Monday, May 14, 2018

The Only Way Black Men Get Recognized as Being Victimized is When You're Dead

By Andrea Park
Just one day after news broke that Fox is canceling "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," Terry Crews is staying positive, pointing out to CBS News that the show lasted for more than 100 episodes. The actor, who plays Sgt. Terry Jeffords, said, "I'm super proud of all we've done and if by some incarnation we can come back in some kind of way another network or something I'm jumping at the chance, but as it stands right now, we are gone, and I'm not mad."

Crews says he's grateful for the run the show's had and says it's been "a privilege" to play a feminist, self-aware cop who loves his family. Crews tells CBS News he has a lot in common with his character, including their approach toward masculinity.

"As a man, you have to be invincible, which is impossible, and that's the thing that really, really resonates with a lot of people - Terry Jeffords is not ashamed to say what he's scared of, and he doesn't even have to hide it through bravado," Crews says. "Terry's just like, 'I'm very, very scared right now and that's OK. We can talk about it and deal with it.' I see a lot of me in that, especially since I came out and went through all my therapy. I've been so transparent and able to do the same thing and just say what could hurt me and how I've been hurt."

Crews, who wrote a book called "Manhood" in 2014, was one of the few men in Hollywood to tell his story as part of the #MeToo movement. He and Tarana Burke, the founder of #MeToo, are being honored on Tuesday by Safe Horizon, an organization that works with victims of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault and human trafficking.

He says he got "choked up" meeting Burke at the Oscars. "Fear begets fear, but courage begets courage," says Crews. "Her courage spread like a wildfire. Her stand against this activity, this kind of violence, this kind of manipulation was so strong that it's still reverberating right now. It's this fearlessness the changes the world and to be honored at the same event with her it's one of the greatest honors of my life." He says Burke is like a sister to him and adds, "Those who've been victimized we're kind of our own little family. We're not going to be quiet. We're not going to be silent."

Last year, Crews made headlines when he said that in February 2016, Adam Venit, the former longtime head of William Morris Endeavor's motion picture group, groped his genitals at a Hollywood event. Though he didn't make his accusations public at first, Crews says he felt like he had to come forward when people started maligning women who spoke up in the #MeToo movement.

"People were calling the women opportunists, gold-diggers, 'They just want a payday' or 'Why are they coming forward now?'" he explains. "And I'm going, 'Anybody who's behind enemy lines needs to get to a safe spot.' I couldn't stand it. I had to lend my voice, because it happened to me, and people were saying, 'These women are crazy,' and I said I gotta lend my voice to this." Crews says that when the incident happened, he felt he was in a particularly vulnerable position as a black man up against one of Hollywood's most powerful players.

"Look at who I am," he told CBS News. "I am 240 pounds, about 3 to 4 percent body fat. If I would have hit him, imagine, in the mouth or the eye and he had any sort of injury I told the president of William Morris Endeavor, 'If I had hurt him, would you give me any mercy?' And you know what he said? 'Nope. No.' 

"When you look at black men in society, the only way you get recognized as being victimized is when you're dead. Anything before death is, 'You should walk it off.' Or if a guy shot you, 'What were you doing that you got shot? Why were you there, that someone shot you in the back?" 

Crews says people often ask him why he did not hit Venit. "This guy said, 'Terry Crews' career isn't even all that, for him to get felt on and not fight back,'" recalls Crews. "But I thought, 'But my family is all that. My wife and kids are all that. I don't want my daughters seeing me in jail.' I'm a 48-year-old big, giant, grown man and he's [a partner] at William Morris Endeavor and [if] I knock him out, am I getting mercy? I know how this story goes. 'This is America,' as Donald Glover says." 

Crews says when he complained to WME, Venit called him with a brief apology and nothing came of the complaint until after he aired his grievances in public. Terry Crews sues talent agency WME for groping incident. "You're an agent," Crews says of WME. "Your whole purpose is to protect us. If you abuse us, who do we go to now?"

Since Crews went public with his accusations, WME suspended Venit for a month last year and stripped him of his department head title. In March, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office announced that they were not pursuing charges against Venit, saying,"Given that the suspect did not make contact with the victim's skin when he grabbed the victim's genitals and there is no restraint involved, a felony filing is declined." Afterward, the Los Angeles City Attorney declined to pursue misdemeanor charges because the case exceeded the statute of limitations, reports Variety.

Crews responds, "You can just grab people through their clothing in front of everyone? And the thing is, what he did is considered a misdemeanor and the statute of limitations had run out, but if I had reacted violently that would be a felony. It's a trap, and all I could think about was all the young black men in jail right now who were probably reacting to things that were done to them." Crews is pursuing a civil case against Venit.

Crews says that ironically, Russell Simmons, who has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault and rape, was one of the people who asked him to drop his case against Venit and WME. He also says people at WME told him that what happened was no big deal and to "let it go." "I was like, this is what women go through all the time," he says. "This is the gaslight."

