August 10, 2009
Community Healing Network Weekly Message
Why has the homicide rate among young Black males been going up so fast? The rate for young White males is going up more slowly-- and in some places, going down. Why the difference?
A recent study conducted by experts at Northeastern University found that "while overall homicide levels in the United States have fluctuated minimally in recent years, those involving young victims and perpetrators--particularly young Black males-have surged."
There are many factors, including the concentration of drug trafficking in too many Black neighborhoods, the lack of economic alternatives, and continuing racism and discrimination.
But one part of the problem that gets too little attention is the myth of Black inferiority. That myth says that Black lives are not as valuable as other lives. It has led to a cheapening of Black life. It has been internalized by too many of us; too many of our children grow up believing the myth.
In their book Lay My Burden Down, Dr. Alvin Poussaint and Amy Alexander suggest that the increase in violence among Black youth is an outgrowth of a "culture of oppression" that has "taken a tremendous toll on the minds and bodies of black people." They argue that "the well-documented high rate of homicide among blacks might be viewed as evidence of a peculiar kind of communal self-hatred, an especially virulent form of anger, self-loathing, and lost hope that leads to a devaluation of the lives of fellow blacks; and . . . to a devaluation of the self."
The myth of Black inferiority was introduced hundreds of years ago to justify Black enslavement and to dominate Black people. We have done remarkable things even with the weight of the myth on our shoulders, but it continues to cause us-and our children-- great harm.
It's time for us to unburden ourselves. It's time for us to confront and work to overcome the myth of Black inferiority.
Imagine how much more we and our children will be able to accomplish when we finally free ourselves-not only in body, but also in mind and in spirit.
Save the date: Put "time for healing" on your calendar.
Celebrate Community Healing Days
October 16, 17, and 18, 2009