Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Divine Intervention: Black Mental Health & Coltan

Thursday was wild. I’ve signed up to a Tutoring agency and yesterday was my first session with a student but I’m sick with a cold. I spent the entire day in bed and the session was booked for 5pm. I didn’t want to cancel, so I booked an Uber to take me to the student’s house. There was surge pricing (bastards), but I had no choice, so already I’m out of pocket.

The driver’s a brother. Cool. We start chatting. I tell him I’m on my way to work and I’m a tutor but my main thing is actually I’m a student in Mental Health and Psychology. He asks what I want to do with that, and my reply is that I want to be a therapist, because I have a special interest in Cultural Psychology and Racism.

His interest is piqued.

Uber Driver: “Racism?” 

Me: “Yeah.” 

He explains that he’s been doing his own research in to racism. We began to talk about how the English and Americans like to meddle in international affairs, mess around in their conflict and then paint an ugly picture it to the rest of the world, and he asked me if I would call that racism. I said 100% yes sir. 

He asks where I’m originally from (St. Lucia), and then he responds with his life story. Now if you know me in real life, usually I don’t appreciate a life story (I have a short attention span LOL). But this is phenomenal.

This guy’s name is Jean-Louis and he’s from the Democratic Republic of Congo where the mineral Coltan is mined – the mineral which is used in mobile phones and laptops. Coltan is traded in conflict in surrounding countries such as Rwanda.

According to this article by Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Blood on Your Handset (2013), money from minerals sold, is being funded back into the violence of the war and kept from the people. There is a strong image that Africans are prone to guerilla-type tactics, when it comes to warfare and this has nothing to do with any International influence whatsoever. You can also seem to find evidence of this in William G. Thom’s article on the Congo-Zaire Civil War conflict. This is untrue, unfair and racism.

Who is funding this violence?

 

Who is supplying the arms?

 

Who is whispering into the ears of the enemies?

And all of this stems back to colonialism and slavery…

People were also forced to flee their countries and cross the borders into the surrounding countries for refuge, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, causing conflict – Jean-Louis told me that the number of people probably the population of St Lucia have been murdered in his country and I believe him. This is ALL BECAUSE OF INTERFERENCE BY THE WEST.

I’ve often wondered what the psychological impact has had upon these people, after what they have lived through, seen and done. I was in Secondary school during one of the wars in Rwanda and Sierra Leone in the late nineties, where refugees fled to the UK and I went to school and Church with some of these people and of course their accounts were very different to what was shared in the media. I often wonder how they deal with their PTSD in adulthood in the UK, which is something Jean-Louis and I discussed, because they would be angry about their past traumas, but have nowhere to express that anger, so instead of therapy which would provide a safe space to express their pain, they would be incarcerated or sectioned. This is racism. This then also has a cyclical psychological and mental health impact upon generations of Black children, which is not being dealt with.

Jean-Louis assures me that the land is not poor; the Democratic Republic of Congo is surrounded by rainforest and therefore, is fertile and self-sufficient. This links back to the lie from the “Blood on Your Handset” article, that the people from the Democratic Republic of Congo are using violence to populate money to fund for food, when in actual fact, they are living on fertile land already and are being forced against their will to work for tax purposes and to sell coltan to the West. That is racism.

After all of this meddling, what is left?

Broken Black people. That is what is left.

And the next time you hear somebody telling you that racism is over, get over it, show them this piece please and tell them to fuck off.

 

Posted in Blog, Mental Health

Psychology in the English-Speaking Caribbean, by Tony Ward and Frederick Hickling

Psychology in the English-speaking Caribbean

Tony Ward and Frederick Hickling, (August 2004), Psychology in the English-speaking Caribbean, The Psychologist. Vol 17, No. 8

 

During my research on cultural psychology in my first module of Mental Health Psychology, I stumbled upon the above article, which piqued my interest. As you know, I’ve been looking more and more into my culture – which is unfortunately difficult because St Lucia is a small island. However, this article really struck me, because Jamaica speaks for many in terms of the psychological damage Western imperialism and Colonialism has done to the Caribbean. 

“Surely British society owes a debt to the peoples who were colonised for economic advantage for over 350 years?”

“Sun-drenched beaches fringed by palm trees and turquoise waters, an abundance of rum, a laid-back atmosphere… as the largest of the English- speaking Caribbean islands, Jamaica shapes the view many Europeans have of the region. Few tourists venture far from the resort areas to discover the realities of Caribbean life for the ordinary people. If they did, they would discover a local population struggling to make a living, and areas beset with social problems including drugs and violence. Some 40 years after independence, these societies are still struggling with the legacy of European colonialism. It is within this context that psychology has recently become established, and there is much scope for the discipline to make an impact.

