Hooks further argues that boys who are victims of patriarchy often become the world views of patriarchy, unconsciously embodying the abusiveness that they recognized as evil (p. 28). For the Black male, the connection between masculinity and power is represented by white male patriarchy. Bergner (1998) maintains that the white males is “overdetermined as an oedipal father; he is the agent of a racist social order prohibiting Black males not only from satisfying sexual desire, but from achieving basic autonomy, normative masculinity, and self-determination” (p. 253).
The impact of a young Black male bearing witness to the castration of the biological father [if present] and then other black males, literally and figuratively “suggests that their perspective as both witness and participant is an active even transformative experience. Castration symbolized a “feminine” position; in identity development the conflict begins to manifest as the adolescent male, in the stage of searching for an identity has to decide with whom he will identify. Gender implies identification with the “master’s” [White male patriarchy] authority; his race suggests identification with powerlessness and fear (Bergner, p.253).
The peculiar affinity towards white male patriarchy in an attempt to deny and repress social realities, and unconsciously obtain nurture and acceptance, the Black male develops fixations. Consistent with identity and personality development, Black males exhibit all three personality types, oral, anal, and phallic. The oral personality is rageful, mistrustful, and depressed. Conflict leading to violence is returned to anyone [typically, other than the white male] causing the him [Black male] to feel inferior, thus resurfacing repressed emotions and denied realities. His anal personality exhibits anxiety when he feels that he is no longer in control of the situation as it serves as both a trigger and a reminder of for his social status in America. In defense, hostility acted out as a way to regain the feeling of control.
Lastly, the most prevailing of all the personality types is the phallic character. The Black males efforts to portray manhood premised upon learned behavior, is often defined by sexual conquests. Consciously aware of his pervasive castrated status, when challenged by other males of his race, it leads to an outward display of aggression and exertion of pseudo-masculinity in order to subconsciously satisfy the desire of denying his castrated position. For the Black male that obtains a conscious understanding of themselves and the dynamics of societal and institutional racism and its effect on their development, traditional standards of masculinity are undesirable, thus becoming redefined to be consistent with alienation from mainstream values and institutions (Harris, 1995, 279).
The Results of Oppression
In order for one to understand the harrowing outcomes associated with Black male development, the results of historic and systemic oppression must be examined. Harris (1995), quotes Bowman in making the assertion that “among high risk Black men, chronic role strains and related psychosocial problems do not just occur at a point in time, rather, they evolve out of interactions between past role experiences, immediate role barriers, and adaptive efforts” (p. 279). The results of oppression manifest itself through disparities in every social system and dysfunctional behavior for Black males, especially the behavior of violence. Boodie (1997), confers with the authors assertion by stating, “the psychological theories of homicide proposed by Black psychiatrists Poussaint (1983), Grier and Cobbs (1968) and Pierce (1970) stress the chronicity and severity of frustrations Black males experience in American society. These frustrations engender feelings of rage which are displaced on targets in their immediate environments. The high incidence of Black-on-Black homicide reflects this displacement” (p. 2).
The cycle of violence has it origins in the marginalization experienced by Black males in American society; thus leading to feelings of alienation from a society that projects citizenship and equality, while simultaneously contributing to the destruction of self-worth and infringement upon the ability of the black male to to enter into manhood. In his article describing the impact of systemic social structure on Black male violence, Powell (2008), states “when a group occupies a stigmatized social space prescribed by the dominate group, it is not surprising that its behavior is seen as threatening” (313).
This notion put forth by Powell is particularly true for the Black male. hooks (2004), supports Powell’s assertion in her description of the process in which Black males are socialized through White male patriarchy to equate power and masculinity with violence “by the time slavery had ended, this patriarchal culturehad been transmitted with violence as an acceptable expression of power” (Powell, p. 313). Much of the stigmatization that exists about Black male violence is due to negative historic stereotypes and reinforced patriarchal masculinity. On the converse, much of reality of Black male violence is a direct result of their position within American society that has been and continues to be characterized by “societal oppression, internalized racism, violent social learning environments, sexism, male socialization, and economic exploitation” (Williams, 1998).
Economic oppression adds another dimension to the reactionary behavior of Black males in the home environment as well on a community level. A study conducted by Charles and Guryan (2009) revealed a correlation between racial prejudices of employers and the differences in wages between black and white workers; lower annual salaries, higher unemployment rates, and higher incidences of stressors, places Black males at greater risk of perpetrating or being a victim of violence.
A statistical report on domestic violence by the U.S. Department of Justice (2000) showed households with the lowest annual household income had higher incidences of domestic violence; nearly seven times greater than households with higher annual incomes. The reaction of violence is often an attempt of the Black to regain control, respect and status as social respect [in Black male culture] “may be viewed as a form of social capital that is very valuable, especially when various other forms of capital have been denied or are unavailable” (Anderson, 2009, p. 66). The external expression and the internal emotions of anger, powerlessness, and frustration experienced by the Black male associated with a constant subjugation of a daily reminder of their unequal status, function as the precursor to Mental and Physical Health issues.
Introspection: Awareness, Challenges, and Opportunities
The journey to becoming an effective helper is rooted in the many encounters one has with various cultures different from their own. That culture may not always be evident by difference of race, but could also include difference of social economic status, gender, sexual orientation, language, disability, and ethnicity. It also entails being cognizant of one’s own assumptions and biases about human behavior, being aware of society’s views and stereotypes about certain groups and/or races of people, and having a clear understanding of one’s own world view and the world view of others (Corey & Corey, 2007).
This same philosophy was applied as the author worked through this project. This is the most effort the learner has put into any Graduate and Undergraduate research paper, as the topic is one in which the learner has a deep connection to and interest in. The various readings, peer discussion, and this final paper, has allowed the author to become even more empathetic and understanding of the Black male experience. Being affected by the same system that creates disadvantages and subjectivity of Black males, the author always has to work through assumptions learned by the dominant culture regarding gender performance. Conducting extensive research, coupled with observation and lived experience has allow the learner to achieve a greater command of the psychology of Black males and the rationale behind behaviors sometimes deemed as dysfunctional. This discerning of such knowledge will increase the authors capacity in being an effective counselor and building positive relationships.
The establishment an effective counselor-client relationship is built upon core conditions such as geniuneness, empathy, unconditional positive regard, and congruence to name a few. The ability of a counselor to show empathy and understanding towards clients of varying cultures and backgrounds is a major principle and competency of multiculturalism. The determination of a counselor\’s ability to be both ethical and effective is defined by their ability to provide service to clients without regard to race, social or economic status, sexual orientation, or any other distinguishable factors.
The complex nature of the challenges confronted by Black males coupled with a host of developmental issues, conclude that a multitude of counseling techniques may be of value. Harris (1995) describes the necessity for the implementation of such techniques by stating, “both the extent and nature of problems specific to Black males suggest the need for creative counseling interventions and expanded roles of counselors. Although defining and targeting the most appropriate level of intervention can be difficult, the detrimental effects of these problems and the possible advantages of counseling favor intervention” (p. 244). Harris et al. further argues, “a broader spectrum of counseling goals is required than has traditionally been promoted by counselors. Psychological and educational counseling that employs diverse strategies and objectives in relation to the developmental and sociocultural needs of this population” (p. 244).
One technique that the author believed could be employed is education. If a Black male client exhibits signs of self-hate or behavioral dysfunction resulting from oppression and/or has rejection of Black culture, the author as a counselor and previous African-American Studies Major, could address the stereotypes that the client has about others and then the stereotypes that exists about them. One this process has occurred, the author could follow up with accurate, culturally relevant and affirming information. The aim would be to not recreate trauma that is already experienced by the client, but at the same time helping them to see the pattern of behavior and aid them in them in feeling more empowered and capable of shaping their own identity and their own reality, versus having it shaped for them. The most important lesson that the author has taken away from this course and this assignment is rooted in the ability to be ethical.
The failure of the counselor to provide quality service to client for any reasons regarding factors of multiculturalism infringes upon the basic human rights of the client to be treated without discrimination and infringes upon their cultural autonomy (Corey& Corey, 2007). Because this dynamic is already present within Black male life, the author must be cognizant as to not push personal world views, values, and beliefs upon the Black male due to lack of understanding, knowledge, and failure to deal with the authors own biases regarding definitions of Black male identity based upon patriarchy. This proves as a detriment to both the client and the counseling relationship as the author may not always know initially if the issues that the client has come to counseling for is some how intertwined with their functioning within society or interpersonal relationships due to factors of multiculturalism.