Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Three Psychological Wounds

by Kenny Anderson

As a Black man I’ve learned that I was born into the world as a ‘Male-gender'. First, being a ‘Man-child’ (dependent boy) in the process of becoming a ‘Man’ (a responsible choice), further struggling to advance to the higher level of ‘Manhood’ to gain mastery and victory (through principled living).

Indeed, the process of male-gender to Black Manhood in a racist society designed for us to never reach this station begins with many internal wounds. From my experience and perspective there are 3 major early psychological wounds inflicted through socialization in the psyches of the Black Man-child:

1. Niggas aint shit; this constitutes the early conceptual framework inferiority complex of having little self-worth, low self-esteem, lack of self-confidence, self-hatred, and self-harm.

2. Niggas can’t be trusted; this belief, self-hatred and self-harm projected outlook drives Black-on-Black male violence; having doubt and disbelief towards most Black men; being constantly suspicious of each other and promoting sectarian strife; always being in the preemptive strike mode.

3. Niggas aint gone never stick together; this belief results in an attitude of ‘me, myself, and I’ – rationalizing individualism and justifying never attempting to really unite with other Black men to collectively come together to address common socioeconomic problems stemming from racial oppression.

These 3 psychological wounds create a ‘sick’ self-sabotaging Black mindset. These 3 ‘mentacidal’ wounds must be healed cognitively before any significant Black manhood can be realized and any real self-determined success can be achieved.

Healing Affirmation: I am a worthy Black man, I can trust Black men, Black men will unite!

HOTEP - Heal to Win

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Black Man’s Religion: Ourselves

by Cinque Kofi Kinaya

Recently I had a conversation with my son about religion; I told him that Black men suffer from religious ignorance, confusion, and manipulation. I explained to him that all religions are ‘cultural specific’ - there is no universal religion, only the specific practice of religions are universal. In most instances particular cultural-specific religions became universal through the conquests of ‘lands’ and ‘spirits’.

All religions have their particular prophets, priests, sages, shamans, and wise-men that are representative of that specific culture. Crusader Christianity came out of Europe this is why the image of Jesus is white, Islam came out of the Middle East this is why Prophet Muhammad was an Arab, and so on. These prophets, priests, sages, shamans, and wise-men are honored, teachings followed, and sometimes they are deified through anthropomorphism (gods with human characteristics).

The religious problem of Black men in America is that we are believing, following, promoting, and perpetuating the religions, stories, traditions, and worship of non-Black men who either enslaved us in the name of his religion, or who have benefited from the after-effects of our enslavement. We graphically see the ‘psycho-economic effects’ this religious problem has on us – White, Jewish, Arab, Asian, and East Indian men totally dominate the businesses in our communities directly or indirectly super-exploiting us.

As Black men we take our money/tithes – offerings to their businesses religiously and enrich them; we view the clothes, shoes, jewelry, and vehicles they sell and manufacture as ‘sacred’; constantly giving-up and risking our lives and freedom for their symbols.

The reason why Black men have a religious problem in America is we don’t know the definition of religion that comes from the Latin root ‘religare’ which means to bind back. So religion means to go back and connect to its cultural-specific origins; our religious origins is Ancient Kemet /Africa.

In Ancient Kemet religion was a way of life based on ‘Divinity’ - becoming gods (gaining one’s divine self) to reflect GOD (Greatest of Divinity). Being religious meant the sacredness of self – ‘Know Thyself’, respecting yourself, developing your virtues – subduing your vices, honoring your culture, and venerating your best Ancestors.

The two-headed religious monster that is destroying Black men is the religious worship of non-Black men and the worshipping of our own compensatory false arrogant-egos.

Until Black men realize that religion is ‘ourselves’ – the sacredness of our ‘Black Manhood’, we will continue to suffer from self-hatred, self-doubt, self-loathing, self-deception, self-destruction, self-defeat, and will continue to self-perpetuate non-Black men’s oppression and exploitation of us.

