The effects of slavery on Black people, particularly in America, did not only implement physical harm, but it continues to have mental and psychological effects on our thinking. During slavery, America was conditioned to view Black people as less important than animals…Literally!
There were more laws to protect the safety of livestock, than there were to protect Black men, women, and children. Although in 2015, we have been liberated from the plantation, we are still being held captive by the plantation mentality. Many of us still see ourselves as three-fifths of a White person, still think that we are biologically inferior to non-Blacks, and still think we deserve the oppression that we still are forced to endure.
Dr. Carter G. Woodson talked about how controlling a man’s thinking will forever hold him down, when he said:
“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his “proper place” and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit.”
To summarize his thought, I like to call it Post Traumatic Slave Disorder (P.T.S.D.). All around us we see people who display symptoms of this kind of ailment. In the most recent incident of police misconduct, a White South Carolina officer literally manhandled a young Black girl by tossing her across a classroom for being disruptive. Many who saw the viral video were outraged on how a grown man could treat a child like this. However, there were quite a few Black people who felt like the officer’s actions were justified. There was even a student protest in support of the police officer at the high school where the incident took place. The protest included several White and Black students. Many were in shock to see Black people respond in this way, but I realize that these people are still suffering from P.T.S.D. In order for anyone to blame the young girl and support that officer, they must clearly does not see the value in Black life. Regardless of what the young lady did or didn’t do, there should be no justification for the intense brutality that she had to endure.
However, P.T.S.D. victims are not only found in South Carolina, they are all over. We saw it in the people who said that Sandra Bland, Mike Brown, and Eric Garner should have just complied. We saw it with Trayvon Martin when they said he shouldn’t have been walking with a hoodie late at night. We saw it with Freddie Gray when they said he shouldn’t have run away.
People suffering from P.T.S.D. have a tendency to blame the victims and absolve Whites of any responsibility in the continued oppression of Black people. For people with healthy Black minds, it can be a challenge when dealing with our brothers and sisters who are still mentally sick; However, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who is also the founder of Black History Month, identifies the cure. He states, “If you teach the Negro that he has accomplished as much good as any other race, he will aspire to equality and justice without regard to race.”
If we must rid our people of this infection known as Post Traumatic Slave Disorder (P.T.S.D.), education of history must be our antibiotics. We must truly educate our people on how the horrors of slavery still linger on, even today. We must teach them that prior to our enslavement, we come from Kings and Queens on the Earth’s most resource rich continent, also known as Africa.
In teaching each other our true history we will be loosed, not only from the physical chains of slavery; but also the psychological and mental chains as well.