Let me preface this analysis by making a full disclosure: I am in no way, shape, form, or fashion, nor do I claim to be, certified or trained in the field of psychiatry, psychology, or sociology (I did take a few psychology classes and Sociology 101 in college). Hence, that is why this is a ‘quasi-psychoanalysis.’ My field of training is theology and biblical studies, but the LORD God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary (Isaiah 50:4 ESV). This is merely my personal insights and views of the origin of the racial issues and tensions in the United States of America.
On the outside, looking into the field of psychiatry and psychology, I noticed that one of the very first things those who are trained in those areas do to assess the extent of their patient’s abnormality is to analyze significant events in the patient’s childhood years. Therefore, in seeking to find the root of America’s racial problems, we need go back to America’s childhood.
Most people, who would eventually become Americans, voluntarily migrated from other areas of the world. They came to the land, that would eventually be called; America, seeking religious freedom and opportunity to better their lives and the lives of their descendants. However, Black people did not voluntarily come to America! While the Pilgrims came over on the Mayflower, seeking freedom, the Black African people were brought over in chains, in the cargo-holds of slave-ships, for the expressed purpose to serve those who were seeking freedom! This was the beginning of the American psychosis! By the way, as a matter of definition, psychosis is defined as a serious mental illness (such as schizophrenia) characterized by defective or lost contact with reality often with hallucinations or delusions. So with that definition in mind, if we are honest, we must admit that it must have been a case of delusion, a ‘divorcement from reality’ for those who voluntarily came to these shores; seeking freedom, to involuntarily bring others to these shores as slaves! That sounds a little crazy to me! That sounds like a case of psychosis!
But not only was America delusional in practice in the beginning, she was delusional in principle also. In early July 1776, a document was formally approved that would become the bedrock of American independence and freedom. It was called: The Declaration of Independence. The most famous, and most often quoted part of that declaration is the second sentence, which states: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Now, here is the hypocrisy and the psychosis of that formalized statement: The primary author; Thomas Jefferson, was one of the forty-one (41) of the fifty-six (56) signers who, at the very moment they signed the document, owned slaves! You draft and sign a formalized document declaring that it is self-evident, it’s obvious, that all men are created equal and that they have a God-given right of life, liberty (freedom), and the pursuit of happiness, yet you yourselves deny freedom, the pursuit of happiness, and the self-evident revelation of all men being created equal to Black people! That’s delusional! That’s a case of psychosis!
Now I don’t know what was going on in the mind of these men, but in order for them to be oblivious to the obvious hypocrisy they engaged in, several assumptions had to have been in play. First of all, since the statement specifically said; ‘all men are created equal,’ in their minds they must have assumed that Black men were not human! Or they wrote it with the unstated understanding that it was to only apply to ‘White’ men. Whatever the reason, it is obvious that America had its inception in racial psychosis! Whichever case was the truth, it may be an indication that it was never the original intent of the majority of the founding fathers for Black men to ever be free in America! Racial discrimination and inequity was ingrained into the DNA of America! The racial tension we are experiencing in America today is nothing new; America was born with this racial psychosis!
But in all fairness, I just said that 41 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were slave-owners, consequently, that means; 15 of the 56 were not! Among those 15 were abolitionists; people who were actively working to abolish slavery. Among those 15 were people who indeed wanted freedom for ‘every’ man in America! I brought this out because I don’t want you to see this critique as being an indictment against ‘all’ White Americans past and present. No! There were some White settlers and colonists who truly believed and sought to live-out, and fight for the true meaning of the Declaration of Independence to be true for all men, including Black men! There have always been some White Americans who were not and are not infected with the American psychosis!
It wasn’t long after the formation of America that many realized their indefensible position of Black non-humanity. When the first constitution was being formed, for the purpose of taxation, the number of seats a state would have in the Congress, and the number of electoral votes, there was a debate over how slaves would be counted. Although the Southern states legally deemed the slaves as property, if they were counted as ‘people’ the Southern states would have an over-whelming majority, clout, and power in Congress, but at the same time, they would have to bear a greater tax burden than the states that had no slaves! Thus a compromise was made that involved counting only 3/5th of the slave population as people for the purpose of taxation and representation. When you deny people their humanity, all sorts of complications and psychotic behaviors come into play!
The great divide in America, which eventually led to the Civil War was the slavery issue! In the Southern states, cotton was king! Much like the ancient Egyptian Pharaohs who forced the Hebrews slaves to build their cities, the economy of the South was built on the bedrock of free slave labor! In the mid-19th century, while the United States was experiencing an era of tremendous growth, a fundamental economic difference existed between the country’s northern and southern regions. In the North, manufacturing and industry was well established, and agriculture was mostly limited to small-scale farms, while the South’s economy was based on a system of large-scale farming that depended on the labor of black slaves to grow certain crops, especially cotton and tobacco. Growing abolitionist sentiment in the North after the 1830s and northern opposition to slavery’s extension into the new western territories led many southerners to fear that the existence of slavery in America—and thus the backbone of their economy—was in danger.
