The following is from the introduction of my long awaited book on depression. It’s still untitled. I’m finally back to writing it. I’ve been through a hell of a lot since I last worked on it, and I’ve learned a lot from it. I’ll be revising a lot of this content over the next few months, and then we’ll release it. Because it’s needed. I know we’re ailing. Most of us, if not all of us right now. I just had to make sure my solutions made sense. This here is from the introduction though, which means its gonna cover some basics. Some you might know, some you might not. Tell me what you think, because its your feedback that’s gonna help shape both the book and my teaching! – Supreme
|1. Depressed people act just like most of us.|
|2. People are more depressed in poor, “third world” countries.|
|3. Depressed people don’t get much action from the opposite sex.|
|4. Depressed people typically sleep all day and stay in the house.|
|5. If I was depressed, I would already know it because the symptoms are obvious.|
|6. The majority of Black people who kill themselves do it with a gun.|
|7. Depression can be passed down genetically.|
|8. Your children can make you depressed.|
|9. Dumb ass jokes don’t help depression.|
|10. If you eat a healthy diet, you won’t be ill, physically or mentally.|
|11. Violent sports like kickboxing will make your depression worse.|
|12. Depression is just another way for the medical industry to sucker in more people.|
*Answers coming in the comments soon! You’ll have some answers by the time you’re done reading though!
If your body was a car, depression would be an engine problem. If you know anything about cars, you know there’s a ton of different things that can be wrong with your engine. The same way, depression is not a one-size-fits-all kinda problem. It takes many shapes and forms, so it’s not always obvious that someone is doing what they’re doing because they’re depressed. Some of us can hear the knock in our engine – or see the change in performance – before that “check engine” light comes on…but most of us won’t do anything about it until we break down somewhere along the road. Unfortunately, most of us can’t afford to fix the problem once it’s gone that far. And it’s gone pretty far.
When you’re depressed, you usually see everything with a more negative attitude and are unable to imagine that any problem or situation can be solved in a positive way. Depression can appear as anger and discouragement, rather than feelings of sadness.
Considering how many of us were taught hypermasculine models of manhood, most of us will knock somebody cold out before we cry our heart out. I know a lot of hotheaded gangsters who have confided in me that they don’t see hope and that’s why they “don’t give a fuck,” but sometimes (and this is a direct quote), “I just want to break down and cry like a baby.” I don’t think anybody could argue that those brothers are “punks” who can’t handle pressure. Instead, there’s too many of us who are under TOO MUCH pressure, and we don’t have release mechanisms to let that steam (stress) out.
We all can get overwhelmed, and we end up sick (depressed). Our sicknesses manifest in different ways. Some become sullen and withdrawn, or escape into a world of video games, weed smoke, and procrastination, while others get “on one” and let the world feel their wrath.
If the depression is severe enough (and especially if certain drugs are involved), there may even be some psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions. Basically, a break from reality. We’ve seen all these paths being taken in our communities (and in our families) and none of them are healthy, so we’ve gotta develop solutions. That’s why this book exists.
I’m gonna help you understand all the chaos, violence, and apathy in the hood in one sentence: We’re set on self-destruct.
You know that bright red button the villain presses when he wants to shut down his center of operations without anything left behind? Well, many of us have had our buttons pressed and we’re self-destructing.
If you want to get real deep with it, we can say this applies to all the Black and brown people of America, who collectively were the “center of operations” (where all the work was done) for the first few centuries of this country’s history. We are how this country was made.
But when the “equality” in their governing documents finally came to mean “for everyone,” these Black and brown people went from being assets to liabilities. And now, we’re being systematically wiped out, whether its via incarceration, environmental racism, poor life outcomes ensured by poor education, or any of a dozen other institutionalized mechanisms that are rooted in discrimination and oppression of Black and brown people specifically, and then any others who resist the status quo. And the ones who openly rebel against all this are always the first to go! This makes life seem hopeless for all who remain. Thus, those who die in rebellion only escape the slow suicides of those who conform.
Most of us – unless we’ve learned to accept the myths – are well-aware of how things work. And perhaps it’s our frustration with the way things work that causes us to give up.