The actor says Safe Horizon provides services to victims who may not have the same strong support network he had. Crews says the key to healing is to overcome the feeling of shame. "I tell people all the time, get rid of the shame," he says. "Don't hold it, because it's not yours. It's never yours."

The actor says he also wants people in the black community to change their attitudes about masculinity. "Black men, you are seen as invincible. There's this thing that doesn't exist somehow bullets are supposed to ricochet off your chest," says Crews. "As a black man, I look in my own culture and we're telling each other stories that why do we believe them? The fact that getting therapy is seen as weak."

Crews is concerned that this mindset stops victims from sharing their stories about assault or molestation, and points to R. Kelly's long career as proof that there was a "complicit system" surrounding the singer, who has been accused of sexual abuse by several women.

But Crews is hopeful for the future where male victims will feel empowered to speak out. "They're coming. But they're scared, you know, and I understand."

He also has a message for perpetrators of sexual abuse and those who've protected them. "Healing can't happen until there's concession," he says. "Until somebody says, 'We messed up. We're sorry and we ought to make up for it,' and then everything can move forward."

Friday, March 23, 2018

Another Unarmed Young Adult Black Man Murdered By Police

by Kenray Ogun Sunyaru

Another unarmed young adult Black man Stephon Clark was gunned-down like a 'buck deer' by police hunters on Sunday March 18th, 2018. 

Clark was shot and killed by Sacramento, California police in his backyard after officers said he advanced toward them holding an object 'gun', he had no weapon only a cellphone. Clark's grandmother heard the 21 fatal shots.  

The police who murdered Clark along with police around the country who constantly murder unarmed Black men show very-very little restraint. In contrast police show tremendous restraint when it comes to armed young adult white males.

For example on February 14th 2018 Nikolas Cruz a 19-year-old white male used a semiautomatic assault rifle and killed 17 students at a High School in Parkland, Florida; Cruze after committing mass murder was apprehended alive. 

Indeed, White police are unrestrained in killing unarmed Black men, Montclair State University scientist John Paul Wilson says Black men are more likely to be shot fatally by police:

“Unarmed Black men are disproportionately more likely to be shot and killed by police, and often these killings are accompanied by explanations that cite the physical size of the person shot. Our research suggests that these descriptions may reflect stereotypes of Black males that do not seem to comport with reality.” 

In a 2017 study by Mapping Police Violence shows that Black people accounted for 27 percent of the people killed by law enforcement officers. Of the unarmed victims of police violence, Blacks made up 37 percent, almost three times their percentage of the U.S. population (13 percent). 

Of the people who were unarmed and not attacking and were still killed by cops 35 percent were Black. White males were the least likely to have been unarmed when killed by police at just under 20 percent.

A 2015 meta-analysis study that was published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, showed that people are more likely to shoot at a Black target than at a white target.

In that study, researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign analyzed 42 studies and found that, compared to white targets, people are quicker to shoot armed Black targets, slower to not shoot unarmed Black targets, and more likely to have a liberal shooting threshold for Black targets overall.

The police who shot Clark have been placed on paid leave and more than likely won't be charged for murder. Data from the Washington Post, Fatal Encounters, The Guardian and, and the National Police Misconduct Reporting Project from 2007 to 2017 found only three cases of a white police officer serving time for killing an African American.

The police murder of Stephon Clark is a constant reminder that every day Black men in America especially young adults lives 'hang in the balance'. Moreover the murder of Clark shows that as Black folks our voices and protests to end harassment, brutality, and murders are not getting through to the police. Will they ever?

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Young African American men are Perceived to be More Heavier, More Stronger, and More Dangerous

by Tanasia Kenney 

According to a recent study young African American men are perceived to be more heavier, more stronger, and more dangerous than young white men of similar size. 

The new research, published by the American Psychological Association (March 2017) also revealed that participants felt police were more justified in wielding force against Black people rather than white ones. 

Researchers, led by Montclair State University scientist John Paul Wilson, Ph.D, suggested the findings might help explain why Black men are more likely to be shot by police and shed light on the “disturbing consequences” of how law enforcement officials interact with African-American men and boys.

“Unarmed Black men are disproportionately more likely to be shot and killed by police, and often these killings are accompanied by explanations that cite the physical size of the person shot,” Wilson said. “Our research suggests that these descriptions may reflect stereotypes of Black males that do not seem to comport with reality.”

Wilson and his team of scientists ran a series of experiments involving more than 950 online participants, during which they were shown a number of photos featuring the faces of African-American and white males who were equal in both height and weight, according to the study. 

Participants were then asked to guesstimate the height, weight, strength and overall muscular build of the men pictured. Researchers soon made the concerning realization that the estimates for these areas were consistently biased. 

For instance, in one experiment where participants were shown equally sized bodies labeled either Black or white, they were more likely to perceive the Black ones as taller or heavier.

