was medically discharged from military service.  I have two teenage sons.  I am living in hell.  I am so afraid that when they go out with their friends that some crazy white person or the police are going to kill them.   I can’t sleep.  What can I do?

-Shaking in Seattle

———————-

Dear Dr. Kane:

I served overseas in Iraq and recently came home.  I served my country only to see the fear in their eyes when white people look at me.  I am afraid that what happened to that Mississippi couple on Memorial Day could happen to me.  My family and I were planning to go camping next weekend—now we have canceled our plans.  My wife is scared.  I don’t like living this way. I am thinking about getting a concealed weapon permit.  What are your thoughts?

-Staying Alive, Tacoma, WA.

——————————

Dear Dr. Kane:

That woman deserved to be fired. In fact, she deserves to be thrown in prison.  She had no reason to bring a gun.  She could have communicated to that couple without being intimidating.  When are white people going to accept us?  We are just like them.  I pay taxes, obey the law, go to church and work a job.  What the hell is wrong with these people?

-Disgusted in Shoreline, WA

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Observations-Dr. Kane  

There are common themes in the words of these individuals.  They are male, African American, and veterans of our armed forces. They are responding to ejection and rejection during times of hostility and hate, and this psychologically impacts them.

While these men are unable to control the negativity being directed towards them, they can mitigate the impact of their psychological distress by working to transform the following behaviors and/or actions:

  • Living in Fear to Living with Fear
  • Letting Go the Illusion of Power
  • Cease Seeking Acceptance from Others

 

Living in Fear to Living with Fear

Historically, white people, as the dominant group of people in this country, have used fear as a method of controlling the lives of African Americans.  This fear has been implemented in courts, in laws, in law enforcement, and enforced through discrimination and domestic terror, such as lynching.  Between the ending of the Reconstruction era in 1870 and the height of the Civil Rights Movement in 1968, 4,000 African-Americans were murdered via the rope and lynch mobs. There are numerous documented incidents of police involvement in these events or awareness of them.

African Americans, despite this pressure, continue to show the capacity to improve their social economic status, even though the remain psychologically impacted due to racial, historical and inter-generational traumas, among many other kinds of trauma.  In some cases, such as the one shown in the letter from Shaking in Seattle, African Americans live in daily fear for the safety of their children.

It is also likely that he is directly communicating his fear to the psychological core of his sons, even as he seeks to protect them from a hostile external environment. Shaking in Seattle can improve his situation and provide a protection strategy for his teenage sons by understanding and showing them that fear is simply an emotion being felt.

He can choose to embrace his fear, normalizing his feelings and by doing so, model this method of addressing these events for his teenage sons. In transforming the way he views his fear, Shaking in Seattle can teach his sons self-preservation strategies and how to respond when interacting with law enforcement and individuals such as the campground manager when they display threatening or intimidating behaviors.

 

Letting Go of the Illusion of Power

Staying Alive in Tacoma is also living in fear.  However, unlike Shaking in Seattle, due to the campground firearm incident, Staying Alive in Tacoma has canceled outdoor activities that bring joy to him and his family.  Furthermore, Staying Alive in Tacoma is considering obtaining a concealed weapon permit, which may make things worse.

It would be a mistake for Staying Alive in Tacoma to obtain a concealed weapon permit.  By doing this, he places the responsibility for his protection on an external source: a concealed weapon.  In doing so, he gives away his personal empowerment from his internal source: his ability to effectively communicate.

A clear example of empowerment comes from the very incident that produced this reaction. When the campground manager pulled her weapon, the African-American couple utilized communication to defuse the situation, exited the area and prevented the possibility of deadly harm.

It is a foregone conclusion that based on the stereotypical beliefs and fears held by the dominant society as well as their ability to manipulate law enforcement, Staying Alive in Tacoma will have intermediate, unannounced, and ongoing contact with law enforcement.

It would be wise for African American males to use self-empowerment strategies and treat both law enforcement and individuals who display threatening or intimidating behavior  the way that Forrest Gump treated a box of chocolates: like you don’t know what you are going to get.  

 

Cease Seeking Acceptance from Others

Disgusted in Shoreline simply expects fairness.  He views himself as having achieved the successes that the dominant group requires African Americans to be in order to be worthy of living: class status, home ownership, and being upstanding taxpaying and law-abiding citizens.

In his frustration of being denied acceptance by the dominant majority, he fails to see that the rejection he places on himself as he seeks this acceptance is a moving target.  Despite his remarkable social and economic achievements, Disgusted in Shoreline may suffer from Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome, and as a result, lacks “psychological wholeness.”

The solution for Disgusted in Shoreline may be to stop seeking acceptance from others.  Since that desired acceptance is racially motivated, therapy can help with balancing the desire to be accepted by white people. However, the question that remains is whether he can begin the Journey of Self Discovery and in doing so, learn to want, love, and value the psychological self.

——————————–

 Concluding Remarks-Dr. Kane

 Casual racism is a term used to refer to society’s or a particular individual’s lack of regard for the impact of their racist actions upon another person.  Casual racism has become more insidious as it has become expressed through white comfort and discomfort.”  -M. Kane

Disgusted in Shoreline leaves us with an interesting question: “What the hell is wrong with these [white] people?”

What is wrong with these people?  White people are unable to talk about racial issues related to African Americans.  They are aware that despite the illusion of American self-sufficiency, this nation is built on the blood, sweat and tears of slavery.

Many may believe that the campground manager deserves to be fired, or thrown in prison, as Disgusted in Shoreline wrote. However, this emotional response only serves to deflect and identify the problem as belonging to an isolated individual, instead of something the dominant society views as a collective responsibility.

This denial of collective responsibility places White America in a “psychological prison” in which they go about their daily lives ignoring the culture of hostility and hate they live within, and then when confronted with it, expecting redemption and atonement from people of color.

Like African Americans, white people in this country are psychological traumatized.  Although they are in denial, they too are impacted by historical and intergenerational traumas. White people in these situations do not know how to obtain relief.  Therefore, they also suffer in silence.  They are impacted by Complex Moral Injury Syndrome and White Supremacy Trauma.

In this land, true healing will only occur from empowering the psychological self and arising above hostility and hate.

There are many who share the sentiments of Ruby Howell, the campground manager:

“Get, get, you don’t belong here, you don’t belong here, you don’t belong here.”

African-Americans have fought, spilling blood and dying so people like Ruby Howell can live free.  This is our home as well.  We are not going anywhere.

We are staying right here.

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

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.

-Langston Hughes – 1902-1967

Until We Speak Again…I am…The Visible Man.

NOTE: Please join Dr. Kane for:

Black and Thriving: African/American Perspectives on Mental Illness

A Juneteenth Panel Discussion

June 17, 2019, 2pm-4pm

Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute

104 17th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144

The Visible Man: Complex Trauma, Invisibility, and Obsolescence

“Racial minorities are more likely than white Americans to be arrested.   Once arrested, they are more likely to be convicted; and once convicted, they are more likely to face stiff sentences.”

-United Nations Human Rights Committee report (2017)

“I don’t know that nigger.  But I know he is a nigger. And that’s all I need to know.”

-Retired Confederate General Sandy Smithers, The Hateful Eight (2015)

My Dear Readers,

Are black males becoming obsolete in this country?  Black males are no longer being sought for manual labor. They are in fierce competition with whites for blue-collar jobs, that continue to be sent overseas.  They aren’t being trained or prepared for work within the IT industry, either.

Black males are perceived as being of limited use, constantly in survival mode, and cornered off in decaying urban environments.   There is the supposition that black males, like any other endangered species, may soon vanish from the American landscape.

There are several reasons for this perception:

  • Incarceration: One in every three black males born today can expect to go to prison at some point in their life, compared with one in every 17 white males.
  • Education: The estimated national 2012 high school graduation rate for Black males was 59%.
  • Homicides: Black victims of homicides were most likely to be male (85%) and between the ages 17 and 29 (51%)

Except for political and clergy leadership, only muted responses have come from the African American community, if there is a response at all to the statistics coming from recent incidents involving police violence.  The reason for this is Complex Trauma.

Complex trauma is a form of psychological trauma.  It is more than simple post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  It usually means that a person has suffered several traumatic events often beginning in childhood and continuing through adulthood.

Below is one young’s man story…

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Dear Visible Man,

I am a 24 year old African-American man seeking your help.  I am scared and confused.

Recently I had a police officer pull his weapon on me during a traffic stop.  He stopped me because one of the bulbs in my brake light was out.  He recognized me as one of his classmates in high school and even for a moment, reminisced on playing high school football, put away the weapon, and then told me to get the brake light fixed and “have a good day.”

How could I have a nice day after that? I am a college graduate, and I have a great job working for a tech firm here in Seattle, but I live in fear of being harassed by the police.  I have been stopped numerous times, either walking or driving, and all those stops were suspicious. All I want is to be free.  I simply want to be left alone and work hard to succeed in the goals that I have chosen.

Throughout my life, I have dealt with harassment and threats from within my community. I have dealt with racism from whites and threats of violence and acts of intimidation.  I grew up in survival mode without a father figure and struggling with a drug-addicted mother.  Both of my brothers are in the prison system.  I am alone, having nightmares and at times, just holding on to my life.

I am very angry about what I have seen and what I have experienced.  It’s like I am reliving my childhood and adolescence.  I try talking to other black males, but they are too busy hating on me while numbing their own pain by getting high off of marijuana or drinking alcohol.

People talk about role models for black men, but I don’t need another man to tell me how to get a job.  I need to know that I have value, that I am worth something. The older black men I know are either locked up in prison, addicted to drugs or just trying to make it on survival mode. I just want another black man to talk to.

I can’t remember the last time a black man told me that I matter.  But I can remember the last time a black man threatened me.  I feel caught in the middle– threatened by those who hate me for my success and harassed by those who are view my skin itself as a threat.

At work, and at home, I look around and don’t see anyone like me.  My white coworkers tell me that I am being paranoid, and they might be right– I feel like I am going crazy.  Am I becoming obsolete? What can I do?

-Feeling Shaky, Seattle,WA

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My Dear Young Man,

You have been through a lot in your 24 years of life. You are correct; you are not crazy. Paranoia is a mental condition characterized by delusions of persecution, suspicion and mistrust of people or their actions without evidence or justification, and that is not what I see here.

Given your history and the numerous incidents of micro- and macro-aggression you have experienced, your hyper-vigilance and stress is to be expected. The fear of physical violence from the police and other members of your community and their repetitive nature can adversely impact a person’s mental, physical, and emotional states.  It can often be very difficult to function at work and it hinders involvement in interpersonal relationships.

Complex trauma is the exposure to adverse experiences such as violence, abuse, neglect, and separation from a caregiver repeatedly over time and during critical periods in a child’s development. Psychologically, the African-American community is drowning in complex trauma and has retreated into survival mode.  We have lost a generation of black men in prison.  Approximately half of males will not graduate from high school, which impacts employment, marriages, and the growth of families.

Complex trauma can have long-term impact on an individual’s mental health.  That impact can be further complicated when it is simultaneously activated and reinforced by the use of drugs and participation in violent acts. In doing so, both the trauma itself and the method of soothing or numbing the pain arising from that trauma are both normalized for the individual, who then loses the ability to conceive of other ways of living.

Research suggests that the impact and effect of complex trauma is directly related to age of onset, type of violence, relationship to the perpetrator, impact on the environment, the degree of isolation and the amount of support received and the amount of support received following the traumatic experience.

——————————

Concluding Words

My Dear Young Man,

To respond to an earlier question about becoming obsolete, the fact that you continue to strive for success in your objectives as you face overwhelming pressures from both within your community and interactions with police is an affirmation that black males are not becoming obsolete.  In reality, you are responding to ongoing challenges that are not of your making.

This is the time to achieve ABC: advocacy, balance and calmness.

  • Advocacy: Empower yourself by becoming an advocate for the psychological self. Seek to achieve mental health wellness.
  • Balance: Compare the internalized value and assets of the life you want to live to the life you have already experienced. Come to terms with your own stress and anxiety.
  • Calmness: Avoid self-medicating to soothe emotional pain. Instead, be open and available to your internal questions and concerns.  Use your balance and inner empowerment to project calmness to the outside world.

Be open to seeking mental health treatment.  We are losing a generation to incarceration, violence and drug/alcohol abuse.  We continue to cripple our lives by refusing to seek mental health assistance.  In doing so, we only weaken our resolve, add more obstacles to the journey of self-discovery and hamper the experience that we call LIFE.

My dear young man, there are role models. LOOK IN THE MIRROR. In your quest to strive and not just survive, YOU have become a role model for those seeking to do the same.  Go out and find individuals and allies regardless of color, race and ethnicity, who think and live life like you.

Best wishes to you on your journey of self-discovery.

Regards,

Dr. Kane, Psy.D

Clinical Traumatologist

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

Complex Trauma does not go away by

Simply pushing it to the back of your

                                    mind.

It is a thief that lurks around until it finds an open door.  It flashes.  It screams as it leaps into my soul.

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

Enough is never enough.

It steals and steals and steals.

It plucks and sucks the life, slowly

                           From me. 

-Micheal Kane

 

Until we speak again….The Visible Man

For additional information regarding Dr. Kane, please visit www.lovingmemore.com.

Embracing My Shame and Seeking the Journey of Life

Dear Visible Man,

I am writing because I am ashamed. I am ashamed of myself because I have not been willing to stand up to my mother. I am 31 years old, and have always considered myself to be a strong black woman, but I continue to allow my mother to control and be abusive towards me.

I was raised in the church, where I learned to “honor my parents.”  However, I feel that my mother used scripture to manipulate and control me.  If I made a mistake, she used scripture to hold that mistake over my head.  To this day, she still demands that I continue to obey her and if I fail to do so, it’s another mistake that she needs to correct through scripture.

I feel that my mother seeks to live her life through me. Even though I now live on my own and have a job that pays me well, she tells me that unless I do things her way, I will be a failure.

I have completed law school at Howard University, and I recently became involved with a person that I hope to eventually marry. Due to her history of bad relationships and mistrust of men, she has been abusive to my male friends in the past, and she has already indicated that she doesn’t think that my boyfriend is good enough for me. However, she still wants to meet him. I’m hesitant to let that happen, though– I fear that my mother will destroy this relationship.

How can I live my life without the ongoing interference by my mother?

Seeking My Way, Portland, OR

——————————————————————————-

Dear Young Woman,

I would like to congratulate you on your willingness to write about an issue that is clearly painful for you.  Having said that, I believe that we should focus on reinforcing your empowerment instead of devaluing your psychological self.  Therefore I will ask that you refrain from the internal assaults and further wounding you are delivering to the psychological self .  Work with me to reduce the pain that is there, instead of adding to it. Let’s work towards healing the emotional wounds that you have endured for so long.

It is evident that you are responding to feelings associated with shame.  The feeling of shame can be defined as:

  • 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.

The basic nature of excessive shame is that the person enduring shame feels unworthy, defective and empty.   Shame can be debilitating, toxic and extremely destructive, and it separates the individual from the psychological self.  Shame creates an internal crisis that attacks the inner self through triggering a spiral of negative self-talk.

Shame can occur in different and distinctive subtypes: social, competence, toxic and existential (being).  For the purpose of this writing, I will focus on the competence and existential being subtypes. These are defined as the following:

  • Competence Shame targets five core-internalized beliefs of the individual:

“I am not good enough.”

“I don’t belong.”

“I am unlovable.”

“I should not be….”

       This form of shame can be cancerous in that it thrives in and increases the perceived gap between what individuals can do and what they think or feel they should do.  The outcome is that the individual feels like a fraud or failure.  Individuals with competence shame feel weak, inadequate, or ineffective.  The appearance of competence shame reinforces the belief that the person who suffers from it is defective.

  • Existential (Being) Shame is the most difficult of the subtypes because it consciously attacks the individual’s right to This is done via the internalization and repetition of the following core messages:

“My life is meaningless.”

“I am worthless.”

“I have nothing to live for.”

Where the other forms of shame may just increase perceived gaps, existential shame removes hope and meaning completely from one’s life.  Of the different subtypes, this form is the one that is most predictive of suicide.

YOUNG WOMAN, these subtypes have been laid out with the hope that you will see that you may be responding to intense emotions that are by their nature, slicing away at the core of your psychological self.  Shame differs from humiliation in that humiliation requires the actions of others to induce those feelings of inadequacy.  Shame in and of itself is self-reinforcing as well as self-inducing.  It does not require external energy.  It rests and rebuilds from within you.

However, healing from your shame is also within you.  There is a two-phase approach you may take to begin and reinforce the healing process.  This is called understanding and action.

During the phase of understanding, you must want to:

  • Be patient with the wounded psychological self as it moves towards healing.
  • Be curious about finding the personal answers to the questions and doubts that cause your shame.
  • Accept the self and your reality.

From there, you must want to affirm the following within your psychological self:

  • Personal Responsibility– assuming responsibility for your shame and not blaming others is key to change.
  • Planning- is essential to healing shame. It is essential to develop a workable plan that addresses the shame that occurs in your daily life.
  • Perseverance-shame will continue to resurface as one continues to work towards healing. It is important to internalize this concept when times become more difficult.

It is in the “understanding phase” that you want to question the church and home-instilled foundation that holds your value of honoring your parents and balance this with the manipulative behaviors and actions of your mother.

There is no writing in the scriptures that sanctions the manipulative and abusive behaviors of your mother.  Your own inaction in resolving your internalized conflicts maintains the hold your mother has on you.

Your behavior and lack of movement may be an indication of “living in fear” and unwilling to work towards “living with fear.”  If so ask yourself the following questions:

  • What am I in fear of?
  • Why am I holding myself to the same path I’ve already walked on?
  • Why am I fearful of walking a different path?
  • What will change for me if I transformed myself to living with fear?”

Within the understanding phase, seek to answer the following questions:

  • Do I love myself? If so, how do I show that I love me… and love me more?
  • What do I want? What am I willing to do in order to get what I want?
  • Am I willing to let go of my past and in doing so, let go of my mother? Am I willing to grasp the future that is unknown to me?

Take the walk to the new path—that is, acceptance of reality.  Come to understand the possibility of the following realities:

  • My mother’s distrust of men has destroyed her attempts of happiness in her life.
  • My mother’s need to live her life through me may ultimately result in my life mirroring hers and being just as empty and distrustful.
  • My mother does love me and yet her love is contributing towards my life lacking in happiness and fulfillment.

YOUNG WOMAN, as you move into the next phase i.e. action, please consider the following:

  • I, not my mother, am responsible for my feelings. I can heal the wounded self.
  • I love my mother, as shown in my actions. However, as much as I love my mother, I want to love me more.
  • My mother contributed to my foundation of “being” and becoming a woman. It is for me to take direction of my life from this point on.  I can and will do this.

Create structure and boundaries for self.  Inform your mother of the following:

  • Specific behaviors that are acceptable and unacceptable.
  • Your no tolerance policy of abuse towards self or disrespect towards your male friends.
  • The willingness to “let her go” should she continue to hold to her current actions and behaviors.

YOUNG WOMAN, in closing, I leave you at the crossroads.  I have listened to your pain and suffering.  As you have been “living in fear,” you have allowed the psychological self to suffer under the weight of your mother’s lost and unfulfilled past.  It is for you to embrace your shame.

Your wounds are the results of being in conflict of serving two masters, one loving yet cruel, the other begging, pleading for freedom from the self-imposed yoke.  As you stand at the crossroads, understand that only you can free the psychological self and attain the life you seek. However, in order to do so, you must want to “live with fear.”

Yes, it is a possibility that the price for freedom may result in loss of connection or reduction of interaction with your mother.  However, remember that you, in partnership with the psychological self (and not your mother), have achieved the fulfillment of your educational and professional goals.