Cause you can’t convince me that we’re naturally, internally deficient and screwed up, because we simply didn’t act like this in our homelands. And guess what? Everyone who is into some destructive behavior (except for the true psychopaths and sociopaths) KNOWS it. Those of us who represent the worst of our symptoms KNOW that we’re set on self-destruct. But that doesn’t mean we can fix it!
Part of the reason we can’t just “stop being fucked up” is because we don’t have methods and support systems in place to make those changes easy, but also because most of us don’t know WHY we have a screwed up orientation to ourselves, each other, and life in general. We might know we got life fucked up (we won’t admit it, of course), but FIXING it is a whole different story.
This is why I write and teach. I’m back to work on my project on depression. It’s the most important book I can publish this year.
When you look at the birth of hip hop, you find that it gave a voice to the voiceless, power to the powerless, and a space to those who had no place. Yet, despite the fact that the music allowed us to feel good, we were still dealing with the struggles of the world this culture was born into. So, even in the earliest hip hop, you’ll find us talking about all the issues that made life so tough we NEEDED an outlet like hip hop culture to be born. In fact, check out the lyrics to Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message” for some of the social factors that play into depression and all the ways in manifests:
It’s like a jungle sometimes/ It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under [2x]
Broken glass everywhere/ People pissin’ on the stairs, you know they just don’t care/ I can’t take the smell, can’t take the noise/ Got no money to move out, I guess I got no choice/ Rats in the front room, roaches in the back/ Junkies in the alley with a baseball bat/ I tried to get away but I couldn’t get far/ ‘cuz a man with a tow truck repossessed my car
[Chorus] Don’t push me ‘cuz I’m close to the edge/ I’m trying not to lose my head/ Uh huh ha ha ha/ It’s like a jungle sometimes/ It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under
Standin’ on the front stoop hangin’ out the window/ Watchin’ all the cars go by, roarin’ as the breezes blow/ Crazy lady, livin’ in a bag/ Eatin’ outta garbage pails, used to be a fag had sex and/ danced the tango, skip the life and dango/ A Zircon princess seemed to lost her senses/ Down at the peep show watchin’ all the creeps/ So she can tell her stories to the girls back home/ She went to the city and got so so sadity/ She had to get a pimp, she couldn’t make it on her own
My brother’s doin’ bad, stole my mother’s TV/ Says she watches too much, it’s just not healthy/ “All My Children” in the daytime, “Dallas” at night/ Can’t even see the game or the Sugar Ray fight/ The bill collectors, they ring my phone/ and scare my wife when I’m not home/ Got a bum education, double-digit inflation/ Can’t take the train to the job, there’s a strike at the station/ Neon King Kong standin’ on my back/ Can’t stop to turn around, broke my sacroiliac/ A mid-range migraine, cancered membrane/ Sometimes I think I’m goin’ insane/ I swear I might hijack a plane!
My son said, Daddy, I don’t wanna go to school/ ‘cuz the teacher’s a jerk, he must think I’m a fool/ And all the kids smoke reefer, I think it’d be cheaper/ if I just got a job, learned to be a street sweeper/ Or dance to the beat, shuffle my feet/ Wear a shirt and tie and run with the creeps/ ‘cuz it’s all about money, ain’t a damn thing funny/ You got to have a con in this land of milk and honey/ They pushed that girl in front of the train/ Took her to the doctor, sewed her arm on again/ Stabbed that man right in his heart/ Gave him a transplant for a brand new start/ I can’t walk through the park ‘cuz it’s crazy after dark/ Keep my hand on my gun ‘cuz they got me on the run/ I feel like a outlaw, broke my last glass jaw/ Hear them say “You want some more?”/ Livin’ on a see-saw
