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October 12, 2015

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Racism in America: A psychological approach

Racism is arguably a very significant problem in America, yet some people deny its existence or impact.

The study of the existence of racism is a sociological conversation. Yet the answer to racism in America does not exist within the field of sociology. The discussion may lie with political pundits, yet the answer is not within political science. Economics is the leading cause of racism, yet correcting economics will not end racism. This is why a person’s economic status does not resolve his exposure to racist activities.

Sociology studies what is happening and why.  Political science is the game of power grabbing. Economics is the study of how society accumulates and distributes its scarce resources, and in America there is a positive correlation between being Black and being poor. Yet knowing Black history will not change the future of racism. The real answer to racism is within the field of psychology.  The Psychology of the 310 million American minds is where the answers are.

So what is the psychology of racism?  It is the psychological possession of an inferiority or a superiority complex.
To suffer from one of these complexes creates habits or thought processes that many justify by believing this perception of the world is actually true. The thought that one race is superior or inferior is a common debate that has argued throughout human intellectual history. And to this day, there are beliefs that are passed down by past generations and reinforced by current events.

Yet, if all men are equal, or at the very least, equitably capable, then the complex is not actual but just a complex that lives in the minds of the narrow. Within the mind is where the solution must be triggered. A learned perception of various groups and their capacities may shape the way one chooses to engage with such groups, and possibly reinforce a false reality of such groups. For example, “see there they go again!”

What if one doesn’t believe the difference is inborn between the races, but exists between the cultural practices of such groups. Maybe self-degradation of one group is looked down upon by another group. This may justify a superiority complex based on cultural norms and not simply skin color or ancestry. Does that make a difference, or is it still just as ugly? To eliminate a deeper level of ignorant hate, let’s move forward with cultural practices being the source of difference and distain.

I propose that many may frown upon other cultural practices, yet the failure to look internally and objectively to one’s own cultural norms may have a hint of superiority or at the very least hypocrisy. Following this thought process, one’s social maturity or acceptance may allow introspection and lead to a conclusion that we all have our baggage and issues. So we are left with how we still feel about those we cannot relate to. We must internally and psychologically fight against the urge to react with intolerance, hate or fear.

As a society that must all engage, coexist and compete for limited resources, dividing into teams makes winning easier.   What we may find in the end is that cultures who struggle with forming strong and effective teams, suffer the most and may have to deal with overcoming an inferiority complex.

U.S. Capitalism and Democracy is a team sport. The irony is that Blacks excel at professional level team sports, yet in the most important team sport, they tend to be incohesive. In U.S. Capitalism, we form teams of corporations and business associations to employ us and provide us with a source of income and self-worth. In democracy we form teams of campaigns and parties in order to elect politicians with our interest at heart. Historically, Blacks suffer the highest rates of unemployment. As voters, they are very inconsistent in turning out to vote. As business owners, they receive the lease amount of respect regarding competence and competition.

The most impactful team anyone can play on in America is the team of the family. Blacks have the highest rate of single parent households of all ethnic groups in the U.S.. This lack of full time dual parenting under one roof hinders child development financially, emotionally and socially.

Only a fool would let hisThe two most effective ways to defeat poverty are by:
1. Intergenerational wealth building (inheritance of assets or family business).
2. Prioritizing education.

Yet since the end of the great migration of Blacks from the south in the 1960’s, the percentage of both #1 and #2 above have been on a steady decline.

All these facts are the key root to current Blacks having an inferiority complex, as well as many other groups having a superiority complex over Blacks.

Many will suggest, Black’s have made tremendous progress over the last 50 years. They have ascended to the highest ranks of every category of success in America. While this is true, a handful of CEO’s, Presidents and Neurosurgeons does not address the 50% to 75% of Blacks who live with a deep sense of inferiority.

