Friday, September 28, 2007

Depression and Black Women

Dr. M (Marvin X) On Depression and the Addiction to White Supremacy

Drs. Fanon and Nathan Hare tell us depression is a situational disorder caused by social oppression or, in the present era, white supremacy. Thus the solution is for the oppressed person to join the liberation struggle of his/her people, and in the process be healed from the addiction or depression. Yes, it is depressing trying to configure a life as an African human and spiritual being in Western society. Call it the Othello complex--the tragic attempt to be accepted in a racist society, especially when one is confronted by white supremacist acting out the Iago complex, the actions of those suffering level I addiction to white supremacy as described by Dr. Nathan Hare. Iago was essentially block man, who does all in his power to block black man from achieving his human and spiritual dignity. Naturally, this would lead to depression in those trying to overcome block man or those exercising white supremacy. Would not a host of psycho-social diseases develop as a result, including mental disorders, as well as physical disorders such as high blood pressure, cancer, et al.

Thus, we welcome the report presented to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 2007 Conference. We urge interested persons to obtain a copy of my latest book HOW TO RECOVER FROM THE ADDICTION TO WHITE SUPREMACY, Black Bird Press, 2007, POB 1317, Paradise CA. 95967, $19.95. I am available for speaking to groups, organizations and on campus. Call me at 510.355.6339. Catch me in Oakland on October 12, 7pm at the East Side Arts Center, 23rd Ave and International Blvd.> wrote:
Dear News, Business, Health and Entertainment Editors:Attached please find the news release titled "Black America Urged to Confront Its Secret Pain: Depression."Please review and consider for publication/broadcast. If you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call at 1-877-BlackPR.Thank you and Have a Blessed Day!Sincerely, Black PR Wire Newsroom~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~NEWS RELEASEFor Immediate Release- September 28, 2007Attention: News, Business, and Health EditorsCONTACT:Jaime Valora 202-419-3261 Rosy McGillan202-973-1361( BPRW) Black America Urged to Confront Its Secret Pain: Depression- Eddie Levert, Terrie M. Williams Speak Out on Mental Health Crisis Facing Black Women -( Black PR Wire) ( September 28, 2007) Washington, DC - Experts in mental health, Members of Congress and other prominent African Americans today converged at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 2007 Annual Legislative Conference to shed light on issues surrounding "Black Women Surviving Unmet Mental Health Needs." Rep. Julia Carson (D - IN) together with the Depression Is Real Coalition hosted this special session with keynote speakers Eddie Levert, legendary singer of The O'Jays, and Terrie M. Williams, mental health advocate and acclaimed onauthor.Eddie Levert, for the first time, passionately lent his voice and visibility to the cause of mental health in Black America and demonstrated his commitment to speaking out about the effect of depression as witnessed and experienced in his family. "Black women have always taken care of us - their men, their children, and their community. I have seen first-hand the damaging effects of depression, and it's past time we support our women and educate the black community to recognize depression for what it is - a medical illness that is nothing to be ashamed of," said Levert. According to a survey conducted by Mental Health America, 63 percent of people in the African American community believe depression is a personal weakness, while only 31 percent believe it is a medical health problem. "One thing about black women is that they are survivors," said Rep. Carson. "But we need to do more than survive - we need to solve a growing crisis among black women who remain silent about this disease in an effort to appear strong. I want black women to find the healing they deserve which will help our families and communities prosper like never before.""Black women are significantly impacted by mental health problems and yet are reluctant to acknowledge that depression is a serious, biologically-based disease," said Altha Stewart, MD, president of the American Psychiatric Foundation, a founding member of the Depression Is Real Coalition. "Depression can be especially devastating because it is linked to other medical conditions experienced by black women in high numbers, including obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease. And, left untreated, depression can be fatal. We need to do all we can to encourage black women to confront their depression and ensure they get the health care they need."Depression disproportionately impacts black women:Depression among black women is almost 50% higher than it is among white women.Of black women suffering from depression, only 7% receive treatment compared to 20% of white women.Black women are twice as more likely to suffer from depression than black men.Terrie M. Williams, author of the forthcoming book Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting, commented, "My hope is that black women and all of Black America will take a painfully honest look at a silent killer in its own community - depression. The worst part is that we ourselves are often unaware that we suffer from depression, or - if we know it - too ashamed to admit it and seek help. And until we address the reality of this illness, many of us can't begin to tear down the other obstacles that hold us back."In addition to Dr. Stewart, experts who joined today's panel include Rahn Bailey, MD, National Medical Association; Lynne Saunders, National Alliance on Mental Illness; Gina Villani, MD, National Urban League; and Angela