Are Black People Crazy . . . . . or What?



By Na’im Akbar, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist (Retired)

There are several psychological factors that seem to correspond with the decline of many “crazy” and self-destructive factors in African-American communities. Two of these factors are “self-awareness” and “self-respect.” There is evidence that we can predict the degree to which we become dangerously self-destructive by the prominence or decline of these factors. We can then regulate the likelihood of self-help by the presence of these psychological factors. In this brief series, we took a look at these factors and what can possibly be done to facilitate healing in our communities. Even though the target of concern in these articles is the African-American community, these factors are just as relevant to other similarly affected communities of people.

How do we Heal Ourselves?

We must first of all, wake up and admit that “we’re crazy.” There is no doubt that we have a brutal history of oppression but we must acknowledge that we have internalized the oppression, and have become our own worst enemies! This doesn’t deny where the devaluation of Black life came from, but we must admit that we have become the tools of our own destruction, masquerading as materialistic, misguided commercial media success. We must condemn these models of destruction who are taking us deeper into insanity.

We can no longer continue to blame others for what we are funding and legitimizing as models of sanity when they have permitted themselves to be used to drive us insane. We must stop waiting for a Black Messiah, or marching at every disaster, expecting reparation from some other people to solve problems that we must solve for ourselves. We must step-up as we have done before and take responsibility to repair ourselves.

To heal ourselves, we have to practice the kind of self-discipline, self-help and self-mastery of generations before who transformed a brutal history. We had grandparents who did more with a dime than we choose to do with a dollar, by selecting how to use their dimes. Setting priorities for things of higher human value made those dimes achieve more than our dollars thrown away on momentary entertainment. The information about “who” you are that you put into your head will last forever, but that cap on your head will be out of style tomorrow. It’s necessary to recognize the images that are destroying our minds and de-program ourselves to do for ourselves.

It is necessary for us to restore our belief in things unseen in preference to the deceptive visual world. We must invest in basic human values of mutual respect and respect for those Elders who have come before us and practice humility rather than stubborn arrogance. Arrogance is a prized tool of the insane denying they are “crazy.” Superior mastery of the outer world does not compare with demonstrated mastery of the inner world.

The ultimate path back to sanity is to reduce or eliminate the self-medication that creates the illusion that everything is OK while ignoring our own destruction. It doesn’t matter whether the self-medication is alcohol, legal or illegal drugs or just “partying ‘til you just don’t care,” becoming “couch potatoes” in front of the television screens and expecting a magical solution to drop out of the sky.