Monday, May 14, 2007
Some people feel like allegations of racism is overly used and exploited by people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to upset the black masses. There is the hidden assumption that if Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton did not stir up so much controversy over racism, people will normally be pacified.
Some people believe that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are using controversies to shakedown corporate executives. But then I ask: What does all that have to do with color-blind people like me?
Even for people who are above the fray, the mere mention of racism ignites a gut-wrenching feeling; and rightfully so, because it is a word that excites a neurological trigger to our emotions. We are still a racially sensitive society.
We have recently seen a series of “incidental Freudian slip of the tongue” by public personalities. Out comes bigotry on one side of the mouth and denial of racism on the other.
So, I asked, “Has America gone mad in race obsessions?”
The best answer comes from Francis Holland in Brazil. He says “Yes”, when madness is defined as a psychological disorder.
The American Psychiatric Association recognizes that racism and racial discrimination adversely affect mental health by diminishing the victim’s self-image, confidence and optimal mental functioning. Racism also renders the perpetrator unprepared for the 21st century society that is becoming increasingly multicultural and global. (“Resolution Against Racism and Racial Discrimination and Their Adverse Impacts on Mental Health, prepared by the Committee of Black Psychiatrists of the Council of Minority and Health Disparities, approved by the Board of Trustees, July 2006)
It is not a debate whether racism exists or not. Everyone concedes that it does. But it seems that no one can find this disease of themselves in the mirror. And, therefore, it presents itself as a form of mass psychosis.
Clinical experience informs us that racism may be a manifestation of a delusional process, a consequence of anxiety, or a feature of an individual’s personality dynamics. However, racism may also be learned behavior that has no relationship to individual psychopathology… More psychological interpretations of racism emphasize self-aggrandizement, entitlement and degradation as character defects needed to falsely bolster the perpetrator’s poor concept of self at the expense of his or her victims. Some clinicians have hypothesized that racism and racist behavior and beliefs may in some cases constitute a mental disorder for which treatment is indicated. (A Research Agenda for DSM V, Washington, D.C., American Psychiatric Press, Inc., 2002)
As for the victims of racism, in a 10-year clinical study measuring blood pressure reactions and acute psychological stress, a mounting body of scientific evidence demonstrates impairments of physical and mental functioning when an individual is subjected to racism… Even populations that have been victims of racism may unconsciously take on the same beliefs as that of the perpetrator, i.e. the victimized population affects its own brand of inferior thinking and/or behavior on itself, making choices and behaving in self-destructive ways that conform to negative stereotypes. (“Resolution Against Racism and Racial Discrimination and Their Adverse Impacts on Mental Health”)
There is correlation and direct causal relationship between self-destructive behavior and “learned and conditioned” patterns instituted by machination of (inadvertent?) racism.
The other interesting observation is the clinical behavior of the racist (as a subject). In this, psychologists recognizes the racist inability to see him or herself, that such prognosis should be “treated” opens up a whole new dimension and demand for more “diversity” programs and “sensitivity” training… and for many, some ADHD medication.
As for the psychological effect upon the African-American victim of racism, besides replicating negative self-images, self-destructive behavior, self-alienation, it induces a self-delusional ideation of victimization. Finally, that is to say, that everything is not racially offensive.