A child is born with no state of mind/ Blind to the ways of mankind/ God is smilin’ on you but he’s frownin’ too/ Because only God knows what you’ll go through/ You’ll grow in the ghetto livin’ second-rate/ And your eyes will sing a song of deep hate/ The places you play and where you stay/ Looks like one great big alleyway/ You’ll admire all the number-book takers/ Thugs, pimps and pushers and the big money-makers/ Drivin’ big cars, spendin’ twenties and tens/ And you’ll wanna grow up to be just like them, huh/ Smugglers, scramblers, burglars, gamblers/ Pickpockets, peddlers, even panhandlers/ You say I’m cool, huh, I’m no fool/ But then you wind up droppin’ outta high school/ Now you’re unemployed, all non void/ Walkin’ round like you’re Pretty Boy Floyd/ Turned stick-up kid, but look what you done did/ Got sent up for a eight-year bid/ Now your manhood is took and you’re a Maytag/ Spend the next two years as a undercover fag/ Bein’ used and abused to serve like hell/ ’til one day, you was found hung dead in the cell/ It was plain to see that your life was lost/ You was cold and your body swung back and forth/ But now your eyes sing the sad, sad song/ Of how you lived so fast and died so young so…/
And this right here represents the BIRTH of Hip Hop! So even in its infancy, you can see that Hip Hop gave us a way to communicate that we were “on the edge” because life was just plain rough and many of us had a hard time coping with it all. This feeling never disappeared from our communities, and it never left Hip Hop either. In 2011, Young Jeezy and T.I. put out a song called “F.A.M.E.” (Fake Ass Motherfuckers Envy) with the same message. Jeezy starts it off with:
Fuck these haters, I’d kill ‘em all if I could/ Ain’t scared of none of y’all, so you know my aim good/ Blowin bin Ladin in my Porsche 911/ Just left Ground Zero, on my way to kush heaven/ Can’t slow down, too much evil in my rear view/ Sometimes you wanna scream to God, but he can’t hear you/ And even if you did, this’ll probably be disaster/ Fuck you ‘plainin’ ’bout? It ain’t like you got cancer/ Do it for my niggas on the block that got it worse/ First the love, then the hate, that just a trap nigga’s curse/ I betcha feel like the whole world hatin’ on you/ But what’s the holdup? The whole world waitin’ on you
[Chorus] (The fame…) I wake up and feel empty/ Shit make you wanna squeeze your Glock ’til it’s empty/ I’m already standin’ on the edge, so don’t tempt me/ Fake motherfuckers envy
See the similarities? No, not the differences. We can talk about how – since the era of Grandmaster Flash – “being gangster” has become the new way to cope with the symptoms of depression in a minute, but don’t try so hard to find the differences. Look for what AIN’T changed over those decades.
We’re on EDGE! We’re stressed. We’re damn traumatized by our experiences. We feel alone. We feel empty. We feel like we could “go down” or “lose it” at any moment. And for some of us, we plan to “go out with a bang,” meaning we want to take all our enemies with us.
“They tryin to say that I don’t care…Just woke up and screamed, ‘Fuck the world!'” – Tupac Shakur, “Fuck the World”
Nihilism. Ever heard of it? I could explain it in philosophical terms, but Tupac explained it perfectly when he said “Fuck the World!” That’s basically what it means. Nihilism is kind of like hopelessness, except it’s when you adopt that attitude that nothing matters, so who gives a fuck? Live like you’ll die tomorrow. Or better yet, live like you want to die today. Nihilism is about looking at all the world, and all your life, as if there’s nothing to look forward to. Therefore, we EMBRACE self-destruction and we say fuck everything and everybody. Lil Wayne’s got a song that’s at least partly based on Pac’s original, but definitely rooted in his own experiences with depression and nihilism. The way those two work together is as clear in his song as it is in many of our lives. We live reckless because tomorrow is not expected, and is tomorrow does come, it won’t necessarily be better. So fuck it. And when we sense that the world, life, or the people in it, are working against us, it goes from “fuck it” to “fuck the world.” I want you to look for all those elements as you read the lyrics of Wayne’s song, and consider how those elements play out in our own lives. Here’s how it goes:
Look, look, look/ A young nigga screaming fuck the world and let ’em die/ Behind tints, tryna’ duck the world and smoking rie/ Got my bandanna ’round my head and pants to my feet/ And got my eyes fire red and glock on my seat/ I’m tryna’ stay under intoxication/ ‘Cause I lost my father, and got a daughter, plus I’m on probation/ I’m drinking liquor like it’s water, getting pissy drunk/ And staying away from them lil’ broads that trying to give me some/ I keep a chopper in the trunk and my heat on my wasteline/ Ducking the law, ’cause I ain’t tryna’ do no FED time/ Sometimes I just wish I could be away/ But I gotta take care of Reginae and keep macita straight/ So I just maintain the struggle and I keep trying/ But how can I when my closest people keep dyin’/ I ain’t lying that the law tryna’ bust my clique/ But I scream fuck the world man, I’m too young for this/
[Chorus] Look, I don’t curse, but in this verse man, fuck the world/ I lost my father to a gun and made a little girl/ And I’m still thuggin’ wit’ my niggas tryna’ keep it real/ And I’m still doing for my mother and I’m payin’ bills [2x]
Give me a cigarette, my nerves bad/ The FEDs said they heard that I know where them birds at/ And my old lady say she saw me with anotha Brizzah/ And some a the boys shot up my block so now I gotta kill ’em/ And teachers keep tellin’ my momma that I’m gettin’ worse/ And now she tripping talking ’bout I need to be in church/ And my lil’ girl whole family tryna’ lie in court/ Tryna’ put me, a child, on child support/ And my own family deny me of what I do ’cause I’m a ‘thug and stuff’/ Plus, my niggas keep falling to them drugs and stuff/ That dope got these niggas melting away/ Man they got clowns right around me, killing they self everyday/ We keep fighting but they so strong/ I know it’s hard but don’t give up baby hold on/ Just keep ya fate, count blessings, and wodie keep ya trust/ And grab ya nuts and let ’em know that we don’t give a fuck/ We don’t give a fuck
I mean the world just ain’t gon’ never change/ So I just keep my head up and my nuts, let ’em hang/ Dawg I swear it’s very rough out here for the youngstas/ Like everybody against me ’cause I’m a young thug/ Dear Rabbit, why they have to kill Rabbit?/ But I’ma keep you alive, nigga, I’m Lil’ Rabbit/ That’s why this lil’ nigga be bugging like it’s no tomorrow/ I only can depend on Ma Cita and C.M.R./ I try my best to make it through the night and live today/ But I’m upset so I’m steady wipin’ tears away/ And police got me under surveillance when and wherever/ Wrecking they brains, tryna’ figure where I’m getting that cheddar/ I tell my family just leave me a-damn-lone/ I can handle all a my business, this lil’ man grown/ But I try to forget about it and just stand strong/ But if everything was cool I wouldn’t write this damn song/ Fuck the world
Wayne is talking about a perspective that countless young Black and brown men (and perhaps many women) – in developing their awareness of the ills of the world, and the seemingly insurmountable struggles of life – adopt because the world is just hopeless. It is our self-esteem that causes many of us to take on rebellious attitudes and go against everything society wants from us (“fuck the world”) or, for those of us who are less volatile or aggressive, to simply disconnect and become apathetic (“fuck it”). These two attitudes are different sides of the same coin of Nihilism. Nihilism is a big philosophical word, but it’s not that deep. It’s got the same root as the word “Annihilate” which means to destroy or kill. So you can see where the final destination of that mindset leads. The path to this end result, however, is either a long boring sentence or a short choppy one, punctuated by bursts of chaos. Where does all that chaos come from? In this excerpt from How to Hustle and Win, I explain what nihilism has to do with fighting in the club.
“We rollin’ deep in this bitch so f*ck y’all niggas/ I got that dirty south wit me, I don’t give a f*ck!!” – Lil Jon & The Eastside Boys, “I Don’t Give a F*ck”
You know how any song, with a hook like “F*ck You” or “F*ck them Other Niggas” can make everybody in a club or a party go crazy? Put on the right song, and even the dudes in wheelchairs got their middle fingers in the air, elbowin people in the nuts. Why is that?
Anybody seeing that can tell that it seems like we got a lot of anger and frustration to get out of our systems. And we don’t care what anybody thinks about us or our way of expressing ourselves. We’ve got some rage to get out of our system.
It’s been this way for a while now. Whether you were slamdancing to Onyx back in the 90s, or pushin hatas off in the South, you’ve seen Black clubs lookin a lot like white moshpits. And to this day, if you go to the type of clubs I go to, you know ain’t nothin changed.
