22 February 2004

Is There a Doctor in the House?

I'm always taken aback by Black who people acknowledge the inequities our ethnicity faces in these united states, but will then proceed to defend the very people responsible for it. In too many instances, people of African descent adopt the same beliefs (expressed by parroting jinogistic platitudes heard or read in mainstream media) undergirding the systemic racism that creates the obstacles of injustice we are forced to traverse daily.

One example of those beliefs is the "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" refrain, unthinkingly bandied about by recipients of white privilege, family wealth, nepotism, cronyism, or government assistance in any of its many forms, e.g. grants and contracts. Rarely have this country's wealthy or powerful become so based solely on merit. This is evidenced by old-money families like the .:DuPonts:. —whose wealth is maintained partly because they subordinate the educational rights of children (in foreign countries) to "working in dungeon factories" for the "profits of global exporters and importers" in the US— and the .:Bushes:. —whose wealth was helped along by its banking services to the fascist Nazi regime.

I have come to believe that our neurotic need to embrace and emulate those who delight in reciting a litany of our group's supposed shortcomings could be caused by undiagnosed .:Stockholm Syndrome:. The discovery of this phenomenon follows:
"... On August 23rd, 1973 two machine-gun carrying criminals entered a bank in Stockholm, Sweden. Blasting their guns, one prison escapee named Jan-Erik Olsson announced to the terrified bank employees "The party has just begun!" The two bank robbers held four hostages, three women and one man, for the next 131 hours. The hostages were strapped with dynamite and held in a bank vault until finally rescued on August 28th.

After their rescue, the hostages exhibited a shocking attitude considering they were threatened, abused, and feared for their lives for over five days. In their media interviews, it was clear that they supported their captors and actually feared law enforcement personnel who came to their rescue. The hostages had begun to feel the captors were actually protecting them from the police. One woman later became engaged to one of the criminals and another developed a legal defense fund to aid in their criminal defense fees. Clearly, the hostages had "bonded" emotionally with their captors.

While the psychological condition in hostage situations became known as "Stockholm Syndrome" due to the publicity – the emotional "bonding" with captors was a familiar story in psychology. It had been recognized many years before and was found in studies of other hostage, prisoner, or abusive situations such as:
  • Abused Children
  • Battered/Abused Women
  • Prisoners of War
  • Cult Members
  • Incest Victims
  • Criminal Hostage Situations
  • Concentration Camp Prisoners
  • Controlling/Intimidating Relationships
In the final analysis, emotionally bonding with an abuser is actually a strategy for survival for victims of abuse and intimidation. The "Stockholm Syndrome" reaction in hostage and/or abuse situations is so well recognized at this time that police hostage negotiators no longer view it as unusual. In fact, it is often encouraged in crime situations as it improves the chances for survival of the hostages. On the down side, it also assures that the hostages experiencing "Stockholm Syndrome" will not be very cooperative during rescue or criminal prosecution. Local law enforcement personnel have long recognized this syndrome with battered women who fail to press charges, bail their battering husband/boyfriend out of jail, and even physically attack police officers when they arrive to rescue them from a violent assault.

...It's important to understand the components of Stockholm Syndrome as they relate to abusive and controlling relationships. Once the syndrome is understood, it's easier to understand why victims support, love, and even defend their abusers and controllers. ..."

It is well-documented that slaves had to develop a number of coping skills. It seems reasonable to me that those skills were simply the Stockholm Syndrome before it was given the name. The coping mechanism of identifying with, supporting, loving, and protecting those who subjugate our ethnicity has been passed down through the generations without interruption. It is worth noting that the emergence of figures like .:Marcus Garvey:. and .:MalcolmX:., neither of whom excused white people for their barbarity, nor sought to love them into accepting the group, was shocking to a system (and the people behind it) that thrived on compliant and fearful Black men and women.

Perhaps it is an explanation for the bizarre behaviors of right wing frontmen like Armstrong Williams, or any African American calling themselves a part of the conservative movement. Is there a doctor available to take on these patients?

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