Friday, February 21, 2014

Blackness, the Stockholm Syndrome & Uncle Tom

In the spirit of not repeating information previously covered in my July 2013 essay titled, The Disease Called Blackness, I’ll assume you’ve read it. With that said, I present to you exhibit A: Alabama state representative Alvin Holmes, whom I believe not only suffers from the disease called Blackness, but he, like many individuals who call themselves Black are clearly manifesting symptoms associated with the Stockholm Syndrome.
But first, the facts that led to this discussion. On February 11th according to a reporter with the Times Daily dot com, as well as various other sources, representative Alvin Holmes addressed the state House assembly proclaiming his dislike for Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas because, “he’s married to a white woman and he’s an Uncle Tom.” What got Holmes all riled up? Earlier in the day, Clarence Thomas said the following during a program at Duquesne University,

“My sadness is that we are probably today more race and difference-conscious than I was in the 1960s when I went to school. To my knowledge, I was the first black kid in Savannah, Georgia, to go to a white school. Rarely did the issue of race come up,” Thomas said during a chapel service hosted by the nondenominational Christian university.

“Now, name a day it doesn’t come up. Differences in race, differences in sex, somebody doesn’t look at you right, somebody says something. Everybody is sensitive. If I had been as sensitive as that in the 1960s, I’d still be in Savannah. Every person in this room has endured a slight. Every person. Somebody has said something that has hurt their feelings or did something to them — left them out. That’s a part of the deal,” he added.

            How can anyone disagree with that? Or should I say, how can you disagree with someone’s individual experiences? But it is undeniable we have been talking about race in this country ad nauseam for the last 46 years and in my opinion it is Black people who can’t seem to let it go. You see, the one thing that people who call themselves Black refuse to understand is that calling yourself Black is in fact, racist. What else is it? The act of identifying and judging individuals according to their physical appearance or race, instead of the alternative proposed by the Reverend King, i.e., the content of an individual's character, is racist.
I remember the 1960s very well growing up in Glen Burnie, Maryland – a place not a single person alive back then would deny was about as Redneck as it gets. Hell, there was a Ku Klux Klan chapter 10 miles south on Ritchie Hwy, in Severna Park. Like Clarence Thomas, I also attended predominately white schools and to be honest he’s right; once things settled down and the parents of the white students got out of the way race wasn’t an issue anymore. We didn’t talk about it everyday. We weren’t calling each other blacks, niggers, or dogs either. Sorta makes one long for the days when a person was just your friend. I’m not saying it was a La, La Land of brotherhood and racial harmony, but there were many friendships between the races, as well as a lot of extracurricular activities together.
It’s obvious representative Holmes had a different experience. After his comments were leaked to the press people were so outraged over his crack about Thomas’s marriage he wound up taking it back, but reiterated he didn’t like Justice Thomas, because he was an Uncle Tom. Isn’t it ironic that Alvin would choose to single out a man who has risen to a position of power within the so-called White Elite structure that made it possible for our multiracial president to be sitting in the White House today? The United States Supreme Court made it possible for Negroes to attend legitimate law schools, colleges, universities, high schools and elementary schools — not merely low class, unfunded, jacked-up Negro schools. All of this was accomplished using the very laws this country was founded upon, as a result of Thurgood Marshall’s unyielding opposition to racial segregation and Brown v. Board of Education of 1954
          I get it; so-called Black people don’t like Justice Clarence Thomas, because in their opinion he’s not Black (racist) enough. The fact that he worked for the Reagan administration and was appointed by president George H.W. Bush to replace Thurgood Marshall in 1991 didn’t help. And he is also not a fan of Affirmative Action:

“In a fiery concurring opinion Monday, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said the University of Texas at Austin's admissions policy amounted to discrimination and compared the school's affirmative action program to slavery and segregation.

""Slaveholders argued that slavery was a 'positive good' that civilized blacks and elevated them in every dimension of life,"" Thomas wrote in his separate opinion on Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. ""A century later, segregationists similarly asserted that segregation was not only benign, but good for black students.""

