White privilege: How to use it to connect the world

Originally posted on kramissah:

I have been thinking about this blog for some time.  I decided to put some of my thoughts down after I spoke with a dear friend.  For the purpose of this title and discussion, I will use White and Black to identify the races.

I ask that, you, the reader, expand your mind and thinking.  I believe when a person thinks beyond their comfortable sphere, one is able to appreciate diversity for its beauty.  Additionally, I believe when one takes an introspective journey to recognize his or her own privilege, one becomes transcended and one’s soul is cleansed.

What is White privilege? I did some research. Looked all over. Sounds corny, but honestly, I Googled what is White Privilege.  I strongly suggest that each reader do their own homework and if there is something I missed, please add so I can learn.

I thought this writer did an…

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White privilege: How to use it to connect the world

I have been thinking about this blog for some time.  I decided to put some of my thoughts down after I spoke with a dear friend.  For the purpose of this title and discussion, I will use White and Black to identify the races.

I ask that, you, the reader, expand your mind and thinking.  I believe when a person thinks beyond their comfortable sphere, one is able to appreciate diversity for its beauty.  Additionally, I believe when one takes an introspective journey to recognize his or her own privilege, one becomes transcended and one’s soul is cleansed.

What is White privilege? I did some research. Looked all over. Sounds corny, but honestly, I Googled what is White Privilege.  I strongly suggest that each reader do their own homework and if there is something I missed, please add so I can learn.

I thought this writer did an excellent job of providing some foundation to the understanding of white privilege. There are others.  Whichever source one uses, it seems to me that the most common understanding of White privilege is this definition.

            White privilege is a set of advantages and/or immunities that white people                       benefit from on a daily basis beyond those common to all others. White privilege              can exist without white people’s conscious knowledge of its presence and it helps             to maintain the racial hierarchy in this country. Source.

I like that definition and most of the other definitions allude to the same conclusion.

During a recent conversation, a friend of mine, a white woman, acknowledged that she has a lot of privileges.  She went on to say that her children, all white, have no idea about how much privilege they have.  She indicated that she will teach them eventually and that she is so blessed to be privileged compared to what I have to go through on a daily basis.

This conversation with my friend struck a chord and I decided to share it with my readers.  I want some readers to take that internal trip.  Look inside your hearts and souls.  By doing so, I believe your disagreement will be well founded.  Looking within yourself might cause you to feel guilty and if you feel guilty, you might miss the point of this dialog.

I responded to my dear friend that she has every right to feel what she felt.  At the same time, I didn’t think she should feel this way because I know her to be one of the biggest allies on the planet.  As a White woman, she advocates for the weak, poor, and the not so fortunate, to have what she has.

I assured her that if most of those with White privilege did what she did, advocate for the poor and weak, give back to those communities in ways the offer them hope, and continue her life’s work, the world would be a better place.  Of course, being the modest friend that she is, she said “thank you, but…”

Consider these scenarios and questions:

Imagine if every time a Black person went to the store and was being followed, a White customer who notices that intervene and set the store clerk, another White person straight.  How do you think the shopping experience for all would be different?

Imagine you are a police officer and your partner profiles a Black driver and you disagree with your partner.  What do you think police killing of Black men would look like?

Imagine you are a White person at a bank applying for a loan and you overheard a Black person is turned down for a loan.  Clearly, from what you had been hearing, it is obvious to you that the Black person applying for the loan is more qualified than you are.  Imagine if, based on what you heard, you decided to talk to the bank manager about how disgusted you are that a Black man is denied a loan.  What do you think will happen to qualified Blacks who apply for loans for some of the same reasons Whites use loan funds for?

Imagine you are a manager and you have a White supervisor that tends to throw out applications that have names that sound Black, even though he or she is qualified.  Imagine you intervene to make sure that that applicant is interviewed?

Imagine in the same situation you overheard that the supervisor wanted to hire the Black applicant because they are Black, a token, and not because they are qualified.  But you, a White staff told your supervisor that is not right because you believe that Black person should be hired on merit.  Can you imagine working next to an intelligent Black person with skills as supposed to being hired based on their color?

Imagine if this whole idea, White privilege was non-existent.  Imagine a level playing field for all humans. Imagine if Black Wall Street was still standing today.

