Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome

Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome
How Blacks Survive Racism – Dr. Joy DeGruy-Leary

by Yugen Fardan Rashad

PTSS book “If you give them an inch, they will take a mile. But take the drum from them and they will stay put. Call em’ names like niggah, nigra, or monkey, some of them will allow their flash to raise up. Let them read and right and one day the truth will become known for all to see.”

In the new book, Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome (Uptown Press) Dr. Joy DeGruy-Leary provides answers to the long nightmare of American slavery, and the lucid jolt of racism in today’s world with transport, and scholarship.

The writing is precise on the issue of why the American colonies sanctioned the arbitrary rape, torture, lynching and castration of Black people. We read about the retroactivity of the emotional, psychological, and economic scars sustained by Blacks following chattel slavery, Black Codes, Jim Crow, and race discrimination in America. Dr. Leary queries at what point is a person or group impacted by the repeated leverage of atrocity. Examples abound in the book. What resonated with me was the coping behaviors employed by bewildered mothers to protect their children and husbands from the fierce, thieving hands of nomadic slave masters that ripped families apart. Behaviors today that are dysfunctional because they unnecessarily denigrate, and arrest intelligence and dignity of the Black family.

She uses juxtaposition to demonstrate the affects of American slavery, and the lucidity of the trauma sustained by African Americans in post modern times. Much of which is the cause of current economic impotence, psychological trauma, and health disparities we grapple with today.

And in the most compelling moment of the book, she deals with the central reason why this history remains buried. The book rings this ‘hidden history’ and begs the metaphor of a people also ‘buried’ in the collective conscious, and carry the impact of untenable, episodic trauma and grief. This chapter of American history is glaringly absent from public discourse. Until PTSS.

And yet when confronted as Dr. Leary does, a healing begins. A liberating moment awaits the reader, the nation

As I read why black youth manifest levels of anger, deficit of morality, an abiding sense of dread and nihilism, I was suddenly astonished as to why the question could even be asked. Not until PTSS did we have a treatise, tangible proof located in a place popular wisdom says you put information if you want to hide it from Black people – a book. Well, not this time. And, this time, White Americans can’t hide either. Required reading for every American. This is not a Black Thang!

Without blinking, or winking, Dr. Leary offers details of the character of American life only obtainable through research. We learn about the rudimentary nature of how and why the Founding Fathers hurled a bile of hate at another group on the basis of skin color and national origin, an attitude and perception held over and guides behavior towards Black people to this day – world wide.

A system built on lies, deceit and hatred is one no sane person should want to claim. And yet many successful Blacks and Whites are unaware of the role they play in the denigration, and justify their enterprise through ‘cognitive dissonance’.

To not read this book is to agree with the way things are. So, in 2006 let‘s make that change. As a society we can work to close the achievement gap, eliminate disparities in employment, prison roles, addictions, preventable death, and improve the quality of life for the human family. The choice is clear: anecdote over antidote for America. Thank you, Dr. Leary.

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