“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.
A 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.
Children who are bullied or who are bullies themselves may be at greater risk of becoming psychotic as adults. Psychosis usually occurs in the form of hearing voices, seeing things that no one else can see and many other alterations in reality caused by the brain malfunctioning. From a study done at the University of Warwick in the UK, researchers found that some children were almost 5 times more likely to suffer from psychotic episodes by the age of 18 if they were bullied. This increased percentage occurred even if other factors such as home environment or behavior problems were taken into account. It occurred at 4 and 1/2 times the normal rate if children were the bullies themselves.
Researchers found that there was increased risk of psychosis when the bullying happened for brief periods as well as when children were bullied over a prolonged period of time. Psychosis is often diagnosed as schizophrenia and/or paranoia. It is usually treated with medication. Some people experience psychosis only when under extreme stress. Some experience it chronically and for some it is not known what triggers their psychosis or when it may be triggered. There is some thought that increased tendency to psychosis occurs due to genetic factors, brain allergies, chemical exposure and/or vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the diet.
This study highlights the importance of getting adults involved in preventing bullying of children and making sure your children are not bullies.
Source: University of Warwick (http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/childhood_bullying_shown/)
“Crazy”….is what people feel when their reality doesn’t match that of the masses. “Crazy” is what many black folks have been made to feel upon entering the wider American culture. In many parts of the US, whites make blacks look and feel crazy because of their denial of racism.
“Between the World & Me” is a new, non-toxic, natural antidepressant. A balm of words, concocted by a master pharmacist of the black experience, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Senior Editor at The Atlantic Monthly. Ta-Nehesi puts racism on a glass slide and puts the slide under a microscope that not only magnifies for dissection, the pathogen thereon, but allows one to verify the feeling caused by that pathogen.
This is a book that every mother, actually every black person, should read. It helps gel those streams of hurt, embarrassment, anger, disgust, frustration, sadness, reactive paranoia and as he points out, fear, that roll constantly off black people’s backs. In more solid form, one can more closely examine them and then toss them away. Or one can examine them, identify them and set up preventive barriers.
Are children lacking the essential elements for a well nourished brain more susceptible to bad behavior?
A number of studies show a link between violent behavior in some individuals and their levels of DHA, an essential fatty acid. EFAs, or essential fatty acids are required by the brain in order for it to function well.
The body does not manufacture its own EFAs and so we have to obtain them from the outside, from what we eat. One type, ALA, alpha linolenic acid, comes from vegetable sources like flax seed and walnuts and some vegetable oils. The body only partially converts ALA into DHA and EPA. Fatty cold water fish provide a direct source of EPA and DHA, allowing more DHA to get into the body.
According to Dr. Frank Sacks, Professor of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Harvard University School of Public Health, Omega 3 fatty acids protect from heart attack and stroke as well as against autoimmune disorders and in building the membranes of brain cells.
The ratio of EFA choices is important
The EFA that most Americans get a lot of is Omega – 6. It comes from animal (meat) sources. Compared to our ancestors, we are getting between 16 times more Omega -6 for each serving of Omega-3 than we did before the last 50 years or before we began eating so much processed food. We are getting far less DHA or Omega- 3 that comes from fish oil or krill( non-fish plankton) oil sources. It is the ratio of Omega- 3 to Omega – 6 levels that are important as well as the need to eat a moderate amount of each. A diet of 4 servings of Omega 3s to one serving of Omega 6 is considered ideal. So one would have 3 servings of cold water fish, and 2 or 3 servings of walnuts, flax seeds (1 or 2 tablespoons) or cold pressed organic vegetable oil each week. (See the Food section in the coming months for some super good ways to meet these brain needs.)
Low DHA levels were found in boys with impulsive behavior and later alcohol dependency
In observational studies done by Hibbeln et al. 1998a, 1998b it was suggested that low plasma DHA levels may increase the predisposition of some people to impulsive or violent behavior. This was seen especially in boys who become alcohol dependent before the age of 20. This suggest that they are probably attempting to self medicate with alcohol.
Raising DHA reduced stress levels
In another study done by Hamazaki et al. 1996, students taking DHA during periods of academic stress did not show the same rise in aggressive behavior exhibited by their peers who did not take DHA. This indicates that supplementing what the brain is missing to function normally and activate self control allows the body to calm itself naturally. Supplementation with omega-3 EFAs, vitamins and minerals were found to reduce violent behavior in prison populations by an average of 35% (Gesch et al. 2002). The results of this study and others which achieved similar results implies readily available solutions for communities where nutritional needs are not met and child behavior and learning are below potential.
High meat intake associated with violent behavior
A diet high in meat may cause an imbalance of essential fatty acids which are essential to brain health. Low levels of essential fatty acids (EFAs) are associated with a number of brain health problems such as depression, anxiety, dementia, multiple sclerosis (MS) and ADHD. In children low DHA levels are associated with ADD, ADHD, behavior problems, sleep problems and distractibility. We can improve behavior and learning by supplementing our children’s diets with a high quality fish oil (wild arctic salmon or cod) supplement.
In supplementing with fish oils, care should be taken to obtain the highest quality fish oil supplement by looking for those that are free of toxins and made from wild caught Arctic fish. (See VitalChoice.org for more info or see our FooD section in the coming weeks.)
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