2008-12-26 / Columnists

It's My Turn

Self-Examination: The Time Has Come
Commentary By Timothy Aaron-Styles

Timothy Aaron-Styles Timothy Aaron-Styles Yes, racism and white cultural supremacy are legitimate, documented obstacles to the advancement of Black people.

Equally, mediocrity, complacency, sameness and self-sabotage are impediments to the individual and collective transformation and progress of many, probably most, Black folks.

However, while white cultural supremacy and racism are externally imposed, mediocrity, complacency and self-sabotage are internal and selfimposed.

I am well aware of the historical and scientific fact that a lot of the Black community's self-imposed ills are attributable to four hundred years of slavery, oppression, discrimination, Jim Crow, redlining, lynchings and other systematic dehumanizing circumstances and experiences rained down upon us by individuals, families, communities, organizations, laws, countries and governments.

After years of observation, conversations, discussions and experiences, I have concluded that we as a community have got to be willing to deal with the reality of mental illness and certain pathologies that permeate our lives - individually and collectively. In our families, homes, religious organizations, political groups and social assemblages.

Yes - even in our religious organizations, where healing and transformation are theoretically supposed to miraculously transpire. Even among religious leaders whom we believe are endowed and entrusted with the divine faculties and powers to "cast out" afflictions, maladies and ailments.

I am a firm believer that the mental and emotional illnesses and negative conditions I have witnessed and encountered during my lifetime can be attributable to "Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome" as asserted by the dynamic Dr. Joy Leary, an old associate of mine whom first introduced me to Axiology and its importance in understanding ethnic and cultural difference, at a Baha'i conference in Atlanta during the early 80's.

Yes, I believe, like Drs. Franz Fanon, Naim Akbar, W.E.B DuBois and Joy Leary that the negative mental conditions, dysfunctionalism and/or pathologies originally perpetrated and systematically perpetuated, by slavery, discrimination and social and economic domination, do and have become the customary standard for relationships (dysfunctional), communication (noisy or non-existent) and self-identity (lack thereof; self-negating; self-destructive) in the Black community.

Like Akbar and Leary, I believe that the historic "Willie Lynch Papers" accurately describe a real, scientific process systematically utilized to create the dysfunctionalism in, and of, Black people.

However, attribution should not

become excuse, nor should it become diversion from the fact that something is amiss and action is necessary - something must be done! Once the cause of a malady is discovered and properly attributed, some action(s) must occur to completely heal the malady or else it will linger, thrive and potentially "re-invent" itself to manifest in another way or a

multitude of manners.

A social, emotional or psychological problem can be present and prevalent for so long that it comfortably finds a place in our lives becoming accepted to the extent that it becomes "the norm."

What is actually abnormal or dysfunctional behavior can become so comfortably accepted and perpetuated that it becomes a lifestyle - a standard of living - or even a family tradition passed on from one generation to the next. Here I must mention Jung's Theory of Collective Unconsciousness.

And it is my personal belief that I would not impose on anyone else, that at some point, real healthy and (w)holistic therapy is needed in order to truly heal. And attribution (not blame, mind you) is the fourth step in the healing process itself and not the actual healing process itself. The fourth step, you ask?

Well, the first step is the acceptance that there is a problem that needs to be addressed and resolved.

The second: the clear definition of the problem.

Third step - that help is needed in order to overcome or resolve the problem.

The thing is these first four steps all require the existence or application of one very important spiritual principle - honesty. (Sigh) That elusive simple, infinitesimal thing called "honesty."

The collective psychological maladies, from which we as a community suffer, are sustained and proliferated by the number one adversary to the spiritual quality and principle of honesty - self-denial.

Self-denial oftentimes manifests through the act of "shifting the blame." Deflection. And blame, unfortunately, is often mistaken for attribution.

But it are not the same. Attribution is necessary and healthy. Blame is counter productive and diversionary.

Attribution creates clarification - "clearing up" - through the naming and identification of cause and origin.

Attribution creates mutual, shared ownership and responsibility while "blame" renders them solely as the other person's fault - their issue and burden to bear. Blame allows us to divest our own responsibility.

Attribution is a transitory station along the road to personal conversion and emancipation because once one has attributed to the other person(s) or party - the actual work necessary for one to change their condition, circumstance or situation is still their own responsibility. Their work to do.

On the contrary, blame allows us to put it all on the other party as the "cause" and the entity responsible for doing the work necessary to effect change and transformation.

But such clear distinctions require rationality and honesty in the first place, don't they?

It's a vicious, dysfunctional cycle. For real…

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