The answer: Social re-engineering through Psychological training for cultural shifts. Social engineering is the planned creation of a social hierarchy that is put in place by the dominant few.  The difficulty in any plan to implement this social re-engineering are bound by two major facts:
1. A phenomenon I have coined “Dead Black Heroes.” The only people who can save Black people in American, are Black people themselves. No one else can or will reach the masses on the level required to make any substantive cultural shifts.
2. A phenomenon I have coined the “Criss-Crossover effect.” For centuries the Black experience has been one way and now it has reversed direction. “Crabs in a bucket” is a popular analogy that is fitting to the Black experience. Black’s have been divided based on the favor granted to a select few by whites (house nigga vs. field nigga). This breed of jealousy is unmatched by any other minority experience in U.S. history. This was not entirely founded on U.S. soil, but off the coast Africa. Slave-traders took tribal adversaries with different cultures, languages and customs and placed them in a box and forced them to adapt to captivity. The main point being that there has never in the history of African Americans, been a united people. Each era of Black leaders have always had two fractioned leaders who were either on the side of the most talented few, or the side of the masses. (house niggas, or field niggas).

As whites assessed Black’s skills over labor, they found a talent pool that proved to be entertaining. Thus expanding the use of Blacks from labor to include entertainer. This new found prestige which was exhibited in the 2013 movie “12 years a slave,” created one singular door to escape captivity. Yet this opening was narrow. This created additional jealousy within the Black population. Blacks became obsessed with the need for white acceptance, reinforcing an already established complex. Josephine Baker, Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday to name a few grew popularity that granted them access to white venues to perform as long as they used the back entrance.

Baker Banana.jpg

This desire for acceptance turned into the coined phase “The struggle” in the 1970’s and is now the one common denominator in what is now defined as “Black culture.” If the struggle is removed from an art form produced by a black artist, the genre is questioned. For example, The Cosby show received much criticism from Black audiences for not being “real enough.” As well, most of the African American Oscar winners nominated by whites have been for roles depicting Black characters in “the struggle.”

Image result for images of black power movementThe term “the struggle” was made popular in the early 1970’s following the black power movement where pride in the Black culture was propagandized. This power was to be sought through direct engagement against white oppression. Police departments and the FBI engaged Blacks on frontlines. This “struggle,” coupled with the abuse of heroin, made popular by Vietnam war vets and pushers of urban communities in the early 1970’s greatly impacted the already fraught Black male employment rate. This took a devastating toll on Black family structures.

Even though the foundation of the Black family was cracking, it survived financially through the 1970’s, touting the largest increase in Black wealth and prosperity prior to and ever since. Yet the cracks began to crumble during the crack epidemic of the 1980’s. The struggle, or internalized inferiority complex within the Black community creates a high percentage of drug use as coping mechanisms. This coping leaves opportunities for black-marketeers to mass distribute the next drug that may wipe out all the gains of those who have made strives to improve on a legacy.

Drug epidemics spread poverty given its deep impact on a community by incapacitating the addicted, imprisoning the parents, demoralizing lifestyles and killing innocent bystanders. All of which reinforce an inferiority complex. This draining of talent and potential increases “Dead Black Heroes.” Those who never received the opportunity to be fathers, providers and role models.

With the advent of the cultural art form known as Hip-Hop, young Black artist fight to squeeze through the narrow door of entertainment, while ignoring science, engineering, medical and business doors busted wide open by many successful Blacks of the recent past. Hip-Hop is a cultural lifestyle that encourages the culture of struggle through the rejection of authority. This struggle manifests a rejection of authority figures that may have harassed, arrested and expelled you and left you fatherless. With 45% Black male inmates in the most imprisoned society ever known to man, authority figures do not earn the respect required to effectively teach vicarious learners. This leaves generations to repeat mistakes that often leave residual effects that make it difficult to mature and progress as an adult when the entertainment career doesn’t pan out.

Hip Hop music is an art that imitates life, which in turn imitates art. The breadth of the Hip Hop genre is very narrow in comparison to other forms of music. The overemphasis of womanizing hyper sexuality, street violence and competing with your haters are all artistic reflections of the realities of people who suffer inferiority complexes. Those with superiority complexes will ignore the millions of examples that exceed those limits in order to protect their perspectives and gain the gratification of their complex.