Hotep – Health & Peace Black Men

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Psycho-Slavery: Black Boys, White Female Teachers & the Rise of ADHD

By Umar R. Abdullah-Johnson, Nationally Certified School Psychologist & Kinsman to Frederick Douglass

It has become a travesty of epic proportions; Black boys are being sent in record numbers to the psychiatrist for mind-altering medications that come with a plethora of side effects. At the heart of the issue are allegations by classrooms teachers, many of them poorly trained at managing trivial off-task behaviors in the classroom, who assert that these African-American boys exude a level of inattention, hyperactivity and/or disruptive behavior that significantly interfere with their ability to learn.

Of course the Black community could argue that if that were the case, then why can't these teachers demonstrate why they haven't improved outcomes for students who do not exude such challenges? However, upon closer examination we find that in many instances, an occurrence which increases with the decrease in the boy's socioeconomic status, 50% of the Black male student population in many classrooms are being sent to the psychiatrist for medication.

Even by the most liberal of estimates, psychopathology should be limited to 15-20% of a given population. Thusly, how can we explain the excessively high rates of Black boys being referred and recommended for dangerous psychiatric substances that will not "cure" their challenging behaviors, but simply "sedate" these behaviors long enough for him to be mis-educated.

Still further, there is no concrete evidence that suggests medication improves the learning outcomes for Black boys who are given these brain drugs. As an African-American male school psychologist, who travels the country evaluating Black boys and supporting parents/teachers who serve them, it is amazing how enormous the percentages of Black boys who are not only prescribed one of these " ‘Kiddie Crack’ substances, but at how many are prescribed more than one of these dangerous substances.

Most shocking, from a psychological perspective, is how often I find that Black boys diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ADHD), Conduct Disorder (CD) and/or Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) do not actually meet the full criteria for the condition as delineated in the American Psychiatric Association's (APA)Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR). How many of us know boys who rebel against taking these legal addictive substances due to the side effects that they often always cause. These side effects include stroke, heart attack, ticks, tremors, diarrhea, hallucinations, delusions, brain cell death, anxiety, suicidal/homicidal tendencies, diabetes, stunted growth the body & brain, sexual dysfunction and the list goes on!

How many of these victims of ineffective teachers & psychiatry for profit do not, in fact, have a problem with their quality of life but rather were hooked on drugs, at the teachers request, when they should have been getting hooked on phonics!

The great irony of child psychological/psychiatric care is that children are not self-referred for medication. That is to say that rarely will you find a child who requests to see the psychiatrist because they feel they need medicine. Rather it is the adults in the child's life who feel they would be much better served, not the child, with the young man being drugged so the adults can lead a more "peaceful" life.

It is frightening how we in the Black community allow outsiders to dictate what is in the best interest of our children, while we passively stand by agreeing with everything they have to say. The failure of Black boys is a very lucrative industry. With psychotropic drugs profits on Wall Street exceeding $45 Billion last year, this REFER-DIAGNOSE-PRESCRIBE & DRUG culture that functions much like a visit at the local drive thru at the fast food restaurant.

In fact, I know of children who were "evaluated," diagnosed and prescribed in less than 5minutes; a much quicker time that what it takes to get your Happy Meal at the pick-up window. How hypocritical is it for a society that has DECLARED WAR ONDRUGS to be so busy in the act of drugging an entire generation of Black boys to substances many of which are certain to serve a gateway drugs for far stronger illegal drug use later in their lives.

Although the "experts" may not admit it, this problem is not as difficult to solve as the "educational and psychological authorities" would have you believe. In fact, we can begin to solve this problem by mandating that the following (5) five processes take place in each and every public and charter school in the Unites States.

1) No Black boy is referred to a psychiatrist until an effective Functional Behavioral Assessment & Positive Behavior Plan has been created by an African-American Male Psychologist or Behavioral Specialist who is QUALIFIED & EXPERIENCED to conduct them. Far too many credentialed professionals are working in the world of behavioral modification but are ineffective and under-trained.

2) Every White Public School Teacher MUST undergo 25 hours of FBA/PBP and classroom management training which includes successful modification of at least one "real world" Black boy's challenging behavior in their classroom.

3) A quality assurance and oversight committee should be created in every city/town that reviews EVERY clinical psychological evaluation and referral for psychotropic medication to ensure "pay-to-play" rules are being dismantled and that bogus referrals are not being forwarded.