Men who had stereotypical Black facial features (a wide-set nose, fuller lips, etc.) also were viewed as stronger and more capable of causing harm in a hypothetical altercation, the study revealed. 

Such biased perceptions of a Black male’s strength even led some participants to believe police were more warranted to use force against Black people.

In the study, researchers cited the case of Dontre Hamilton, a mentally disabled Black man who was shot and killed by police in 2014 after an officer fired his gun at least 14 times. The officer, Christoper Manney, described 31-year-old Hamilton as a man of “muscular build” who could’ve easily overpowered him. In actuality, Hamilton was only 5’7″ and 169 pounds.

This same bias was apparent in the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, who was described as a Black “man” playing with a gun in a park.

Size bias wasn’t just consistent among white participants, however. Some Black participants held the bias, as well. While African-Americans saw Black males as bigger and more muscular than young white men, they didn’t perceive them to be more dangerous or deserving of force, according to the research.

While the study’s findings suggest that misperceptions about Black men’s size could possibly play a role in police decisions to shoot, Wilson cautioned that the research does not simulate “real-world threat scenarios,” adding that further studies need to be conducted on how racial bias affects lethal encounters with police.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

This Article on Heart Disease is in Memory of my Friend Ronald Collins

Rest in Peace Brother Ron!
by Kenny Anderson

In early 2016 I was a 58 year-old Black man headed toward a certain quick heart attack death. I was suffering from coronary artery disease, having 4 completely blocked arteries - I had to have emergency open heart bypass surgery. 

Though I didn’t know I had this type of massive blockage in my blood vessels, it was not surprising because as a Black man I had been under stress my whole adult life. I personally believe based on living and research that 'stress is the major contributor' to why Black males have the highest death rates from heart disease in this country.

Prior to my surgery I did know that heart disease was prominent in my family history and that Blacks had the highest heart disease rate in the U.S. and one of the highest rates in the world. I've also known for some time about the 'stress impact of racism' on Black heart disease.  

During my post-surgery cardiac rehabilitation I made a commitment to take the lead in reducing the extremely high rates of African American heart disease, thus I started Black Hearts Matter. In the past year 10 Black males I knew died from heart disease mainly ‘heart attacks’ and 85% were under the age of 60.

Just the first week of this month another Black man I know Ronald Collins who was under age 60 died from heart disease  -  complications of congestive heart failure. 
Collin's was a solid good, down to earth 'tell it like it is Brother'; he was a math teacher and a football coach; he was a positive influential force in teaching, supporting, and guiding Black students, particularly young Black males.

Ronald Collins untimely death is hurtful but it further motivates me to carry on the work as a Black heart disease reduction advocate. For me the disproportionately high Black death rates from chronic diseases is the unfinished business of the Civil Rights struggle and the new battle front. Martin Luther King Jr. stated: "Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane."

Some Blacks will say that God called Ron home; some will say it was just his time to go, I disagree with these fatalistic views. From my perspective, I believe that as Blacks we can prevent heart disease premature deaths through healthy lifestyle changes, heart awareness, and reducing heart disease risk factors: stress, hypertension, obesity, and the ignorance of heart attack and heart failure symptoms.

Indeed, African Americans are disproportionately affected by heart failure. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine noted that congestive heart failure is hitting African Americans in their 30's and 40's at the same rate as Whites in their 50's and 60's.

A 2013 study by the American Heart Association shows that African Americans are lagging significantly behind when it comes to knowing what the risk factors for heart disease thus making us more vulnerable to deaths from heart attacks and heart failure.

As Black folks we must understand that knowing the symptoms of heart failure and heart attacks can save our lives! 

Heart failure signs and symptoms may include:

*Shortness of breath when you exert yourself or when you lie down

*Fatigue and weakness

*Swelling (edema) in your legs, ankles and feet

*Rapid or irregular heartbeat

*Reduced ability to exercise

*Persistent cough or wheezing with white or pink blood-tinged phlegm

*Increased need to urinate at night

*Swelling of your abdomen

*Sudden weight gain from fluid retention

*Lack of appetite and nausea

*Difficulty concentrating or decreased alertness

*Sudden, severe shortness of breath and coughing up pink, foamy mucus

*Chest pain if your heart failure is caused by a heart attack 

Heart Attack Symptoms

The symptoms of a heart attack can vary from person to person. Some people can have few symptoms and are surprised to learn they've had a heart attack. It is important that we know the most common symptoms of a heart attack and also remember these facts:

*Heart attacks can start slowly and cause only mild pain or discomfort. Symptoms can be mild or more intense and sudden. Symptoms also may come and go over several hours.

*People who have high blood sugar (diabetes) may have no symptoms or very mild ones. The most common symptom, in both men and women, is chest pain or discomfort. 

*Women are somewhat more likely to have shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, unusual tiredness (sometimes for days), and pain in the back, shoulders, and jaw.