M. Burks, JD, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University.Panelists addressed a number of issues surrounding mental health and black women, including health care disparities; depression and its link to breast cancer; workplace depression; the role of families in mental health care; as well as the racism, gender bias, poverty, and social disadvantages women of color experience that can lead to depression and stress. The Depression Is Real Coalition, a group of seven preeminent medical, advocacy and civic groups, co-sponsoring today's braintrust, has made it its mission to dispel popular misconceptions that trivialize one form of mental illness in particular, depression -- as "just the blues" or dismiss it entirely as an "imaginary disease." Depression affects more than 19 million Americans per year.The Depression Is Real public education campaign is sponsored by The American Psychiatric Foundation (a philanthropic and educational subsidiary of the American Psychiatric Association), the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, the League of United Latin American Citizens, Mental Health America, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Medical Association, the National Urban League and is made possible through the support of Wyeth. For more information about depression and the coalition members, and to see elements of the Depression Is Real public education campaign, visit About Terrie M. WilliamsTerrie M. Williams is a licensed clinical social worker holding B.A. and M.S. degrees in her field. She is the founder of The Terrie Williams Agency, a premier public relations firm, and has served as a trusted and respected advisor to countless high-profile clients. Terrie's phenomenal success in both professions and as an author, advocate and mentor with her Stay Strong Foundation is largely due to her expertise in dealing with people. Today, she is committed to guiding people in deep emotional pain onto a path of healing. Her forthcoming, groundbreaking book BLACK PAIN: It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting takes an in-depth look at Black America's depression through the experiences of celebrities, every day people, and mental health professionals. "BLACK PAIN" will be published on January 8, 2007 (Scribner).About Eddie LevertEddie Levert is a founding member of the pioneering 1970s soul group and 2005 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees The O'Jays. The group's classic hits include "Family Reunion," "Back Stabbers," "I Love Music," "For the Love of Money," and the 1971 #1 Billboard hit "Love Train." Eddie has recorded more than 60 albums and generated 24 top 10 hits. He is a best-selling co-author of the book I Got Your Back: A Father and Son Keep It Real About Love, Fatherhood, Family and Friendship along with his dearly departed son, Gerald. ABOUT THE DEPRESSION IS REAL COALITION MEMBERSThe American Psychiatric Foundation is a philanthropic and educational arm of the American Psychiatric Association, the world's leading psychiatric organization. The mission of the foundation is to advance understanding that mental illnesses are real and can be effectively treated. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) is the nation's leading patient-directed organization focusing on depression and bipolar disorder. The organization, which has more than 1,000 support groups nationwide, fosters an understanding about the impact and management of these life-threatening illnesses by providing up-to-date, scientifically-based tools and information. Assisted by a 65-member scientific advisory board, comprised of the leading researchers and clinicians in the field of mood disorders, DBSA supports research to promote more timely diagnosis, develop more effective and tolerable treatments and discover a cure. More than 4 million receive information and assistance each year. The League of the United Latin American Citizens is the oldest and largest Latino civil rights organization in the United States. It advances the economic conditions, educational attainment, political influence, health and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs operating at more than 700 LULAC councils nationwide.The National Alliance on Mental Illness is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. NAMI has over 1,100 affiliates in communities across the country who engage in advocacy, research, support, and education. Members of NAMI are families, friends, and people living with mental illnesses such as major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and borderline personality disorder. The National Medical Association is the nation's oldest and largest organization representing the interest of more than 30,000 physicians of African descent. Mental Health America is the country's oldest and largest nonprofit organization addressing all aspects of mental health and mental illness. With more than 340 affiliates nationwide, MHA works to improve the mental health of all Americans through advocacy, education, research and service. Established in 1910, the National Urban League is the nation's oldest and largest community-based movement devoted to empowering African Americans to enter the economic and social mainstream. Today, the National Urban League, headquartered in New York City, spearheads the non-partisan efforts of its local affiliates. There are over 100 local affiliates of the National Urban League located in 35 states and the District of Columbia providing direct services to more than 2 million people nationwide through programs, advocacy and research.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Some Thoughts On Jena

By Nefertiti El Muhajir

Nefertiti is the oldest daughter of poet Marvin X. She has a BA in English from Fresno State University and MA in Africana Studies from New York State University, Albany.

