Category Archives: Racism/Diversity

The Women’s March – Were you there?

Washington Womens March January 21, 2017 Getty Images
Washington Womens March January 21, 2017 Getty Images

Saturday, January 21, 2017 – the marches in Washington, DC, New York City, Los Angeles, Denver,  and hundreds of other places throughout the United States and the world illustrated the power of validation. An estimate 4.6 million in the United States alone marched without one reported arrest to show that they are WOKE, that they see the travesty that has occurred, that they won’t allow it. So many women and men, have been shaken by the election of a mysogynistic, narcissistic, racist, money and power driven business person to the highest office in the United States.

Even women voted for this man who is an admitted sexual predator. (But we are sure many of them have already come to regret their short-sightedness.) The fact that this happened illustrates that America has lost its moral footing, its judgment and its focus. That America is us. The fear, is that we will pay a hefty price for this error in judgment. We would not give the keys to our cars to such a person. But we have given him the keys to our country. The marches on Saturday were a good example of great reality testing on the part of the folks who voted or would have for one of the other candidates; and buyer’s remorse on the part of those who voted for Trump.

There were so many wonderful signs of hope the marches showed us: the solidarity between women of all walks of life, all races, all ages. In NYC, there seemed to be as many marchers over 50 as there were under 50. The men were there in healthy numbers. The young children seemed thrilled to be part of the larger human family while learning valuable lessons about democracy and participation. The signs were brilliant, funny and to the point.  If you felt isolated, out of sorts or overwhelmed with pessimism about our future, you felt better after experiencing the march. If you were not there (and it was an overwhelmingly white crowd in NYC) you will feel better by getting involved now.

Exercising the power that you have (your vote!), your calls, your letters, tweets, emails, signs is a way to feel better, empowered and not a victim! Go for it! Don’t sulk, call. Don’t take to your couch, unless you’re sending emails at the same time. Don’t complain, Do something.  People around the world, including Antartica (!) took to the streets. You are in good company and as a group of people who may well have more at risk than most others during this administration, we have no reason or excuse for personal inaction.

Everywhere that we have interacted with professional mental health colleagues, we hear the same words: “psychopath, sociopath, narcissist”. All these experts in mental health functioning and behavior cannot be wrong. When we look at the history of mass human tragedies, we hear those same words: “psychopaths, sociopaths, narcissists”. Democracy and freedom needs you!

Trumpin’ for domestic violence

bl woman cartoon pulling hair outA recent article in the Huffington Post pointed out something that many victims of domestic violence have been thinking; that Trump’s personality and behavior are characteristic of the abusive partners  they’ve had. The article was sent to me by a client who felt Trump was a good example of an abusive spouse and for her as for the women the Huffington Post talked to, watching him was triggering the feelings associated with the trauma from which they were escaping.

And we elect him for president, because he sounds strong and we want change? Maybe that makes us wishful dreamers that are hoping for help when we feel like we have no control over our lives. As many know, the first step in  helping an abused woman out of a relationship, is not just helping her to see that her partner is dangerous to her survival. It’s helping her to know that there are other choices, that she can do for herself what she is wishing someone else would do for her. Showing her that her mind, her skills are enough. Especially, it is important for her to accept the truth of her situation. In abusive relationships, the perpetrator works his weak spell by convincing his partner that she needs him alone, that she is weak and unable to take care of herself. This psychological imprisonment is as effective as real imprisonment.

When Trump declared that only he could save America from “the system”,  that we need protection and only he could save us, alarm bells went off in the minds of many listeners. Angel Marie Russell wrote on her Facebook page, per the Huffington Post, ” Trump is triggering so many abuse and rape victims, including me”. “His behavior is almost exact to my abusive exes. It’s terrifying. I can’t even watch him.” But watch him we must.  And as with all crazy-making behavior, we have to pay attention not just to what he says, but more importantly, to what he does.

Grace standing in her truth

Photo by Jonathan Bachman
Photo by Jonathan Bachman

Fear blocks your ability to hear God

Ieshia Evans, a peaceful protester in Baton Rouge, LA demonstration in July, 2016 following the killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota shows what faith looks like. Faith has no fear. Faith stands in the certainty of its truth. Ms. Evans, a 28 year old nurse and mother of a 6 year old son told Gayle King, CBS “This Morning” co-host, that it was a first demonstration for her.

Why she stood up

After watching the videos of  the two shootings and after the countless other police shootings of unarmed black men and women that she had heard about, she felt that she had to stand up for her people. Noting that her job is to take care of people and that she could even be the nurse who takes care of those policemen one day, she demonstrates for all the world what it looks like to show peacefully and powerfully that Black Lives Matter as all lives matter.

We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation by Jeff Chang

 

Picador
Picador

“Race makes itself known in crisis, in the singular event that captures a larger pattern of abuse and pain,” writes author Jeff Chang (Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, Who We Be)  in the introduction to a series of essays on the significance of ongoing police shootings, social inequities, housing discrimination and campus diversity.

As an historian, Chang helps us focus on the broader picture (and effects) of the long-term system of racism and how it has played out and continues to develop in our country.  Chang touches on Trump’s speech in Mesa, Arizona (December, 2015),  demonstrations in Ferguson, MO (where he was arrested for participating) on the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death,  and the effects of gentrification to produce a powerful punch through the veil of denial that shrouds and nurtures systemic racism.

Mapping police violence – Every 10 days an unarmed black person is killed

police-carA mental health threat for our people
Police killed 346 black people in 2015, making fear of our “protectors” a rational, reasonable fear.  Now, for sure, there are many honest, caring cops out there. You hope that they are the ones who stop you for a broken tail light. The statistics on police killings portray practices that often result in death for black individuals stopped for nonviolent issues. This presents a mental health issue for our people.

See how widespread the problem is
The resource website, http://www.mappingpoliceviolence.org   allows you to learn the stories of each of the individuals that were killed. Many of them are shocking, such as the Chicago landlord who opened her front door to greet police officers who had been called by her upstairs tenant. She opened the door, they shot her dead. Or the 17 year old brother, whose mother and sister had called the police when he experienced a psychotic episode. He ran into the bathroom, police shot him 17 times as his family begged them to stop.

The story of Kenneth Chamberlain
One of the saddest is the story of Kenneth Chamberlain of White Plains, NY.  Mr. Chamberlain, a retired Marine and long-time corrections officer, was killed by police after accidentally triggering his 1st Alert alarm.  He wore it because of a heart condition.  Police in riot gear stormed his apartment  (to be sure he was safe), and in a few seconds, tasered him twice, shot him at close range with four bean bag rounds, finally shooting him in the chest and killing him.

The entire episode was taped by the 1st Alert operator and yet the officers were never charged.  The conflicting testimonies of the officers supported a cover-up.The civil suit was lost last week because the nearly all white jury could not believe that the 69 year old retiree was not still standing when he was finally shot.  Watch the film and see what you think. These are not uncommon stories and they boggle the minds of mental health professionals right along with all other folks.