The “Criss-Crossover effect” is where no longer are Motown artist leaving their fan base in order to cross over to the white market for monetary success, but white artist are now crossing over to an urban swag appeal to grow their brand. The pop(ular) music of the 80’s has been replaced with a street laced urban grind. So now it’s acceptable to be a marijuana smoking non-conformist that rejects authority.

People with superiority complexes can now enjoy the entertainment of black celebrities, copy and mimic their style, and all the while maintain their complex. But for how long?

Admitting to the complex? An example

I was recently on vacation with family and friends, all of which were Black. A discussion came up regarding the recent rash of officer involved shooting deaths of African American men. A few participants in this conversation sided with the officer’s perspective of trying to get home safely each night. One female, we’ll name, Shonda was upset at this stance. She argued vigorously that the officers should have known better, and could have deescalate the situation rather than shoot to kill.

Knowing a little about Shonda, I interjected just to inflame the argument just for the fun of it. I told Shonda that she had an inferiority complex. She denied it and took offense to the term. I advised her that I would prove it in 3 minutes. I went on to clarify my point. I recapped a series of conversations that I learned about Shonda over the course of this vacation, it went something like this: “Shonda is a 3rd grade teacher who has admitted to caring for her students deeply until a difficult students parents cross her and defy her efforts. At that point she gives up on the child and focuses on the other students who want to learn and behave. I can understand that completely. Yet, I also asked Shonda if she gets as upset when she hears of a Black man killing another Black man on the streets of Chicago. She answers yes. We all look at each other with a sarcasmic look on our faces. Even Shonda’s face can’t stay straight because she knows she has no clue of the streets of Chicago.

I proceed. I tell her when I hear of anyone getting killed in the street life, as a college professor and inner city mentor, my first emotion is empathy, my second emotion is sorrow, my third emotion is guilt. Shonda interrupts me with a “guilt?!” I continue, yes guilt, not anger. I feel that we create this world a certain way, and the next generation must cope.  If the 3rd grade teacher threw her hands up and passed the buck, and the parents threw their hands up and passed the buck, and the high school counselor threw their hands up and passed the buck and I failed the kid in college and threw my hands up and passed the buck, who did I pass the buck to? Now the boy is 21 years old with no direction, the only person that this society has left to deal with this boy is a police officer with a gun. No one taught that child how to respect authority and we all allowed, enabled and inadvertently created that interaction with the authorities that claimed his life. Until each and every citizen puts down their hands, puts down their blame and puts down their complex and deals with their contribution to this society, nothing will change for the better.

Shonda utters, “So how do I have an inferiority complex?” I respond, if a Black man kills another Black man, it won’t surprise or enrage you because you know that’s what inferior people do. But when a white officer, who is supposed to know better does it, it’s a problem. Shonda is expecting this superior person to act in a superior way, but her inferiority complex is not allowing her to see that people should be less inclined to shoot people from their own group compared to altercations between two people from differing groups.

Psychologically, Shonda should ask herself how deeply rooted is her complex. On a jury, would she judge a black defendant more harshly than a white? Would she hire Blacks at the same rate as whites? Would she expect to receive a standard level of customer service while patronizing a black owned business? Would she clutch her purse in an elevator? If she feels a negative way regarding Blacks in the above situations, as a Black woman how can she exclude herself from that inferiority? Why?

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9 Comments Post a comment
  1. Elliot Gonzales
    Oct 14 2015

    I agree with and learned from much of what i just read. Let me start with explaining that my perspective is that of a Hispanic young man, raised in the south in a mainly black community, but I do not claim to identify with the black struggle, I have my own struggles and through this, find it a deep necessity to open space to develop a global solidarity for the advancement of all people, especially those who have struggled the most.

    That said, I feel the discussion with Shonda was a bit off topic. Given the deep psychological and sociological impact people of color and people who do not fit into the paradigm of society’s ideal person, white, heterosexual, Christian men, it is fair to say that all who are not in this supposed “majority” always feel a complex. They are labeled “minority”, despite their relation to the population. Shonda does not have any more of complex as a black woman than other woman or person of color. She has every right to expect authority to withhold restraint in acting violently and especially using fatal force on anyone, especially when this person is a person who looks like her. I’m not black, I but I see the injustice and also decry the violence inflicted by the state. This is not due to a inferiority complex, but a blatant and bold stance, I feel, we must all take against injustice.