But you see, there’s an underlying assumption on the part of so-called Blacks that a time existed in America when the people, who were previously referred to as a Colored people/Negroes, actually agreed on anything. Nothing could be further from the truth, because we are a race of Negroes (for commercial purposes; originally brought to America from the islands), Blacks (also a term used in commerce referring to slaves from the continent of Africa), Colored (mixed race Americans), Mulattoes (mixed race, educated House Negroes on the plantation), Black-Ghetto (angry/ struggling/ stuck in past); the Black-bourgeoisie (educated, middle/upper class – feelings of superiority over other Blacks), Yellow Negroes (passing for anything but black/negro), Negro-Native American Indians (the coolest), Ebonnites (Uneducated/angry/violent), African Americans (really confused), and the real Africans, who don’t actually call themselves Black. They prefer to identify themselves by the counties of their birth, like Ugandans – from Uganda. And by the way, they don’t like being compared to American Blacks, because many believe that American Blacks are lazy and complain too much.
Just look at all these categories and sub-categories of what are supposed to be one people… really? When the Anglo-Saxons, Dutch, Portuguese, and the British discovered a literal gold mine of resources on the continent of Africa, individual countries of origin mattered not. All they saw was chattel – things to be sold, not human beings, but savages and sub-human creatures that would make excellent slaves in the New World – America.
In the 1960s, looking at all the diversity that existed within a people, racists such as the Nation of Islam and Black Nationalists, who were the segregationist wing of the Negro community, decided to do exactly what the slave traders did by lumping all people of color into a single identity – Black. Yet, a mixed-race individual is exactly that, a human being who carries the DNA of several races. So why do they have to choose one race as an identity? To imagine for a nanosecond that some sort of Black agenda would arise from the racist notion that a “Drop of Negro blood, makes you all Negro” was pure nonsense. 
          Sorry to be the one to break the news, but there is not now, nor has there ever been such a thing as a Black Party line, other than promoting the belief of their own inferiority to Whites and the separation of the races.
The deep-seated problems between the Alvin Holmes’ of America and Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas actually goes back to pre-emancipation days and the hidden psychological toll that slavery had upon a people. It was neither defined nor understood in the 1800s, but today we know it as the Stockholm Syndrome.


Stockholm syndrome refers to a group of psychological symptoms that occur in some persons in a captive or hostage situation. It has received considerable media publicity in recent years because it has been used to explain the behavior of such well-known kidnapping victims as Patty Hearst (1974) and Elizabeth Smart (2002). The term takes its name from a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden, in August 1973. The robbers took four employees of the bank (three women and one man) into the vault with and kept them hostage for 131 hours. After the employees were finally released, they appeared to have formed a paradoxical emotional bond with their captors; telling reporters that they saw the police as their enemy rather than the bank robbers, and that they had positive feelings toward the criminals.

The syndrome was first named by, Nils Bejerot (1921–1988), a medical professor who specialized in addiction research and served as a psychiatric consultant to the Swedish police during the standoff at the bank. Stockholm syndrome is also known as Survival Identification Syndrome.

Causes & symptoms:

Stockholm syndrome does not affect all hostages (or persons in comparable situations); in fact, a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) study of over 1200 hostage-taking incidents found that 92% of the hostages did not develop Stockholm syndrome. FBI researchers then interviewed flight attendants who had been taken hostage during airplane hijackings, and concluded that three factors are necessary for the syndrome to develop:

(1)  The crisis situation lasts for several days or longer.

(2)  The hostage takers remain in contact with the hostages; that is, the hostages are not placed in a separate room.

(3) The hostage takers show some kindness toward the hostages or at least refrain from harming them. Hostages abused by captors typically feel anger toward them and do not usually develop the syndrome.

(4) In addition, people who often feel helpless in other stressful life situations or are willing to do anything in order to survive seem to be more susceptible to developing Stockholm syndrome if they are taken hostage.

People with Stockholm syndrome report the same symptoms as those diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) : insomnia, nightmares, general irritability, difficulty concentrating, being easily startled, feelings of unreality or confusion, inability to enjoy previously pleasurable experiences, increased distrust of others, and flashbacks.