Will you trust the self to attain the fulfillment of personal happiness in the form of a intimate relationship?

Will you have BELIEF, FAITH & TRUST in the journey that lies ahead?

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Loving the Self

 

As much as I love you,

I love myself more.

 

Loving me more, does not mean

I love you less.

 

It only means

I love me more.

 

More…

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The Visible Man

Self-Acceptance: Looking for Love and Finding More Pain  

 My Dear Readers,

      There are those times when we grant too much power to others.  In seeking to be accepted, we deny the true value of ourselves and seek validation from others– validation that can only come from within.

     It is human nature to create super heroes.  It can also be disastrous to learn that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny aren’t real and that unconditional love, in reality, comes with “expectations.”

       However, one can uncover, discover and recover the empowerment that lies within the psychological self by learning what is true and what is not.

Below is such a story.

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Dear Visible Man,

I hope you can help me.  I am an African-American gay male, and I live in a conservative community. I am completely out—my family and my church know that I am gay.

Growing up, I remember being bullied and called offensive names. I never developed any close friendships. When I was 15 years old, I told my mother about my sexual identity. She responded by calling me a “faggot.” She apologized later, and I accepted it.  She said that although it is difficult for her to understand, she accepts my “choice” to be gay and will always love me. We have moved on to where we have a positive relationship.

I am now 29 years old. After high school, I went to college, got my degree, and I now have a good job. I have finally found a man that loves me. I know that I am loved, but I still don’t feel accepted.  I have a ton of anger going on within me.

I now realize that deep inside, I have always felt angry, sad and betrayed by what my mother said to me, and that anger and hurt is not going away. I thought that by finding my true love I would be happy, but I realize now that I am not. I do not feel accepted by my mother.  If a mother would betray her son, what stops my true love from doing the same to me?

I have spoken to my pastor, and he told me to pray for forgiveness. Forgiveness? What have I done wrong? I feel like I am at my wit’s end. What can I do?

Searching For Answers, Tacoma, WA

Dear Young Man,

Your pain comes through loud and clear.  I caution you to listen and work towards feeling the words I want to share with you.  In my 25 years of practice, I have lost two patients due to suicide.  The common threads that they share were they were gay, were ethnic minorities, and have given up hope.

Stay in the room with me.  Allow me to provide more information for consideration as you now stand at the crossroads.

First, let us engage in a calming down period.  Your safety is paramount.  Begin by following the Five Rs of Relief.

  • Respite– Be willing to take a moment before you address the situation. Breathe deeply.  Allow yourself to step away from the situation for a moment.
  • Reaction– Own your reactions. No one but you can fully understand how you feel at this time of your life.
  • Reflection—Balance your thoughts with your feelings. Let go of the desire to control what you think and feel.
  • Response– Combine your balanced thoughts and feelings and prepare to speak to the external world.
  • Reevaluate– Take another look at the choices before you, decisions you have made, and the actions you have taken. Have the willingness to review, revise and reframe.

Young Man,

Instead of viewing this as being “at my wit’s end”, I ask that you view this as standing at the crossroads.  In doing so, please be willing to take in as much information as you can to decide the direction of your next journey.

The Community

To be clear, your sexuality is not the issue at hand.  The issues instead lay in the reactions of your conservative community.

Remember, ignorance is defined as the lack of knowledge.  Let’s say that knowledge is food sitting on the table. There will always be those who choose not to nourish themselves, even when food is plentiful.  Some people would prefer to stare, starve and hold to the darkness of their beliefs.

As my grandmother would say: “an old dog won’t run… it will just limp along until its time comes.”   Have the willingness to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why do you seek acceptance from those who have chosen darkness?
  • Are you choosing to limp along in darkness instead of grasping for the light in front of you?
  • In your desire to be accepted, are you granting them power over your happiness? Do they deserve more where you deserve less?

As you search for the answers consider the following:

  • If you look within and accept the self as the person that you are, you will have your value and validation.
  • If they do not see you, it is because they have chosen to do so. Nothing you do, including full capitulation, will change how they feel or view you.
  • You can lessen their power over you by “loving the self” and in doing so… loving me more.

Your Mother

As children, we create super heroes and heroines out of our parents.  They become our solid rocks.  We give unconditional love and expect to receive the same from them.   They can do no wrong.

Until that one day when we are forced to grasp what is really before us.  We learn that instead of super heroes and heroines, our parents are merely mortal human beings.  Instead of rock, we understand that our parents are just like us; humans made of blood, flesh and bone.

With this cruel awakening comes the knowledge that unconditional love comes with “expectations.”   Strong African-American families do not birth weak gay sons and daughters.  It is expected that they will go on and bring forth more children.

After all, the Bible speaks of Adam & Eve, not Adam & Steve, right?  So if my child is gay, it must be because he chose this lifestyle.  He came from my body!  I am not a lesbian; his father certainty wasn’t gay.  It must be a choice.  Right?