When DJ Khaled’s “I’m so Hood” came on in any club in Atlanta, chaos erupted once Plies came on spittin, “Damn my P.O.! Ya’ll can tell her I said it! Violate me if she want, [she] gon have to come catch me!” Why? Because he was simply telling everyone “I…don’t…give…a F*CK.” And 90% of us can relate to that on some level. Whether you know it or not, every poor person of color has feelings of “I don’t give a f*ck” or “f*ck the world” somewhere under their surface. I’ll explain.
If you pay attention, when any song comes on that’s saying “I don’t give a f*ck” or “f*ck the world” it’s about to go down. We get buck, get wild…even the good guys got their middle fingers in the air, and the bad guys are stompin a stranger out…Where did all this rage come from?
“We ain’t gon stop until some devils die up in the audience/ Word up, push them to the floor/ Put your foot in his guts, a sample, watch a fool get trampled/ Shoot a pistol in the air, make it so security can’t handle” – Three Six Mafia, “I Bet You Won’t Hit a Muthaf*cka”
Simple. We weren’t just saying “f*ck the world” because we felt like we could. We meant it. The truth behind why is buried deep in our collective psychology.
After so many years of being the abandoned generation of an already exploited people, we just don’t give a f*ck any more. We sincerely don’t give a f*ck about this world that never gave a f*ck about us. Even Young Buck wasn’t happy with how his album Buck the World got its final title: “I really just wanted to have the middle finger on there. I wanted to name my album “F*ck the World,” but they wouldn’t let me name it that.”
“I’m thugged out/ F*ck the world ‘cuz this is how they made me” – Tupac, “Life of an Outlaw”
Do you get it? If you’ve ever said “F*ck the world” I know you do. If you ever just held your middle fingers up in the air, to no one person in particular, I know you do. If you ever just wanted to tear some sh*t up, I know you do.
I’m here to tell you that it’s natural to feel this way when you are fed what we’ve been fed. We were born into the pain that made us feel this way. As Ice-T recalled in his book, The Ice Opinion: Who Gives a F*ck?:
“Who gives a f*ck?” is one of the first questions a kid will ask himself growing up in the ghetto. He’ll look around at the broken-down buildings, the shabby projects, the cracked schoolyard playgrounds, and it doesn’t look like anybody gives a f*ck. He’ll watch mean muthaf*ckas in patrol cars rolling around the neighborhood, and they won’t give a f*ck. Everybody he sees is just trying to survive; they are just trying to make it over to another day.
This is his view from here. To understand where the rage and defiance in inner-city kids come from, you have to understand the attitude of people when they’re down. Even a strong-willed kid will have a difficult time giving a f*ck when everywhere he looks, the cops, the schools, and the people outside the ghetto reinforce his feelings of hopelessness.
This hopelessness consumes us. We lash out in rage, anger, and frustration as a result. The same way old folks release their misery and despair by crying and falling out in church, we nut up and act a fool in the club the night before. However…the key to making sense out of all this is to escape the cycle of suffering and venting.
“To be Black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage.” – James Baldwin (1924-1987)
We must learn to channel this rage and use it to destroy what is weak in our lives and our communities. We don’t need to put our middle fingers down. We just need to remember who to point them at, as Plies does in his video for “100 Years.”
“Since they don’t give a f*ck, I don’t – Feel what I’m saying?” – Kastro on Tupac’s “They Don’t Give a F*ck About Us”
From a man with money like Young Buck, to the broke teenager on the corner, all of our attitudes have been shaped by this wretched system. Even those of us who haven’t given up on “making it” have started to look at the rest of the world, even other Black people, like they have nothing to offer us or tell us. When you look around, even when we ain’t waving a middle finger in the air, we’re waving a middle finger in the air.
And then what?
Young Black men everywhere are full of rage and frustration. Only once you know where all that comes from, will you be able to have the power to change it.