Prisoners of war, as well abused spouses and children over long periods of time often show the symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome. It should be noted that 131 hours is equivalent to 5.4 days. So it took less than a week for the hostages in the original Swedish bank robbery to become “grateful to the hostage takers.” At the age of 11, Jaycee Lee Dugard was kidnapped from her home by a convicted sex offender and held captive for 18 years. Patty Hearst was held hostage for almost 2 years and at times was very grateful to members of the Symbionese Liberation Army. Elizabeth Smart was held hostage for 9 months not far from where she lived. In each of these high-profile cases, the Stockholm Syndrome was brought up as the underlying reason these women refused to either escape, or seek help when in public.
Folks, Negroes were held captive for nearly 248 years, plus 100 years following the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, with all the Jim Crow Laws and lynchings that took place over that same period of time. Think about what Negroes were taught to believe about themselves over the 348 years leading up to Brown v. Board of Education. This list merely represents the basics:

1. Separation from the rest of society is good for the Negro, because they would never be considered equal to, or fit to live among White people. This, according to Chief Justice Roger B. Taney (1857 Dred Scott), Abraham Lincoln, and most of America.

2. Negroes are less than human – savages, who’s only hope is slavery and the Bible, which equaled death and going to Heaven to be with the Savior, because a Negro will never be happy in America.

3. Negroes could be jailed for any reason, including the need for free labor.

4. Negroes could be beaten, lynched or “nigger barbecued” for being too smart, looking at a white woman, sassing a white person, being a successful businessman/woman, for fun/sport, or because a “dog is worth more than a nigger,” was the saying in Texas.

5. Negroes are evil/Stupid


7. Lazy and shiftless

8. Dirty

9. Sinners (because of all the above and below)

10. Cannot take care of themselves

11. Negroes require the government be their daddies.

12. Negroes know their place.

13. Negroes are inferior to Whites

14. Negroes are soulless, without Jesus

15. Negroes are worthless — have no purpose other
than being enslaved by fast foods, the lottery, drugs, alcohol, and the ignorance of Gangster rap.

The idea that Negroes were suffering from severe to mild symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome from the 1700s on, is a no-brainer. Which brings me back to Alabama state representative Alvin Holmes and his use of the term Uncle Tom. Given that Alvin isn’t praising Justice Thomas for having achieved a position that only a few men and women in history have been called upon to occupy, we’ll assume he meant it as an insult. So let’s get this straight: Clarence Thomas said something that Alvin Holmes disagreed with, and his response was to insult him using a racial slur! A racial slur, mind you, in response to: “My sadness is that we are probably today more race and difference-conscious than I was in the 1960s.”
 Now it just so happens that I am an expert on this topic, having been called an Uncle Tom throughout my early childhood days, on up through today. For those not familiar with the insult; a Black person will call another Black person an Uncle Tom if that person, in their eyes, is perceived as either trying to act white, is doing the bidding of a white person against the interests of other Blacks, or moves in the world without considering him/her self as a Black person first, before all other identities. As a child growing up in the 1950s in Cherry Hill  a predominantly Negro community, located on the south side of the harbor from Baltimore City, being accused of trying to act white was a bit confusing, considering the only white people I had met where the nuns and priest at our local Catholic Church. Not too many white people lived in Cherry Hill during the 1950s, and certainly not after the 1960s – it turned into a war zone, like so many other predominately Black neighborhoods of America.
The irony is that most Negroes/Blacks who call someone else an Uncle Tom, have actually never read Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 hit, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Life Among the Lowly.

Having read it myself; from a literary standpoint the titles’ character, Uncle Tom is one of the most heroic and brilliant characters ever created. He was brilliant, because he was able to accept his fate as a slave, and practiced being the best possible servant he could be to survive a terrible situation. Tom was of course, the absolute perfect Negro in the eyes of devout abolitionists like Harriet Beecher Stowe, because he had accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. In a Christ-like twist, Uncle Tom gave up his life to save runaway slaves, Cassy and Emmerline. From the book Uncle Tom's Cabin;

“Legree drew in a long breath; and, suppressing his rage, took Tom by the arm, and, approaching his face almost to his, said, in a terrible voice, "Hark 'e, Tom! - ye think 'cause I've let you off before, I don't mean what I say; but, this time, I've made up my mind, and counted the cost. You've always stood it out again' me: now, I'll conquer ye, or kill ye! - one or t' other. I'll count every drop of blood there is in you, and take 'em, one by one, till ye give up!

Tom looked up to his master, and answered, "Mas'r, if you was sick, or in trouble, or dying, and I could save ye, I'd give ye my heart's blood; and, if taking every drop of blood in this poor old body would save your precious soul, I'd give 'em freely, as the Lord gave his for me. O, Mas'r! don't bring this great sin on your soul! It will hurt you more than it will me! Do the worst you can, my troubles'll be over soon; but, if ye don't repent, yours won't never end!"