My Dad's email Dirty South prompted me to jot down some thoughts while the experience was still fresh on my brain.Sometimes I feel numb. Often numb because my brain is being flooded with a million thoughts all at once. This is literally how I felt today while in Jena, Louisiana. It was overwhelming to see the gathering of so many black people, to do something good. The few times that I have experienced large crowds like that has been in the presence of party revelers for Carnival celebrations in Miami, Trinidad and New York. But it was a beautiful thing to see so many blacks gathered, not in nudity, to stand up for not merely the rights of the Jenna 6, but for our individual rights. To know that the rights of these six individuals can be trampled on, alerts one to the reality that one’s own rights could be violated at any given moment. To be too busy to care for another is to not care for your own future.

I was preoccupied with the Muslim brothers and sisters who were responsible for organizing the caravan that I had joined at Texas Southern University. I wondered what set them apart from Christian brothers and sisters that I knew. What made them so eager to be disciplined and organized to get people together for an event like this and why didn’t I see people from the churches that I knew. Why when I called the large congregations in the area, no one knew anything about any groups that were going?

I was amazed to see groups of at least 500 motorcycle riders from Atlanta make their presence known. As they were weaving in and out of traffic and I started admiring the group wondering what it would be like to have one of those cool bikes myself, the people I was on the bus were cussing and complaining about the cyclists saying things like, “Who do they think they are” and on and on. Once we got to Alexandria, Louisiana, the traffic virtually came to a stand still. Students on one bus got tired of sitting in traffic and decided to get off of the bus and walk the rest of the way. Foolish young students, I thought to myself, they have so much to learn. My thoughts were confirmed when we passed them up moments later only to continue driving another 25 miles into Jena. Experience will be their only teacher unless they gain wisdom soon.

While trying to internalize the historical significance of this event, many distractions bided for my attention. My major preoccupation, however, was with my son. Initially he was so eager to attend the event, but once there he wondered if this was why he had missed school. I became preoccupied with thoughts of what I am doing wrong as a parent to make my son so discontent. He complained of the heat (oh it was hot), and of not having food. I tried to feed him before we left but he didn’t want what I had. I packed peanut butter and honey sandwiches, oranges, nectarines, plums, apples, granola mix, juice and water. But it wasn’t what he wanted. As I looked around seeing other kids eating apples, grapes, and other snacks that their mothers had prepared, my son kept whining for the BBQ that one enterprising black vendor had set up. But around me I saw people sitting down not absorbed in the events of the day, but devouring their twinkies, hohos, candy and other junk food.

I wanted to hear the speakers, but all we could hear were their faint voices, and the loud applause and chants from the crowd. We did catch a glimpse of Dexter King and Tyler Perry as they were escorted pass us. As I was pointing them out to my son, some college students laughed and said they didn’t know who that other man was, they only knew Tyler Perry. At one point my son and I tried to maneuver our way to the front, but as we got separated I thought that it was best that we just sit on the side and listen as best we could with a group of mothers and children who had also come on our bus.

It didn’t matter that we missed the speeches of the “usual suspects,” we were able to hear the speeches of everyday men and women who were fed up. Like church testimonies, there were individuals who, at different points throughout the day, randomly started discussing their own frustration with the system. For those of us who knew better, it was evident that this day wasn’t merely about these 6 young boys. It was about me and you. Many people are sick and tired of going through this same type of insane, systematic oppression and injustice.

It was evident on the way home that we were still hung up on our own petty preoccupations. For some strange reason, two of the four buses in our caravan had been redirected by the sheriff to park in a different location than where they had dropped their passengers off. While two of our buses were ready to depart Jenna at 1 p.m., we did not finally leave the town until 3 p.m. as we had to locate the other buses so that the 100 passengers or so who were stranded were reconnected with their bus. While we waited, everyone complained. They were ready to leave, why, they wondered, did we have to wait for the other group. I reflected on the signs that we had seen during the rally, one which read, “I AM MY BROTHERS KEEPER.” I guess the answer for some is, “No.” Though I, like the others, was eager to return to Houston, I don’t know how could they imagined leaving anyone stranded in that small city, without the assurance that they had reliable transportation to make it home. That small incident left me wondering what did we go there for in the first place? It is just a reminder that there will be another Jenna. But the transformation starts within, and not by going to some physical place. Our everyday experiences and responses will determine if we can avert another Jenna from occurring on our watch.

