The New Jim Crow – Racism or Class?

Interesting study contrasting class and racism….

Btx3's Blog

An interesting view from Author Robert D. Putnam on inequalities in American society and the economy. Putnam believes that racism isn’t the major impediment to economic mobility in the country anymore – class is. And as far as that goes he may be correct. However, in weighing whether racism is an issue – a lot depends on just what you define as “racism”. The conservative view of that is “we aren’t hanging you from trees and burning down your homes anymore – so there is no racism”. Of course to anyone else with an IQ above freezing water – racism is a lot more nuanced that just physical acts of depravity. I mean – just because you aren’t shooting me – doesn’t mean you aren’t trying to kill me with a knife.

Robert Putnam: Class Now Trumps Race as the Great Divide in America

Robert D. Putnam, author of Bowling…

View original post 523 more words

[COLUMN] Do Better, Be Better: Living with Race Trauma – Wellness & Empowerment – EBONY

English: African American History
English: African American History (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’re Black in America, it’s very likely that you live with one of two plaguing feelings:

At any moment your rights can violated and you’ll be powerless to defend yourself legally or physically.

At any moment the rights of someone you love will be violated and you will be powerless to defend them legally or physically.

Now if you were Caucasian, this phenomenon would be widely accepted as a source of major psychological trauma (an emotional injury resulting form an extremely stressful or life threatening situation). There would likely be a series of specialized programs, resources or mainstreamed evidence based practices devised to help cope with the persistent exposure — just think about the seminars they have at suburban schools when a student commit suicide — and you’d be put on meds.

But for African Americans, it’s just life.

We are used to living in fear. We have grown accustomed to being preyed upon. Worst of all, we have learned to de-value our lives so much that it is now acceptable for us to kill each other. Our boys openly lament about doubting they will live past 25 years old. We brag about serving punitive consequences for antisocial behaviors. Our youth — and adults —openly deface our communities with graffiti, litter and urine. We don’t mandate marriage, a universal social security, before — or after —procreation. This is not what being Black, African or African-American is about.

This is about the lack of hope — due to trauma. This is about the repercussions of generations of people being exposed to persistent fear, anxiety and abuse. This is the result of having dreams of fair integration shattered. The effect of introducing drugs to mothers of a community. The impact of purposefully robbing men of their core source of pride: The ability to provide and lead. Most African-Americans are traumatized. Sadly, not enough have the natural resources to combat it wholly.

I’d love to say there’s an easy answer to eradicating trauma — but I won’t lie to you. The fact is each person has to decide how he/she wants to cope with it in their lives (counseling, support groups, self-education/awareness), and whether they are willing to pass on their knowledge to their circle and beyond. If we truly want to do better, be better, we have a bitter pill to swallow: Black Americans, collectively, are not winning. And yet, there is a bright side: We have the power to change it.

Do better, be better. Talk to me at

via [COLUMN] Do Better, Be Better: Living with Race Trauma – Wellness & Empowerment – EBONY.

Perceived racism may impact black Americans’ mental health

Perceived racism may impact black Americans’ mental health

November 16, 2011 in Psychology & Psychiatry

For black American adults, perceived racism may cause mental health symptoms similar to trauma and could lead to some physical health disparities between blacks and other populations in the United States, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association.


While previous studies have found links between racism and mental health, this is the first meta-analysis on the subject focusing exclusively on black American adults, according to the study published online in APA’s Journal of Counseling Psychology.

“We focused on black American adults because this is a population that has reported, on average, more incidents of racism than other racial minority groups and because of the potential links between racism and not only mental health, but physical health as well,” said lead author Alex Pieterse, PhD, of the University at Albany, State University of New York.

Researchers examined 66 studies comprising 18,140 black adults in the United States. To be included in the analysis, a study must have been published in a peer-reviewed journal or dissertation between 1996 and 2011; include a specific analysis of mental health indicators associated with racism; and focus specifically on black American adults in the United States.

Black Americans’ psychological responses to racism are very similar to common responses to trauma, such as somatization, which is psychological distress expressed as physical pain; interpersonal sensitivity; and anxiety, according to the study. Individuals who said they experienced more and very stressful racism were more likely to report mental distress, the authors said.

While the researchers did not collect data on the impacts on physical health, they cite other studies to point out that perceived racism may also affect black Americans’ physical health.