That’s Uncle Tom – a real badass! A couple of days later, as he lay dying, Mas’r George Shelby came to see him. Again, from Harriet Beecher Stowe's, Uncle Tom's Cabin; 

“You shan’t die! You mustn’t die, nor think of it! I’ve come to buy you, and take you home,” said George, with impetuous vehemence.

“O, Mas’r George, ye’re too late. The Lord’s brought me, and is going to take me home, - and I long to go. Heaven is better than Kintuck,” (Uncle Tom said)

“O, don’t die! I’ll kill me! – it’ll break my heart to think what you’ve suffered, - and lying in this old shed, here! Poor, poor fellow!”

“Don’t call me poor fellow!” said Tom, solemnly, “I have been poor fellow; but that’s all past and gone, now. I’m right in the door, going into glory! O, Mas’r George! Heaven has come! I’ve got the victory! – the Lord Jesus has given iot to me! Glory be to His name!”

He was willing to die for others and forgive his masr’ for killing him. Why? Because the only thing a slave had to live for was dying! So how did the term Uncle Tom become an insult? Negroes never read the book and never bothered to understand the complexities of the character H. B. Stowe invented. They just accepted the words of their former mas’rs, like Black, nigger, and Uncle Tom without question, embracing them like the air we breathe – unwittingly manifesting within the full power of the negative intent these words were meant to portray. 
        After reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin, it is difficult to put it down and not see a prince among ordinary men in ol’ Uncle Tom. I would almost consider it a compliment to be called an Uncle Tom, if wasn’t for the fact that I refused to see myself as the perfect Nigger, who puts all his hopes and dreams on calling myself a sinner, and having to die to be in “Glory.” I’d rather live to be free and happy in the here and now! Jesus and Heaven can wait!
Listening to representative Alvin Holmes and others like him, no doubt they embrace the disease that has afflicted a people of color in America with their segregationist views, which have been the real enemy of progress for decades. Don’t take my word – hear the words of another man of the law that representative Alvin Holmes would have definitely referred to as an Uncle Tom. Charlie Houston was the very first Negro appointed as a federal judge, named to the U.S Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in 1949, by President Harry Truman. Like Thurgood Marshall, he was an unyielding foe of racial segregation. Lamenting about the Alvin Holmes’ of his time, he said:

“For fifty years predjudiced white men and abject, boot lickin, gut lacking, favor seeking Negroes have been insulting our intelligence with a tale that goes like this; segregation is not evil. Negroes are better off by themselves. They can get equal treatment and be happier if they live and move and have their being off by themselves. But any Negro who uses this theoretical possibility as a justification for segregation is either dumb, or mentally dishonest, or else he has like Esau, chosen a mess of pottage.”
The World of Justice Thurgood Marshall By Carl T. Rowan 1993 pg. 63

Believe me, I am just as sick of this discussion about race as anyone else, but it is impossible for me to keep my mouth shut, when I hear so-called Black people trying to speak for all people of color, as if there is some sort of brotherly agenda that we’re all supposed to honor and support. I lived through the Civil Rights era with my eyes wide open, and I rejected the notion of calling myself Black from the very first moment it was proposed, because even as a child I understood the limitations and negative vibrations associated with the ideology of Blackness. The destruction of a Black people – their families, and their communities over the last 40-plus years, speaks volumes.
The blood running through my veins is a mix of European, Native American, and who knows what else thrown in. I don’t have to choose one identity just because society wants to put us in a box. We are what we believe we are – period the end. Our brothers and sisters are people of many races, colors and creeds, who support the idea that we are in truth, one race of human beings living on a planet called Earth. Locally, I am an American. What more is there other then what I do, say, or accomplish during the span of my existence?
And as for the “Uncle Tom” calling racists like representative Alvin Holmes – please take the time to receive a psychological evaluation to help you understand the roots causes of your hatred towards your fellow man. I leave you with a quote from a man who is blind, which hopefully will help you see the light:

“When you believe in things, that you don’t understand, then you’ll suffer.” 
Stevie Wonder, from Superstition
Album, Talking Book 1972

By, Herman Williams III, a.k.a. Homam P. Stanly