This is the first in a series of articles by Fannie LeFlore, MS, LPC, SAC, on the Traumatization of America, and the Urgent Need for Real Solutions focused on Practical Help and Psycho-spiritual Healing for Diverse Humanity. LeFlore argues that Ethical and Emotional Intelligences are Primary Requirements for Nation’s New and Diverse Leadership. She also supports upcoming boycott actions as ongoing protests against systemic injustices as proposed by Shaun King on September 23, 2016.
There is, and always has been, an undercurrent of dysfunction in America due to insistence by those in power to promote and enforce a disordered status quo. This derived from a hierarchy imposed on human beings where race and gender rather than legitimate qualities, capabilities and competencies defined who had access to positions of power with the authority to shape decisions impacting the lives of different people. While growing up, I recall numerous conversations with diverse people who came to the same conclusion that a lot of things just don’t make sense. They were referring to how the world works, why systems operate in such wasteful ways, and how so many people function as if ongoing conflict is necessary. There was recognition, in fact, that many solutions exist to resolve long-standing problems, and better options are available for human beings to co-exist with reasonable degrees of civility that can yield more cooperation and measures of joy.
As an adult who recognizes herself as a highly-sensitive person, I am also a former newspaper reporter and still-licensed psychotherapist. I was born with the capacity to feel things deeply. If I had not learned to develop and practice healthy boundaries, I would meet requirements for a diagnosis of major depression right now. That is because I sense dangerous despair in the nation’s air. It reflects extensive degrees of deprivation, desperation and depletion now affecting millions. It is the result of severe political dysfunction that has created major disorder and socioeconomic stagnation in many places across America. We are a nation of traumatized people, and in urgent need of real solutions offering practical help and psycho-spiritual healing.
I have collected over 30 years of research on racism from diverse scholars and other sources. I have come to the conclusion that racism reflects a sociopathic system, and depends on the collective dynamics inherent in racial group narcissism to keep replicating itself. What this means is that hardcore racists who are sociopathic uphold racism as their basic default position. They operate on autopilot and will not respond to reason nor moral or ethical appeals. Others who are socialized racists – as opposed to being pathological in nature – often may not realize how they play some role in colluding with systems that crush the spirits of those directly disadvantaged by racism. But they need to stop looking for loopholes trying to explain why they are not responsible for historical factors that impact the present.
We truly are living during a modern Civil/Human Rights Crisis in America due to racist backlash. Whether active or passive in supporting racism, many are contributing to harming humanity right now. Please take this message from Shaun King seriously -- about the need for stern boycott actions that are in planning stages now, to be launched in early December 2016, as ongoing protests against systemic injustices. Shaun King wrote September 23, 2016:
“Dear Friends, This week I have received one question more than any other - from my wife, from my children, from friends and family, from colleagues, from college classmates, and from thousands and thousands of you. "Shaun - what are we going to do about police brutality and racial injustice in America?" It's too much. It's just too much. We have protested for two years straight…However, it is increasingly clear to me, and to millions of you, that this nation has no intention on making the radical changes we need to see on police brutality. I'm not OK with that. You're not OK with that. We're better than that. It's time that we add a deep, wide-reaching, consequential, painful, committed, well-organized, creative, modern day boycott to our struggle. It must have millions of us on board for it to work…And right now is the time for us to do it. This boycott will be tied to practical, reasonable, deliverable improvements and reforms in every major city and in all 50 states. On December 5th, 2016 - we are going to launch a national boycott unlike anything this nation has seen or experienced in decades.”
Many people may feel less worried or somewhat secure due to being more economically comfortable than others. But the basic freedoms that affect quality of life are at risk right now for diverse American citizens -- and the sources of these problems are domestic, not foreign threats. Ask yourself if you routinely wear a fake smile and feel unsettled. Can you claim to truly feel at peace and authentic in your own skin? Your body’s reaction will help inform you if hidden stressors lurk. A collective awareness that something is fundamentally wrong with and within our nation cannot be easily dismissed. Even if you cannot articulate the sense of anxiety, addictions and other compulsive behaviors point to the growing tensions and lack of ease. It may be felt more by conscious and compassionate people but the current status quo is affecting far more. It is making Americans more fearful, confused and in some ways sicker – physically, psychologically and spiritually – because our collective creativity, common sense and life-force are being compromised in many ways.
Those who are unreachable despite knowing the harm caused by racism are apparently comfortable with the pain and distress inflicted on other people. This means that those who are suffering need to stop expecting blood from a turnip. People who know racism kills but refuse to intervene apparently lack empathy on fundamental levels. They are not likely to start caring. The fact is that racism – and what we are truly talking here is the system of power that promotes and supports white supremacy ideology through policies and practices -- is a menacing force.
