Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome" by DR. JOY DEGRUY

QUOTING FROM Dr. Joy Degruy's book, "Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome"

I recalled being at a local school parent's meeting where I overheard a conversation occurring between two mothers. One of the mothers was black and the other white. Their children were classmates and played sports together at school. The black mother commented on the achievements of the white mother's child, saying "Your son is really coming along."

The white mother responded with pride, "Thank you. He is quite the man. He's in the talented and gifted program here at the school, and as you know, he's playing well in little league. He has really excelled this year! He's just like his father."

The white woman went on for some time singing the praises of her child. When she finished she turned her attention to the black mother's child, remembering how exceptional he was, and said, "Your son is also doing quite well. I hear..."

Before she finished her statement the black mother, who too was clearly proud of her little boy, said, "Oh girl, he's such a mess at home. Sometimes I could just strangle him."

When we roll the scene back a few hundred years we see a slave master walking through the fields coming upon a slave woman. The slave master approaches her and her children and remarks, "Well now, that Mary of yours is really coming along."

The slave mother, terrified that the slave master may see qualities in her daughter that could merit her being raped or sold says, "Naw sir, she ain't worth nothin'. She cain't work. She stupid. She shiftless." The slave mother's denigrating statements about her daughter were spoken in an effort to dissuade the slave master from molesting or selling her, and of course, no one would fault her. Slave mothers and fathers had been belittling their children in an effort to protect them for hundreds of years. Yet what originally began as an appropriate adaptation to an oppressive and danger-filled environment has been subsequently transmitted down through generations.

While on the surface seemingly harmless, such behavior serves to both humiliate and injure the young black children of today,[...]. Sadly, neither the black mother nor her children understand the historical forces that have helped to shape her behavior. Degruy, pg 10-14

On Trauma's Effect
Perhaps the greatest impact [though], were the daily efforts of the slave owners and others in authority to break the slaves' will. Free will is at the core of being human. Can you imagine what it must be like to have your will assaulted on a daily basis? You live in a society that constantly reminds you that you are no different from livestock and in some cases less valuable. You are beaten until you call the cruelest and most vile man you know "Master". Degruy, pg 120

On Visiting South Africa,
"Did you think we would forget you? I am from Lesotho, Lesotho is my home. If I leave Lesotho, Lesotho is still my home. If I leave Lesotho for fifty years, Lesotho is still my home. You are African, 300 years from home. We mourned Martin and Malcolm with you, we are so proud of you, we just wondered when you were coming home." The tears flowed and we sung yet again. Degruy, pg. 186

A powerful book that makes me "pause" before jumping to conclusions. A MUST READ for all regardless of race.

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