Imagine that every person with White privilege used their privilege to do the right thing.  Some of the right things such as ensuring that everything enjoyed within White privilege is enjoyed by all.  Just imagine using that power to make things right for others.

As someone with White privilege, I am asking you to take that internal road trip – it’s an attitude analysis.  Check your attitude about everything that is happening around you.  Try to see how it is impacting all of us psychologically and emotionally.

I don’t profess to say that it is an easy journey.  I am not pretending that it is simple.  I am not ignorant to the possible fear of seeing a certain uncomfortable truth.  I am sure of one thing, saying nothing, doing nothing, and watching the world around us fall apart because we chose to remain silent, impacts everyone, Whites, and Blacks.

Look at the economic crisis that is happening around the world.  Clearly Black people cannot be blamed for any of it.  To place blame on Blacks for the economic crisis in Puerto Rico and Greece, is to ignore the fact that our leadership, the ruling elite, are White, with privilege, access to wealth, and access to call out some bad apples within. Those same elite rulers have the ability to share and spread the wealth, potentially avoiding the crisis.

The short sighted idea is that we should not call out those with White privilege that can bring about positive change by sharing the privilege.  The long-term impact, is that families of the same White privileged folks that chose to remain silent, will feel the pain.

For example, I recently read a report about the lynching of Blacks. I am positive that some bystanders with White privilege could have said something to put a stop to those barbaric acts.  For whatever reason, they didn’t.  Some of those reasons may be comparable to reasons why Whites with privilege today are not stepping up to share the wealth.

Today, bystanders’ children are caught in a spiral of hate and we stand about wondering how that happened.  It happened because we failed to speak up to the injustice done to Blacks by those with White privilege.  The same failure to speak up now could be a sign that we have not really learned from our history.

I have read and continue to read much about White privilege, the history of ruling classes, the history of classism, elitism, oppression, slavery, and White privilege, and note that the continued pattern is our own doing.  As Pogo puts it, “we have met the enemy and it is us.”

At the end of the day, my dear friend is a White woman, she acknowledge her privilege, she realizes that her children, all young, may not know the world they will grow up into, and is willing to teach them about their privilege and how to use it for good cause.  I thought I would share this with the rest of the world and call out to leadership, White privileged leaders to sincerely look to history, use your privileges to make a difference, and bring about positive change.

I should let you know now that my dear friend is a Deaf White woman.  Take note and imagine how she acknowledged that even though she is Deaf, she is White and has privilege.  She said, “my children are privileged because they have access to communication that other Deaf and Hearing children do not.”  By this she means her children’s primary language is American Sign Language.

Her 2-year-old reads and writes at the 4th-grade level.  The kid is a whiz, like mom. The apple did not fall far from the tree.

My friend is an advocate of Deaf people.  She blogs about injustice toward Deaf people and people with Disabilities.  She fights for justice for people with Disabilities with a strong focus of Deaf and Hard of Hearing.  She uses her privilege to teach others to take notice of attitudes toward Deaf people that hurt our population.

I am proud of her because she is using her acknowledgment of White privilege to connect Deaf and Hearing worlds.  I believe those with the same power, White privilege, can do the same, use their privilege to connect the world in a positive way to bring about positive change.

The real question is will they? Will you?

Correction: Her 2-year-old reads and writes at the 4th-grade level.

The correct age is 7-years old.  I apologize for this error.

I identify as Black and I am free

I read and saw in the news that someone with white skin identified as black.  In addition to this, this person lied on their job application to become a leader of an organization.

This is not to judge or belittle.  It is an opinion, a thought, something different than your own, maybe, and most important, please find your funny bone, smile, it’s okay.

That is not why I am sharing this smile with you.  I am here because I feel free.  I am so free that the word free is slipping off my lips, nearly drooling.  This is exciting for me as a Black man.

Let me why I am excited.

For the first time in my life, I feel free.  I feel beautiful.  I feel like, wow, my skin color is finally in the limelight as something to be celebrated as supposed to:

  • getting profiled as a criminal,
  • being followed at all the stores I shop,
  • some women clutching their purse when I walk pass them,
  • and getting all sorts of beautiful facial expressions when I accidentally get lost in a ruling class neighborhood.

It feels great, at last!

I identify as Black and handsome because did you hear about it?  Oh man, you missed it?

So let me tell you.

