|Photo by Mark Greenwood|
Why is talking about race, inequalities, mental health, and suicide so challenging? Because it has the tendency to invoke uncontrollable emotions, subjectivity, and is a reminder about the open wounds that have yet to heal. We all see the world through our own lens, and we must do a better job listening to the voice on the other side of our personal narrative. It's okay to disagree but listen with clarity, emotional intelligence and work toward necessary changes.
We can strengthen and develop our emotional intelligence through our daily routines, the way we respond to conflict, and by seeing things for what they truly are. We have been conditioned to respond to discord in an unfavorable way. The moment a person or a situation can manipulate our temperament, we are easily controlled by it. Emotional intelligence is simply self-mastery, and self-mastery begins with self-acceptance, exploration, and discovery. I've come to realize that the majority of our problems are social, and it plays an instrumental role in the psychological warfare going on in the minds of many. In conversation, be slow to anger even when you disagree, decrease negative thinking, breathe peacefully, and be aware of those who strive to control you by your emotions.
When we truly seek to understand, we must realize that the innocence of a child is interrupted by the climate of their generation. At times, they are victimized by their inherited culture. What was your upbringing like? How did people in your community feel about other races and how has that influenced you? How many people from different cultures have you genuinely invited in your home on a regular basis, or vice versa? Our home is our most sacred space and celebrating our differences by opening the door says a lot about how a person views the world and the people in the world.
Fortunately and unfortunately, the era a person is born into and to what a person is exposed has the propensity to shape their reality. In 1851, Samuel A Cartwright diagnosed runaway slaves with a mental illness called drapetomania, which was considered to cause many enslaved to flee from captivity. What can possibly make a slave flee.... Today, drapetomania is considered pseudoscience and a contributor to the structure of scientific racism. Before drapetomania was debunked, people in that era believed and wholeheartedly accepted this condition to be true. Sadly, that could be said about many studies today, missing the underlying root causes ofwhat's classified as aberrant behavior.
In 2016, here in Colorado and across the country, the narrative is black lives matter, make America great again, tougher gun laws, the homeless crisis, an urgent need for mental health services, and so much more. One thing I would like to hear more of is labeling theory, as it relates to the transmission of functional and dysfunctional social relationships, behavior, and stressors from multiple generations to be next. Labeling theory is ingrained in the communal construction of a designed reality and continues to show up in everything previously mentioned (BLM, MAGA, the homeless crisis, etc). Whether or not drapetomania was real, the ideology that created the belief system is. Once a person is labeled, (NOTE there is a difference between label and identity) one of the easiest things to do is build stereotypes, separation, and pit people against each other. There is not one white person that represents all white people, there is not one black person that represents all black people, there is not one Hispanic that represents all Hispanics, nor is there one police officer that represents all police. When people get to a place where they can judge a person by the content of their character and not by the label they were giving, we will have a better chance at humanity, but people's values tend to be influenced by systematic thinking.
We all have inherited the history of this country, but have we addressed it? After slavery, Jim Crow laws, ills of segregation, drugs being brought into the communities and many other historical wounds, there were no mental health services addressing trauma for those being oppressed. There is growing research that suggests many classified as African American and other minorities still suffer from a psychological trauma that has been linked to post-traumatic slave and poverty syndrome.
When you see a Black Lives Matter protest after a police shooting, what comes to mind?
Everybody has an opinion, but everybody does not seek understanding. Police officers were once called slave patrol and many people are unaware of the historical trauma and mental health implications that still has on people today. I would love to see better relationships with law enforcement in minority communities. It's time to take a more holistic approach and deal with the psychology. Everyone is under what I call inherited conditions, and until we work towards understanding those conditions, the cycle will continue.
The complexity is vast, and there is no one answer.
|Graphic by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research|
- Motivated to help themselves
- Shame or pride
- Don't believe the provider is qualified to deal with the needs of minorities
- No relationship
- Have been hurt by a broken system that doesn't seem to care about minorities
- Don't want to be mentally molested by poverty pimps
- Lack of resources
- Financial hardships
- Don't know how
- Don't think they need help
Ultimately, everybody wants the best for themselves, their family, and community.So we must learn about the unique needs a person has on an individual level because one size does not fit all.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that the rate of suicide in the US is increasing. Could it be the lack of social acceptance, people growing hopeless, the unknown, or a growing mental illness pandemic? I'm going with them all, but highlight the lack of social acceptance. In the 12th century in Japan, Seppuku (a samurai ritual for suicide) was performed from a lack of shame and to give or restore honor. When a person has private pictures released on the internet, like the samurai, suicide seems to be the only way to escape the shame and restore honor. Outside of the mentally ill, the thought of failing at life and not living up to the expectations people have for you or themselves, seems to be the common denominator. We live in a country that does not accept failure, and I believe we must look at the social pressures and truly acknowledge them to be major contributing factors surrounding the growing misconceptions about mental health.
When doing this work, we must continue to strengthen and develop our emotional intelligence. We need more kind-hearted and compassionate people. Compassionate about life and compassionate about endless possibilities. More people supporting those in need and just spending time together. Sometimes the only prescription that's needed is knowing that someone cares.
Let's fall in love with life and improve the quality of our relationships. To everyone reading this, smile because you're beautiful and you are what the world has been waiting for. When you wake up, wake up seeing how you can make a difference and never lose site of the beauty within.