Post-Traumatic Slave Disorder: Aspects of Slavery That Are Still Affecting Black Americans Today (Part I)

Post-Traumatic Slave Disorder:  Aspects of Slavery That Are Still Affecting Black Americans Today
Why is it that when a Black person talks about slavery, everyone in the room seems to get so uncomfortable? 

In school, we learn all about the several wars that America has engaged in and the devastation that came from war, but for some reason talking about the devastation that the American slave trade caused on Black Americans and Africa is seen as being taboo and 'anti-progressive'.

"Why are you people still talking about slavery? It was a thing of the past. I didn't enslave your ancestors."

Why are we as a nation suppose to forget almost 250 years of our history? The holocaust occured for 5 years and was absolutely horrific. If you lived in Germany, you wouldn't dare go up to a family member of a Holocaust victim and say "Why are you people still talking about the Holocaust? You should just forget about it because we can never move forward with people like you." Did you know that there is a Holocaust Remembrance Day? On April 16th (and in some places the whole week), Holocaust victims are commemerated and their are activities to show respect.

Now, I would never compare the devastation of the Holocaust and American Chattel Slavery, as these are two completely separate parts of history. It does make me wonder, however, why there is no slavery commemoration in America for all of the barbaric crimes, mutilations, lynchings, and medical injections committed against the ancestors of Black Americans.

Is slavery really a thing of the past? I say no. Epigenetically and psychologically, there is no way that 250 years of oppresion and torture can ever be forgotten, especially since we are still facing the detriment of chattel slavery today. Here is Part I of aspects of slavery and post-slavery that are still prevelant in America today. To all of the self-proclaimed "New Blacks" out there (cough, couch Raven...cough, cough Simone), you might want to take a seat and listen:

1. The Black Communities Distrust for Police
Post-Traumatic Slave Disorder
Think about the original purpose of police in America. The original purpose of "police" were to be "slave patrols" and to retrieve runaway slaves, who were seen as "property" to their wealthy slave owners. Even after slavery, police were the main people responsible for the public lynchings of black people (yes, most lynchings actually happened AFTER slavery contrary to popular belief. Think about it, why would a slave owner want to kill his "property" if he "didn't have to"?). The police were created to "control" minorities, so obviously the black communities, along with other communities would have a deep distrust for police (source). This is also part of the reason why minorities get longer sentences for the same crimes as their white counterparts.
2. The Black Communities Distrust for Doctors
Post-Traumatic Slave Disorder
Have you ever heard an elderly person of color say something along the lines of "If I go to the doctor, I may not come back out."? Most people remember the 40 years of the "Tuskegee Experiments" and that alone keeps them in distrust of the U.S. Medical System; however, these experiments, which started in the 1930s, were definitely not the start of medical experiments on African-Americans (source). Young female slaves were subject to several painful gynecological surgeries because they were afflicted with vesico-vaginal fistulas (a tear between the vagina and the bladder) after being raped by white slave masters. The 'doctors' would perform as much as 30 surgeries WITHOUT anesthesia because they didn't believe that black people felt pain (source).
3. The Broken Black Home
Post-Traumatic Slave Disorder
Imagine someone coming into your home and saying that they are going to sell you and your family, but if nobody wants your family as a package deal, everyone will be split up and sent to different parts of the world to never see each other again. You can't imagine it. Mothers were ripped away from their children, husbands ripped away from their wives and no one cared. Men grew up without fathers and women without mothers (source). Now, I wish that I could exclusively blame slavery for the broken black home, but in reality, more black families were raised by 2 parent homes in the '60s than now. What happened?
4. Downplaying Our Accomplishments
Post-Traumatic Slave Disorder
I received this next example from Dr. Joy de Gruy: so there is a white mother and a black mother sitting on a bench in the park watching their children play. The black mother says to the white mother, "I hear that your son is doing well in school!" The white mother responds, "Oh yes, he is in accelerated learning classes, he has lots of friends, and he's on the honor roll!" After a while, the white mother turns to the black mother and says, "Well, what am I going on about? I hear your son is in advanced accelerated learning classes and has straight As! He is really coming along!" The black mother hides her smile and says, "Yes he is, but he can be so stubborn. I can never get that boy to behave." Why did the black mother say that? I'm sure that we have all downplayed our accomplishments and we say that we do this to not seem "cocky" or stuck up. In reality, this practice dates back to slavery. Imagine a slave owner going up to a mother and saying "I see your son is really coming along." The mother would probably hide her son and say "no he's stupid and I can't get him to behave" in order to protect her son. Imagine what that would do to her son's psyche. White women also despised black women because of the attention that they received from white men, so a slave women wouldn't dare to say anything that made her look superior (source).

So, when did we unlearn these habits? Now, I am not saying that we can blame all of the problems within our community on slavery and the events that occurred after slavery but we can't forget our history. In reality, it did not happen that long ago and you cannot expect 250 years of damage to be healed if we don't address the wounds. America needs healing from all of the damage it has caused itself and is continuing to cause in our community.

Stay tuned for Part II next week.

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