I identify as Black today with pride.  Yes, lots of pride.  You should see me walking down the street now, carefree, hand running on my bald head, smiling so big that it puts the Joker’s permanent smile (in Batman, starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson) to shame.


I think not.  I am concerned, deeply concerned.  In fact, my first response to a blog when the news broke was “white privilege taken to a new level.”  It’s a whole new conversation now isn’t it?  I mean think about it for a moment – don’t forget to smile silly. Move your legs into dancing mode, step right, step left, that it… keep going.

Blacks, especially Black men, we have been painted with different strokes.  Oh boy, here I go opening a can of worms.  Am I?

Here I go again complaining about what we already know. And? It’s all in my head and still, dance, dance, and smile.

Some readers might feel insulted, or even offended.  Please don’t feel guilty or offended.  I rather we celebrate together.  Just imagine you are me, right now, smiling and thinking… Oh, my!  Simply because finally a positive conversation is happening about your beautiful Black skin.

Once again, please don’t feel offended or guilty. If so, then maybe this conversation is not for you.  If so, then maybe it might be helpful to consult with the mirror, mirror on the wall, how do I identify?

Dance, dance, dance… smile.

The conversation has shifted and it is continuously shifting.  You will be amazed at how it shifts like moon walking across the dance floor – Smoove.  You will be amazed at how it all sounds so familiar that it has our ancestors dancing in their graves – Smoove.  I encourage you to dance along because I am now – please, smile it will keep your Blackness forever beautiful.

I encourage you to dance along. I am dancing now because my Blackness is beautiful. Identify with my Blackness.

To be clear, if someone wants to identify as Black, Blue, Green, Orange, and what have you, I would not care.  What I care about is this.  A lie on a job application (it’s okay for some to think its no big deal and misdirect – I humbly respect other divergent opinions).  That seems to be drowning in a web of transgender and cisgender conversations.

Are we saying that the new way to apply to a leadership position is to lie on our applications?  If so, then I identify as Black.  May I be kindly afforded all the privileges, rights, and liberty herein, please? Thank you.

Are we suggesting that Blacks should celebrate our skin color only when a White person declares that they feel Black?  If so, I identify as Black.  May I be kindly afforded all the privilege if any, herein, please?  Thank you.

What message does this send to our kids?  If it is that our kids, regardless of color, can get up in the morning “mirror, mirror on the wall, what color am I today? Response: O so handsome Blackness, you identify as Black.  Then I am free at last and look forward to tomorrow.May I be kindly afforded all the privilege if any, herein, please?  Thank you.Dance, dance, dance. Smile…

Dance, dance, dance. Smile…

Are Blacks free to identify as anything contrary to all the stereotypes now?  If so, Hallajeyah!  Let’s all do the dances all day long!  I feel free – join me for the dance, dance, dance.

Is the message to the world that we should dishonor our parents?  This one is a tough one for me to digest.  I can’t and I won’t even dare.  The thought gave me a headache.

I am sure I can ask a million questions to bore you.  Maybe my questions are not thought provoking enough for some readers.  Please come up with your own based on yours, family, and peer values.  Whatever you decision, I believe this conversation is very important. Smile, feel good, and identify.

Smile, feel good, and identify.  Then dance, dance, dance and smile.

I identify as Black and I am free.

No, I don’t feel any different.  I am a Black man and in my loving mood, smiling because positive conversations are happening about my Blackness.   Please don’t hate or scorn me for making it fun.

Please don’t hate or scorn me for making it fun.

I identify as black and I am free. Yes! Dance, dance, dance, and :-).

Getting smacked over the head: Lessons from police brutality and the past

The mother who beat his son over the head during the Baltimore on the receiving end of many different opinions about what’s right and what’s wrong. Really? So now everyone has an opinion about what it cost to keep a Black man safe in America.

I have a different take on it and it is coming from experiencing first hand what my own mother had to go through to keep me safe in America. Let’s not get all worked up about criticizing anyone, or the nation. Let’s focus our attention on the history behind the topic.

12 Years a Slave

I want to begin with a scene from the movie 12 Years A Slave. There is one scene where the slave owner rapes a slave who is also a mother. When the slave’s husband questioned him, he was shot on the spot in front of all the slaves. This is meant to set an example that no one should question the slave owner’s behavior. I want everyone reading this line to meditate on this image. I mean, sit down, do nothing, and meditate.

