Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Garth Rattray | Projecting self-hate

Published:Monday | July 18, 2016 | 7:00 AM

Obviously, the police killings of young black men in the United States is horrible and scary. Many respectable black leaders, young and middle-age alike, even congressmen, have related how they are consistently targeted and harassed by police officers if and when they drive around dressed down in casual clothes.

Black men have been suffocated to death and shot to death (even in the back) during the course of 'routine' arrests or traffic stops for suspected illegal (not necessarily criminal) acts.

Every single black male in the United States of America has a significantly increased risk of being killed by the police once he is suspected of possibly running afoul of the law or twitching the wrong way at the wrong time.

I have a very close family friend whose 18-year-old son does not want his driver's licence because he's scared stiff of driving a car in the United States of America. Many young black men think cops are looking for a reason to kill them. A simple traffic stop for a malfunctioning tail light is now a high-risk and possibly deadly encounter.

Repeated demonstrations and berating from people within the United States and internationally have proven futile thus far. And now, the relationship between the police and radical thinkers/factions within the black community has deteriorated to the point where retaliatory actions have been taken and there is an undercurrent of violent thinking in the air.

I truly don't know where this will end. Even a black president like Obama hasn't managed to turn back the tide of racially motivated hate in that country.

 

UNFAIR COMPARISON

 

Throughout all of this very sad and extremely scary situation, some continue to note publicly that there are far more young black men killing other young black men than there are police killing young black men. Though stark, shameful and remarkable, the comparison is very unfair.

There are far more young black men than there are police in America. It stands to reason that there will be far more acrimonious and possibly violent interactions between them. However, it speaks to the disunity of young black men - a group of individuals that should be standing as one and helping one another, not killing one another.

That reality brings me to our little island. A place fraught with black-on-black atrocities. Those with the same history and in similar circumstances disrespect, hate and even kill one another.

We seem to loathe our own appearance and colour. Shooting, stabbing, chopping, abducting, raping, slaughtering, burning and terrorising one another is self-destructive. Then it occurred to me that perhaps that's the crux of the matter - we hate ourselves, we hate what we are.

Generations have been so brainwashed by slavery that self-hate and self-denigration persist to this very day. We still have phrases like 'nutt'n black nuh good' and 'black and ugly' (those two almost always go hand in hand).

 

SKIN BLEACHING

 

The dangerous and ludicrous habit of bleaching the skin to attain a temporary lighter tone continues under the ridiculous guise of fashion. Additionally, the rampant disrespect, selfishness and dangerous driving on our roads make me feel that we truly despise ourselves and anyone who looks like us.

The famous father of modern psychology, Sigmund Freud, came up with a list of defence mechanisms that allow us to cope with life's stresses. Among them is 'projection'. It's a subconscious projection of the things that we hate about ourselves on to others.

That way, we reduce our anxiety about our own (perceived) flaws, faults and shortcomings. Instead, we project them on to others and end up looking unfavourably on them, to the point where some of us hate them and commit violence against them. Nobody hates a drunkard as much as another drunkard.

I am convinced that not only do we not love each other, many of us hate other Jamaicans just because they represent the things within us that we believe are making us inferior and disadvantaged.

We need to love and respect ourselves and accept that we are perfectly made. Until we do that, we cannot love others - the hate, disrespect, selfishness, violence and murders will never stop.

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and garthrattray@gmail.com.