Young Man,

Regarding acceptance, have the willingness to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can you accept that your mother is simply a human being who has chosen to live within the boundaries of her faith and her belief that your actions are by choice of lifestyle and not of identity at birth?
  • Understanding that in her esteem you may have “fallen,” can you let go of her expectations and begin to create—and more importantly, accept—your own?
  • Can you cease proving yourself to others and just simply walk your journey… being you?

As you search for the answers, consider the following:

  • You will have the desire to distract yourself from or ignore what has now been revealed to you about your parent. Struggle to stay with this moment.
  • As you realize your mother’s failings, you have earned the pain that comes from the revelation. This isn’t a bad thing.
  • You have the opportunity to view your mother as different and more human as you strip away the untruths that you have created in her image.
  • You can accept your inner self and in doing so, choose to model the behavior and actions which you seek.

The Wounds of Betrayal

In my research, I have identified eight distinctive categories of trauma.  Of the eight categories, betrayal is the most impactful and psychologically wounding on the human experience.

It is common for the wounded individual to take such deeply wounded feelings into future relationships. Because of its insidious nature, betrayal trauma requires an intense program of recovery.

Young Man,

I want to be clear—I am not trying to ignore your pain.  However, as hurtful as your mother’s actions have been, this was not a betrayal.

The act of betrayal requires a “thread of actions”.  For the betrayal to be initiated and completed, five stages must occur: premeditation, planning, process, performance and “the punch”

The actions of your mother do not meet the standards of betrayal that I laid out above.  The act of betrayal cannot occur by accident—nor can it result from an impulse or mistake.  There must be a specific intent to carry out the act of betrayal.

Young Man,

Be willing to ask yourself the following questions:

  • As there is no intent, why then do I feel betrayed?
  • Why do I suspect that my true love may do the same to me?
  • Do I want to continue with the journey feeling the way that I do?

As you search for the answers, consider the following:

  • Consider the possibility that the betrayal that you feel is actually the fall from the pedestal upon which you placed your mother.
  • Consider that you can avoid the same error by not placing your true love on a similar pedestal.
  • Allow your true love to be what he truly is: In doing so, insist on the same status for yourself.

Concluding Words

In speaking to your pastor, the response you received was to seek forgiveness.   In the framework as it is presented, it remains unclear as to exactly what reason or who you are to direct forgiveness towards.

Please consider this: In the work of Self Discovery, not only is forgiveness is a gift that one can receive from another it is also a gift that you can provide to yourself.

Have the willingness to seek forgiveness from the psychological self for the many years of pain and suffering it has carried for you.   Have the willingness to let go of this pain and suffering.

As you stand at the crossroads, have the willingness to reach out, seek therapeutic assistance, and commit to do the work that will assist you during this difficult time.

As you indicated the following: “I feel like I am at my wit’s end. What can I do?”  Please contact the crisis hotline within your local community.  The National Suicide Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) is also available 24 hours a day.

Grasp onto life… Walk the Journey of Self Discovery.

The Visible Man

To Me & From Me: The Gifts of Apology & Forgiveness

My Dear Readers,

Now and then, I receive correspondence which challenges me to integrate my personal experiences and beliefs with my professional insight.  Often, these are times in which I may be asked to step outside of my professional training.

Occasionally, people feel tormented regarding decisions they have made and must now contend with.  They often feel regret, fear, loss, and a sense of abandonment.  However, finding balance in these situations is not about debating what is right or what is wrong.   It is about the feelings that are associated.

Below is such a story…..

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Dear Visible Man,

I need some advice.  I am an African-American female in her mid-30s who was raised in the church.  My husband and I are college educated and have been married for 14 years.  We are a deeply religious couple.  We have been blessed with two children and have been looking forward to having more children.

Recently, my husband and I were laid off within months of each other.  Afterwards, I found out that I was pregnant.  Due to our fear that we would not be able to financially support another child, we made the decision to terminate the pregnancy.

I am now experiencing intense anxiety, feelings of loss, and guilt regarding the decision to terminate the pregnancy.   As I stated earlier, my spouse and I are a deeply religious family.  I consider myself to be pro-life.  I feel that that I abandoned my faith and sought the termination out of fear, and now, I feel guilty.

I have not been able to reconcile my actions and my faith.  I have ceased attending church or participating in church related activities.  The pastor and members of the congregation are inquiring about my absence.  I don’t know what to tell them.  I am so ashamed.

I have questioned whether God would abandon me for my actions.  Although I know that I did the right thing, I seek forgiveness.  After wanting another child all these years, I feel terrible having made the decision to terminate the pregnancy.

My husband and I want to have another child in order to get back to where we were.  I am in good physical health.  I pray that God will bless us again.  Do you have any advice for me?

Feeling Lost, Federal Way, WA

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Dear Young Woman,

In all honesty, I have the desire to pass up this question and leave it to the members of the clergy to answer.  However, to do so would be a disservice to you as well as a missed opportunity for me as we continue down our individual Journeys of Self Discovery.

The questions that you pose are challenging ones, and to answer them, I will empower myself to share my personal beliefs as well as professional insights.