Think about the psycho-emotional impact on the mother who has just been raped and without a man to protect her. Think about it and put yourself in her shoes. Now think about how these same behaviors continue today in subtle ways. Think about the sons who have died before Freddie, Michael, Trayvon, and others to date.

A Comparative Analysis

This comparative analysis is my opinion and is not meant to advocate for one way or the other.  It is simply to get us to think about how we as a society continue to hypocritically set rules, inadvertently participate until it hits home and seek to blame, belittle others who do the same.  Then we go on a rant of nothingness that doesn’t solve anything instead of changing the system.

In 12 Years A Slave, the lesson is this, slaves are told not to question their master. This is made clear once, not twice but once. Once told, the master doesn’t want to repeat himself. Failure to heed results in some violent response and even death as we saw in the film.

The police are known to give commands similar to those from slave days. Most of us are familiar with these commands. Some examples are: “put your hands on your head, turn around, get on your knees, and lay down with your face down.” You can be sure that the police do not like to repeat. Repeating means one is uncooperative and the result, you guessed it, usually is some form of brutality or simply death.

Let’s take that further back. When the settlers arrived in what we call the United States of America, they met the Native Americans. I am sure the settlers tried to reason with them in a nice gentle way to get them to move out of the way. I am sure there were meetings where conversations were amicable and civil until it did not go the settlers’ way. Because these meetings and conversations did not go the way the settlers wanted, they took the land by force.

Now take this mom, who has probably told her son a million times over not to do something bad that could end his life. Why is it okay for the police and the settlers to respond the way they do when citizens they have sworn to protect are a little stubborn, but we are quick to judge this mom? Why do we oxymoronically advocate peace but resort to violence?

This is Pure Hypocrisy!

We, the human race, preach that violence, of any kind, is not okay. I get it and I understand it. So when is it okay for one but not the other? Let’s see if we can connect the dots here.

The slave master doesn’t like to tell the slaves more than once to NOT do something. Cooperation is expected at all times. Failure to comply results in brutality or death.

The police expect full cooperation from the people they have sworn to protect and serve. Failure to comply results in some form of brutality or death.

The settlers tried to reason with the natives to move out of their homes so that settlers could have the land. Failure to comply leads to the Native Americans being forcefully removed from their land, and if their deaths happen, it is rationalized that they failed to comply.

Now the mom violently smacks her own son over the head to keep him safe and bam … most of us have an opinion of what it means.

The usual psycho-emotional response from some is that this mom did more harm than good. I am curious if anyone has had the time to really think about this carefully from the Black woman with a son perspective. I mean actually live the life of a Black woman raising a son in America.

The Psychoemotional Perspective: Questions

Have you even had to raise a Black son knowing that he is prophesized to be nothing more than a piece of meat meant for target practice?

Have you ever had live with a Black son who is so stubborn because, in his mind, he is normal, doesn’t even think of his skin color, and wants to be like the privileged?

Have you ever had to raise a Black son who has dreams to be something bigger than life but all of the rules are stacked against him to ensure he fails?

Have you ever had to raise a Black son who is expected to spend time jail at some point in his life no matter how good he is, what good he does, and yet still expected to go to jail?

Have you ever raise a son, who at a certain age, wants to be a man and you tell him to take it slow because being a man means becoming a target for police brutality?

Have you even raised a Black son who, at the beginning of his life, ends up in some special education program in school because he doesn’t speak the King’s English?

Have you ever raised a Black son who has to spend the rest of his life looking over his shoulders because he is a stigmatized criminal based on his gender and color?

Have you ever had to raise a Black son who believes in doing good because once upon a time Dr. Martin Luther King dreamt that the content of his character is what will be used to judge him, and yet his skin color and being male is what is used to judge him daily and a lifetime?

How do you keep the Black son safe?

What do you do to make sure that he comes home every night before you, the mom, go to bed?

What would you do if you were a Black woman and your only son is prophesized and destined to not live to adulthood?

Do you really know the psychoemotional cost of raising a Black son in America?

These are questions along with others that I think many who question Ms. Toya Graham’s behavior should answer before leaping to judgment about the right and wrong way to raise a Black son after watching her behavior in the media.