What we have to remember is that what occurred in Jenna today, has to continue everyday of our lives. Today was a demonstration in vigilance. It was a demonstration to let them know that we will respond. But we must keep pressure on this system and be proactive in creating a system for our children and ourselves that will allow us to THINK and DO for ourselves. We must express values that provide hope and encouragement to others. We must conceive and articulate goals that lift people out of their petty preoccupations, carrying them above the conflicts that tear humanity apart, and unite them in pursuit of objectives worthy of their best efforts to transform this decaying world.


Dr. M (Marvin X)

A haunting place, but home of my ancestors, a place of blood and terror, hate and love. My child lives there, my grandson. They were in Jenna today to be a part of history. My daughter wanted her son to see history in the making, so they traveled from Houston to Jenna by bus. There were so many people my daughter and grandson were not able to hear the speakers, but just being there was an experience, especially for my ten year old grandson. My daughter has been part of history since she was born. She was conceived while I was in exile with her mother during the Vietnam War era, so she is a political baby. She learned to walk at the Black Educational Theatre I founded in San Francisco while teaching at the University of California, Berkeley,1972. As a toddler, she heard the sounds of Sun Ra’s Arkestra backing my play Take Care of Business, so she is a child of the Black Arts Movement. She grew up, married and settled in Houston. She loves it there because she lives in a world of black people, sometimes never seeing white people for days. It is like this in the South, this land where my fathers and mothers died, this land so haunted and vexed with pain, guilt and shame, compounded with denial and manners, etiquette, decorum, innuendo and circumlocution. When I copied my manuscript in South Carolina, the sister at the copy center saw the title How To Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy and said, “You ain’t from here.” I asked why do you say that? “Because we don’t say that down here (White Supremacy),” she replied.. I didn’t ask why. I knew it was because the South has manners—one can’t be in your face as I am, a North American African from California. The South has another way of doing things, not so crude and rude, but polite and civil, even in their savagery, it is a civil savagery, after all every one knows how to act, the oppressed and the oppressor, so they do a dance, a masquerade, a ballet of pure denial until things explode or those outside agitators appear to rock the boat. And so they came today to Jenna, rocking the boat of injustice, hoping to change the traditional way of doing things, attempting to bring the white supremacy customs to an end after years, decades, centuries of corruption and miscarriage of justice.
Will the people of Jenna get it? Will America get it? We think not, not without a second civil war. In spite of the blood and terror, slavery and failed reconstruction, segregation, integration and subtle and not so subtle racism of today, there is the persistent and lingering desire on the part of whites to continue white supremacy. It is in the air, in the trees, in the swamps and bayous, in the lakes and rivers, even the ocean beaches, a feeling that all is not right and will not get right without a final battle, the battle to end white supremacy once and for all times. And this is true in spite of all the progress, all the interracial harmony, for in spite of all the good, the bad, the evil persists like a sore on the psyche, a disease of the heart that no amount of political realignment can rectify, no amount of religiosity, no amount of economic justice can heal. Peace without justice is no peace at all, rather it is merely prolonging the inevitable day when a generation shall rise up and say no more sham peace, shame justice, shame economic parity, but we want the real deal and death is better than persecution.
Dr. M’s latest book HOW TO RECOVER FROM THE ADDICTION TO WHITE SUPREMACY, A PAN AFRICAN 12 STEP MODEL, foreword by Dr. Nathan Hare, Afterword by Ptah Allah El, is available from Black Bird Press, POB 1317 Paradise CA 95967, $19.95. Dr. M will read and discuss his latest book at Oakland’s Eastside Arts Center, 2277 International Blvd., Friday, October 12, 7pm. Contact Dr. M at 510.355.6339.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Baghdad by the Bay

Dr. M (Marvin X)

From the Bay Area to New Orleans, Philadelphia and Boston, and numerous other cities, the urban centers of America resemble the killings fields of Iraq. From Iraq to the Bay Area, the mayors, governors, adults and children are crying out for peace in the streets. In the Bay peace officers from multiple cities, including the Highway patrol, have taken to the streets. In New Orleans, the National Guard had to be deployed. Philadelphia is asking for ten thousand volunteers to help with conflict resolution in the streets.