“The relationship between perceived racism and self-reported depression and anxiety is quite robust, providing a reminder that experiences of racism may play an important role in the health disparities phenomenon,” Pieterse said. “For example, African-Americans have higher rates of hypertension, a serious condition that has been associated with stress and depression.”

The authors recommended that therapists assess racism experiences as part of standard procedure when treating black Americans, and that future studies focus on how discrimination is perceived in specific settings, such as work, online or in school.

More information: Full text of the article is available at … pieterse.pdf

Provided by American Psychological Association search and more info website


via Perceived racism may impact black Americans’ mental health.

Is Extreme Racism a Mental Illness?: Yes


It can be a delusional symptom of psychotic disorders

Alvin F Poussaint, Professor of psychiatry1

Author information ► Copyright and License information ►

The American Psychiatric Association has never officially recognized extreme racism (as opposed to ordinary prejudice) as a mental health problem, although the issue was raised more than 30 years ago. After several racist killings in the civil rights era, a group of black psychiatrists sought to have extreme bigotry classified as a mental disorder. The association’s officials rejected the recommendation, arguing that because so many Americans are racist, even extreme racism in this country is normative—a cultural problem rather than an indication of psychopathology.

The psychiatric profession’s primary index for diagnosing psychiatric symptoms, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), does not include racism, prejudice, or bigotry in its text or index.1 Therefore, there is currently no support for including extreme racism under any diagnostic category. This leads psychiatrists to think that it cannot and should not be treated in their patients.

To continue perceiving extreme racism as normative and not pathologic is to lend it legitimacy. Clearly, anyone who scapegoats a whole group of people and seeks to eliminate them to resolve his or her internal conflicts meets criteria for a delusional disorder, a major psychiatric illness.

Extreme racists’ violence should be considered in the context of behavior described by Allport in The Nature of Prejudice.2 Allport’s 5-point scale categorizes increasingly dangerous acts. It begins with verbal expression of antagonism, progresses to avoidance of members of disliked groups, then to active discrimination against them, to physical attack, and finally to extermination (lynchings, massacres, genocide). That fifth point on the scale, the acting out of extermination fantasies, is readily classifiable as delusional behavior.

More recently, Sullaway and Dunbar used a prejudice rating scale to assess and describe levels of prejudice.3 They found associations between highly prejudiced people and other indicators of psychopathology. The subtype at the extreme end of their scale is a paranoid/delusional prejudice disorder.

Using the DSM’s structure of diagnostic criteria for delusional disorder,4(p329) I suggest the following subtype:

Prejudice type: A delusion whose theme is that a group of individuals, who share a defining characteristic, in one’s environment have a particular and unusual significance. These delusions are usually of a negative or pejorative nature, but also may be grandiose in content. When these delusions are extreme, the person may act out by attempting to harm, and even murder, members of the despised group(s).

Extreme racist delusions can also occur as a major symptom in other psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Persons suffering delusions usually have serious social dysfunction that impairs their ability to work with others and maintain employment.

As a clinical psychiatrist, I have treated several patients who projected their own unacceptable behavior and fears onto ethnic minorities, scapegoating them for society’s problems. Their strong racist feelings, which were tied to fixed belief systems impervious to reality checks, were symptoms of serious mental dysfunction. When these patients became more aware of their own problems, they grew less paranoid—and less prejudiced.

It is time for the American Psychiatric Association to designate extreme racism as a mental health problem by recognizing it as a delusional psychotic symptom. Persons afflicted with such psychopathology represent an immediate danger to themselves and others. Clinicians need guidelines for recognizing delusional racism in all its forms so that they can provide appropriate treatment. Otherwise, extreme delusional racists will continue to fall through the cracks of the mental health system, and we can expect more of them to explode and act out their deadly delusions.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Extreme racism indicates psychopathology

Go to:


Competing interests: None declared

Go to:


1. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 4th edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press; 2000.

2. Allport G. The Nature of Prejudice. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley; 1954.

3. Sullaway M, Dunbar E. Clinical manifestations of prejudice in psychotherapy: toward a strategy of assessment and treatment. Clin Psychol Sci Pract 1996;3: 296-309.

4. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic criteria for 297.1 delusional disorder. In: DSM-IV-TR: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press; 2000.