Sure we don’t advocate violence. Of course not! We don’t want to hurt our kids, let alone abuse them, violently hurt them, and most importantly, embarrass them. But the system to ensure this doesn’t happen could be doing the opposite of that.

The system of cooperation is set from the beginning and unless we are willing to address it from a systematic perspective, I think it’s hypocrisy to pass any form of judgment on, Ms. Graham. I think the lesson is that we’d rather see the police who have sworn to protect us beat our children or shoot them to death instead of mothers like Ms. Graham.

Possible Dialog and Solutions: Leadership Intervention

I think there are endless possibilities to turn things around. I am naive that way in my belief in the human race because I have lived long enough to see the good we can do when we are tested. Why we tend to wait until we are tested is another blog because it behooves me.

That said, I believe Ms. Graham should be commended for taking a leadership role, a mother that she is, to address this issue publicly. I commend her because her intent is justified and several examples abound to support that keeping her Black son safe is a priority over anything else. Additionally, she took accountability regardless of what anyone else says or feel.

Some of us leaders will wait until after the fact to react while Ms. Graham took a proactive stance. Her proactive stance begun a dialog. Most have read her story and having conversations about it. The dialog framework offers the opportunity to assess our biases, preconceived notions, stereotypes, and stigmas. By unpacking these, we can begin to see the psychoemotional impact on those we might be quick to judge.

Let’s try on different shoes. First, trying on different shoes can be fun. It can also allow us to see where our opinions might not fit.

Let’s look at the history of mistreatment of Black women. Their sons have ALWAYS been taken from them since slavery. Their sons have been made to bear criminal, up to no good, dangerous, angry, violent, loser, illiterate, deadbeat, and other stigmas. The burden to remove these stigmas rest on the mother, sad, but true, and no offense intended for Black fathers.

It might also be help to talk with Black mothers, and I mean various mothers, to get their perspective on the psychoemotional impact of raising a Black son and please hold all judgments. Because until one has walked in the shoes of another, this type, a Black woman, one might be completely off base to judge Ms. Graham’s behavior.

My opinion is that she saved her son, another Black boy, soon to be a man, on that fateful day. She should be respected and applauded if that is what it takes to keep us safe. She defied the odds, kept him out of jail, and out of harm’s way so he can live his dreams, dreams that Freddie can never fulfill.

Well done, Ms. Graham, well done, and thank you for raising awareness.

The Baltimore riot: Is the root cause a self-fulfilling prophecy?

The media

The media is abuzz with the Baltimore riots.

What are the facts? I have no idea. I have an opinion as a Black Deaf man.

My facts came from WJLA News, who reported that a 25-year old Black man was taken into custody by Baltimore police and transported in a police van and died while in custody. The reason for his arrest was not clear to me. I did some research.

I have many interests and dreams.  It breaks my heart when another Black man is killed. I wonder about their interests and dreams. I wonder how his family will live his dreams and cherish his life and spirit. These killings of black males at the hands of law enforcement, lately seem to lead to another unrest.


I wanted to add something here to “protect” myself. Then I realized something. I am thinking as if someone has some power over me that “prevents” me from writing what I think. That thought is a form of fear, a self-fulfilling prophecy with its a root cause being these brutal and senseless killings of Black men of late.

A root cause

I think its worth to look at root causes to the riot. I continue to research to learn more, try to understand different perspectives like this one among many, and while, on that journey, I wanted to share a thought on root causes.

Ignorance of root causes is probably why we have what we have today, a riot. Root causes are important because they are historical. History and prophesies are interchangeable and to ignore that is to pretend the riot happened in osmosis.

Therefore, we need to ask, what are the root causes of the Baltimore riots, Ferguson riots, South Carolina, and others before? Are these root causes that led to these killings types of the self-fulfilling prophecy (SFP)? What historical context and contents were prophesized that lends credence to this riot?

The self-fulfilling prophecy (SFP)

What is the self-fulfilling prophecy?  It is “a false definition of the situation evoking a new behavior which makes the originally false conception come true.” This definition has several parts: a root cause, time, and a result. In this case, the riot is a result of some long- or short-term root cause. Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior, said it best, “a riot is the language of the unheard.”

To be fair, the self-fulfilling prophecy or expectation can be positive. A positive root cause in time produces a positive outcome. Human achievements, one example being space travel is an example of positive root cause with results that benefit all humankind. We, humankind are capable of good root causes. Therefore, this is not a one-sided perspective on the issue.

