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The Trump Effect — Is this administration a present danger to the Black psyche?

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Vast segments of the psychiatric community, including the editorial staff of Psychology Today, and the eminent Yale psychiatrist Bandy Lee, have expounded on the potential harm of the Chief Executive’s mental fitness, on our collective psyche. That said, we have reached out to a cross section of (non-White) mental health clinicians to get their take on the man in the Oval Office and his impact on people of color in these United States.”

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“We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves by allowing what’s happening.” —President Donald J. Trump interviewed by USA Today aboard Air Force One, en route to California. (PHOTO: Donald Trump speaking at a rally in Fountain Hills, Arizona. / Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons)

Chief Executive visits the Southland, discusses Skid Row

By Gregg Reese, Our Weekly News Contributor

“Today, more than 150 years after the end of the Civil War, America is again divided, by geography, party, ideology, economics and race.”
—From “Is America Heading For Another Civil War?” By Austin Sarat on July 30, 2019.

The debate over the merits of Donald John Trump’s presidency continue with no sign of closure in sight. The constituency that elected him has remained steadfast in its support, as the marginalized and ethnically diverse who oppose him, stay at odds with his policies and (in their view) offensive rhetoric.

Vast segments of the psychiatric community, including the editorial staff of Psychology Today, and the eminent Yale psychiatrist Bandy Lee, have expounded on the potential harm of the Chief Executive’s mental fitness, on our collective psyche. That said, we have reached out to a cross section of (non-White) mental health clinicians to get their take on the man in the Oval Office and his impact on people of color in these United States.

A rudderless community in the wake of a storm

“Radical” is the word conjured up by Dr. Sandra Cox, the head of Los Angeles’ Coalition of Mental Health Professionals, when confronted with the name Donald Trump. For decades a custodian and shepherd to the needs of the South L.A. community, Cox now serves a largely Black and Hispanic clientele. The specter of fear cast by the man in charge is apparent to both demographics.

Immigrants with little or no command of the English language (who, in turn, are likely to have questionable legal status regarding their residency in this country), are reluctant to openly express an opinion about the man or his policies. Those with more legitimate, stable footing, feel slightly freer to talk about the relative merits of the current administration. Native-born Blacks demonstrate an erosion in self-esteem as well.

“In my opinion, the state of the African American consciousness is lower now than it has been in the last fifty years,” she said. “My greatest fear is the impact of racism has increased exponentially. That has led to self-hatred and denial of one’s African roots.”

As a seasoned activist who was nurtured in the progressive advocacy of the mid-20th century, Cox regrets the loss of commitment and idealism of subsequent generations.

“Some of these brothers have got their heads in the sand, and they have no idea on the impact this is having on their lives and their children…” she declared.

Being forced to ‘man up’

Stoicism is defined as the endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint.

“The stigma of ‘looking crazy’ and ‘acting dramatic’ is a profound one. In many ways, the Black population is told that this is not something that ‘we’ do. We don’t have the luxury to ‘revel’ in our emotions.”
—By Britt Julious from “I am not OK: Stoicism, mental health, and the Black community,” from WBEZ Blogs, Chicago Public Media, Inc., March 15, 2013.

“Simple” is the word conjured up in Alisha Woodall’s mind when the name Donald Trump comes up. By this she means the comparative lack of “polish” Trump has compared to others in the political arena.

Within six months of the Trump election, therapist Woodall, who maintains a private practice in a suburb of Houston, Texas, noticed a new, previously underrepresented demographic seeking her services: Black men. What makes this unique is the fact that this group generally refrains from utilizing psychiatric treatment because of cultural stigma within the Black community, and the masculine resistance (found in all ethnicities) to open up about emotional issues.

Trump’s abrasive manner may be an impetus in bringing these issues to the surface. His lack of refinement brings to the surface all the anxieties, fears, and trepidations Black people have cultivated over the past four centuries of their residency in the Americas. In other words, the stress of the new administration has forced these people to
sidestep their trepidation of psychiatric treatment. Political observers of the past 30 years might advance that more skillful politicians with subtle charm, such as a Ronald Reagan, might pass questionable legislation that could be over-looked by all but the most “woke” constituents).

(Not) just us

“I believe Mr. Trump has hurt all Americans.”
—Joshua Cenido, who is completing his medical residency at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.

