Culture

Drugs, Depression and Death: Long-Term Effects of Slavery on Black Americans

Tue., Jan. 17, 2012 2:03 PM EDT
by edwin freeman

It’s hypocritical how a nation that claims to believe in “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all men” could carry out an act as dehumanizing as the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, which lasted for nearly four centuries. America is founded upon these 300 plus years of free labor that it received from its former black slaves. During the ordeal of slavery black families were robbed, spoiled, and auctioned off wholesale. Young children were separated from their mothers, wives were separated from their husbands, and ultimately the entire black family structure was destroyed. Ever since the Emancipation Proclamation which was issued by President Abraham Lincoln on Jan. 1, 1863, blacks in America have been struggling to overcome the long lasting effects of the vicious acts that were committed against blacks.

Gang violence, teenage pregnancy, high school drop-out rates, drug abuse, black-on-black crime, and domestic violence within the black community are all by-products of slavery. In fact the negative ramifications of slavery are innumerable. Blacks lead the nation in heart associated deaths, AIDS /HIV cases, drug related homicides, single parent households and a long list of other atrocities. This is all due to the fact that we have been discriminated against for more than four generations, not having proper access to adequate health care, and other social programs that our white counterparts have had access to.

As we look at today’s corporate controlled mainstream media, — reality shows, modern rap music, entertainment websites and urban films — it is evident that blacks are still suffering from what Dr. Joy DeGruy Leary calls “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome.”  It’s as if we’re on autopilot, perpetuating dysfunctional behaviors within our communities, and carrying out our own destruction. Until the many issues that are deeply imbedded within our collective consciousness are brought to the surface and addressed, we will never progress and function as other racial groups in this country do.

It’s imperative that we dispel the myths that blacks are inferior, incompetent, unworthy, and doomed to failure. We must work diligently to reverse the effects that slavery has had on us, and set up a platform for the coming generations to excel, and lead honest, productive lives without the hindrances of racism and discrimination.

It’s the moral responsibility of black politicians, clergy, educators, and professionals to make the issue of recovery from the horrific experience of slavery a top priority, on the list of conditions that plague our communities. When this is done we will begin to see an immediate improvement amongst our people, and we will be moving in the right direction towards building a complete, stable, functional black community within America. -edwin freeman