But right now, in the name of humankind, we riot for justice because yet another one of our kind, a Black human male is dead. When I saw it on the news, I began to have this thought … a fearful thought of what might happen to me.

The thought, a root cause of my disclaimer thought, is one kind of a fear manifested from the media images of Black men publicly being executed. That root cause came from past images of the Civil Rights Movement often shown on television. It also came from historical images of Blacks lynched during the formative years of America, and the acclaimed films: Roots, 12 Years A Slave, Mississippi Burning and my personal favorite, 42.

The Baltimore riots, Ferguson riots, South Carolina, and others prior seem to communicate some sort of SFP that Blacks, especially Black men, must be “reminded of our place.” Ergo, the definition of the SFP “a false definition of the situation evoking a new behavior which makes the originally false conception come true.”

According to Tauber (1997) here is how the SFP expectation works.

  1. An expectation is formed
  2. Based on the expectations, we act [or treat each other] in a differential manner
  3. The treatment sends [communicates] a message about what is expected
  4. If the treatment persist without resistance it will tend to shape our behavior
  5. With time, our behavior confirms or resist the initial expectation

Expectations are formed:  Negative expectations

The history of expectations for and of Blacks in the form of bias, stereotypes, and isms in America is overwhelming. Take the word thug used to describe the select few that looted and damaged properties. Let’s look at where the word thug came from.

As you probably deduced after reading the origin of the word, defined as murderers and thieves. Blacks have been expected to behave this way since the beginning of slavery. We should consider this question.

How did Blacks slaves, who were helpless, oppressed, denied access to education and economic equality, taken from their homeland, and controlled end up with this label – thugs?

The expectation of Blacks is that we should accept helplessness, oppression, limited access to education and economic inequality no matter what as shown in the movie 42. I think this thought, the idea that Blacks should show restraint, not speak our minds, not mention injustice, and not ever to show signs of survival is the root cause for many of today’s unrest. That thought probably has Darwin turning in his grave! Based on the expectations, we act [or treat each other] in a differential manner

Based on the expectations, we act [or treat each other] in a differential manner

Here are some examples of differential treatments from a historical perspective.  Based on the expectation that Black slaves should always be reminded of where they came from – slaves. Slaves had no access to education and economic power. Slaves were not allowed to learn to read and write.  Slaves were not given spending power.

Inability to care for one’s family: slaves were properties of their owners, were sold as such. Children of slaves were taken and sold.

The lists of differential treatments of Blacks are infinite. There is infinite research available that speaks to the disproportionate differential treatments to reinforce expectations. What are the root causes of these treatments?

The treatment sends [communicates] a message about what is expected

These differential treatments speak to the famous B. F. Skinner experiment – a root cause analysis.  This type of conditioning that has been happening since slavery continues today.  In her book, The New Jim Crow author Michelle Alexander discussed the evolution of differential treatments – root causes that continue to evolve to ensure that negative expectations persist.

Analysis of the Skinner experiment revealed the root cause to alter the mice behavior was either negative or positive reinforcement through stimulus like shock.  The mice developed the SFP, behavioral change as expected and reinforced, communicated with the shock.  Similarly, the root cause of the Baltimore riot needs analysis.

Like Skinner’s experiment, which took time for the mice to alter its behavior, we may want to look at Baltimore closely.  The riot didn’t happen overnight out of the blue.  It was something that had been brewing over time like a volcano ready to erupt.  Even a volcano has a root cause to its eruption that lies persistently quiet until at last, boom!

If the treatment persist without resistance it will tend to shape our behavior

I want to personally state that treatment to reinforce the SFP on Black men is so powerful and persistent. The media is the tool similar to the shock in the Skinner experiment. That may be shocking to some and may not be for some.

Here are some examples of persistent media stimuli that often shape the SFP within some Black men such as the reporting of Michael Brown’s death by the media. But the media kept showing him lying in the street like some animal.

This action of leaving his body lying on the street is similar to images of Black men left lynched and hanging in public for all other Blacks to see. This type of imagery, powerful as it is, sends a persistent message about certain expected behavior. Failure to fit the behavioral mold may lead to death and public display to reinforce expectations.