    Was this not what civil rights movement was about? Were people not called into mass movements to speak out against oppression, violence, second-class citizenship? What difference does it make an experience she shared about something that happened in her class? Whether she’s a black woman or a white nun, all should stand up against killing of young men, especially black and brown, (and red men) by the supposed authority. This should end, this should have ended in the 60’s and 70’s but those young men who were leading the movement were also fatally shot.

    As to your point about hip-hop and cultural misappropriation of white artists, I couldn’t agree more. I would add that the rap industry, in my opinion seems to be intentionally manipulated to eliminate the voice of the artists and the movement, with black lives matter and police brutality taking another decade of debate amongst a head-in-the-sand television focused population, it seems the music inspired by deep cultural roots that have withstood great obstacles has been co-opted by a corporate for-profit industry that loves to perpetuate a sex drugs and gang violence image of black men. Public Enemy started as resistance music calling for a revolution, A Tribe Called Quest, Talib Kwali, Arrested Development, all call for cultural embrace, consciousness raising and the empowerment of young people. Yet 50 cent, Flakka and twerk music makes the Billboard headlines. BET did not cover the million man march anniversary. Perhaps the revolution will not be televised. It is nonetheless necessary. As someone inspired by Malcolm X and MLK, I hear their speeches and am often drawn to tears and anger as I hear their plight articulated and see the news describing the same things happening today. The revolution against a white dominated system, a political and economic revolution that Malcolm called for, must be enacted. The spiritual revolution, a revolution of love, that King called for, is our only hope.

  2. TBM
    Nov 5 2015

    That’s deep and heartfelt. Great points and good question.
    ??? Here’s my thought –
    While I can appreciate the purpose and importance of the ‘I’m Black and I’m Pround’ notion, I still believe in my great grandfather’s dream of all ‘men’ being created and treated equally. I too dream that my children live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Not to make light of the hate in the world, but being judged by our character starts with how we view ourselves. I also believe that the Inferiority complex will continue to exist as long as there is a lack of esteem (which can take place in a third grade classroom) and as long as we continue to label ourselves. As such, “We can never be satisfied as long as…” – MLK (I Have a Dream)

  3. Deon Lucas
    Apr 27 2016

    This is a very interesting article and provides some insight from a different perspective. I have learned from experience, that it is pointless to have this conversation with a Caucasian person and I refuse to engage in dialogue with them about it. Some Black people also choose to ignore the obvious.

  4. Glen Starks
    May 22 2016

    I agreed with a lot of what you wrote. However, one thing that I wish more teachers and people who can educate students would do is teach them their history.

    Sometimes, when we know their is historical significance behind our own feelings, actions and reactions we gain a sense of understanding that allows us to handle the problems or gifts that come from situations.

    An example would be that I learned about Jimi Hendrix and Chuck Berry as a child so I did not feel alienated by my own black culture in regards to music, although both of those musicians performed rock music.

    Rock music is primarily performed by white people in today’s world, but since I was taught that black people had a major influence since its inception I feel comfortable listening and enjoying it.

    The same could be said for science, math and many other genre’s of life that black people have influenced but have not received worldly acclaim for. As educators you must take the time to teach history if you want to help people of color succeed.

  5. This inferiority complex is something I never really thought of. I have recently changed my paradigm on racism and this article adds a nice twist to it. I have started to realize that I don’t hate or dislike racists anymore, I pity them. It is sad that they are ignorant of how great it is to immerse yourself in the culture of others which even I have done very little. This adds a nice twist of understanding that the cultures each have their own shortcomings, I think all cultures have the inferiority or superiority complex to some extent but the black and white cultures are definitely suffering the most.

