Knock Out Black Self-Hatred

The "knockout game" is a prime example of the demise of black families across America. The goal of the "knockout game" is to catch someone off guard and try to knock him or her out in one punch. Many media outlets initially highlighted youth as the common denominator among the attackers. Other media outlets reported that the majority of the perpetrators were Black males.

Reverend Al Sharpton has come forward to denounce the violent behavior, but this is something that should also be denounced by parents of black children. I wonder how many blacks have really thought about the circumstances that create this type of violence? How does an individual come to think it's fun to harm another human being, capture the attack on film, and share it with the world through social media? One has to wonder what is (or is not) going on in the households of the attackers.

The plain truth is that many young black men are not being raised to be productive members of society. It seems they aren't being raised at all. Without proper guidance from their mothers and particularly their fathers, black children struggle to develop a healthy sense of self. If these black youths don't value their own lives, it will be difficult for them to value the life of another human being. The perpetrators involved in the "knockout" attacks don't seem to care if their target might retaliate. They also don't seem to care about repercussions such as incarceration. In fact, they appear to think they are invincible.

But underneath that bravado is probably an insecure psyche fueled by anger and self-hatred. This is a poisonous concoction brewed up by black mothers who, in many cases, chose to get pregnant by men who later abandon them. It is a concoction brewed up by fathers who are often emotionally and financially unsupportive even if they are present. Eventually, the anger and self-hatred percolating in young minds boils over into violence.

Some may claim that perpetrators of the "knockout game" use violence to lash out against a racist society. Racism is an ugly part of our American history, but a part of it nonetheless. Racism still exists today, but it is no excuse for attempting to kill another person. Yet, many of us have convinced ourselves that those whites who viewed us as less than human were right.

Too many of us can't seem to conceive of ourselves as anything other than stereotypes. But it doesn't have to be that way. We can choose to free ourselves of mental slavery. Black women can choose not to have children out of wedlock. Black men can choose to lead their families with purpose. Black children can be connected to mentors outside of their family. And in order to make these choices, we have to be willing to heal our emotional wounds and learn self-acceptance.

A strong family foundation doesn't solve or prevent every problem, but it goes a long way in helping children develop a healthy identity. Redeeming the Black family begins with reclaiming our self-worth.

Dr. Shonda Lackey is a clinical psychologist and writer in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter @ArtofIntrospect.

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