The other example persistent treatment is the prison industry complex. A system designed to imprison majority of Black males. To add a little emphasis, here is what Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had to say about the prison industry complex:

“There is something wrong when 1/3rd of black men face the prospect of prison during their lifetimes and an estimated 1.5 million black men are “missing” from their families from incarceration and premature death. There is something wrong when one in three black men in Baltimore cannot find a job…We have allowed our justice system to get out of balance.”

Does what Mrs. Clinton have to say reminds you of something from the past? Words like the prospect, missing their families, and premature death are root causes. They set the tone for differential treatment and communicate the SFP beginnings – prophesized to “explode” at the right time.

With time, our behavior confirms or resist the initial expectation

Like the Skinner experiment, the SFP is contingent on time, reinforcements, and persistence. The behaviors of the Baltimore riot may be unjustified by most. I tend to agree that violence, destruction of property, and looting is not an answer. While I am thinking about that, I am also wondering what the root causes might be.

Building on the Skinner experiment, could we imagine if the mice were not caged? Just imagine if the mice were allowed to roam freely during the experiment, would the mice respond in the same manner? I suspect so because historically, the oppressed have been known to use violence as a last resort.

Maybe some readers might say, “but the Baltimore riots did not even try to resolve this matter in other ways.” Then we missed the point again, that the root cause is like an unerupted volcano. The lava “brews” beneath the earth until finally it erupts.

Similarly, one has to reflect on the psychological impact on Black males over time. One has to consider Black men’s feelings of helplessness when denied equitable access to finance, home ownership, and decent education.  One has to consider the psychological impact on Black men when constantly harassed over time. Eventually, it becomes, enough is enough, and an eruption of some sort, prophesized, affects behaviors.

In the movie 42, there was an episode where Jackie Robinson loses it, takes his baseball bat and begins smashing the wall. This was the first time he showed his anger and frustration. All throughout the movie, he was expected to take insults, swallow name callings, and pretend he is Deaf!

Finally, at that moment, he loses it and goes into hiding to express his anger by smashing the baseball bat – consider how long, the time, it took to reach that level of anger and you understand the root cause of the SFP.


The insults that Jackie Robinson received communicated a message that as a Black man, his place was not within white sports. The name callings communicated a prophesy that as long as his skin color is Black, the system will ensure that he knows his place because none of the whites calling him names were prosecuted. In fact, only once or twice did one of his teammates stand up for him. Even at that time, his teammates felt uneasy at doing what needed to be done to show acceptance. Those insults, name callings, and stereotypes are all root causes to the SFP

Those insults, name callings, and stereotypes are all root causes to the SFP that started before Jackie Robinson and continue today. I suppose the idea is that we Black men are supposed to accept insults, stereotypes, racism, and police brutality with a smile. Doing so is the only way to be accepted.

I don’t have to mention how the media portrays Black men because I suspect many of you readers are well aware of media profiling of Black men. The media feed is the same as the shock in the Skinner experiment. The media fed the world all sorts of negative feed when Trayvon, Michael, and Walter were shot. All of a sudden, the dead Black man has a history of run-ins with the police. The same happened when another Black man, Eric was choked held to death.  Now we are seeing the pattern with Freddie.  Is this a surprise?

I don’t think so. I think it has been prophesied since the beginning of slavery and the similarities, patterns, and examples are purposely intended to send a message. Black men are not expected to amount to anything except for violence. To ensure that the prophecy is fulfilled, consistent mistreatments in the forms of deprivation of education, disenfranchise of family, limited access to economic power, and consistent morphine of policies to communicate and ensure that prophecy is fulfilled.

Leadership intervention

As I said earlier, I am not here to advocate violence. I am not here to send a message the violence should continue or that it is the answer to these complex problems. I am here to ask our leaders to take a look at themselves, unpack whatever it is they need to unpack and begin addressing this issue from the root.

Maybe I have been naive in my thoughts that we can solve this and if so, then so be it. I believe that we can transform because I believe in the human race. We have so many examples of our capabilities to do good and to do right. Therefore, to simply remain silent is not taking a leadership stance.

To remain silent is to reinforce the root causes to the SFP. To not take a leadership role is to reinforce the root causes the SFP. To wait until it happens to a family member, a close friend, and a dear one is to reinforce the root causes to the SFP.