Overcoming the legacy of colonialism
At a time when the British have disowned their empire and schoolchildren are barely aware of this aspect of their country’s history, former colonies are still grappling with the legacy of colonialism. These effects include the virtual annihilation of the indigenous population, the re-population of the region by migration of European settlers, and the forced migration of African slaves. Each European colonial power reshaped the social environment in its own likeness and image, much of which remains in place today. Under British colonialism, the culture of the African majority was suppressed in favour of the minority rulers. The BBC provided the official news, with Sunday worship available at the Church of England in Jamaica. Glissant (1997) wrote passionately about the effect on his home country of Martinique of French cultural dominance, pointing out such anomalies as the local press regularly alerting the population to the first day of spring, in a country where the temperature rarely falls below 30° centigrade. At the end of such domination, populations are left struggling for a sense of identity (see Trimble et al., 2003, for more general discussion of the issue of ethnic and racial identity development).

Coupled to this is the legacy of 300 years of slavery. Whilst modern Europeans may have difficulty seeing why current African Caribbeans should still be affected by the legacy of slavery over 150 years after abolition, it is hard to imagine the effect of constantly knowing that one’s ancestors were forcibly removed from their homeland to work on the plantations of the New World. Most Caribbean people insist that the African retentions of language, religions, and cultural expressions of art drama, dance and music present in everyday life are constant reminders of the major and often traumatic syncretism with European culture.

Most Caribbean people strongly believe that such deep trauma on a people can result in long-lasting psychic upheaval, which must certainly be a question worthy of psychological attention. Such trauma might be evident in the psychological make-up of the individual, for example in feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. More obviously, the total dislocation of slavery and its subsequent impact is likely to have disrupted social and family practices. Such disruptions are quite likely to have permeated across several generations, resulting today in dysfunctional families, poor parenting and difficult relations between sexes. Even if the effect were not as dramatic as some suggest, the ongoing legacy of underdevelopment and economic disadvantage is very real and undeniable.

Furthermore, as people of colour, African Caribbeans have had to endure generations of racial prejudice […] Caribbean psychiatrists from Jamaica and Trinidad respectively, Hickling and Hutchinson (1999, 2000), have suggested that these racial identity conflicts in African Caribbean people – when brought into confrontation with European racism – may be a significant cause of the high rates of psychosis that have been reported in African Caribbean migrants to the UK and Holland.

In our opinion, all of these issues affecting post-colonial societies demand a dynamic response from the psychological profession. There are several other immediate concerns for psychology in the English-speaking Caribbean. Crime and violence is escalating, demanding an input from forensic psychology. The continuation of the plantation economy and old management practices, inherited from the colonial legacy and now perpetuated by the present ruling elite, have contributed to economic stagnation. These factors, and the need to adopt the latest technology, suggest a role for occupational psychology. Troubles in schools, an outdated selection system based upon the old English grammar school hierarchy, and families split by parents having to seek work abroad, all point to the need for educational and developmental specialists. A growing HIV/AIDS problem and mushrooming mental health needs further point to the need for health and clinical psychology.”

“Few tourists venture far from the resort areas to discover the realities of Caribbean life for the ordinary people”.

 

 

WEBLINKS:

Jamaican Psychological Society:

www.jps.org.jm Caribbean norms and test development as well as material on ethno-psychology:

www.neuropsychologica.com

References

Crossman, E., Ward,T., Wright, E., Matthies, B. & Hickling, F. (in press).Validation of the Zung Depression Rating Scale for use in Jamaica. West Indies Medical journal.

Fanon, F. (2000). Black skin, white masks. London:Avalon Travel Publications. (Original work published 1956 as Peau noire, masque blanc)

Glissant, E. ( 1997). The poetics of relation. Ann Arbor, Ml: University of Michigan Press.

Hickling, F.W.& Hutchinson,G. (1999).The roast breadfruit psychosis – Disturbed racial identification in African Caribbeans. Psychiatric Bulletin, 23, I -3.

Hickling, F.W.& Hutchinson,G. (2000).Post-colonialism and mental health: Understanding the roast breadfruit. Psychiatric Bulletin, 24,94-95 .

Hickling, F.W. & Matthies, B. (2004).Training clinical psychologists at the University of the West Indies [Letter to the editor]. West Indies Medical Journal, 52(4), 326.

Trimble, J.E., Helms,J.E.& Root, M.PP. (2003). Social and psychological perspectives on ethnic and racial identity. In Bernai, G..Trimble,J.E., Burlew,A.K. & Leong, F.T.L. (Eds.) Handbook of racial and ethnic minority psychology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Ward.T. (2002, February). Validation and norms of the University of the West Indies cognitive assessment system. Paper presented at the annual conference of the International Neuropsychological Society,Toronto, Canada.

Dr Tony Ward is Head of Psychology at Newman College, Birmingham (previously a senior lecturer at the University of the West Indies). E-mail: a.ward@newman.ac. ilk.

Professor Frederick Hickling is Head of the Section of Psychiatry at the University of the West Indies at Mona, Kingston, Jamaica. E-mail: frederick. hickling@im>imona. edu.jm.