Joe Budden has done a series of songs detailing his battles with depression, most of which can be found on his aptly-titled Mood Muzik mixtapes. But despite his courageous stance, putting his shit out there for the world to see that depression is definitely a Black problem too, you know what that got him? A bunch of Internet critics who call him the “depressed rapper.” They ignore the fact that Budden weaves words together better than most rappers on the scene right now, and criticize him for something he should be celebrated for. But unless you’re saying “I’m ready to die, so I’ma blow your head off first,” depression is seen as weak, and damn near comical to outsiders. And because of this, both those of us who are externally destructive and those who are internally destructive struggle for recognition, acceptance, and support.
You know what happens if you tell people you’re depressed? If you’ve tried it with the wrong person, you already know. They say some bullshit so deeply offensive or dismissive that you start rethinking whether you want to talk to ANYone about how you’re feeling or what you’re going through. It’s almost as if people don’t take you seriously until you commit suicide. And even then, people may believe there was a conspiracy involved, because “Black people just don’t kill themselves.” That’s bullshit. We’ve been killin ourselves since the slaveships. Throwin yourself overboard in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean ain’t exactly my idea of an escape plan. And the rates of suicide and depression are a hundred times worse now. Yet our communities, our families, even our closest friends, remain in denial. We have this negative stigma surrounding depression that says either its not a “real” problem, or that it’s a sign of weakness. So many of us suffer in silence, until something tragic happens and everyone acts like they ain’t had a clue. But they had plenty. Hell, some of us are cryin for help, but many of us have learned to do it in ways that aren’t seen as “weak” or “crazy.” And so it goes, where nobody knows…or they try to act like they don’t.
You tell the wrong person and they might tell you that you’ve got the devil in you, or that “that’s just some white people shit,” but that same expert won’t be nowhere to be found when that bomb in your head goes off and somebody’s gotta pick up the pieces. So, with all due respect to that “caring person” who dismisses all your concerns, FUCK EM. You ain’t gotta forget em, because it might be your mama, your girlfriend, who knows? They might need more time or more information to truly understand. But if it’s not somebody significant, forget about em. And even if it is, I’m saying “fuck em” because until they “get it,” you can’t drive yourself crazier trying to get them to feel what you feel.
But hold up! That doesn’t mean you need to distance yourself from everybody! It just means you can’t let dismissive and offensive remarks get you frustrated! You’ve got to understand that there is a STIGMA surrounding depression, that is DESIGNED around us NOT talking about it. We just sweep it under the rug!
As my friend Elena Kaltsas once noted:
The fact that black people don’t believe rates of suicide are high in Black populations is largely tied to the ridiculous and erroneous belief that:
1) Black people are so stoic and self reliant they do not experience depression in a manner that requires intervention or acknowledgement.
2) The majority of the population providing psychiatric treatment and services is run by white folks, and Black folks don’t need white folks knowing their business or messing with their heads, cause they can’t be trusted. Because of all of this fuckery, we suffer in silence, avoid treatment, refuse to seek support, and treat the D word like it’s extremely taboo and a sign of weakness.
Another quote to use from Elena:
I have an issue with broad statements that quote pseudo statistics that say whites commit suicide more than blacks do. First, we know homicides against people of color do not get as much publicity or acknowledgement as other deaths, so I would surmise suicides rates are similar. In addition, we have to broaden the scope of what we consider suicide. It isn’t just sticking a gun in your mouth and going for broke. Abusing prescription drugs, alcohol, leaving STD undiagnosed/untreated, and putting ourselves in precarious and potentially violent situations where death is PROBABLE (Supreme, you spoke about this in your video, regarding men wanting to die, but go out with like a G at the hands of somebody else), is also suicide.
Trust me, it’s real. And it’s not just for white people. As I’ll explain in the chapter on the science and history of depression, depression has unique roots among Black and brown people, but it’s definitely here, and it here to play no games either. If you want to live in denial about your own depression, even after seeing how many of the symptoms you have, you do so at your own risk because depression typically gets worse, especially when you’re Black or brown. Good thing is, you’ve got this book, so you’re at least open to the idea of depression being a real problem. Now, if someone in your immediate circle is just convinced that there is no “basis” to what people “call” depression, just ask them if they can agree that different people have different levels of hormones and other chemicals in their bodies. You know, some people have more estrogen, while others have more testosterone. Well, apply that same understanding to the chemicals in our brain that decide how we feel about life. Some of us are born with a chemical imbalance that makes us prone to depression and possibly prone to suicide even if we “seem” okay otherwise. There’s a ton of other factors involved, but that explanation should help them understand that, yes, it’s real. You can explain it this way without incurring all the stigma of “This dude is crazy” or “This chick got some issues.” Now, if they act like they STILL don’t understand, you might be dealing with:
(A) a real dumb dummy (they can’t understand basic shit), or
(B) a smart dummy (someone who thinks they know some shit, but they don’t know shit), or
(C) someone who ALSO has depression and either doesn’t know it or won’t admit it due to the stigma (of being weak/crazy).
