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Despair In African American Slaves

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Step back into the time of African American slavery and imagine yourself defenseless while face-to-face with heavily armed evil "Christian" European captors. You have been carried infinitely past inhumane limits and are overwhelmed. You have a sense of "Helpless Hopelessness" from the certainty of knowing there is no hope for lessening the constancy of the hellishness characterizing your life and no hope for relief in its intensity. Furthermore, you grieve from knowing you will never again experience any of the pleasures present in the African "Mother Land." Similarly, all African American Slaves experienced Spiritual Pain stemming from realizing all doubt had been removed of them ever having a better future. In other words, they knew neither would ever happen--and the "no doubt" is the keystone idea. By conceiving bad things as engulfing ever being reconnected with their African past or an enjoyable future--and therefore their present--was what generated a condition which necessarily entered and devoured the spirit core of their Selfhood. Such a mindset of "Hopeless Hopelessness" + complete mental, physical, and spiritual exhaustion + the earnest desiring of death = Extreme Despair. In all my years of research on the Black American Mind and of all the horrendous things that happened to each Slave, Extreme Despair now seems to me to be the foundational "seed" from which have branched practically all of today's Black Americans' problematic mindsets. Pause to think of being in such a Despair mindset. What would you have done? Commit suicide?; killed someone?; given yourself over to the captors to be a model Slave? Become apathetic and simply "go along to get along"? Engage in non-sexual Masochism (willingly accepting or refusing to prevent needless hardships and suffering)? In fact, there were Slaves who did all of these as well as manifested innumerable other ways of coping and enduring.

Perhaps most resorted to philosophical or religious management. "It's my fate!" is the philosophical solution statement conclusion I so often heard ex-Slaves say as a boy. "It's my fate!"--a symbolized privation of hope--implies being upside down in bottomless mental and spiritual depths. Still, many Slave Mothers bearing Extreme Despair rose up sufficiently to do what little they could to somewhat shield their children from the harsh realities of the life of Slaves. Family survival examples were necessarily shaping the character of their children in the manner the evil slave owners' desired, as in killing their spirits (and consciousness); making them dumb; forcing them to do heavy labor; and shaping them to be entertainers for White people--a major reason why European media steers today's Black males into sports.

Out of the Despair atmosphere of the Slaves (e.g. at family separating auction blocks) and ex-Slaves (e.g. White terrorists killing Black People every day) came the proverbial saying: "Hope deferred makes the heart sick." This meant it is worse to raise and then dash ones hopes than to have been resigned to not having something desired. This concept helped mold struggling Black Americans into a status quo lifestyle where there is a lack of desire for fashioning hope to attain the "American Dream." Thus, Black People unable to reach their recognized potential have a chronic grieving Emotive Experience. It consists of the Trigger Core (the thing which stimulates intense emotions) causing the immediate episode of Grief. However, this Grief is occurring inside slavery's "Atmosphere of Despair" Complex (ADC); has been culturally transmitted; and together imparts the sense of having "no doubt about the bad" as their fate. Resultant patterns are paralyzing to all desire to better a given situation; causing lifestyle Desperation--a recklessness springing out of Despair; a readiness to run any risk; and expressions of rash or frantic actions. This series on Grief is reproduced from Bailey, "Lifeskills For Black Boys."


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