Articles from The Western Journal of Medicine are provided here courtesy of BMJ Group


Full Text


PDF (201K)

You are here: NCBI > Literature > PubMed Central (PMC)

Write to the Help Desk

via Is Extreme Racism a Mental Illness?: Yes.

At the Dark End of the Street

A young survivor of sexual violence at a women...
A young survivor of sexual violence at a women’s and girl’s centre. (Photo credit: Amnesty International)

Revealing Sex Crimes Against Black Women


By Jan Gardner

 Before Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus, she had already been fighting for racial equality for more than a decade. She strategized with other activists, organized protests, and in 1948 gave an impassioned speech that led to her election as secretary of the Alabama conference of the NAACP. In that position, she investigated cases of sexual violence and other crimes against blacks, as she had done for the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP.

Her role in defending the rights of black women is eloquently chronicled in the 2010 book, “At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance—a New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power” by Danielle L. McGuire, a history professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.

In her meticulously researched book, McGuire maintains that in order to fully understand the civil rights movement one must understand the history of sex crimes against black women and how these attacks were used as a weapon against the fight for racial equality. Being able to sit at a lunch counter or vote didn’t mean anything if black women couldn’t walk down the street or ride the bus unmolested.

As McGuire writes, “Between 1940 and 1975, sexual violence and interracial rape became one crucial battleground upon which African Americans sought to destroy white supremacy and gain personal and political autonomy. … If we understand the role rape and sexual violence played in African Americans’ daily lives and within the larger freedom struggle, we have to reinterpret, if not rewrite, the history of the civil rights movement.”

Louisiana’s Incarceration Rate

Louisiana’s incarceration rate is the highest in US and it get much worse. As Charles M. Blow details. New York Times: Plantations, Prisons and Profits.


“Louisiana is the world’s prison capital. The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana’s incarceration rate is nearly triple Iran’s, seven times China’s and 10 times Germany’s.”

That paragraph opens a devastating eight-part series published this month by The Times-Picayune of New Orleans about how the state’s largely private prison system profits from high incarceration rates and tough sentencing, and how many with the power to curtail the system actually have a financial incentive to perpetuate it.

The picture that emerges is one of convicts as chattel and a legal system essentially based on human commodification.

First, some facts from the series:

• One in 86 Louisiana adults is in the prison system, which is nearly double the national average.

• More than 50 percent of Louisiana’s inmates are in local prisons, which is more than any other state. The next highest state is Kentucky at 33 percent. The national average is 5 percent.

• Louisiana leads the nation in the percentage of its prisoners serving life without parole.

• Louisiana spends less on local inmates than any other state.

• Nearly two-thirds of Louisiana’s prisoners are nonviolent offenders. The national average is less than half.

In the early 1990s, the state was under a federal court order to reduce overcrowding, but instead of releasing prisoners or loosening sentencing guidelines, the state incentivized the building of private prisons. But, in what the newspaper called “a uniquely Louisiana twist,” most of the prison entrepreneurs were actually rural sheriffs. They saw a way to make a profit and did.

It also was a chance to employ local people, especially failed farmers forced into bankruptcy court by a severe drop in the crop prices.

But in order for the local prisons to remain profitable, the beds, which one prison operator in the series distastefully refers to as “honey holes,” must remain full. That means that on almost a daily basis, local prison officials are on the phones bartering for prisoners with overcrowded jails in the big cities.


The eight part series from The Times-Picayune of New Orleans on this abomination. The Times-Picayune: LOUISIANA INCARCERATED.


via Daily Kos: Black Kos, Tuesday’s Chile.

Healthy Ethnic Identity Development: Questions

Questions Assessing Healthy Ethnic Identity Development

v To what ethnic group do you belong? What do you formally call your ethnic group? How much do you know about your ethnic group?  Where did you get the information? How much of your information was written by or told to you by members of your own ethnic group? Do those accounts vary from what your family told you? In what way?

v Does your family belong to more than one ethnic group?  Are you familiar with the history of all of those groups?  Why not? Are you interested in finding out more? How will you begin?

v How proud are you of your ethnic group?  Are there times you feel ashamed of your group?  If so, what triggers those feelings of shame?  What are the main ethnic stereotypes of your group?  How are you different from those stereotypes?  How are you the same?