“Fearful” is the word uttered by Dr. Joshua Cenido, a native of Cerritos. As a Filipino-American, he points to the duality of his culture, meaning that his community is by turns conservative economically and financially, but progressive when it comes to social issues, including tolerance of the LGBTQ lifestyle. Like Woodall, Cenido believes Trump’s crudeness can bring up buried emotions to those with a history of persecution (common enough in immigrant populations).

“Mr. Trump’s actions and language have justified many of the fears and concerns people of color face with regards to persecution, whether it is systemic or interpersonal. It also doesn’t help that he’s emboldened those who’re already inclined to mistreat and persecute people of color to exercise their prejudice,” he notes.

Cenido offered an opinion that might go a long way in explaining why the current office holder, a man who [“…consistently disregard(s) the expectations of integrity, dignity, and respect that many might expect…”] managed to secure the Presidency.

“I believe Mr. Trump has worked to align himself with individuals who are willing to confer power on him. Right or wrong, he has become a representative voice for certain marginalized groups who craved a voice.”

“As unpopular as he may be, he is popular enough to maintain the supports that continue to secure his particular position of leadership,” Cenido said in closing.

A word from our Commander-in-Chief

“We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco and numerous other cities destroy themselves by allowing what’s happening.”
—President Donald J. Trump interviewed by USA Today aboard Air Force One, en route to California.

This week, of course, the president graced Southern California for a fundraising tour, with side trips to the Mexican border, along with a proclamation on how to end homelessness for once and for all. Just prior to this westward sojourn, his administration issued its “State of Homelessness in America” annual report, through The Alliance to End Homelessness. It advocates easing restrictions on construction of new housing for the poor and cracking down on derelicts sleeping on the streets.

Trump found fault with the manner in which local governments addressed the problem, suggesting the unfortunates within afflicted cities be turned away from existing shelters to encourage them to find housing on their own.

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Black Woman to Lead United States Park Police

 Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

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Pamela A. Smith

Pamela A. Smith, a 23-year veteran of the United States Park Police, will lead the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency.

Smith, who became the first African American woman to lead the 230-year-old agency, immediately remarked that she would establish a body-worn camera program for USPP within 90 days.

The program will initially begin in San Francisco and be implemented across the country by the end of the year, Smith said.

“Body-worn cameras are good for the public and good for our officers, which is why I am prioritizing implementing a body-worn camera program within my first 90 days,” Smith offered in a statement.

 “This is one of the many steps we must take to continue to build trust and credibility with the public we have been entrusted to serve.”

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and graduated from the FBI National Academy. She is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

During her law enforcement career, the proud Zeta Phi Beta Sorority sister has served as a patrol officer, field training officer, canine handler, and academy instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

 According to a news release, Smith also served as executive lieutenant to the chief of police, assistant commander of the San Francisco Field Office, commander of the New York Field Office, acting deputy chief of the Homeland Security Division, and deputy chief for the Field Operations Division.

Smith was the first woman to lead the New York Field Office as its Major.

At the USPP, she will lead a 560-member workforce that protects the public, parks, and the nation’s most iconic landmarks in Wash., D.C., New York City, and San Francisco metropolitan areas.

“Chief Smith’s commitment to policing as public service and her willingness to listen and collaborate make her the right person to lead the U.S. Park Police at this pivotal moment in our country,” Shawn Benge, deputy director exercising the delegated authority of the NPS director, noted in a statement.

 “Over the coming months, the leadership of the National Park Service will explore opportunities with Chief Smith designed to strengthen our organization’s commitment to transparency. Her personal and professional experience make her acutely aware of and ready to meet the challenges and responsibilities that face U.S. Park Police and law enforcement agencies across the nation.”

 Jennifer Flynn, the associate director for Visitor Resource Protection at the National Park Service added that she’s looking forward to Smith’s leadership.

“Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

 “As federal law enforcement officers, the U.S. Park Police officers have a new opportunity each day to give their best to the American people. Chief Smith exemplifies that approach as a colleague and mentor, and she will be instrumental in refining and shaping the future of the organization,” Flynn said.

Smith declared that she would lead by example and expects all officers to display integrity.

 “I have dedicated my career to the professionalism of law enforcement, and it is my highest honor and privilege to serve as chief of police,” Chief Smith declared. “Today’s officers face many challenges, and I firmly believe challenges present opportunities. I look forward to leading this exemplary team as we carry out our mission with honesty and integrity.”  

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Children’s Defense Fund: State of America’s Children Reveals that 71 Percent of Children of Color Live in Poverty

“While we reported on the 73 million children in the U.S. in 2019, which is 22 percent of the nation’s population, we also note that 2020 was the first year in American history that a majority of children are projected to be children of color,” said the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, the president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund.

