THE JOURNEY OF BLACK LIBERATION
The Black Liberation could be traced back to the emancipation proclamation on January 1, 1863 by then-President Abraham Lincoln. His declaration was for the enslaved people in any State, including the States that are rebelling against the Union, to be forever free.
While the emancipation declaration was meant to declare and execute the freedom of enslaved Black people in the United States, the question still remains today: was there truly emancipation? Is the Black liberation real?
The Beginnings of Black Enslavement
The earliest record of slavery in America was a journal entry dated August 1619, when about 20 Angolans that were kidnapped by Portuguese traders arrived in Virginia, which was then a British colony. Even so, there have already been free Africans in the Americas as early as 1526 in areas that eventually would become the United States. Since then, there was a rapid increase in the arrival of enslaved Africans in the North American colonies mostly to address the needs for labor work.
Much of the slavery workforce is focused on the different plantations across the colonies, particularly in planting, harvesting, and processing hemp as required by Great Britain. To that end, and with the rising demand to produce more hemp as the basic ingredient for medicine, paper, and textiles, more and more slaves were brought to the colonies.
The Rise of Racism
While the emancipation proclamation was intended to abolish slavery, many prominent and wealthy people in the South found a way to maintain their civil authority by enacting laws that would limit the activities of a Black person. Now that freedom was made legal, the Black community faced another level of enslavement through the laws known as Black Codes, which limited their participation in public activities and establishments. Be it in churches, public transportation, or schools, Black and white people were segregated, giving more privileges to the non-Black person. The intent of these limitations is to keep the Black person in the labor force because they have nowhere to go.
This segregation practice has been fought in different areas of the country during the 1950s, a generation that started what is now known as the Civil Rights movement. Protests against the inequality experienced by the Black community continue to spread, which helped awaken the awareness of Black people on what their personal and individual rights should be as a Black individual.
The Slavery of the Black Mind
Setting the slaves free was indeed momentous in history. The rising and widespread call of establishing equal rights and privileges for the Black community has been ongoing and increasing advocacy in many Black areas around the country. However, even in the present, the Black people are still reeling from the struggle to establish an independent life in freedom.
According to the Africa Program Manager of the Anti-Slavery organization, Sarah Mathewson, “to break the cycle of slavery, we need to address the mental health of survivors.” The Black community, in their long and struggling history of slavery, is now prone and vulnerable to being shackled again in enslavement, not in the labor force, but in the marginalization of mental health.
It is often ingrained in the enslaved Black families that mental health issues and psychological needs are a luxury, or that we are immune to these conditions such that we should not even consider their existence. Even with the emancipation, the Civil Rights movement, and the Black Liberation advocacies, the Black person is still shackled to this slavery mindset.
During the years of slavery in the colonies of America, Black slaves have been tagged as immune to mental health issues largely because of the belief that they are slaves and have no emotional exposure to the stress of making profits that are faced by the wealthy white people. Unfortunately, this mindset has been passed on to the children and generations of Black Americans. Americans with African ancestry already embraced in their subconscious that mental health issues do not exist in our race, and therefore, should not struggle with it.
As a result of this lack of recognition, Black people with real mental health struggles and who think about ending their lives have successfully committed it. In a published report from the Washington Post, it was mentioned that the suicide rates among African-American children between the ages of 5-11 are now twice that of their Caucasian friends since the 1980s. In 2015, records also show that Black men comprise 80% of those who attempted suicide in the Black community.
The True Black Liberation
The journey of the Black liberation cannot be completed without fully liberating the actual person in the most powerful part of their being, which is the mind. The impact of the slavery mindset has resulted in beliefs that limited a Black person’s access to proper mental health care.
However, the key to fully liberating from this slavery mindset begins in the full acknowledgment that mental health is a real and actual need of all people regardless of gender, religion, or race. Even as a Black person, mental health struggles are real. Depression, anxiety, PTSD, all of these other mental health issues could affect any Black person.
Our slavery history may have taught us that we are physically strong or that we can always depend on the Divine to bring healing, but the traumatic impact or emotional stress of racial discrimination while subconsciously embracing the belief that you are immune to these issues could be detrimental to a Black person’s wellbeing. Without this actual recognition and awareness of real mental health issues affecting the Black community, we will also continue to hold ourselves back from fully living the life we want to live.
Quality Counseling continues to invite you into this conversation and beckoning into our healing community. Mental health issues are real even and especially to a Black person. Contact us today at Info@QualityCounselingCT.com for focused restorative healing strategies.