I have a friend who I love dearly for what she does. She is a white liberal warrior, fighting tirelessly to end racial injustice. One of the primary goals of her life is to point out how entire American population groups are traumatized. That in many neighborhoods, especially African American neighborhoods, there is generations-old Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Based on my observations, I agree with my friend. In agreement, I would even add intensification to the Wikipedia definition of PTSD:
“PTSD is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event ( a lifetime of events) that results in psychological trauma. This event may involve the threat of death to oneself or to someone else, or to one's own or someone else's physical, sexual, or psychological integrity (in many cases a child’s mother), overwhelming the individual's ability to cope.”
“PTSD cause significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (while the person suffering from it is prevented from protesting because it is impolite to bring up racism in a post-racial society).”
Seeing racism as a producer of PTSD adds impact to the static description of the failures of post-racialism that I gave in America Is No More Post-Racial Than It Is Post-Patriarchal (Part Two) --your mother, abused all her life and you are prevented from saying anything about the racism that leads to that abuse. I agree totally with my liberal warrior friend. Something must be done. But what? Is there one best answer?
My belief is that at the core of manifested existence there is always a paradox, and every paradox creates a dilemma. Do you keep pointing out injustices? Or do you tell stories of African Americans who seek to live outside the reality that produces generational PTSD, characters attempting to live in consciousness of the power of spirit to transcend circumstance that produce PTSD.
The belief that holds fast in African American culture is that those suffering from PTSD must find ways to transcend it spiritually. That’s what our grandparents did in slavery. That is how I defend the importance of my novel The Melting Points, which I know many liberals will have difficulty with because it is not about blacks as victims.
Instead The Melting Points dramatizes modern, intelligent, African American characters struggling to get in touch with that aspect of self that has never been hurt, harmed, or endangers, as my friend, Reverend Michael Beckwith describes it, struggling to get in touch with the higher self where PTSD cannot exist.
This is why to me Tyler Perry’s comedic choices function as folktales did during slavery. Folktales did not free slaves but did give them sustaining images of the transcendent self. Life is paradoxical. Dilemmas will always arise and the better choice always seems to be to create believable images of the better self. The Melting Points is a serious novel of white and black women struggling to find their better selves.
George Davis is author of the new spiritual spy novel, The Melting Points. The 40th Anniversary Edition of Coming Home, Davis’ novel upon which the Academy Award winning, Jane Fonda, Vietnam War film of the same name was based.