You have unresolved guilt due to your decision to terminate the pregnancy.

Young Woman,

In seeking God’s forgiveness, you fail to seek forgiveness from self.   By holding on to your guilt, you berate yourself for making that decision now, when you are no longer pressured by the fears that drove your decision to terminate the pregnancy. Times have changed, and hindsight is 20/20.

Given this, have the willingness to return to where you were when this decision was made.  Empower yourself.  Please do the following:

  • Have the willingness to recall and review those dark and difficult days.
  • Have the willingness to acknowledge the difficulty of your joint decision.
  • Have the willingness to have empathy and compassion for yourself and the pain you carry.

You are experiencing intense fear and anxiety.

Young Woman,

In your haste to bear the burden of fear and anxiety that God will punish you, you are minimizing your blessings.

  • Be reflective: you are not alone.  Your spouse of 14 years has been with you through the darkest times.
  • Be reflective: you have the blessings of two beautiful children.
  • Be reflective: you have good physical health and hopefully are capable of conceiving and carrying a pregnancy to full term.

You are unable to reconcile your actions with your spiritual journey.

Young Woman,

The gulf that has developed between you and your church congregation may be a result of your shame, which comes from your belief that you have strayed from your spiritual walk.  Empower the self to explore your feelings associated with shame.

  • Be vulnerable to self.  Be willing to sit with your feelings of shame behavior.
  • Be exposed to your shame.  Be willing to embrace your shame.  It is yours and yours alone.  Cease avoidant and distracting behaviors.
  • Be open to trusting your journey.  It is your journey.  It is for you to trust the experience that is to be gained from this journey.

You are worried that God has abandoned you.  

Young Woman,

If we know that God is Love and about Love, why would God abandon you in this most difficult time? Reexamine your spiritual walk.

  • Embrace your belief within yourself.
  • Be willing to explore and revise your faith as you learn through your spiritual walk.
  • Empower the self to honestly walk your Journey of Self Discovery. 

You desire to have another child in order to get back to the state of life prior to the termination of the pregnancy.

Young Woman,

There is no going back.  In your memories you can return to what happened, but you will NEVER be able to go back to the state of life you had.  You are a different person now, and you must want to embrace that.  There is no going back.

So, what now?

1)            Extend the gift of apology to the self for the pain and suffering it has endured during these many years.

2)            Be willing to accept the gift of the apology and work towards letting go of the pain and suffering by providing forgiveness to the self.

3)            Embrace the self.  Extend love to the self and in doing so, “love me more.”  More.

 

Concluding Words

Young Woman,

We share a common background. I was also “raised up” in the church.  As a child, I was taught to read the scriptures and through those heavy, intense messages from the pulpit, to love God and fear his wrath, but I was also taught that when I did wrong, I was to get on my knees and cry out to God for forgiveness.

It was in my adulthood and during the Journey of Self Discovery that I arrived at the crossroads and sought a different path.   Too often, we seek out God for forgiveness and if those prayers are not answered, we assume that God has forsaken us.

I would hope that throughout the world, what we all share about God is that God is about everlasting love, mercy, and most importantly, forgiveness.  The one thing that we know for sure is that God will not abandon us. So, it’s not God that you seek forgiveness from—he has already forgiven you.  What is true for you is true for me and for everyone else in the world: forgiveness must come from within the self.

As you indicated earlier, you were raised in the church.  As you are now an adult, it is your right and responsibility, as you stand at the crossroads to view the journey of life as that adult.

You are the captain of your ship and the master of your destiny.   It is for you (and your spouse) to set the direction for the journey or journeys you are about to travel.

 

Letting Go, Moving On

 

The past is gone yet not forgotten,

Today is fading yet not gone.

Tomorrow has not yet be written or determined.

Let go of the past.

Experience the today.

Prepare for the tomorrow.

Let us not forget.

Let us have the willingness to forgive The Self and Accept the apology.

Let us honor the past, today and tomorrow.

-Dr. Micheal Kane

 

I wish you and your family the best and safe travels in your upcoming journeys.

The Visible Man

Hotter Than Fish Grease! (Reaction, or Response?)

Dear Readers:

Below is the response (or reaction) from one of our readers to last week’s posting of “No Longer a Child: Booting Daddy To the End of the Line.”

For those unfamiliar with the southern saying, “hotter than fish grease” it can loosely translate as an individual being extremely angry. 

There may be times where, even when you are the object of another’s person anger, you can benefit from the message they are bringing you.  You can choose to respond to their points rather than internalizing their reaction and making it yours.

 If you do the latter, you deny yourself the process of reflection before sharing the response with the external world.  This may result in the message being unclear.  Emotions aside, the writer of this correspondence has raised issues of substance and that are worthy of consideration.

Dr. Kane

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Dear Visible Man,

I am not one to criticize the feelings of another, but since you put yourself out there, I feel the need to speak up for the parents you trampled on when you gave your “clinical insight” regarding the daughter who DID DISRESPECT her father when she chose to “boot him to the end of the line.”