Those two types are produced by different circumstances. Dumb dummies might just be learning impaired. I’m being serious! They might really have cognitive difficulties! Or they might have just had such a bad experience in school that they didn’t learn basic things like the fact we have chemicals in our bodies. On the other hand, smart dummies might be slow too, but they picked up some “deep knowledge” somewhere along the line, so they think they’re experts now. These are the type of people who can tell you all about your chakras, but can’t measure your pulse. They’ll talk about metaphysics all day, but don’t understand regularphysics. They’ll tell you that HAARP is to blame for ALL the bad weather on Earth, but can’t explain the processes behind a natural earthquake. But dumb dummies and smart dummies have one thing in common: they’re hell to talk to, when you’re trying to explain something they don’t understand or don’t agree with. So whether it’s (A) or (B), you might just want to save your breath and keep it moving, because there’s nothing more frustrating than arguing with a fool. And remember: a wise man won’t argue with a fool, because people at a distance can’t tell who’s who!
When we hear about psychological conditions among Original People, many of us get skeptical of whether the concerns are genuine or even warranted. Considering the history of Western psychology, particularly as it has been used against Original people, I don’t blame the skeptics. And yes, I said “used against,” meaning that the modern history of Western psychology begins with attempts to labels Black and brown people as mentally disturbed, deviant, or dysfunctional. Think about what the European missionaries said when they came to Africa and the Americas. They may have secretly admired the societies they encountered, but their official reports called for the Gospel of Christ (and military backup) to “cleanse the heathens” of their mental and spiritual afflictions. They said we were possessed by devils and demons, because that is how they chose to interpret our internal relationships with the forces of nature (which we described using metaphysical terms and mythology). They used these invented sicknesses as an excuse to come “save us” from ourselves. But these traditions were our survival mechanisms, which is why they survive to this very day,, although perhaps embedded within the new traditions and belief systems we’ve adopted. They certainly weren’t sicknesses or disorders. Our traditions weren’t dogmatic either. We know they weren’t because – had some of our ancestors been more dogmatic – they may have been less susceptible to the new beliefs and idols introduced by Europeans. European missionaries used these beliefs to “cure us” from pagan thinking, which lowered our resistance against what was sure to follow. As soon as the people had been thoroughly sedated, a European military envoy would follow, claiming that land for their crown. That’s pretty much how it went throughout the world, but especially so in Africa and the Americas.
What’s this gotta do with psychology?
Think about it. What do you see at play here? It’s all psychology! Just as IAtomic Seven explains in Locked Up but Not Locked Down, oppression and subjugation are predicated on the use of psychological warfare, first and foremost. So when we examine the relationship between oppressed people and their oppressor, we will always find psychology being used from the very beginning. So while the history of psychology being used against Original people may have started with religion, it soon progressed to actual psychological diagnoses. As I explained in How to Hustle and Win, Part One, the ORIGIN of American psychiatry is rooted in racism:
Benjamin Rush was the racist known as the “father” of American psychiatry. His face still appears on the seal of the American Psychiatric Association. Rush asserted that the color of Blacks stemmed from a disease called “negritude” which derived from leprosy. The evidence of a “cure” was when the skin turned white.
Another early doctor, Samuel Cartwright, claimed to have discovered two mental diseases peculiar to Blacks, which he believed justified their enslavement. The first one, Drapetomania, was named after Drapetes, a runaway slave. Cartwright claimed that this “disease” caused Blacks to have an uncontrollable urge to run away from their “masters.” The “treatment” for this illness was “whipping the devil out of them.”