  6. Beatriz Temores Garcia
    May 31 2017

    I enjoyed this article. Racism is a topic that not many want to discuss and have a debate on in fear of ending the conversation in unfavorable terms. Challenging your friend was very brave of you. You did not share with us how the conversation ended, but knowing that you were all friends and adults, I hope that it ended well. Upon reflecting back, I have to admit that there has been times that I have found myself within an inferior or superior complex, even within my own racial group. Linking racism to a physiological factor is relatable but also very dependent on one’s individual history and our life situations. Through my family and social influences I would react based on the circumstances that I am placed in. I can honestly tell you that I find myself at times thinking that I am superior to those Hispanic individuals that are less educated and/or less fortunate. I know that it is wrong after reflecting upon my thinking, but my initial reaction is because of the “teams” that I have been accepted to and that have influenced my thinking in one way of the other. My family, teachers, friends, co-workers, bosses, etc., have all at some point in my life influenced my thinking. For all these reasons, I at times feel inferior or superior to other individuals. However, I do not think that this is racist on my part, just a physiological reaction that at times I blindly follow. Now I am not saying that racism does not have a psychological influence. I believe that there racism is triggered and feed by some kind of psychological factor and in order to combat racism we have to battle are inter psychological demons. As pointed out instead of narrow minded, we have to be open minded and learn to think for ourselves. Critical thinking is necessary for us to set our own ways and thinking without automatically leaning to our early age influences. We have to be in control of our own thinking and feelings.

  7. Chrispal Singh
    May 31 2017

    Race is a very complex issue. America is a very young country that just recently making progress in racial and women’s rights and equality. The system was designed to put minorities mainly blacks in an unfair position using sports or becoming a music artist is the only way of making it out of poverty places. Without education and very little money, it makes sense why many African Americans turn to gangs and other outlets since their own government doesn’t help them. One reason I love rap music is that i come from a hard-knock childhood and rap is one of the very few genres of music that is able to express the deep emotional trauma many kids and teens faced that is not talked about or looked at because of the media puts that stigma on the issue. An interesting point I would like to point out is that more blacks face schizophrenia since many of them as kids say the pledge of allegiance to the United States government ironically, later they fear the government which creates a psychological dilemma within the individual.

  8. Adam Garcia
    Jun 1 2017

    This article was very interesting to read and raised some points I never thought about really at all. The whole inferiority/ superiority complex is a very interesting matter, we definitely are all guilty of these complexes. It is so embedded into our society were conditioned from birth to have these notions in our minds. Your comment for Shonda is very true about how she is enraged about a white officer killing an innocent ethnic male. She is upset that the “superior” white male should know better than to assert his power negativity to kill someone who he may view as inferior to him. But the fact that she wouldn’t be as angry if it was ethnic on ethnic violence is a prime example of how we would all react. We as a society need to view things from the bigger picture, we need to zoom out the scope and then expand it once more. For this scenario, we need to look past the skin color of the individuals involved. We need to assess the situation for what it is someone of authority using their power in the worst way possible and ending a life when other measures could’ve been done instead. We need to integrate this approach into all aspect of our life. We also need to stick together but with everyone, forget about teams and think about yourself to be the winner. If you want to feel superior, Feel superior towards EVERYONE for being the best person you can possibly be and you’ll be a winner.

  9. Slayman Alfarah
    Jun 1 2017

    I agree with this article in many different ways. I’m someone who grew up in a heavy poverty populated town. You state that Blacks are seen in the political eye as people who are lesser of value and that makes their push to succeeding much harder so many turns into pursuing careers in the entertainment business like sports and rap. In my town, many teens and even parents viewed it that way. They didn’t think they had a chance to make a living by working a government job or even going into politics because they know they’ll be treated unfairly so they pursue a different type of living.
    The Government, in some people’s eyes, is all a “trick”. Some say that the obstacles we face today like poverty are there because the government created it. The government created the section 8 living neighborhoods so it can identify the poor and keep them there from succeeding because the government is afraid to see a minority succeed. As I was watching a Kendrick Lamar rap video, I stumbled upon an interview of his that was very informative. One statement he made was that the reason Blacks have a heavy schizophrenia development when they grow up and its due to the devotion we have for this country. It’s caused by the repetitive nature of us doing the flag salute every morning before class and thinking that the government is backing us up and when we later learn they aren’t in our adult lives, that flag salute causes some trauma resulting into schizophrenia.

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