Some people don't have symptoms at all. Heart attacks that occur without any symptoms or with very mild symptoms are called silent heart attacks.

The most common warning symptoms of a heart attack for both men and women are:

*Chest pain or discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center or left side of the chest. The discomfort usually lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. It can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. It also can feel like heartburn or indigestion. The feeling can be mild or severe.

*Upper body discomfort. You may feel pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, shoulders, neck, jaw, or upper part of the stomach (above the belly button).

*Shortness of breath. This may be your only symptom, or it may occur before or along with chest pain or discomfort. It can occur when you are resting or doing a little bit of physical activity.

The symptoms of angina can be similar to the symptoms of a heart attack. Angina is chest pain that occurs in people who have coronary heart disease, usually when they're active. Angina pain usually lasts for only a few minutes and goes away with rest.

Chest pain or discomfort that doesn't go away or changes from its usual pattern (for example, occurs more often or while you're resting) can be a sign of a heart attack. All chest pain should be checked by a doctor.

Pay attention to these other possible symptoms of a heart attack: 

*Breaking out in a cold sweat

*Feeling unusually tired for no reason, sometimes for days (especially if you are a woman)

*Nausea (feeling sick to the stomach) and vomiting

*Light-headedness or sudden dizziness

Any sudden, new symptoms or a change in the pattern of symptoms you already have (for example, if your symptoms become stronger or last longer than usual)

Not everyone having a heart attack has typical symptoms. If you've already had a heart attack, your symptoms may not be the same for another one. However, some people may have a pattern of symptoms that recur. The more signs and symptoms you have, the more likely it is that you're having a heart attack.

Quick Action Can Save Your Life: Call 9–1–1 

The signs and symptoms of a heart attack can develop suddenly. However, they also can develop slowly - sometimes within hours, days, or weeks of a heart attack.

Any time you think you might be having heart attack symptoms or a heart attack, don't ignore it or feel embarrassed to call for help. Call 9–1–1 for emergency medical care, even if you are not sure whether you're having a heart attack.

Acting fast can save your life!

An ambulance is the best and safest way to get to the hospital. Emergency medical services (EMS) personnel can check how you are doing and start life-saving medicines and other treatments right away. People who arrive by ambulance often receive faster treatment at the hospital.

The 9–1–1 operator or EMS technician can give you advice. You might be told to crush or chew an aspirin if you're not allergic, unless there is a medical reason for you not to take one. Aspirin taken during a heart attack can limit the damage to your heart and save your life.

Every minute matters. Never delay calling 9–1–1 to take aspirin or do anything else you think might help.

Black men our 'Hearts' are our source of Life;
Because we don't have to think for
our Hearts to beat we can easily take our
Heart for granted and we do;
Practice heart mindfulness. 
Your Heart is precious, take care of it!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Black Males in American Continue to be an Endangered Species

by Kenny Anderson

In his book, “The Myth of Male Power”, popular white male issues author Warren Farrell states: “The Black man is sometimes called an endan­gered species but receives little of the protection an endangered species is normally accorded.”

As Black males, we need to seriously reflect on the words endangered species’ that many social analysts are using to describe our peril in America. When I think of the words ‘endangered species’ I immediately think of a life form that is facing extinction; when I think of an endangered species the spotted owl comes to mind.

Many social analysts have looked at the quality of life data on Black men, concluding our future looks bleak. Many economists refer to Black men as be­coming economically obsolete in America due to domestic immigrant workers and international cheap labor.

The two words ‘endangered’ and ‘obsolete’ are powerful, grim terms de­scribing our fate. According to a report of the National Criminal Justice Commis­sion on Imprisonment and Race; if current incarceration rates continue, by the year 2020 – 63.3% of all Black men in the U.S. ages 18-34 will be behind bars.

The fact that so many Black men end up jobless or in prison is not sur­prising to scholars like Jewelle Taylor-Gibbs; for her, Black males in America are ‘at-risk’ from inception:

“Black males are endangered even before they are born, since male fetuses are more likely to spontaneously abort; this vulnerability character­izes their health and mental health for the rest of their lives, particularly during adolescence and young adulthood. If Black males survive the high infant mortality rates, which are nearly double the rates for white infants, they are more likely to ex­perience problems associated with low birth weight and lack of preventative health care. They are less likely to be immunized against infectious childhood diseases such as diphtheria, polio, measles, rubella, and mumps. They are more likely to have chronic illnesses and higher rates of psychological or behavioral problems. They are less likely to have access to regular medical and dental care. They are more likely to suffer from poor nutrition and related health problems. And most tragic of all statistics, they are more likely to die before age 20 than any other sex-age group.”

Indeed, from birth too many Black males lives are in jeopardy. From my perspective, psychologically speaking, most Black males are socialized with en­dangering traits, which results in self-defeating and self-destructive behaviors that compounds the external racial oppression that jeopardizes their lives.