In fact, after all he had done for her, providing guidance and direction in her life, her choosing to contact her girlfriends first was more of “a slap in the face.”  This is the problem with young people today.  A parent sacrifices all and what does he or she get in return? Booted to the end of the line!  Kicked to the curb!  For what?  Her girlfriends?!

These girlfriends are only going to do so much for her.  They only have a “snippet” of information, whereas the involved parent was there from birth to adulthood.  As a parent, I was there to wipe my daughter’s behind when needed.  I was there to wipe the tears when she had a bad day or relationship breakup.

I agree with the father.  The daughter intentionally disrespected him.  She was wrong for not informing him first, especially since he remains actively involved in her life.

You should be ashamed of yourself.  Since you put it out there, I am going to put it out there.

You, being an African-American parent, should know about the struggles of our children as they attempt to navigate a world that is hostile to them.  Your writings indicate that you don’t.  You may want to question as to whether your comments are dividing families and creating tension among parents and siblings.

I am unclear as to what this “larger group” nonsense is that you are always writing about.  What does the larger group have to do with me as an individual, as a parent supporting my daughter?

I do know that I don’t like the use of all these clinical references.  It seems that you have spent too much time reading those books and not living a “real life.”

If there is anyone that needs to be lying down on a couch and having his head examined….it should be you!

Hotter Than Fish Grease, Seattle, WA

P.S. Bet you won’t print this!

Dear Madam,

It is clear that I have several choices here.  In my younger and more radical days, I would probably say a few choice words that I couldn’t print.  Today, being older, wiser and grayer, I choose to do something different.  My choices are simple:

  • Hit the delete button
  • React to the challenge
  • Respond by sharing & educating.

What shall it be?  Hmm…Let’s go with sharing & educating.

In response to the issues/ concerns being addressed:

  • From the information being presented, there is no evidence that the daughter intentionally sought to disrespect her father. Did the father feel disrespected? Yes! Is he entitled to his feelings? Yes!  Is this about being who is right and who is wrong?

Answer: It depends on the observer.  My hope is that the father will have the willingness to look at the situation from another viewpoint.  In doing so, his feelings may change.

 

My goal is that he develops a sense of understanding regarding his daughter’s choice to reach out to her friends for emotional support.  He can still maintain an active role in her life without the expectation that she will come to him to either inform him of every occurrence in her life or seek to resolve problems that she is now equipped to respond to.

Regarding the concept of “parental sacrifice” and what that parent “gets in return”, my views professionally and personally are the following:

  • Those who make the decision to become parents are blessed to have children in our lives.
  • Children DO NOT ask to be born. They come into this world out of circumstance or as a result of the choices and decisions that are made by others.
  • Children DO NOT owe parents anything. There is no debt or obligation placed upon a child for being born.
  • Parenting is a responsibility and NOT an obligation. It is something that one does out of love, commitment and the desire to parent.

Differentiating between the limits of friendship and the parental relationship:

  • To clarify, the relationships between the daughter and the young women are not fleeting. Their quickness to respond and depth of concern are clear indications that these relationships have strong foundations and are deeply rooted.

 

  • In reviewing the clearly identified relationship, it is my intent to point out that the friendships work in support of and not in competition with the parental relationship.

Regardless of race, ethnicity, or culture, many parents may be over their heads as they themselves struggle to adjust in a fast moving, technologically focused world.  In doing so, the parent may be working with a skill or knowledge base that is not quite equipped for teaching problem solving skills for this modern age. These friendships can make up for what parents may lack in the guidance they provide to their children.

Regarding the “larger group”–from a clinical viewpoint, the “larger group” consists of the integration and dependency of three sub units working in collaboration.  These three sub units are society (at larger), community (church, school, and other defined institutions) and family (loosely defined).

The most important piece, which impacts the sub units separately and as a whole, is the individual member, who in some way or function belongs to each one of the sub units as well as the larger group.

The strength of the larger group is the interworking among the three sub units.  The weakness of the larger group is its dependency upon the individual to survive.  The group does not teach the individual to strive or thrive.  Its hold on the individual is one of existence or survival (of the group).

The focus of the larger group is “the destination” i.e. middle class standing, buying a new car, promotion at work.

However, for the parent, adult, adolescent or child to be successful, seeking self-discovery and empowerment when responding to obstacles and challenges are essential for development and growth.

Concluding Remarks

Madam,

I think that like most of us, you are living in fear.

You are correct.  Our children are struggling to navigate a world that may be hostile to them.  If we were to be honest with ourselves we would be willing to admit that as parents, many of us (regardless of race) are struggling with helping our children thrive.

In moving forward it was my intent to provide for the father (and you) an alternative way in perceiving the actions taken by his daughter.

We, as parents, must want to consider the following as our children attain adulthood:

  • Transforming from the role of parent to that of Dad & Mom.
  • Changing our status to advocates, seeking balance and providing consultation when requested.
  • Empower ourselves to let go, move forth and grasp the full meaning of our lives.

Yesterday is GONE

Today is FADING

Tomorrow is NOT PROMISED

LIVE IN THIS MOMENT

THE VISIBLE MAN