According to an article on History.com: “In 1854, the U.S. Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which essentially opened all new territories to slavery by asserting the rule of popular sovereignty over congressional edict. Pro- and anti-slavery forces struggled violently in “Bleeding Kansas,” while opposition to the act in the North led to the formation of the Republican Party, a new political entity based on the principle of opposing slavery’s extension into the western territories. After the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Dred Scott case (1857) confirmed the legality of slavery in the territories, the abolitionist John Brown’s raid at Harper’s Ferry in 1859 convinced more and more southerners that their northern neighbors were bent on the destruction of the “peculiar institution” that sustained them. Abraham Lincoln’s election in November 1860 was the final straw, and within three months seven southern states–South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas–had seceded from the United States.” The obvious irony in that article that jumps out at me is the fact that the Republican Party was actually birthed as part of the anti-slavery movement in America, while the Democratic Party is the descendant of the old Dixie-crats of the South! Another example of the American psychosis!
I don’t mean to bore you with a long-drawn-out history of America’s racial issues, but I highlighted these early events to shed light on the fact that America was formed, birthed and achieved world dominance in the backdrop of and on the backs of Black slaves! There are many today who are promoting the slogan: “Make America Great Again!” The truth of the matter is: America HAS NEVER BEEN GREAT for the Black, Brown, Red, and Yellow people living in America! America’s so-called greatest was achieved at their expense! Every gain Black people have achieved in America has been through blood, sweat, tears and struggle! The truth the country’s fore-fathers talked about that were endowed by the Creator, such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have never been ‘given’ to Black people! Whatever degree of those attributes Black America possess have come, purchased by blood, sweat, tears and lives!
When I saw the image of George Floyd, laying on the ground, with his hands, hand-cuffed behind his back, with three White police officers placing the full weight of their bodies on his back and neck, and one other officer standing guard to make sure there was no interference, to me, it was a picture that epitomizes the 400-year-struggle of Black America! The weight of racial bigotry, prejudice, and discrimination has been consistently weighing heavily on the backs of Black America! While there are White Americans, who proclaim to be innocent by not actively adding to the weight, they are complicit in that they have turned their backs to the obvious injustices and pretend they don’t see or that these issues don’t even exist! Just like the police officer, with his back turned to the crime, they symbolically stand guard to maintain the status quo!
How can the issue be resolved? The answer is simple, yet complex at the same time! Just do the right thing! Just resolve to live-out the true meaning of the original creed that was written in psychotic-hypocrisy: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men, not just White men, but Black, Brown, Red, and Yellow men as well, are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” I don’t pretend to have all of the answers as to how this can be practically done! But I do know that it will not be done in any form or fashion until there is an acknowledgement of the possibility that many of the original authors of that creed were suffering from a form of psychosis! How could the author of such words write and believe them while, at the same time, owning slaves, which was the very antithesis of the statement? Answers: (1) selective delusion (psychosis), (2) denial of Black man’s humanity (psychosis)! As long as there are a substantial number of White Americans who refuse to acknowledge this psychosis, the problem will persist! As long as there are a substantial number of White Americans who insist on blaming the victim to justify police brutality and injustice; the problem will persist!
I was about to end this article with that point, but I thought about another sign of psychosis that often rears its ugly head in American society. There are some White Americans who say that if Black Americans are so dissatisfied with their life in America, then why don’t they go back to Africa? How delusional can you be? Black Americans did not voluntarily come to America; they were involuntarily ripped from their native lands and brought here, in the holds of cargo ships, packed like sardines, chained as slaves! They worked as slaves, under inhumane conditions to build the economy and structure of America, not to benefit themselves, but to benefit their slave-masters! As time progressed, they work harder for less pay! They sacrificed the most and benefited the least! They were the last hired and the first fired! Whatever America is, she would not be half of what she is were it not for the free labor of slaves and subsequent unpaid and underpaid contributions of Black Americans! And then, some White people have the audacity, the gall, the nerve, the stupidly, the historically uninformed lack of reality to tell Black people to go back to Africa? Black Americans have stake and interest in this country that has been paid with the very lives of Black people! How dare those who have benefit the most have to audacity to suggest that those who have paid and sacrificed the most for their benefit, leave! Not only the suggestion, but even the thought if it, suggest a severe case of psychosis! America needs help! American needs to heal! America needs to spend some time on the psychological couch to free her of her historical and current racial psychosis!