As a social work psychotherapist, who has provided behavioral prevention and intervention services to at-risk Black male youth for over 25 years, I’ve wit­nessed firsthand the negative consequences of these jeopardizing traits. I’ve seen too many young Black males become teen fathers, under-achieve, drop out of school, use drugs, engage in criminal activities, end up dead, or incarcerated.

Based on the ‘psychological insights’ from my own socialization as a Black man and from my counseling experiences with young Black males, I’ve identified several jeopardizing traits that I define as the ‘S-Traits Syndrome’ (STS); words beginning with the letter S which provide psycho-analytical insights. The S-Traits Syndrome is a group of socialized symptoms, self-limiting character traits that make up most Black males’ personalities.

Though there are nine S-Traits Syndrome terms, I will mention all of them, but I’ll only ad­dress three in some detail; the terms are:

*Slickness (manipulation, criminal-minded)

*Stud (womanizing, sexual conquests)

*Substance-Abusing (using and selling drugs)

*Sportsmen (jock mentality)

*Styling (preoccupation in obtaining expensive vehicles, clothes, shoes, and jewelry)

*Smoothness (cool pose; masking and posturing)

*Silliness (comedian attitude, non-serious)

*Sensationalizing (fantasy thinking, exaggeration)

*Set-tripping (Gangs, promoting sectarian violence)

From this list and from my experience and perspective, sportsmen, silli­ness, and sensationalizing have the greatest detrimental effects on adolescent Black males.

First, is the trait of sportsmen. When I interact with young Black males psycho-educationally in the classroom, the overwhelming majority are preoccupied talking about sports, particularly basketball. They’re constantly talking about pro­fessional basketball players in the NBA like Steph Currey, Kevin Durrant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, and others.

Young Black males constantly talking about and try to purchase the expensive jerseys and gym shoes these hoop stars wear. They’re not concerned with education, schoolwork, or homework. They’re concerned with playing basketball in gym during school and playing after school; as H. Rap Brown stated:

“So to us the most important thing was to excel in athletics. Recess was the most essential part of the school day, for we could practice our skills. One play could make or break you. We all lived for the big play. For many it never came.” 

At home Black boys spend significant time watching basketball on televi­sion or playing basketball video games. In his excellent book "Hooked On Hoops” author Kevin McNutt provides a psychological reason why so many young Black males are consumed with basketball, he says:

“The rewards and jubilation of the game, the made basket, are immediate, simple, definite, quick, and repetitive. When you contrast that with the struggles of day-to-day survival that Black youth face with invisibility, hopelessness, and low self-esteem, it becomes quite clear how an es­cape to the neighborhood playground is neces­sary just to make it through the day.”

According to a study done by Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society, two-thirds of all African American males between the ages of 13 and 18 believe that they can earn a living as professional athletes. This is a stunning statistic, considering that the actual chance of a high school athlete ever playing at the professional level is slim.

Data from the Children’s Defense Fund shows a Black boy today has less than a 1 in 4,600 chance of becoming an NBA player. They have a greater chance, 1 in 2000, of getting a PhD. in mathematics, engineering, or the physical sciences; a 1 in 548 chance of becoming a doctor; a 1 in 195 chance of becoming a lawyer; and a 1 in 53 chance of becoming a teacher.

In his book, “Darwin’s Athletes: How Sport Has Damaged Black America and Preserved the Myth of Race”, John Hoberman, a historian at the University of Texas, argues that a growing obsession with professional sports among young African American males is destroying Black America. The root of the problem, he writes, is that:

“Black athleticism has complicated the identity problems of Black Americans by making athletes the most prominent symbols of African American achievement.”

This obsession with ‘hoop dreams’ causes so many young Black male students to become one-dimensional, focusing only on basketball; minimizing their education; ignoring their other academic talents and potentials.

Second, is the trait of silliness. Conducting psycho-education sessions with young Black males today, I find the overwhelming majority of them extremely silly, constantly joking – everything is funny! 

Filled with laughter, their ‘over-humorous’ disposition makes them non-sensical and trivializing; lacking any seri­ousness about their schoolwork (studying, homework, test preparation, etc.), their behaviors, their plight, and their futures.

Often times being hilarious is a self-distraction from poor grades and learning problems. For them poking fun and buffoonery is more than immaturity and getting attention, it reflects the influences of influential Black male images to­day, comedians.

Black male comedians, comic actors, like Kevin Hart, Steve Harvey, Cedric the En­tertainer, Bernie Mack, D.L. Hughley, Shawn and Marlin Wayan, Jamie Fox, Martin Lawrence, Chris Tucker, and Chris Rock are dominant images on television. There is also the very popular, ‘Comic View’ on Black Entertainment Television (BET), hosted by ‘Bruce-Bruce’.