Cartwright named a second “disease,” Dysaesthesia aethiopis. This disease supposedly affected both the mind and body of Blacks. The symptoms included disobedience, answering disrespectfully, and refusing to work. His proposed “cure” was to force the person into hard labor, which would send “vitalized blood to the brain to give liberty to the mind.”
And let’s not forget that an entire FIELD of science, known as phrenology (now discredited), sought to associate deviant or criminal pathology with the shape of the human skull. I’m sure you can guess that Black features were associated with criminality and mental illness. I go on to explain that very little has changed since those days:
In the modern era, these bogus disorders have been replaced by new disorders. These new disorders are just as popular among doctors diagnosing Black children as the old ones were for slaves. They are ADHD and ODD, and instead of whippings and forced labor, the new treatments are medications that dope our children up into complacent zombies. Oh, and let’s not forget that we still have no idea how these children will turn out 20 years from now, since the “treatments” are so new. (Just as we’re only “now” learning cell phones cause cancer)
ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, basically means, “can’t sit still and focus.” If you grew up with TV as your babysitter, and never learned how to sit alone and read a book for more than an hour, you’re a candidate. The trouble is, that’s how most of our young people grow up nowadays. Don’t worry. Ritalin and other drugs are here to make you dull, motionless, and ready to “fit in.”
ODD, or Oppositional Defiant Disorder, basically means, “problems with authority.” As I’ve said elsewhere, any member of the oppressed class naturally grows up with a spirit of resentment and frustration towards the powers that be. Millions of people, Black, brown, red, and yellow (and even some pissed-off white folks), are born with this spirit of resistance, and will probably fight until one of three things happens:
- They are “broken” like a slave or horse, and conditioned to be a “good boy”
- They end up fighting their way into self-destruction (death, jail, drug addiction, or insanity)
- They find out about the reason why they’re so mad and they fight the only fight worth fighting: The fight for freedom
No matter what direction you’re headed, they’ve got some easy solutions for a rebellious kid. Either they send you to an alternative school or they dope you up until you’re passive, obedient, and ready to do what you’re told.
So we shouldn’t be surprised when we hear that Black and brown people are being OVERdiagnosed with ADHD, ODD, schizophrenia, and all kinds of other disorders that may ACTUALLY be rooted in resistance to our fucked-up conditions (when there’s no “healthy” outlets in which to do so). We’ll talk about some of these other disorders later in the book, but let’s get back to depression for now.
Are Black and brown people overdiagnosed for depression? According to the statistics, it doesn’t look like it. Depression is very reall, and it looks like there’s a whole lot of us who are REALLY depressed (but undiagnosed). Why? Well, let’s look at what depression does to us. It can make us apathetic, uncaring, unproductive, self-destructive, and even suicidal. Depressed people are less likely to resist and and work to change their lot in life, because they’re obsessing over the misery produced by their lot in life (or at least their PERCEPTION of the hand they’ve been dealt). So depression doesn’t strike me as a problem I’d be concerned about if I just wanted to keep a group of people in check. I’d be more concerned about the rebel slaves and the “ready to flip out” slaves, and how to sedate, or placate, or pacify them…than I would be about the sad and down bunch.
But don’t get it twisted! There’s still money to be made off depression! And wherever there’s money to be made, SOMEBODY’s gonna be makin it! So you have plenty of profiteers positioning themselves as sources of HELP for those of us who ARE aware of our depression and looking for solutions. So we’ve got doctors and pharmaceutical companies making a killing pushing prescription medicines that have so many issues they’ve earned their own chapter in this book. We’ve got the liquor companies and stores that sit on nearly every corner in our community, situated between churches that offer a similar source of refuge (and revenue). And of course, on every block in the hood, there’s a hope house and a dope house. So we’ll dedicate another chapter to drugs and alcohol. And let’s not forget the bankers and creditors who make their daily bread off our overconsumption, which is what happens when we try to “buy happiness.” There’s a lot people who are comfortable because we’re so Uncomfortable. Some of our own mates and friends may be taking advantage of us.
That’s why this book exists. It’s a guide to throwing off those chains and finding freedom from all of the above.