October 5, 2015

Racism leads to psychological damage

By Maria Ivanov

Cleveland State University Professor Paula Mickens-English, Ph.D., said in a presentation to the campus community on Oct. 1 that the psychological consequences of racism affect African Americans mentally, physically and emotionally.

According to Mickens-English, the history of racism developed as people learned they should behave in certain ways, and cited Queen Elizabeth of England as a person who contributed to it.

“She dehumanized a group of people and decided that they are not worthy of the same rights and privileges,” Mickens-English said.

She said this created a type of racism termed scientific racism, defined as combining the sociological, anthropological and psychological aspects of differentiation in races. Relocation trauma occurred among African Americans after they were taken away from their homes and everything that was familiar, she noted. She also related post-traumatic stress disorder to post traumatic slavery syndrome, in which people experience traumatic events that impact their lives negatively.

Mickens-English also said that white privilege, another significant contributor to racism, only exists because of racism.

“A hierarchy in society was developed, (which) allows whites to feel superior and blacks to feel inferior,” Mickens-English said. “This affects African Americans profoundly in a negative manner -- mentally, physically, emotionally -- and in relationships.”

However, she added, African Americans do not go to counseling because they do not trust systems.

In response to a question regarding a solution to racism, English responded, “The real solution lies in white people.

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