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Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)
Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

Part One of an ongoing series on this impactful and informative report.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

The child population in America is the most diverse in history, but children remain the poorest age group in the country with youth of color suffering the highest poverty rates.

“While we reported on the 73 million children in the U.S. in 2019, which is 22 percent of the nation’s population, we also note that 2020 was the first year in American history that a majority of children are projected to be children of color,” said the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, the president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund.

Dr. Wilson’s remarks come as the Marian Wright Edelman founded nonprofit released “The State of America’s Children 2021.”

The comprehensive report is eye-opening.

It highlights how children remain the poorest age group in America, with children of color and young children suffering the highest poverty rates. For instance, of the more than 10.5 million poverty-stricken children in America in 2019, approximately 71 percent were those of color.

The stunning exposé revealed that income and wealth inequality are growing and harming children in low-income, Black and Brown families.

While the share of all wealth held by the top one percent of Americans grew from 30 percent to 37 percent, the share held by the bottom 90 percent fell from 33 percent to 23 percent between 1989 and 2019.

Today, a member of the top 10 percent of income earners makes about 39 times as much as the average earner in the bottom 90 percent.

The median family income of White households with children ($95,700) was more than double that of Black ($43,900), and Hispanic households with children ($52,300).

Further, the report noted that the lack of affordable housing and federal rental assistance leaves millions of children homeless or at risk of homelessness.

More than 1.5 million children enrolled in public schools experienced homelessness during the 2017-2018 school year, and 74 percent of unhoused students during the 2017-2018 school year were living temporarily with family or friends.

Millions of children live in food-insecure households, lacking reliable access to safe, sufficient, and nutritious food, and more than 1 in 7 children – 10.7 million – were food insecure, meaning they lived in households where not everyone had enough to eat.

Black and Hispanic children were twice as likely to live in food-insecure households as White children.

The report further found that America’s schools have continued to slip backwards into patterns of deep racial and socioeconomic segregation, perpetuating achievement gaps.

For instance, during the 2017-2018 public school year, 19 percent of Black, 21 percent of Hispanic, and more than 26 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native school students did not graduate on time compared with only 11 percent of White students.

More than 77 percent of Hispanic and more than 79 percent of Black fourth and eighth grade public school students were not proficient in reading or math in 2019, compared with less than 60 percent of White students.

“We find that in the course of the last year, we’ve come to the point where our conversations about child well-being and our dialogue and reckoning around racial justice has really met a point of intersection, and so we must consider child well-being in every conversation about racial justice and quite frankly you can only sustainably speak of racial justice if we’re talking about the state of our children,” Dr. Wilson observed.

Some more of the startling statistics found in the report include:

  • A White public school student is suspended every six seconds, while students of color and non-White students are suspended every two seconds.
  • Conditions leading to a person dropping out of high school occur with white students every 19 seconds, while it occurs every nine seconds for non-White and students of color.
  • A White child is arrested every 1 minute and 12 seconds, while students of color and non-whites are arrested every 45 seconds.
  • A White student in public school is corporally punished every two minutes, while students of color and non-Whites face such action every 49 seconds.

Dr. Wilson asserted that federal spending “reflects the nation’s skewed priorities.”

In the report, he notes that children are not receiving the investment they need to thrive, and despite making up such a large portion of the population, less than 7.5 percent of federal spending went towards children in fiscal year 2020.

Despite Congress raising statutory caps on discretionary spending in fiscal years 2018 to 2020, children did not receive their fair share of those increases and children’s share of total federal spending has continued to decline.

“Children continue to be the poorest segment of the population,” Dr. Wilson demanded. “We are headed into a dark place as it relates to poverty and inequity on the American landscape because our children become the canary in the coal mine.”

Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children.

The $1.9 trillion plan not only contained $1,400 checks for individuals, it includes monthly allowances and other elements to help reduce child poverty.

The President’s plan expands home visitation programs that help at-risk parents from pregnancy through early childhood and is presents universal access to top-notch pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds.

“The American Rescue Plan carried significant and powerful anti-poverty messages that will have remarkable benefits on the lives of children in America over the course of the next two years,” Dr. Wilson declared.

“The Children’s Defense Fund was quick to applaud the efforts of the President. We have worked with partners, including leading a child poverty coalition, to advance the ideas of that investment,” he continued.

