By Taki S. Raton
Nationally and internationally renowned author, researcher educator and presenter Dr. Joy DeGruy will be the keynote speaker Saturday, July 14 at the 33rd National Convention of the National Black United Front (NBUF) banquet. Themed “The Year of the African Woman – A Spirit Unbroken,” the conference will be held July 12 through the 15 at the Milwaukee Brotherhood of Firefighters Hall, 7717 West Good Hope Road.
Dr. DeGruy is acclaimed for her book “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome” (PTSS). PTSS is the behavioral aftermath, according to DeGruy, of the African American enslavement circumstance in America over the 246 years from 1619 to 1865 and the continuing conditions of institutionalized racism after the Emancipation of 1865. African Americans suffer from episodes of intergenerational trauma that has damaged the collective African American psyche.
“It is a condition that exists as a consequence of multigenerational oppression of Africans and their descendants resulting from centuries of chattel slavery,” she explains in a bio descriptor.
She would add that this was “a form of slavery which was predicated on the belief that African Americans were inherently and genetically inferior to Whites. This was then followed by institutional racism which continues to perpetuate psychological injury.”
DeGruy used the acronym M.A.P. to demonstrate factors leading to PTSS. “M” is the multigenerational trauma of enslavement coupled with continued post-emancipation oppression; “A” is the absence of any opportunity to heal from this intergenerational experience thus leading to “P” – the Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome disorder.
Patterns of PTSS may be evidenced in what the author describes as “vacant esteem” or the insufficient development of a strong and healthy self esteem. Such marked tendencies of individual and group low self esteem could be manifested in feelings of hopelessness, depression and a general internalized destructive view of self.
PTSS can additionally be foundational for feelings of anger and violence; violence against self, property, and violence against others to include members of one’s own group – friends, relatives, one’s mate, or acquaintances.
Intergenerational socialization under the umbrella of institutionalized and internalized racism as a result of M.A.P. also creates feelings in African Americans, says DeGruy, of learned helplessness, literacy deprivation, a distorted self-concept, and an antipathy or aversion towards members of one’s own cultural/ ethnic group, negativity associated with the mores and customs of one’s own cultural/ ethnic group and the physical characteristics or self-image of one’s own cultural/ethnic group.
In her 2005 publication, DeGruy notes that the enslavement experience, was one of continued violent attacks on the slave’s body, mind and spirit and that the enslaved African men, women, and children were traumatized throughout their lives. The violent attacks during the slave era persisted long after emancipation.
“In the face of these injuries, those traumatized adapted their attitudes and behaviors to simply survive and these adaptations continue to manifest today.”
DeGury says that there is no way that a group can undergo 246 years of trauma under the North American enslavement era and not be scared as a result.
The author asserts in her explanation of PTSS that African Americans can “ill afford to wait for the dominant culture to realize the qualitative benefits of undoing racism. The real recovery from the ongoing trauma of slavery and racism has to start from within, beginning with a true acknowledgment of the resilience of African American culture. “
Whether or not we want to admit it, Blacks in America have not healed from the 246 years of the enslavement experience. Fueled by institutional racism and subliminal codes of White Supremacy, we have been carrying, perpetuating and even cultivating this psychological trauma now intergenerationally for over 147 years since 1865’s Emancipation Proclamation well into the present year.
“The nature of this work,” DeGruy writes in her prologue, is that African Americans must first see to our own healing, “because no group can do another’s work.”
Dr. DeGruy holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications; two master degrees in Social Work and Clinical Psychology; and a PhD in Social Work Research. With over twenty years of practical experience as a professional in the field of social work, she gives a practical insight into various cultural and ethnic groups that form the basis of contemporary American society.
The National Black United Front is an organization comprised of concern and committed individuals and group collectives who have united to assume responsibility for working and leading the effort for a better way of life for themselves and their children. Described as a “broad-based organization,” NBUF attracts and includes all social, political, religious and cultural sections of the Black community.
Organized in the late 1970’s in Brooklyn, New York, NBUF has 16 chapters across the country with national and international membership. Among NBUF’S goals are to unify Black people from various social/political persuasions, to build a politically conscious, unified, committed and effective Black mass movement, and to confront identified ills facing the African American community.
“We are indeed honored to have Dr. Joy DeGruy join us as a keynote for our NBUF banquet,” says Bro. Oshi Adelabu, chairman of the Milwaukee NBUF chapter. “ Her esteemed accomplishment with her book ‘Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome,’ her lectures around the county, and her highly regarded scholarship is for us here in Milwaukee a superb choice for reflections on our conference theme – ‘The Year of the African Woman: A Spirit Unbroken.’”
This year’s national NBUF conference at the Milwaukee Brotherhood of Firefighters Hall will open Thursday, July12 with a 5 to 8 p.m. Meet & Greet. The Friday, July 13 Sessions will include “Past & Present History of Sistahs in NBUF,” “The State of Our Children & Youth,” and “Challenges Facing African Centered Education.” A workshop on the “Introduction to the Genealogy of Afrikan Ancestry” is additionally scheduled for Friday afternoon from 3:30 to 5 p.m.
Saturday’s events include presentations on “Black Students on White Campuses” and “Violence Against Women: Roots, Causes and Solutions.” The evening banquet featuring Dr. DeGruy will begin at 7 p.m.
Persons seeking additional information to include registration fee, hotel accommodations, and specific scheduling details should contact Merrie M. Felder at (414) 467-9524, Adelabu at (414) 324-5796 or email at nbufmilwaukee@ gmail. com