4) Principals of schools where more than 15% of Black boys are being referred for clinical evaluations and pharmacotherapy are also mandated to undergo the same FBA/PBP training as their teachers.

5) Teachers and principals who consistently utilize the "complain-refer-drug" model of coercing parents to expose their children to brain drugs unjustifiably will receive reprimands for practicing outside their realm of expertise and ultimately discharged for EDUCATIONAL ABUSE.

Umar R.Abdullah-Johnson is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist, Political Scientist, Educator and Orator. He can be reached at umarabdullahjohnson@yahoo.com. He is the founder and president of the National Movement to Save Black Boys (NMSBB).

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Weathering the Storm: Black Male Unemployment in the Recession

by Alexandra Cawthorne

The recession is taking a toll on most Americans and has resulted in job losses not seen in almost 25 years, but black men have felt its effects particularly hard.

Black men have long faced limited employment prospects and disproportionately high rates of unemployment. Even as the economy thrived and the participation of low-skilled women in the labor force increased over the last two decades, many black men remained largely disconnected from the labor market.

While the unemployment rate among black men has declined dramatically over the last few decades, the level of workforce participation among African-American men has not increased and remains stagnant. The current degree of job loss among black men is particularly alarming. These losses will likely only increase as the economic crisis deepens.

To address this crisis, policymakers must address the root causes of black men’s difficulties in the labor market, including high rates of incarceration, limited education, child support arrearages, and discrimination.

Policymakers can take several steps to ensure that all communities have fair access to jobs, and that particular communities do not suffer more than others as a result of mounting and widespread job losses. The policies we propose will reduce inequities and promote equal opportunity in the labor market and promote access to meaningful employment opportunities for black men.

Racial equity and equal opportunity must be at the forefront of policies that will promote economic recovery and create jobs. Policymakers should not only assess the actual and anticipated effects of policies and budgets on disadvantaged communities like low-skilled black men, but also identify ways to maximize equity and inclusion—especially in the context of the economic recovery.

Soaring Unemployment Among Black Men

In good times and in bad, the African-American unemployment rate tends to be about double that of whites, and in tough economic times, it rises higher and faster. In this recession, as in previous economic downturns, the effects on the labor force are not evenly distributed among the different demographic groups.

In fact, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that African Americans had a higher rate of job loss in the fourth quarter of 2008 than did whites, Hispanics, or the catch-all category “other.”

What’s more, the recession overall has hit men much harder than women—so far, four out of every five jobs lost has been held by a male worker. Black men lead the unemployment surge, with an unemployment rate of 15.4 percent.

This comes as a result of a range of barriers to employment, including disproportionate employment in vulnerable industries and labor market discrimination. Over a third of young black men ages 16 to 19 in the labor market are unemployed. In fact, a recent report found that 8 percent of black men have lost their jobs since November 2007.

March was one of the worst months for layoffs on record. The current recession has been particularly difficult for the manufacturing and construction industries—two industries in which black men are disproportionately employed.

Many workplaces have also implemented hiring freezes, a more important and less acknowledged contribution to sharply rising rates of unemployment. Black men’s unemployment rate of 15.4 percent in March 2009 was more than twice that of white men and up almost 7 percentage points from a year earlier.

One recent study called African Americans’ economic situation “a silent economic depression,” in which soaring levels of unemployment impose significant social costs on black families and entire communities.

Unemployment insurance, or UI, helps cushion the impact of the economic downturn for workers and their families, and brings economic stability to entire communities. African Americans are less likely to receive UI than whites when they lose their jobs.

Restrictive state UI policies that exclude many part-time and low-wage workers place black workers at a particular disadvantage. And many African Americans are still looking for employment long after UI benefits run out. A study from the National Employment Law Project found that black workers make up 25 percent of the long-term unemployed.

Black Men Face Exacerbated Labor Market Turmoil

The current recession is exacerbating long-term trends in black men’s employment. Black men’s ability to access high-paying jobs in the manufacturing sector played a significant role in building the black middle class after World War II. Yet those jobs have steadily declined in the past several decades.