“Most notably, the expansion of the child tax credit which has the impact of reducing poverty, lifting more than 50 percent of African American children out of poverty, 81 percent of Indigenous children, 45 percent of Hispanic children. It’s not only good policy, but it’s specifically good policy for Black and Brown children.”

Click here to view the full report.

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She Bought Freedom for Herself and Other Slaves Today a Park is Named in Her Honor

Alethia Browning Tanner saved enough money to purchase her freedom in 1810. “The total amount, thought to have been paid in installments, was $1,400. In 1810, $1,400 was a significant amount; about the equivalent of three years’ earnings for an average skilled tradesperson,” attucksadams.com researchers surmised. 

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Alethia Browning Tanner worked to purchase the freedom of more than 20 of her relatives and neighbors, mostly the family of her older sister Laurana including Laurana herself, her children, and her grandchildren.

In her early years, Alethia Browning Tanner sold vegetables in a produce stall near President’s Square – now known as Lafayette Square – in what is now Northwest Washington, D.C.

According to the D.C. Genealogy Research, Resources, and Records, Tanner bought her freedom in 1810 and later purchased several relatives’ release.

She was the first woman on the Roll of Members of the Union Bethel AME Church (now Metropolitan AME Church on M Street), and Turner owned land and a store at 14th and H Streets, which she left to her nephews – one of whom later sold the property for $100,000.

Named in her honor, the Alethia Tanner Park is located at 227 Harry Thomas Way in Northeast DC.

The park sits near the corner of Harry Thomas Way and Q Street and is accessible by foot or bike via the Metropolitan Branch Trail, just north of the Florida Ave entrances.

“The first Council legislative meeting of Black History Month, the Council took a second and final vote on naming the new park for Alethia Tanner, an amazing woman who is more than worthy of this long-delayed recognition,” Ward 5 Councilman Kenyan McDuffie said in 2020 ahead of the park’s naming ceremony.

“[Her upbringing] itself would be a remarkable legacy, but Ms. Tanner was also active in founding and supporting many educational, religious, and civic institutions,” McDuffie remarked.

“She contributed funds to start the first school for free Black children in Washington, the Bell School. Feeling unwelcome at her predominately segregated church, she & other church members founded the Israel Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. When the church fell on hard times and was sold at auction by creditors, she and her family stepped in and repurchased the church.”

Born in 1781 on a plantation owned by Tobias and Mary Belt in Prince George’s County, Maryland, historians noted that Tanner had two sisters, Sophia Bell and Laurena Cook.

“Upon the death of Mary Pratt (Tobias had predeceased his wife) in 1795, the plantation, known as Chelsea Plantation, was inherited by their daughter Rachel Belt Pratt,” historians wrote.

“Mary Belt’s will stipulated that Laurena be sent to live with a sibling of Rachel Pratt’s while Sophia and Alethia were to stay at the Chelsea Plantation.”

Tanner sold vegetables at the well-known market just north of the White House in Presidents Park. It is possible – and probable – she met Thomas Jefferson there as he was known to frequent the vegetable markets there along with other prominent early Washingtonians, according to historians at attacksadams.com. 

“There are also White House records suggesting she worked for Thomas Jefferson in some capacity, likely doing various housework tasks,” the researchers determined.

Tanner saved enough money to purchase her freedom in 1810. “The total amount, thought to have been paid in installments, was $1,400. In 1810, $1,400 was a significant amount; about the equivalent of three years’ earnings for an average skilled tradesperson,” attucksadams.com researchers surmised.

“Self-emancipation was not an option for all enslaved peoples, but both Alethia and her sister Sophia were able to accomplish this, almost entirely through selling vegetables at the market,” the researchers continued.

“Alethia Tanner moved to D.C. and became one of a significant and growing number of free Black people in the District. In 1800, 793 free Black people were living in D.C.

By 1810, there were 2,549, and by 1860, 11,131 free Black people lived in D.C., more than the number of enslaved peoples.”

Historians wrote that beginning at about 15 years after securing her manumission, Alethia Tanner worked to purchase the freedom of more than 20 of her relatives and neighbors, mostly the family of her older sister Laurana including Laurana herself, her children, and her grandchildren.

All in all, Tanner would have paid the Pratt family well over $5,000. All accomplished with proceeds from her own vegetable market business, they concluded.

“Alethia Tanner, it’s an amazing story of resilience, hard work, and perseverance,” D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation Director Delano Hunter said at the park’s dedication.

“I just learned about this history through this, so it shows how when you name a park, you really educate people on the historical significance.”

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