21st Century Slave Master Syndrome
Slavery in North America was the greatest tragedy in the history of mankind. Slavery was built on the false idea that African people could be enslaved because they were inferior. African slaves were treated as property and considered less than human.
Slavery ended in approximately 1865, and while African Americans were legally set free, they continued to face multiple obstacles. These obstacles included oppression, lynching’s, and overt racism. These racist practices continued long after slavery was abolished.
The strength and resilience of the African people were rewarded by the return of their freedom. However, the return of their legal freedom did not heal all wounds, and they suffered from emotional and psychological scars. Most significantly, their spirit was broken.
The burden of oppression creates an atmosphere in which an oppressed person struggles to see past the racism. Both overt and covert forms of racism were used to damage the psyche of slaves. This meant that they were not only physically detained, but their spirit also struggled for freedom.
During slavery, African slaves were dehumanized and used for free labor, domestic work, and sexual advantages. Slave Masters raped and molested both African female slaves and sometimes male slaves were molested and raped too.
Also, African slaves were tricked into working against each other. This method was known as the Willie Lynch method. Willie Lynch was a slave master in the British West Indies, who delivered a speech address, to an audience in Virginia, on the James river in 1712, regarding control of slaves. The willie Lynch technique was regarded as a method to control slaves by warring them to be against one another, verses working as a unit. Factors, such as, age, skin color and slave roles were used to undermine one another, so that slaves could be controlled for hundreds of years. It is an issue that once African slaves were given their freedom they were not paid reparations as promised. White Americans and former slave masters have also failed to indicate any remorse for the actions taken against African Americans. The lingering impact of slavery remains because after slaves had been given freedom, there was no further assistance to help them restore their self-worth or to educate themselves.
As a consequence, African Americans had to carve a place for themselves in society by taking any work that they could. This eventually led to them making a way for themselves, for example, creating their own educational systems, such as Historical Black Colleges and Universities, Black churches and Black Businesses. Their hard work was hindered by continual oppressive practices such as segregation. Segregation was a practice where black and white people could not intermix within certain public spaces.
Former slave masters neglected to show repentance for their past treatment of African slaves. It is significant to mention the failure of those responsible for showing remorse because the trauma experienced by African slaves was significant. They were taken from their homeland and lost all ties to family, culture, language and spiritual values. The return of their freedom and acknowledgment of their humanity was insufficient to repair the damage that was caused. In addition to the immediate trauma, there was a social practice in which African Americans were degraded and oppressed by lynching’s, Klu Klux Klan torment, burnings of Black family homes and burnings of Black churches. This continual degradation prevented African Americans from making a complete integration into contemporary American society; rather they were left to build their parallel culture in America.
Due to the incomplete integration of the African American people, they suffer from multiple forms of racism. These social and physical racially-oriented barriers prevent the integration of African Americans into contemporary American society. However, their brilliance, resourceful and ambitious nature of the African American race has meant that they have a significant impact on American and global culture. Their impact extends to music, language, architecture, fashion and engineering.
It is important to recognize that despite their successes the descendants of captured slaves should be offered an apology and paid homage to for all their contributions to the North American economy. The apology needs to recognize the remorse felt by America and should acknowledge the psychological mark that slavery caused. America also needs to recognize that the enslavement of the African people has had a long-lasting impact that still influences their African American descendants today. Many African Americans have been forced to face dysfunctional families, intergenerational communication issues, single homes, crime, self-hatred, etc. While the 44th president, Barrack Obama, is African American his role as president was not an apology from the American people. In fact, him being succeeded by Donald Trump is evidence of that.
Before we delve into the meaning of the title of this article, “21st Century Slave Master”, let us first start by describing Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome. Dr. Joy DeGury was the key researcher behind Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome. She is a nationally renowned educator who created the Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome theory. Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome arose after many ex-slaves experienced socially dysfunctional relationships and struggled with self-destructive impulses. This experience did not fade over the generations but has continued throughout the generations. Therefore, those that descend from ex-slave families may suffer from Dr. Joy DeGury’s Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome.
It is my proposition that Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome is parallel to a term I created to follow the footsteps of PTSS, which is ‘Slave Master Syndrome.’ I developed the term, “Slave Master Syndrome” after reading Dr. Joy DeGury’s research, which became apparent to me that those who descend from families that benefitted from slavery would still be similarly impacted. To my understanding, Slave Master Syndrome is a term I use to describe White America’s need to deny that race exists, or that racism is even taking place, showing signs of cognitive dissonance, defensiveness, outraged anger, projecting hatred and racists outlooks onto others, being resentful and retaliative when these subjects are brought to their attention, behaving in unfair manners, due to having subconscious negative feelings, exhibiting non-verbal communication , i.e., uncomfortable staring, judging, intense criticism, being standoffish, disrespectful, accusing, etc, and having a burning desire to be in power and to lead others, without reason are examples of learned intergenerational behavior, also known as, slave master syndrome. My proposal is that white Americans are still suffering from superiority complexes, are still behaving as watchmen, and overseers, like their forefathers on plantations once did. The average White American seems to suffer from covert narcissism and a need to be in charge. This syndrome contributes towards the negative perspective that many Americans have of Black Americans. That would suggest why there is a systematic oppression of black people and other ethnic groups.
According to Dr. Joy DeGury, the trauma and loss experienced by the African American people resulted in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As a result, these sentiments were passed down from generation to generation, resulting in a lasting effect.
It is my conclusion from the evidence that we cannot ignore the effect on those who benefitted slavery as well. White Americans were significantly advantaged by slavery while slaves struggled. As a result of this inequity, White Americans have developed a set of social behaviors that denotes their dominance over other ethnic groups.
The dominant behavior of white Americans is exhibited by their discomfort with the presence and also the ambitions of people of color. Many White Americans believe that people of color should be obedient and meek in their presence. This discomfort represents the typical white American dismissal of the issues faced by people of color. For example, the political discussions about inequality experienced by other ethnic groups are often dismissed in favor for economic arguments. In general, any topics about race and racism are ignored or downplayed by White Americans.
The lack of social integration between White and Black Americans has led to a significant lack of empathy towards African Americans. Many non-color Americans are unwilling to integrate with people of color and have not partaken in any education about Black culture. This lack of education extends into the professional work place where there can be discomfort when a person of color is more advanced or has greater authority than a white person. I believe that these are examples of ‘21st Century Slave Master Syndrome.’
To my understanding, Slave Master Syndrome is the need to deny the occurrence of racial prejudice in any of its forms. This may coincide with some misperception of the American behavior towards African Americans. Some people who exhibit components of this syndrome may project their personal beliefs onto others especially those beliefs that regard racism. Another key component of the Slave Master Syndrome is that these individuals have a burning desire to be in power and to lead others.
In this article, many examples of learned intergenerational behavior which is symptomatic of both theories were provided. These behaviors are hidden by covert actions and denial statements; however, these theories remain behind the subconscious actions that continue to oppress modern African Americans.
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