v Are all of the members of your family the same  skin colour?  Do they vary in skin shade?  Do they vary in hair texture?  Do they vary in body type?  Does your family prize a particular body type or physical characteristic? Is there one body type or physical characteristic that is devalued in your family?  How did this happen?  What happens to the people in your family who have this characteristic? Has anyone ever been favored or abused because of certain physical characteristics? Have you ever had these experiences?

v Has anyone in your family ever expressed shame about your ethnic group? How did you respond?  How did others respond?  Has anyone ever confessed a racist or discriminatory act toward member(s) of another ethnic group? Does anyone use derogatory language toward members of your own ethnic group?  Has anyone ever been the victim of discrimination because they were members of your ethnic group?  Has anyone in your family ever experienced privilege because they belonged to your ethnic group? Have you ever had these experiences?

v Have you ever been rejected in personal relationships because you belonged to your ethnic group?  Has anyone ever accepted you solely because you were a member of your ethnic group?  Have you ever rejected a personal relationship because of the ethnic group of the person?

v Have you ever been a victim of racial discrimination?  Have you ever been a victim of racial harassment?  Have you ever been a victim of racial abuse?  Did you fight back?  How?  Describe that experience? Were you successful?

v Have you ever been a victim of racialized traumatic abuse? (victim of physical abuse, sexual abuse, torture, imprisonment, because of your race or cultural group) Describe how you survived?  What helped to get you through this experience?

v Do you find yourself feeling prejudiced against certain members of your cultural group?  What are their characteristics?  Where did those feelings originate?  Why do you think they persist in you?  How do you benefit from this prejudice?  Do you want to change it?  Why?  Why not?

v How assertive are you with members of your own ethnic group when you do not agree with their point of view?  Are there ways in which you vastly differ from members of your ethnic group?  In what ways?  How did the difference evolve?  Have you ever been shamed for that difference?  Why?  Have you been valued for that difference?  Why?

v Would you date or marry someone outside your cultural group?  Why?  Why not?  Have you had romantic or sexual feelings toward members of another cultural group?  Have you ever acted on these feelings?  Why or why not?

The Effects of Chronic Racial Discrimination

From Cornell News Service, here is a news release regarding fascinating research on the effects of racial discrimination.

* * *

Many studies have shown that experiencing chronic racial discrimination chips away at the mental health of African-Americans.

But a new Cornell study sheds light on precisely how – and to what effect – chronic racial discrimination erodes mental health.

The study found blacks may, in general, have poorer mental health as a result of two mechanisms: First, chronic exposure to racial discrimination leads to more experiences of daily discrimination and, second, it also results in an accumulation of daily negative events across various domains of life, from family and friends to health and finances. The combination of these mechanisms, reports Anthony Ong, assistant professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell, places blacks at greater risk for daily symptoms of depression, anxiety and negative moods.

“As a result, African-Americans experience high levels of chronic stress. And individuals who are exposed to more daily stress end up having fewer resources to cope with them,” said Ong.

The study, one of the first to look at the underlying mechanisms through which racial discrimination operates to affect the daily mental health of African-Americans, was conducted with Cornell graduate student Thomas Fuller-Rowell and Anthony Burrow, assistant professor of psychology at Loyola University-Chicago; it is published in the June issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (96:6).

The researchers examined the ways that chronic discrimination exerts a direct influence on daily mental health and an indirect influence through daily stress (i.e., daily racial discrimination and negative events) by analyzing daily questionnaires from 174 African-Americans for 14 days. Participants answered questions daily about the frequency of racially stressful encounters, mental health symptoms, mood and stressors across life domains.

“What we found was that it is the daily discrimination and daily stress that are driving the psychological distress,” Ong said.

The authors noted that racial discrimination in this country “is a ubiquitous experience in the lives of African-Americans,” citing various studies that reported that between half to three-quarters of black respondents report experiencing racial discrimination. They also cite a 2003 review of 32 studies that found a positive link between perceptions of racial discrimination and mental illness in all but one of the studies.

Based on the new study, Ong emphasized that the tendency for serious stressors, such as racial discrimination, to expand and generate additional stressors – a process called stress proliferation – requires that interventions cast a wide net.

“It is not enough that interventions target one problem,” Ong noted, “even if it appears to be a serious stressor, when there might be multiple hardships and demands that are instrumental in structuring people’s daily lives. Chronic exposure to racial discrimination provides a poignant illustration of the proliferation of stress stemming from repeated discriminatory experiences.”