“White culture doesn’t appreciate improvisation – unless it can be boxed and shrink wrapped. Controlled. That goes double for intellectual concepts. White culture is a corpse and brooks no creativity that does not support the status quo and the ways in which they’ve agreed meaning can be made.” thefreeslave.

In the discourses of thefreeslave concerning racism as mental illness, he submitted a post entitled: “Black Epistemology Versus the Placebo Syndrome”, from which I culled the above quote. As I read his post, it brought to my mind the dynamics of the relationship between “white supremacy thinking” and those of African descent in this Diaspora. Long ago, when I had much more animosity against white people, (mellowing with age and thanks to Jesus, this hate has turned mainly to indifference), I was given a cassette with a lecture by Dr. Edwin Nichols, a Black clinical psychologist, called “White Supremacy-A Paradigm”. It was based on a lecture he gave entitled: “Philosophical Aspects of Cultural Difference”, and it literally changed how I saw white people (this and my pilgrimage to the Motherland). Briefly, Dr. Nichols explained concepts and ideas about cultural differences in an axiological, epistemological and logical framework. He also utilized various historical references to anchor his hypothesizes. It blew my mind! What he clarified for me simply, is how and why those of European descent, as a culture, think in a particular way. Rationality and logic is the foundation from which they interact and interdict with each other, as well as with other cultures, and this groupthink is based on the concept of “counting” and “measuring”. Therefore if they can’t count or measure it themselves, then it holds no value for them. They use this particular brand of cultural groupthink to define terms for their own benefit, (take note of this): and they will also continually change definitions and/or their meanings to suit their own needs, especially when dealing with Black folks to deny us any degree of empowerment! (Isn’t it ironic that it took a clinical psychologist to explain the madness of “white supremacy thinking” for me!?)

According to Dr. Nichols, in contrast to Eurocentric culture, what is paramount to those of African descent in the dynamics of our interactions with others, is not rationality and logic, but the dynamics of our relationship…. a relationship which places significant value on emotional connections, i.e. “feelings”. This is not to say that rational and logical thought is unimportant to us, on the contrary. HOWEVER it is not the primary driving force of our cultural groupthink. I believe that is why we as a people are more in-tune than whites to our “gut” instinct…. why we are referred to as “soul people”. That is why we know by that look, or tone of voice, or that indefinable stench in the air, when we are being disrespected, dismissed as irrelevant…. especially by white people! (As an aside, that is why the issue of using the term “nigga/nigger” for me is not an intellectual exercise. I have read many posts which argue that it is just “a word” and by using the term, we are reclaiming and redefining it from the wider white society.  On an intellectual level, I see the rationality and logic of their arguments. BUT my Black soul screams to me that it is derogatory and demeaning…. I feel that it’s wrong to use it and that’s all that matters…. so it is wrong.)

White culture is not improvisational culture. Its more like impulse culture; the culture knows, regardless of political persuasion, how to band together to exploit or snuff out that which threatens their core values. White culture loves definitions and defining you; they are obsessed, slavishly with ‘Expertism,’ and they venerate all kind of degenerate white men just cuz.” thefreeslave.

So the crux of the matter is whether racism, the ideology of “white supremacy thinking” is indeed a form of mental illness? The vigour with which white people, particularly so-called white progressives/liberals, argued against this concept on thefreeslave‘s blog page, is a testament of their groupthink, as presented by Dr. Nichols and subsequently highlighted by the two above quotes. White society, particularly the best and brightest from their progressive/liberal camp, are not improvisational thinkers. Unless they can count and measure the concept themselves AND then control it by defining it’s parameters, then they dismiss it as irrelevant (groupthink). Rationality and logic based on counting and measuring is finite, and anything “outside of the box”, especially if it involves emotional intelligence (or more relevant: spiritual discernment), is seen as inferior. Henceforth their mantra: “tell me what you think, not what you feel”.

“I was thinking of the difference between classical and improvisational musicians. Classical musicians play what’s on the page, the notes that someone else wrote; the jazz musician, while working from musical notation (usually, but not always), prides him or herself on their ability to create ‘off’ the page. Jazz heads create using the available tools within and without. Through the interaction of what is written and what is within, these artists create a third thing, a new thing.” thefreeslave.

However, people of African descent can easily identify and fearlessly claim, that racism is a form of mental illness. This conclusion is not based on the process of Eurocentric intellectual analysis and definition creation, but from we have experienced and discerned first hand, from the dynamics of our relationships with those so-called “white progressives, liberals, conservatives, racists” and all those in between. (As I stated in a previous post, we say to ourselves and to each other: “dem white peoples dey crazy!”). We know it is mental illness because we have to daily navigate with our improvisational skills through the madness of racism, aka: “white supremacy thinking”, so as not to become mentally ill ourselves. We know it is mental illness because we see other Blacks, our family, friends and even those in distant lands, improvise against this madness for their very survival…. some successfully, most not. We know it is mental illness for history itself attests to the improvisational techniques of our ancestors, as they made their way through the madness of the slave trade, the madness of plantation life, the madness of Jim Crow, the madness of the civil rights movement, the madness of cultural genocide, the madness of the “War on Drugs”, the madness of the “War on Poverty”, the madness of the “War on Crime”, the madness of the “War on Black Music” (currently rap music) and the continuous madness of the “War For Our Very Souls”!

Today we have to be even more cognizant of the battleground where we engage our enemies and so-called friends in this war against the mental illness of racism. As we continually modify and improve upon our improvisational methods, some of us will be tasked to hit them high and some will hit them low. You hit them in the mind, with the truth of your intellect, and I’ll hit them in the soul, with the truth of my spirit. I think we’ll call this strategy…. no better yet…. we’ll define it as: “therapy”.  

A Bientot!