In Iraq, the ultimate problem is control of oil and the central government, with the long suffering Shiites unwilling to give up control of either, along with the Kurds, leaving the Sunnis out of oil and political power. So the killing continues in spite of America’s dubious “surge.” The recent peace in Anbar province was not the result of the “surge” but exhausted Sunni Sheikhs who turned to the Americans for guns to battle Al Qaida. Indeed, most of the insurgents are coming from America’s best friend in the area, Saudi Arabia, yes, those same guys supposedly responsible for 9/11. America gave the Sunnis guns and resources for economic development, temporarily turning them against Al Qaida.

We wonder why America absolutely refuses to find an economic solution to the killing fields in her cities. Does it take a rocket scientist to understand the brothers and sisters in the hoods of these United Snakes need economic stability, and no amount of police, highway patrol and national guard will placate their desperate situation, including an upsurge in prostitution and violence by young women when the men find themselves under siege from the police and rival gang bangers. It is said the females have more guns than the males—although we understand many of them are merely holding weapons for the males so they aren’t caught “riding dirty.”

Oakland’s mayor Ron Dellums has proposed not asking for criminal records in city job applications since ex-felons often have no choice but drug dealing and the resultant violence when released from prison. But prison has become such a growth industry with inmates worth between thirty and fifty thousand dollars per inmate per year that corporate America has privatized prisons for the economic development of many communities, but usually not to the benefit of the depressed inner cities. And what better way to realize America’s long held desire to return blacks to slavery since they are no longer needed in the labor pool—well, why not let them do free labor under the Constitution which permits involuntary servitude for inmates. The South is overjoyed they finally figured out a way to get “niggers in their place,” including striped suits, balls and chains.

The war in Iraq and Afghanistan (and coming battle in Iran since Iran must be attacked to satisfy America’s friends in Israel and the Sunnis in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, the Gulf States and most especially Saudi Arabia—also to prevent Shiite unity between a Shiite controlled Iraq and Iran) appears complicated, similar to finding a solution to the killing fields of America, but why is justice so complicated? Give economic justice and equality to the brothers and sisters in the hood, and recognize the Shiites and Kurds will fight to the death to finally exercise power in Iraq. They have taken power and plan to keep it, whether or not the Sunnis join them as a minority in the government.

And it’s pretty obvious youth in the cities of America are willing to fight to the death to obtain the wherewithal to participate in the American dream. The tragedy is that they have been forced to operate on the animal place rather than utilize their spiritual consciousness to find a way out of the morass. Killing is a barbaric act of desperation when people rather use physical force than exercise political and diplomatic solutions to social-economic problems. A nominal peace came to Iraq’s Anbar province when the Sheikhs exercised leadership and authority over their tribes. Where is the leadership in the Black community, when will those who have authority over our children step to the front of the line and represent? They should stop hiding behind the police, highway patrol and national guard, but take charge of their posts as community elders and themselves solve the economic, educational and spiritual problems of their children, who shall continue killing until the word is given. If there are no jobs, teach the children to be entrepreneurs, let them vend on the streets of inner cities, after all, there are few merchants to complain, since they long ago left the downtown area for malls. I proposed this idea years ago to city officials in Oakland, but rather than help at-risk youth, the proposal became a project for black bourgeoisie youth—thus the murder continues and will continue until we get it right. Sun Ra told me, “The Creator got things fixed: until you do the right thing, you can’t go forward or backward.”

Dr. M grew up in Oakland. He released two books in 2007, BEYOND RELIGION, TOWARD SPIRITUALITY and HOW TO RECOVER FROM THE ADDICTION TO WHITE SUPREMACY, A PAN AFRICAN 12 STEP MODEL, Black Bird Press, POB 1317, Paradise CA 95967, $19.95 each. He is available for speaking and reading engagements. Call 510.355.6339. Visit his blog:

On Friday, October 12, 7pm, he will read and sign books at the Eastside Arts Cultural Center, 2277 International Blvd., Oakland. Seating is limited.