Young Black males’ minds are saturated with Black male comedy, so there is no surprise that they want to ‘clown’ all the time in school. According to psychologist Naim Akbar, the pervasive clowning attitude of young Black males, though more extreme today, is nothing new, their behavioral root is the slave plantation; as Akbar highlights:

“Another serious handicap which we inherited from slavery is the African American clown. One of the primary forms of remaining in favor with the slave master by the slave was to provide entertainment for the master and his household. It is easy to observe that man exults in his supe­riority over lower animals by teaching them to do tricks and being entertained by those tricks. In much the same way, the slave owner prided himself in his superiority by being entertained by the slave. Writers have long pointed to the jester, the clown, or the fool, as the inferior one who was responsible for making his superior laugh. Using a person for your clown has always been one of the major ways to assert your dominance over a person. Mockery is one of the more so­phisticated forms of humiliation. Great favors of leniency and special rewards were given to the clowning slave. He enjoyed a special status above the other slaves because he kept his master entertained. Even the Arts, music and dance, which had originally been used for self-expression and community recreation, became devices that were used by the slave to protect himself from the master’s anger. Fiddler, in the TV drama “Roots”, was a colorful example of this manipulative function of the clown. Clowning and buffoonery became one of the primary ways that the violent and abusive slave master could be controlled and manipulated.”

Since slavery, Black men have also used ‘clowning’ as a survival defense mechanism. Adolescent Black males today, though not conscious of it, use con­stant joking in the same manner; to make light of the heaviness of racial oppres­sion; to ease tensions and burdens; and to laugh when they really want to cry.

Third, when the young Black males I counsel are not ‘full of jokes’, they are ‘full of fantasy’, sensationalizing. Daily I hear them lie, brag, boast, and over-exaggerate. This sensationalizing attitude is understandable due to the bombard­ment of their minds with the self-glorifying fantasy lyrics of rap music and rap vid­eos that show young Black males who are ‘ghetto fabulous’; who live the lifestyles of the rich and famous; who have all the beautiful and sexy women; who are larger than life crime bosses and ‘hard-core’ gangsters; who are arrogant and indestruc­tible.

In his book, “The Violent Social World of Black Men”, professor William Oliver defines young Black males’ fantasy, sensational attitude as compulsive masculinity:

“The term compulsive masculinity alternative de-scribes a compensatory adaptation that many lower-class Black males adopt to cover up their inability to meet the standards of the traditional masculine role. Since other symbols of masculin­ity have been denied to too many Black males, the status conferral system in Black life attributes high levels of esteem to those males able to demonstrate their proficiency in fighting and sex­ual exploitation of Black women. But instead of being an effective strategy to cope with environ­mental stress such as racial discrimination, eco­nomic exclusion, and low self-esteem, the com­pulsive masculinity alternative is a dysfunctional compensatory adaptation. Rather than solving problems in the environment, it creates additional ones.”

Young Black males, like adult Black males, with sensational attitudes are based on inverted thinking: converting socio-economic powerlessness, depend­ency, and feelings of insecurity into an exaggerated sense of self. Indeed, this at­titude of exaggerated manhood creates personality problems.

According to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), an exaggeration of the importance of one’s experiences and feelings is a clinical characteristic of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Other characteristics of NPD that young Black males with sensationalized thinking exhibit are: grandiosity, preoccupation with fame, wealth, and achievement; and excessive emphasis on displaying beauty and power (‘living large’).

Moreover, sensational thinking young Black males like individuals with NPD are often envious of others and believe others to be envious of them (‘player-hating’). They also believe that they are superior and that others should give them deference (‘all that’ mentality).

Furthermore, many young Black males with sensational outlooks believe unrealistically they are ‘hard-core’, invincible (can’t be ‘touched’ or ‘faded’), result­ing in them living irrationally and recklessly; they usually wind up being shot, mur­dered, or imprisoned.

From my perspective sensational thinking, exaggerated manhood, like the other S-Traits, are not mental disorders in the typical DSM sense, but dysfunc­tional coping characteristics of reactionary Black manhood, like H. Rap Brown (Jamil Al-Amin) stated:

“So much of the life story of any Negro growing up in America is the story of what has been done to him and how he reacts to that. That’s it, the White man acts Negroes react.”

What has been done and continues to be done to Black men is racial op­pression, which is pathology producing. As Black men we must struggle against the S-Traits Syndrome; this reactionary behavior is self-oppressing; self-defeating, self-destructive, and self-endangering.

We must struggle against, constructively criticize, and remove the domi­nant sportsmen, silliness, and sensationalizing S-Traits in young Black males so they won’t continue to self-perpetuate internal endangerment.

In ending, several years ago a white man, an animal activist, climbed a towering redwood tree in the Oregon forest to protest and prevent lumber compa­nies from cutting down more redwood trees that the endangered spotted owl in­habits. His committed activism led to the reduction of redwood trees being cut down.

