Love is the opposite of fear. When black folks accept only love and love all including those who harmed them in the past they develop healthy personalities.
At present many black folk tend to have fearful personalities (what our psychoanalytic friends call neurotic personalities and what contemporary psychiatrists call personality disorders...I choose not to employ psychiatric terms in this paper; I am not in the business of pathologizing folks behaviors).
Many black folks have anxiety due to the trauma they experienced in a racist society (many of them actually could be said to have post-traumatic stress disorder from the abuses of racism). Their fear is understandable for they live in an environment that threatens their lives. Make a wrong move and a white police man arrests you or kills you; you are jailed for frivolous issues etc.
African Americans are like any other group of human beings; each of them is an individual with his unique personality structure as are all other human beings. The incidence of psychopathology does not seem to be different in them than is seen in other human groups. Some of them are schizophrenic, bipolar affectively disordered, depressed, deluded; some of them have anxiety disorders; some of them have the various personality disorders (paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, narcissistic, histrionic, borderline, anti-social, avoidant, obsessive compulsive and dependent); in short you find in them what you find in other human beings; like other people most of them are normal personalities and a small percentage of them have personality issues.
However, there is no denying that they had a horrific experience whereby their dignity was consciously denied; they were degraded and humiliated and everything that human beings respect about themselves was denied them. That recent slave experience and on-going history of discrimination has left a generalized impact on their personalities. However, one must be very careful in calling the behaviors adapted to an abusive situation pathological for it is the abuse itself that is pathological.
According to Erik Erikson if you love children they tend to develop trust in those who love them and generalize that trust to other people. Now what happens when all a people knew is abuse and lack of caring? Obviously they are not going to trust their environment for it would be foolish to do so. Thus, it is not a surprise that you find an element of suspiciousness, distrusting and on guard behaviors in many African Americans; we could call such behavior socially functional paranoia for it makes sense for them to suspect that the police man is going to harass them and that folks would keep an eye on them when they walk into a store etc. I am saying that we see traits of behaviors that ordinarily folks could consider pathological but given the hostile environment these people are responding to we must hesitate calling such behaviors maladaptive.
One particular aspect of their behaviors that is problematic is their tendency to violence. We are not talking about violence against white folks, their oppressors but violence against their own people, their fellow oppressed people. It is difficult to explain this phenomenon for what would seem to make sense is to be angry at the oppressor and attack him. Instead, what we see is black on black killing at a very high rate. Perhaps this is due to internalized self-hatred, a hatred projected to other black folks? Perhaps it is due to displacement of anger from the stressful situation these people live under. Whatever is the cause of it what is self-evident is that they tend to be quick to anger and acting out behaviors.
Many persons avoid black folks or are afraid to go to their neighborhoods because of their belief that they are likely to walk into violence that could pose a threat to their lives. Therefore this violence thing must be addressed and reduced. In my judgment what would reduce violence in these people and in all human beings is love. African Americans need to be loved by all people and they need to love themselves.
In many papers I tried to understand the human personality. As in all people, biological and social factors play roles in the etiology of African American personalities. In addition to those we have to look at the abusive experience African Americans had in other to understand them fully. I believe that the history of slavery and racism degraded African Americans and that that sense of degradation is still playing havoc in their lives.
As Franklyn Frazier and others have pointed out, African Americans tend to be externally oriented; that is, they tend to be preoccupied with efforts to obtain respect from other people; they probably do so because they were denied respect by other people. They spend inordinate amount of money on appearances such as clothes, expensive cars and other symbols that people would take to mean that he is a very important person. A black person performing a minor job would buy an expensive car and dress sharply giving the appearance that he is a wealthy when he is not. It appears that these people tend to devote a lot of time to appearances rather than to producing goods and services needed by their people.
There is no doubt that the specific characteristics attributable to slavery and social oppression these people have will in time disappear. Their issues would become the ordinary issues found in all human beings.
Considering what they have gone through, the wonder is why they did not suffer more damage than they have; their relative health is a testament to the resilience of the human soul; nothing destroyed these people; they survived with some psychological scars and those scars will heal with time.
Love heals all psychological wounds and with love their wounded minds will surely heal.
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