Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome by Joy DeGruy
Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, what is it? This book...this...book placed is influential and eye-opening, to put it lightly. It put so many things into perspective that I have already felt deep down inside, but couldn't quite articulate. The introduction begins with the meaning of Sankofa: to return and get it. In other words, we must return and claim our past in order to move toward our future. The fact that this country will not acknowledge the ills of the past is hindering all of us from reaching our full potential as a nation of people. Slavery was just as bad as the holocaust, but we are constantly told to forget it and get over it. Think about it...even as children, little black children are taught that they do not have the same freedoms as white children. Our mother's control us when we are out in public and don't allow us to just be the curious children we are while little white children can run, play, and "just be kids" in any setting they are taken too, without everyone looking sideways at the mother or thinking her unfit. This is just one example of the type of truths that African-Americans deal with on a daily basis.
Dr. DeGruy provides a definition of racism and why whites should not just tell blacks to get over slavery and the way they are treated in America. Racism is the belief that people differ along biological and genetic lines and that one's own group is superior to another group, but is coupled with the fact that the "superior" group has the power to negatively affect the lives of those perceived to be inferior. To me, this was one of the most profound statements within the entire book. Before telling us to forget about racism or not just brush us off as holding grudges, ask yourself, do blacks have the power to negatively affect the lives of whites, economically, in education, in law making, or any other way. The answer to that is a resounding no. Therefore, Dr. DeGruy wants all of us as Americans to acknowledge the atrocity of American chattel slavery and to try to make amends. She defines trauma and describes what hundreds of years of trauma can do to a person. Eventually, the post traumatic stress a person feels becomes a part of their DNA.
She goes on to site several other reasons why African-Americans behave the way they do. One such is the fact that our relationships were torn apart since slavery; mothers, fathers, and children were sold and separated at their owners whim. We have tried since then to repair it, but now our families are broken by incarceration and public assistance. Have you ever thought about the fact that in order to get assistance like food stamps or housing assistance, a man cannot be present within the home? Why is that? Once again, a way to separate our families. Family ties are within us...even tracing back to our African ancestors. Relationships are important to African-Americans as a whole and we struggle to maintain those relationships in this current society. Why do we feel like when one of us succeeds we have to tear that person down or they must have "sold out" to do it? Why can we not be proud of our brother or sister for making? Why must we always be in competition with each other? It is all a part of the system that our ancestors were accustomed to. Slaves were pitted against other slaves; slave overseers, house salve against field slaves, etc. We were bred to not trust one another and those things are still being manifested today as team light skin vs team dark skin, team natural vs team relaxer, and the list goes on and on. When I tell you that this book will cause an awakening in you and make you evaluate yourself and the actions of those around you, I am telling you no lie.
This book is a must read for all races. It will help you to better understand the current atmosphere of America and what we can all do to make this country better for us all. Make this book a part of your personal library today.
Dr. Joy DeGruy can be found at her website: http://joydegruy.com/