Do we have similar Black male activists committed to saving and preserv­ing endangered young Black men? Do we have committed Black male activists who would lie down in the street in front of the White House, halting traffic to get the federal government’s attention to immediately address the plight of endan­gered Black male youth?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

How America Kills Black Men Without Lifting A Finger

by Christopher Jones

Experts say stress levels among Black men are related to social conditions imposed upon them by the country.
In 1996, hip-hop trio A Tribe Called Quest released “Stressed Out,” the tale of a black man looking to remain optimistic while dealing with the repercussions of his criminal record, trying to provide for his family, and doing his best to not be a victim of neighborhood violence.

For many African-American men, this narrativewhether in part or in full is gospel. Environmental concerns keep African-American men in a perpetual state of fight-or-flight, and studies show that this chronic stress has led to health disparities, with diabetes being one of the most insidious.
“There’s substantial evidence to demonstrate the environment we live in has direct impacts on our health,” says Rebecca Hasson, an exercise physiologist and director of the Childhood Disparities Research Laboratory at the University of Michigan.
About 13 percent of African-Americans age 20 and older have been diagnosed with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. About 9 percent of all Americans are diabetic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. African-American men are 1.7 times more likely than white non-Hispanic men to have diabetes.
When Protective Hormones Harm
Hasson’s findings point to cortisol, a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands, as a contributing factor in stress-related onsets of diabetes. Cortisol temporarily increases energy production required for immediate survival like running from a bear, or escaping a house fire.

For the average person, cortisol levels begin high in the morning and taper off as the day progresses, fluctuating appropriately. In African-American men living in socioeconomically depressed communities, cortisol levels start and remain high the bear is always chasing; the smoke alarm’s always screeching.
Debra J. Barksdale, professor and associate dean of academic programs at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Nursing, has been examining stress in African-American men for three decades. Like Hasson, she cites cortisol and its role in chronic stress, stating that it’s like “having your stressors turned on all the time.”
“The fight-or-flight response is more of an acute reaction,” she says. “Whether it’s related to the pressures from society, increased chances of being stopped by the authorities, trying to provide for their families or trying to find a job or sustain a job.

When a stressor occurs, there are physiological processes that occur in the brain that trigger the release of cortisol. What we have found was in certain people who are constantly stressed, cortisol levels do not go down throughout the day. It will remain high.”
The Broken Thermostat
When cortisol levels remain high without the presence of imminent danger or without some physical activity to offset the effects of chronic stress, Type 2 diabetes may be the consequence.

According to the American Diabetes Association, higher cortisol results in higher insulin resistance, forcing the pancreas to produce more insulin to get a response. With ongoing insulin resistance, the insulin-producing beta cells wear out, causing Type 2 diabetes.
Briana Mezuk is an associate professor in the division of epidemiology at VCU who has studied the relationship between stress and blood sugar. She explains it this way:
“Think of stress like a hot summer day. Your thermostat has to keep working harder and harder to keep your house cool. Eventually, it can’t get the temperature back down to where you want it anymore; it can’t get back down to 68 degrees.

It can only get down to 69 degrees, (because) the system is worn out. Sixty-nine degrees is not bad, but then it keeps creeping up and eventually the body isn’t able to respond because it’s chronically activated. Those are the folks who are going to be more likely to progress to diabetes,” she says.
Mezuk partners with the YMCA of Greater Richmond’s diabetes control and diabetes prevention programs. The diabetes control program helps adults living with Type 2 by providing education, support and care management. The diabetes prevention program is for those at risk for Type 2 diabetes. They learn how to make lifestyle changes to reduce their chances of developing the disease.
Know Your Status
Learning to identify and manage stress positively is the first step to a healthier outcome. That can be exercise, playing in men’s sports leagues, practicing yoga, or seeking talk therapy. If no change occurs, African-American men run the risk of epidemic levels of diabetes diagnoses50 percentby 2050 according to the diabetes association.
Caroline Fornshell, a registered dietitian and diabetes fitness and nutrition expert in Williamsburg, calls those who catch the disease before its onset “the lucky ones.”
“They are the ones that got the warning. So often, people are walking around with undiagnosed full-fledged diabetes, and so it is really an exciting opportunity for individuals who find out they have pre-diabetes to take control,” she says.
Pre-diabetics can exercise more and evaluate their diet. They also should reduce stress, get the proper amounts of sleep and seek out supports, whether it’s through a program or even some sort of wellness buddy, says Fornshell.
Mezuk encourages African-Americans who think they’re at risk due to family history or who live with chronic stress to consult a physician. Many men don’t know that they have the disease and when left untreated, it can lead to a host of other health problems, including hypertension, heart disease and kidney failurethree more conditions that African-American men suffer at higher rates than their white and Latino counterparts.
“It’s really scary to go to the doctor [and find out that you have] diabetes. People call it ‘denialabetes’ for a reason. People don’t want to believe that they’re sick,” says Mezuk. “But there is good news.

