Author Stands Out at Mall West End's 1st Annual Logos Book Festival
The 1st Annual Logos Book Festival was Saturday at The Mall West End. Professor and Author Joy DeGruy was one of the presenters. Her new book details how African-Americans have been harmed by the effects of slavery, oppression, and racism in America.
A petite young woman spoke with a dynamic voice of thoughts and ideals at the First Annual Logos' Book Festival Saturday at The Mall West End, 850 Oak St. at Ralph David Abernathy.
Dr. Joy DeGruy, a professor of Social Work at Portland State University in Oregon, traces the way that both overt and subtle forms of racism have damaged the collective African-American psyche. Harm has been manifested through poor mental and physical health, family and relationship dysfunction, and self-destructive impulses.
In her book, Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America's Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing, DeGruy details how African-Americans have been harmed by the American culture through slavery, oppression, and racism from the coast of Africa into America. She states that this has even led to the constant criminal involvement of some black youth.
"The institution of chattel slavery led to 'cultural dissonance,' a feeling of disharmony and psychological conflict resulting in a loss of identity and self esteem," DeGruy says in her book. "Thus, multitudes of African-Americans were forced to function within a system which was in conflict with their own customs of traditions, values, and needs."
Furthermore, DeGruy comments, slavery can account for family dysfunction through the exploit of male sexuality. She says, "When importing slaves became illegal, slave owners took to breeding humans for labor. Our value became more than simply our ability to do hard labor; reproducing children for labor was now important for men and women. We see that behavior today replicated in our communities, particularly with men. We see their value to how many children they've had even if they don't care for them."
Fatherless homes have led to the dysfunction of the family and the non-guidance of the male child, thus the child seeks support in the friendshps of his neighborhood. The children's belief systems are being reinforced by their peer group.
Thus, resulting in three areas of forms of Post-Traumatic Stress:
Racist Socialization and (Internalized Racism)
Learned Helplessness, literacy deprivation, distorted self-concept, antipathy or aversion for the following:
- The members of ones own identified cultural/ethnic group,
- The mores and customs associated ones own identified cultural/ethnic heritage,
- The physical characteristics of ones own identified cultural/ethnic group
Insufficient development of what DeGruy refers to as primary esteem, along with feelings of hopelessness, depression and a general self-destructive outlook. Cultural questions asked: Who's your daddy? or Who are your people?
Marked Propensity for Anger and Violence
Extreme feelings of suspicion and the perceived negative motivations of others. Violence against self, property and others, including the members of one's own group, i.e. friends, relatives, or acquaintances.
As a researcher, Professor DeGruy has developed the African American Male Youth Respect Scale. This scale measures the relationship between present and historical issues of respect in relationship to the use of violence among the black male population. In her remarks, on yesterday, at the Logos Book Festival, a predominately number of black males are in prison and jail because someone disrespected them and their low self-esteem.
"Once positive self-esteem has been established, a black male child becomes less likely to be involved in criminal elements," DeGruy said. "The self-esteem comes in teaching the child about his legacy/ancestors, what it is to be a black male in today's society, locate positive attributes of the black male child and nurture them. Also, increase postive parent involvement with a loving physical touch."
Lastly, Professor DeGruy said, "Healing can happen with all of us understanding and working together to correct the past."
Further readings by Professor DeGruy, include: