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Pessimism, Depression, and Motherlessness

Today's themes are Black Pessimism, Black Women's Depression, and Motherlessness. Grab your Paxil, light a cigarette, and kick back a triple-shot, extra hot, venti caramel macchiato. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

From USA Today (Nov. 14)

Poll: Blacks Grow More Pessimistic

Black Americans are more dissatisfied with their progress than at any time in the past 20 years, and less than half say life will get better for them in the future.

A poll released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center found that one in five blacks say things are better for them now than five years ago. In 1984, almost two in five blacks said things were better than they were five years earlier.

Less than half of blacks surveyed say they think life will get better, compared with 57% in 1986.

"There's a great deal of anxiety, cynicism, and pessimism today," says Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League. He says growing rates of crime, unemployment and mortgage foreclosures are shrinking wealth in black communities, which contributes to dissatisfaction.

He adds, "Incidents like the 'Jena Six,' and all of the noose incidents and how they've been handled, plays into the fact that African-Americans feel that they may be victims and no one will stand up to defend them."

Ya think?

I don't know about everyone else, but it appears to me that the subprime mortgage debacle is going to result in the one of the largest fleecings of burgeoning black wealth ever. I don't know which is more cruel -- denying us access to wealth and capital acquisition, or providing us access only to take it away with adjustible rate mortgages and foreclosure proceedings. Mind you, I do not support a government bailout for those people who bought homes as speculative investments or for those who were not defrauded. But for those working class families who were trying to do what we've been trained to do -- acquire a home in a good neighborhood to give your kids a shot at a good education and stay in that home until you retire -- if they were defrauded by unscrupulous mortgage brokers, lenders, appraisers, etc., I think there should be legislation that would freeze their interest rates and stop foreclosure proceedings until everything is sorted out. Not being secure in your own home is cause enough for pessimism. If you're not feeling financially secure, as I'm sure most of us aren't these days with gas hitting $3.50 a gallon in some areas (like mine), then of course you're going to feel a little pessimistic. Whatever hits the nation financially usually hits black america even harder, IMHO.

From Pessimism to Depression: Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting by Terrie M. Williams

I am looking forward to the January 8, 2008 publication of public relations powerhouse Terrie William's book, "Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting." I don't know of too many prominent African American women who have owned up to or addressed the issue of depression among African American women, but it's more common than what we talk about (along with suicide, HIV, and other black taboos). Other than the late Bebe Moore Campbell's "72 Hour Hold," IMHO, we don't tend to address issues of mental health in the black community. But you know and I know that these issues are real, and our stresses as black women are compounded by issues of race, gender, and socioeconomic inequality. Heck, I almost had to throw down at a car dealership when some "closer" tried to strong-arm me into a bad loan and yelled at me and my husband, "Do you want to buy a car or what?" I doubt this kind of treatment was equally distributed across racial lines, and it only added to what is already a stressful transaction for reasons I think were related to race and gender. And if I'm catching hell just trying to buy a car, I can imagine what other sisters are going through just trying to put food on the table and keep their kids on the straight and narrow. I would encourage everyone to support the book and Ms. William's book tour, because she's putting her personal business out there on front street so that we may all come to grips with our own issues and enjoy good mental as well as physical health. I would also encourage anyone who even thinks they may be experiencing depression to seek help and be screened. God bless you, Terrie Williams.

And finally, motherlessness.

I can't say I'm a fan of Kanye West. I don't listen to too much hip-hop these days because of the misogyny, etc. But, as someone who lost her own mom nine years ago and isn't over it yet (my dad tells me you never get over losing your mother), my prayers and heart go out to Kanye West. I can imagine he's feeling a great deal of guilt over the loss of his mom to something as unnecessary as complications from plastic surgery, which probably wouldn't have happened but for their fame and wealth. (And no, I'm not feeling the whole Dr. Jan/Oprah conspiracy folks seem to want to dig up. Yes, Dr. Jan has a malpractice judgment against him, but I wonder whether that isn't the norm for most surgeons. And please back up off Oprah. She's rich, but to have most folks tell it, you would think she's more powerful than the Creator).

When you lose your mom, you lose a large part of yourself. You lose someone who can explain the others in your family (like your dad, your grandparents, etc.). You lose a confidant, a cheerleader, a friend (well, sort of; my mom used to always tell us, "I ain't your friend; I'm your momma. You're going to have a lot of friends during your life, but you ain't gonna get but one momma.), and someone who unconditionally wants the best for you and has your back. To lose that at the age of 30, especially when he has so much of his future ahead of him, can't be anything else but hard. The only consolation is that at least he made his momma proud while she was alive to see it. God bless you, Dr. West and Kanye.

Peace, y'all.


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