The Psychology of Blacks
One cannot seek liberation through alliance with ones oppressor.
When the father of Black Psychology (Dr. Joe White) is speaking I suggest you pull up a chair and take notes. Psychological interventions used to liberate Black males cannot be founded on principles of domination and control. In contrast to some traditional western theories which promote mental fragmention and ignore the role of systematic oppression and spirituality in healthy functioning, Drs. Thomas Parham and Joe White assert the importance of emotional expression, mind-body-spirit holism, the interconnectedness of all living things and the importance of confronting messages of dehumanization (MAAFA) in their comprehensive psychological theory of African descent individuals. This is a critical read for practitioners desiring to work with Black people and for any individual interested in understanding what constitutes optimal living for individuals of African descent.
Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender and the New Racism
Repeat after me: "I do not understand the demonization of Black male sexuality until I read bell hooks We Real Cool and Patricia Collins Black Sexual Politics. In Dr. Collins' book the public and private lives of African American sexuality is at the forefront of her analysis as she fearlessly outlines the way males relate to each other and females through domination and control as a result of indoctrination into a patriarchal society intent on dehumanizing Blackness.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
Turns out the over-policing of Black communities, overcrowded prisons with predominantly Black bodies, horrendous failure of the so-called war on drugs and seemingly state sanctioned killing of Black Americans by law enforcement are all part of the same agenda. Namely removing Blacks from any meaningful participation in society. But don't take my word for it, do yourself a favor and read Michelle Alexander's book New Jim Crow. This book should be in every grade school, college, church and household of any person committed to improving American society.
Black Skin, White Masks
Frantz Fanon strips sexual racism to the bare bones and proceeds to take a wrecking ball in dismantling its devastation. Fanon also takes a hammer to mainstream psychodynamic theorist (like Jung) who omitted an analysis of systematic oppression in their texts. The internalization of white supremacy, societal uplift of whiteness and monstrosizing Black male sexuality in order to justify lynch and murder of Black men are explored in depth in this brilliant book. Fanon, a psychiatrist, also rightly accuses psychology of participating in the pathology of Black people and gives examples of how this has occurred. I agree with the forward that Fanon was far ahead of his time in his analysis of racial oppression and it's psychological affects on Blacks.
Black on Black Violence: The Psychodynamics of Black Self-Annihilation in Service of White Domination
Everyone perpetuating the misleading narrative of "Black on Black crime" is in desperate need of devouring this book. Few authors integrate discussions of systemic issues with intrapsychic phenomena using a largely psychoanalytic lens better than the recently deceased Dr. Amos Wilson. His break down of the psychological consequences internalized racism and subsequent exposure to institutional oppression is nothing short of brilliant. Readers are offered a front row seat to the deleterious impact of racial subjugation endured daily by Black men. Dr. Wilson explains that Black men have bought into the devaluing of Blackness which has given way to the devaluation of self and other individuals of African descent.
The Will to Change: Men Masculinity and Love
bell hooks at her usual groundbreaking best! Micro level cruelty is on trial often in this book as hooks discusses how current systems of domination prevent males from experiencing and expressing love. The shutting down of vulnerable emotions prevents men from expressing love and also prevents others from getting to know us. And make no mistake, men cannot experience love if we refuse to share our most vulnerable selves. To be clear, all genders have embraced patriarchal dominance and thereby this system of volatility and control is perpetuated across the gender continuum. hooks explains why traditional masculinity is the enemy of the Black family and Black male mental health; all the while offering a blue print for rejecting patriarchy and embracing a form of manhood which challenges sexism, strengthens emotional connections and facilitates loving relationships.
the New Black Man
In what other Black feminist book does an author refer to themselves as a "thug-nigga-intellectual" as part of an anti-oppression identity? Mark Anthony Neal covers the objectification, sexualization and demonization of Black males, while subsequently calling for Black men to radically change their cultural identities by throwing patriarchal masculinity overboard. Such changes include embracing Black feminist ideas which gave birth to intersecting identities and direct confrontation of all forms of subjugation. I believe a core strength of Neal's book is his willingness to be vulnerable as a writer, acknowledging his personal difficulties reconciling an anti-sexist identity while rejecting hegemonic masculinity.
We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity
In order to have any hope of eradicating hegemonic masculinity you must read bell hooks. hooks discusses the deleterious impact of patriarchal masculinity on the mental and physical health on Black men. She discusses how Black boys are indoctrinated into destructive hegemonic masculinity from near birth and even those males who seek to liberate themselves from the strangle hold of this woman-hating misogynist ideology often fail due to societal consequences faced by those who dare reject patriarchy. The phrase hooks used throughout this book is "white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy and she discusses the way these interlocking systems of domination operate to perpetuate sexual racism, domestic violence, misogyny, economic injustice, and other forms of social injustice.
It would be appropriate to include every book bell hooks has written in this article as each of her manuscripts confronts the systemic and psychological factors out to destroy Black males. As it stands two of my favorites are included on the list, but my advice is to read every book of hers you can. As an aside, I am always confused and angered by list on best authors to read or important books to read which do not include works by bell hooks. I'm sure it has nothing to do with her valiant mission to end racial and gender based oppression (sarcasm included).
Black Fathers: An Invisible Presence in America, Second Edition
The struggles, hopes and dreams are chronicled within this book with a steady focus on systemic factors in place to undermine the strengths of Black families. It is also a reminder that those Black men we call father are more than biological contributors. Church leaders, school teachers, community elders, and mentors may all wear the mantle of Black father. Edited by Psychologists Mike Connors and Joe White, Black Fathers challenges erroneous assumptions about Black families and implements a new narrative on Black fatherhood.
What critical reads do you feel were left off this list?
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