A study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research estimated that the share of African Americans in manufacturing jobs fell from 23.9 percent in 1979 to 9.8 percent in 2007. Blacks were actually 15 percent less likely than other groups in 2007 to have a job in manufacturing. These jobs have also been among the first cut in this recession, accelerating the decline of available positions with decent pay for black men.

Black men have also been disproportionately affected by the instability in the automotive industry. A study by the Economic Policy Institute found that African Americans have above average employment and earn much higher wages in auto industry jobs than in other industries.

If one or more domestic automakers were to file for bankruptcy, more than 3 million jobs could be lost within the next year, a result that would be especially devastating for African Americans.

Black workers have not only suffered from a severe decline in decent employment opportunities, but they have also faced decreasing rates of unionization related to the shrinking manufacturing industry. Unionized African-American workers on average earn higher wages than nonunion black workers with similar characteristics.

From 2004 to 2007, the median unionized black worker earned about $17.51 per hour, compared to $12.57 per hour for the median nonunion black worker. Unionized black workers were also more likely to have health insurance and pension plans than nonunion black workers.

Black men have traditionally held the highest union memberships rates of all demographic groups. In 2008, 15.9 percent of black men were members of unions, the greatest participation of all groups and higher than the national average of 12.4 percent. However, black union membership has been declining at a faster rate than membership among whites since the 1980s.

The employment rates of African-American men remained stagnant even during the economic booms in the 1980s and 1990s. The group’s continued high unemployment rates and inability to achieve prior employment peaks even after many years of a strong economy are influenced by multiple factors, including high rates of incarceration, limited education, child support arrearages, and discrimination.

What’s more, persistent racial discrimination has enhanced the effects of various factors that have limited the employment opportunities available to black men over time. A cross-sectional analysis of employers by Harry J. Holzer of Georgetown University found that employers are generally more averse to hiring black males than those from any other racial and gender group, especially in jobs that require social or verbal skills and in service occupations.

Another study from Princeton University of nearly 1,500 employers in New York City found that black applicants without criminal records are no more likely to get a job than white applicants just out of prison. The statistics from the study also suggested that employer discrimination against people of color and ex-offenders has significantly undermined the job opportunities for young black men with little education and training.

Social Costs of High Black Male Unemployment

Soaring unemployment rates among black men mean that increases in the number of black households in poverty are sure to follow, and poverty will only deepen for those households that are already poor. Some estimates, such as Mark Zandi’s on Moody’s Economy.com, forecasted a rise in the unemployment rate to upward of 11 percent in 2010, meaning that several million more Americans will be living in poverty in the coming years.

The marginal and faltering ties that many black men have to the labor market are devastating entire families and communities. Rising unemployment adds to the difficulties already affecting vulnerable families that live in communities plagued by poor educational outcomes, declining neighborhood quality, and high rates of incarceration.

A study from the Economic Policy Institute found that during the strong economy of the 1990s, falling crime rates were in part attributable to the decrease in unemployment and rising underemployment. Some research suggests that many communities are likely to see an uptick in crime—if they have not already—as joblessness grows.

Incarceration is a factor that is often overlooked in research on employment inequality, and it is even more important now that incarceration rates have reached record high levels.

When taken into account, it significantly reduces estimated employment rates for African Americans—especially younger and less educated males. Black men are about seven times more likely to be incarcerated than white men, and they serve sentences that are about 10 months longer on average than those of white men.

A study from the National Urban League linked these higher rates of incarceration of young black males to increasing urban crime rates, and other recent studies have found that by their mid-30s, 6 in 10 black men who had dropped out of high school had spent time in jail.

Now, with many states facing major budget crises, state governments are releasing thousands of prisoners to save taxpayer dollars. The potential surge of ex-offenders re-entering society in addition to the more than 700,000 who return each year will pose major challenges not only for communities already lacking sufficient jobs and resources, but also for cash-strapped government and nonprofit agencies tasked with preventing recidivism.

These ex-offenders, many of whom are low-income men of color, re-enter their communities and face significant barriers to successful returns. CAP’s Poverty Task Force report observed that for ex-offenders, “Lower levels of employment before incarceration and lack of job experience and skills acquisition during incarceration compound employment barriers.”