We can take what we are learning about how stress and depression affect the body and actually turn that into improved health for people in terms of managing this condition better and hopefully being able to prevent this condition better.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Whites Cheer Black Male Athletes and Loathe Them At the Same Time

by Gus T. Renegade

In 2016, USA Today asked Baltimore Orioles’ center fielder Adam Jones why no Black baseball players mimicked football player Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem. 
Jones declared that Black players “already have two strikes against us.” Compared to basketball and football, Black Major League Baseball players constitute a miniscule number. “They don’t need us,” the Baltimore outfielder said. “Baseball is a white man’s sport.”
One year later and 70 years after World War II veteran Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, Boston, Mass., spectators confirmed Jones’ assessment and wasted a bag of peanuts in the process.
During a May 1 contest between the Orioles and the Red Sox, Jones reported being “called the n-word a handful of times” and having a bag of nuts thrown at him.
An assortment of athletes, including Jason Heyward of the Chicago Cubs and Golden State Warriors teammates Draymond Green and Stephen Curry, immediately disclosed that they’ve endured similar abuse from racist sports fans. 
The fact that the Cubs and Warriors have each hoisted recent championships in their respective leagues suggests the pinnacle of athletic achievement fails to shield Black athletes from anti-Black racism. 
During the 1950s and ’60s, Bill Russell secured 11 titles for the Boston Celtics while describing the town as “a flea market of racism.” Chris Yuscavage writes that the hoops legend was conflicted about “how he was supposed to feel when he was routinely cheered by some of those same” white New Englanders who expressed unadulterated contempt for Black life before and after Celtics victories.
It’s likely that Jones’s verbal assailants badgered him while simultaneously reveling in the current playoff run of the overwhelmingly Black Celtics team.  

University of Texas professor John Hoberman authored “Darwin’s Athletes: How Sport Has Damaged Black America and Preserved the Myth of Race” in part to explore the contradiction of racist sports fans patronage of Black-dominated athletics. 
Hoberman reminds readers that historically, white culture declared white women and men intellectually and athletically supreme. Hoberman explains how the “emotional stake” in maintaining the lie of white superiority demanded that generations of Jackie Robinsons be barred from competing with white students or athletes.
What began with “Black firsts” like boxing champion Jack Johnson and tennis prodigy Althea Gibson, has, according to Hoberman, swelled to the point that, “A lot of whites, if they’re sports fans, they are going to have to consume a lot of sports entertainment that is going to feature people who do not look like them, who do not have white skins.”
The billion-dollar global sports conglomerate verifies the insatiable appetite and market for Black athletes. Hoberman submits that stale racial stereotypes helped a number of whites digest the never ending serving of Black athletic triumph. 
Hoberman writes, “The myth of Black hardiness and supernormal vitality has been the crucible of our thinking about” Black bodies and often a leading justification for their enslavement.
The antebellum delusions about Black endurance and pain tolerance that made people with melanin ideal candidates to be shackled conveniently explained the athletic brilliance of Black people. Laboring in white-owned fields with a ball or bail of cotton is our genetically predetermined destiny and limited range of expertise.
However, for multitudes of white sport fans, thinking of Black male athletes as mutli-million-dollar slaves has made it no easier to stomach a sports world where Black ballers reign.

In “The History of White People Hating LeBron James,” Chris Osterndorf writes that whites “are able to appreciate [Black athletes], to rely on them, but we’re not necessarily able to separate that from the belief that they work for us.”
Black athletes aren’t role models or human beings, they’re white folks’ servants. Osterndorf says this mentality explains how racists hail the accomplishments of Black players on their favorite sporting teams, “all while calling him a ‘n—-r’ in the same conversation.”
During a NPR 2014 interview, U.S. Congressman James Clyburn used his daughter’s college homecoming football game to explain how devotion to the system of white supremacy is compartmentalized during heated sporting events. 
Representative Clyburn’s daughter, Mignon Clyburn, observed a white motorist with a bumper sticker promoting University of South Carolina football player George Rogers’ Heisman trophy campaign. She doubted the driver would sport a bumper sticker endorsing her father for Congress. 
Ms. Clyburn recalled that during the ballgame, the white fans who jeered and heckled the Black homecoming queen loudest were the most vocal in praising every yard gained by Rogers. She synthesized those events into a succinct conclusion: “It’s all right for us to entertain, but they don’t want us to represent them.”

Many Black people, including athletes like Hall of Fame football player Kellen Winslow, erroneously assumed white consumption of Black sports figures signified the wane of racism and the power of interracial athletics to lessen racial hostilities. Winslow has since publicly acknowledged his error.
When he was a physically gifted star on the gridiron, he was “treated and viewed differently than most African-American men in this country.” His Black life mattered. Racism was not a problem. 
“Then, reality came calling,” writes Winslow in the forward for the 1996 book In Black and White: Race and Sports in America by Kenneth L. Shropshire “After a nine-year career in the National Football League filled with honors and praises, I stepped into the real world and realized, in the words of Muhammad Ali, that I was ‘just another n—-r.’”