Last week, Dr. Nobles proposed that resistance to the idea of reparations for Black people is rooted in a psychological problem among white people that was solidified in the post-Reconstruction era that gave rise to Jim Crow laws and custom.
The active period of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (1894 – 1910) overlapped with the nadir of Black people’s freedom (1890 -1940) and development. While Black people were drawing on our own African cultural moorings to establish schools, hospitals, businesses and wholesome families, white consciousness was being continually fed (infected) with the lie of white superiority and Black inhumanity.
While erecting monuments all over the South, the UDC stated that “the most thoughtful and best educated women” should realize that the greatest monument they could build in the South would be an “educated motherhood.” If 100,000 white women taught their children to teach their children who, in turn, taught their children and if only a third of the white women (33,000) belonging to the UDC actively wrote textbooks and lobbied for a particular educational curriculum that reinforced the idea that Black people were less than human and undeserving of respect and equal access to the resources that sustain life and living, then the intellectual atmosphere and consciousness of all of America (not limited only to the South) would be stamped with the unchallenged belief in Black inferiority. Think about the extent of this memetic infection.
The Mohonk Conference on the Negro Question
In 1890 and 1891, the leading White educators, missionaries, philanthropists and politicians, including former United States President Rutherford B. Hayes, participated in the “Mohonk Conference on the Negro Question.” Starting with the premise of African savagery and that slavery was a “step up” on the ladder of civilization, America’s learned white elite adopted an educational platform or strategy which aimed to complete the Negroes’ so-called ascent to civilization by supplying Black teachers and preachers, who would be anointed as “leaders of the Negro race,” and whose offspring are probably the Black people who are against reparations, to carry forth the White narrative.
The Birth of a Nation
Continuing the self-inflicted infection of their own sense of humanity was the film, “The Birth of a Nation” by D.W. Griffith, which premiered in 1915 to an audience of 3,000 white people. In this film, Griffith portrays white women as pure and pristine and the Ku Klux Klan as honorable and courageous saviors of the southern way of life. Griffith portrays Black people (white actors in black face) as ignorant, lustful for white women, uncouth, disrespectfully drinking liquor and eating fried chicken and watermelon in the sacred halls of Congress.
It is paradoxical that one of the main character’s (the northern congressman) protégé was a vicious psychopathic mulatto named Silas Lynch. The connecting of the word, lynch with mulatto and psychopath was probably not accidental. This was the first film ever shown at the White House and it is reported that President Woodrow Wilson said, “It is like writing history with lightning. And my only regret is that it is all so terribly true.”
In every case, from mothers to filmmakers to educators, missionaries, philanthropists and politicians, the white narrative demeans and denigrates Black people and affirms that we have no redeeming value or worth and only deserve disregard, domination, exploitation, direction and control. It seems, therefore, worthy of consideration that the white response, “No to Reparations,” and even the rejection of the idea of Black reparations may be the result of an untreated racial psychopathology that even affects some misguided Black people.
Until white people address the truth about their responsibility for their part in the American story, they will continue to claim that they are not responsible for the past. Because of the Psychopathic Racial Personality Disorder, they may be unable to recognize and comprehend that Black reparations is part of their own psychic repair/reparations and healing balm. The support for reparations for Black people alone may help white people to reclaim their lost humanity.
The Association of Black Psychologists, Bay Area Chapter (ABPsi-Bay Area) is committed to providing the Post Newspaper readership with monthly discussions about critical issues in Black Mental Health. The ABPsi-Bay Area is a healing resource. We can be contacted at ([email protected]) and readers are welcome to join with us at our monthly chapter meeting, every third Saturday at the West Oakland Youth Center from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Dr.Wade W. Nobles, PhD is Co-Founder and Past President, The ABPsi, Professor Emeritus, Africana Studies and Black Psychology, SFSU.