Du Bois had said the facing of so vast a prejudice could not but bring the inevitable self-questioning, self-disparagement, and lowering of ideals which ever accompany repression and breed in an atmosphere of contempt and hate
In the film Get Out (directed by Jordon Peele) actor Daniel Kaluuya plays a major role and recounts having to plumb a ‘torrid emotion’ when his character’s mother dies as a result of a hit and run incident and says...
I felt that thing of not wanting to confront your demons, which I think is true for a lot of black men. There are of black men running around with crazy trauma scars and they should be going to therapy. They should be sitting down and talking to people. But they can’t. If you’ve got the armour of being a man, and the armour of being a black man, that hyper masculine thing can make those scars deeper (Guardian, Guide 18 March 2017)
How do I, you or we get out of the binary of black / white or colonized / colonizer mind-set? The same W.E.B Dubois noted as the problem of the twentieth century the colour-line, is still the problem in the 21st Century. I do not have the answer and do not think that change in the machine is eminent. Nast (2015) termed it the Machine-Phallus, where the white man identifies with machines and assumes ontological superiority over persons of colour and white women, this has not yet been eradicated. There are those of us, regardless of colour, that do our best not to be driven by the myth of the machine.
As a therapist I have a duty to find my own independent way of seeing and being which we call self-awareness in order to help those I meet in my life’s work and hopefully help them to do the same. For me, what this will take is an ethic embodied in Ubuntu (for a later blog) where humanity is shaped by interaction with others, which is a possible way out of the Machine-Phallus.
He lets his armour down and says to his therapist...
I hate being black! But could not tell anyone, how could I, how could I hate me? It doesn’t make sense…
Ever since I was able to understand there was difference in the world and that being black was bad, I think this has continued to affect how I see the world and my place in it.
Hate, unlike anger, has an enduring affect and has been confused with anger, which passes. Hate is seen as the threat to ones ego or death instinct (Freud, 1915). Freud knew only too well what hate was, and his ambivalence about sociocultural issues such as race, gender and religion…as he was keenly aware of anti-Semitism toward his family and other Jews while growing up, and yet never formally wrote about the effects of oppression, the traumatic effects of the Nazi Holocaust and anti-Semitism, contributed to his neglect of sociocultural factors and social oppression for subsequent generations of psychoanalysis (Zaretsky, 2006)
Sartre (1967) said…
No one can treat a man like a dog without first regarding him as man…this impossible dehumanisation of the oppressed, on the other side of the coin, becomes the alienation of the oppressor…in short, he must dehumanise himself
For this client, it made no sense to him how he could hate what he thought was himself and felt that being black was bad. One can only begin to imagine the battle that raged ‘inside’ him and the scars of his formative experiences beginning with his mother.
He described his mother as a beautiful ‘fair-skinned’ woman who met his father ‘a dark skinned man’ on the ship travelling over from Barbados to London to study and become a nurse. His mother told him she would not have dated his father because he was too black, and she told of being raped twice by one of the white men who lived at the property where she was living in Gloucester when she was 16 years old. This resulted in her travelling to London with a chaperone and somehow meeting up with his father again. His mother informed him that on the day of his birth he was taken away by the midwife to be cleaned up and when brought back his mother screamed…that’s not my baby, bring me my baby, that baby is too black and ugly!
Was this the start of the process of becoming alienated from his true self? In its basic sense alienation is becoming other, if something has simply become other than it has been, then the term alienation is neutral. But this was impossible, he could not become anything else other than what he was and could become in the future (which he did become eventually), having someone say to him at this or any point prior to doing the necessary work... “You should embrace your race or culture” would be the most ridiculous noise he could hear…
Oh, this seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this world, a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world…a peculiar sensation, the double consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others (Du Bois)
It is thought that histories of colonialism and slavery have influenced majority and minority groups’ perceptions of skin colour, related unconsciousness and conscious associations with ethnic belongings, acculturation, and sense of goodness and badness, and how these associations are mirrored in the therapeutic relationship… where whiteness is seen and not named…it is present everywhere but absent from discussion…it is the silent norm (Tummala-Narra, 2007)
He speaks of his mother in terms of being beautiful and places an emphasis on her colour (fair-skinned) and his father's colour (dark-skinned). Where was the neutral zone for this child now a man? It appeared that there was only good or bad. Although he was to later find the good in himself, his journey in therapy with an-other would be long in searching to find the therapist, whether black or white, who has and continues to transcend the binary myth of black and white, who acknowledges its presence in the world and the impact it can have, such as reducing persons to things, to degrade them from an I-thou to an I-it relation.
There have been recent developments in psychoanalytic theory regarding various aspects of diversity reenergising interest in the social and cultural domains and intersubjectivity. So how would the analyst be shaping the analysand’s conscious and unconscious experience of effective and symbolic communications?