It is a major threat to the survival of black and brown people due to forcing people to exist between a rock and hard place most of the time. This results in often unrelenting pressures and stressors imposed on normal people who are trying to survive and thrive based on their legitimate strengths while recognizing their real limitations, as all human beings have, which makes us interdependent in relying on the goodwill and expertise of diverse people with different knowledge and skills. Those committed to upholding a flawed hierarchy that defines human worth based on race, seek to give privileges primarily to those with white skin. Even though whites too are harmed by this social construct that damages their capacity to be decent human beings to the degree that they participate in racist systems, many remain oblivious to the full impact.
We need now more than ever a renewal of life-affirming outlets to help restore reason, lovingkindness, beauty and common sense for individual and communal solace. This is due to recognition that one of the greatest domestic threats to Americans amounts to extremist and cynical politics causing stagnation at unprecedented levels. There is a history of people trying to prevent ongoing black progress, and this time around it became evident since President Barack Obama was elected. The mostly white men in Congress who focused on obstructing progressive efforts by Obama may have not contemplated the unintended consequences or may simply not care. But the effects of their actions are real. It all has become deeply felt through manifestations of degradation caused by dysfunctional elected leadership intent on harming the legacy of a single politician, Obama, by making those who share his race suffer the most, in part for supporting him.
History is repeating itself due to the predictable playbook of white-dominated political decisions that result in deprivation and punitive policies targeted at mostly black and brown people. Due to the sociopathic nature of racism, extreme income inequality has become the obvious extension now affecting more diverse populations, including formerly middle class people. It has caused tremendous suffering for average citizens impacted by major systemic disparities. These outcomes have been promoted in large part by those wanting to maintain power and control at all costs. They have been intent on upholding a bogus status quo designed to oppress, exclude and marginalize millions of capable and decent citizens from mainstream participation on the basis of race, gender or related factors. It is a system that prevents access to opportunity and reasonable options for many people to meet basic human needs. We’ve seen this pattern of white backlash before, across generations, every time perceptions of progress threatened the white narrative about the place of black people.
Forcing people to endure generational poverty is a form of violence. Not holding police accountable for killing innocent people on the streets is a form of State-sanctioned violence. Mass incarceration of diverse people for non-violent offenses, and criminalizing young black and brown children to use their bodies for school-to-prison pipeline profits is a form of systemic violence. Many in power are attempting to turn back the clock on progress including the voting rights achieved during the Civil Rights Era.
Systemic oppression means that someone is stepping on people targeted for harm -- your neck and mine -- making it hard to breathe, not just one day but on a regular basis. It is an act of aggression that is life-threatening. Only those on the receiving end of disadvantages created by systemic racism know just how deadly it feels. It is spirit-crushing and causes ongoing suffering to have ongoing barriers placed in one's path based on race when in fact one works as hard as others and is as deserving of access to opportunity and resource options as anyone else.
We are at a somber crossroad in America. Please do not let media and entertainment continue to distract you from the oppressive systems that are truly harming human lives right in this country on a daily basis. These difficult times call for consistent actions against systemic racism. I am in my early 50s. I have grown tired of the arrogance and entitlement of some segments of men in authority (and some women) who feel entitled to rule over everyone without accountability for supporting the common good. Those who are without conscience should not continue to be voted into positions of power that allow them to keep harming human lives.
Diverse citizens should not have their basic survival threatened by oppressive policies that maintain extreme income inequality and other ongoing systemic mistreatment. It is better if we can support change through peaceful protests. Most people from the social justice activist circles I am aware of prefer to prevent the possibility of major bloodshed. The approach described and promoted by Shaun King may be our best chance to implement diligent effort, to do something impactful, before far more people are pushed beyond their limits. Many have already become ill and died due to poverty and depletion of life energy created by systemic racism and generational trauma stemming from major stressors and ongoing deprivation.
It can be easy to sit on the sidelines and do nothing when you are not affected by systemic oppression. You may feel untouchable and safe because your comfort zone is unaffected. But, even if you are not a frontlines protestor type, if you have resources to help support the cause, consider that we all have so much at stake. Will being selfish keep you safe and secure? You have an opportunity to do what you can to help support or organize efforts in your immediate local community.
The traumatization of America can no longer be denied. An urgent need exists for implementation of real solutions focused on immediate practical help and psycho-spiritual interventions to promote healing for diverse humanity. Our nation demands change. We must break through multiple barriers contributing to stagnation, and need new leaders from diverse backgrounds to make it happen. They must possess ethical and emotional intelligences, in addition to practical skills stemming from solid foundations of knowledge and various areas of expertise.