PTSD and other forms of Self Hatred among Africans and Caribbeans: Part V

| January 9, 2014

Community News. Although Slavery was abolished in the 19th century, “The emancipation process was not designed to economically empower or socially liberate the black people.

Emancipation was planned and implemented by colonial and imperial legislators to ensure the continuation of white, economic, political and social subordinates trapped within institutional systems that assured their second-class status within society.

In fact, when the concepts of citizenship and nationhood were debated, blacks were excluded generally on racial grounds by white political leaders. For them the ideal emancipated African was a wage labourer or sharecropper who functioned as a politically disenfranchised individual who accepted social marginalisation”.

Beckles H. & Shepherd V. (2007).  More than 250 years later, the ideologies and agenda of racism have not changed, and because of those policies, most people of West African descent are beset by the problems caused by social, economic and political marginalisation.

The slaving system subverted traditional African family values. British law did not permit enslaved people to marry, while the French allowed Christianized Africans to form legal unions. Nonetheless, family life was precarious to say the least for Africans in the Caribbean.

Scene from 12 Years a slave. Photo courtesy ufvcascade.ca

Scene from 12 Years a slave. Photo courtesy ufvcascade.ca

Family members often had to endure the pain of separation when a child or a partner was sold to another plantation or viciously murdered. Even after emancipation, there was little concern for the unity of families, and the quality of family life for former slaves remained unstable.

Emancipated slaves had to work free of charge to compensate their former masters who had already been compensated financially. Working for nothing meant that they could not meet the economic demands of taking care of a family, nor the time to do so.

For West Africans in the Diaspora freedom began with deliberate regulations to keep them in economic poverty. Those policies have a direct effect on living and working conditions today, with many people of African descent at the bottom of the employment ladder, if they are in work at all.

Because they are socially and economically underprivileged and excluded from power making decisions, they are more likely to live in social housing or economically deprived areas. Such areas are usually beset with crime and other social problems, brought about by frustration, caused by lack of opportunities and basic resources.

Frustration then creates coping mechanisms that are in turn self-destructive. Another legacy that slave masters defined for enslaved African men was that of fatherhood. That role was a model of abandonment and irresponsible parenthood, because most men were conditioned to equate masculinity with the amount of babies they fathered with different women.

Those slave legacies became the main foundation for family life in the Caribbean.  However, after enslavement and well into the 1950s, many did their best to maintain two-parent relationships.

Moreover, while legal unions were regarded as the ultimate union, there were still high rates of illegitimacy with husbands having children outside of the recognised union in the Caribbean. By the time, the last wave of mass migration occurred from the Caribbean in the 1960s, social revolution had swept through many Western societies.

Britain had embraced the permissive society and there were great changes in how people viewed sexual and interpersonal relationships. Marriages had always been one of the uniting bonds that supported immigrant families in foreign countries.

However, the sexual revolution saw people opting to live together without marriage, thus making it easier to abandon relationships. Today, we are living in the aftermath of that sexual revolution which had the effect of further destabilized African-Caribbean communities in England. See PTSD episode IV

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