The following is an edited transcript, used by permission, of blog contributor Mike Dorsey’s most recent episode of his podcast “Black Fathers, NOW!” He prefaced his podcast by saying it was “a quick message to encourage brothers NOT to allow ‘Mental Terrorism’ to set in” in light of George Floyd’s death by police. He continued, “Carter G. Woodson said it best, ‘When you control a man’s thinking, you don’t have to worry about his actions.’ Let’s NOT let systemic white supremacy, bias and hate terrorize our minds. Use it as fuel to MAKE CHANGE!”
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The George Floyd case in Minneapolis has really shaken us all, shaking us to our core and as it well should. It’s interesting as a black man, as an African-American man, as a father who’s raising a little boy and a little girl, as a man who also has little boys he mentors. When you see another case like this, it further emphasizes the challenging circumstance of just simply being a black man in America.
It’s hard. It’s a challenging thing. And the more and more we see imagery of how we’re treated, the more and more that gets circulated, there’s two things that could potentially come from it:
- One is we see it so much that we ultimately become desensitized to it. It no longer means anything to us.
- Or, we get to a point in which we’re just perpetually hysterical about what’s going on.
Both scenarios are dangerous.
If you become numb to it, you become apathetic. It’s just par for the course. That’s not good for life. That’s not good for you. It reduces your ability to be empathetic for anyone and their struggle and their challenges in life. You lose that connectivity to the other part of the equation.
Or, on the other side, we become so emotionally hysterical that we’re really no good to anyone or anything. We bring no value to society because we can’t effectively think. We’re so emotionally unstable, due to the circumstances, that we have to be mindful to not allow ourselves to go in any random direction.
To me, these are both sides of the same coin. They are what I call a form of “mental terrorism.” When your mind becomes terrorized past a certain point, your mind is no longer good. If we allow circumstances like this to terrorize our minds then ultimately that’s going to minimize the impact that we make in life going forward. If I, all of a sudden, operate from the perspective of, “I’m so scared to do anything due to the fact that there might be a negative result,” I pull back. And what if I push that view into the psyche of my children or to those that I mentor, those that I’m charged with raising? If I pour into them this notion of being scared about life, being fearful about walking in your purpose, that doesn’t serve them well.
We always need to have awareness. We need to be aware of what’s going on, but we need to be very mindful of not allowing that awareness to manifest or to grow into some level of mental terrorism that gets us to a place where we don’t do what we need to do in life, where we can’t be who were supposed to be in life. If more of us pull back and reduce who we are and reduce our impact in society than, honestly, those who have the mission of oppressing or suppressing us — their job is accomplished. They don’t have to worry about us anymore.
So we need to be mad. We need to be upset. We need to be pissed at times. We need to have spaces where we can throw shit, where we can break stuff, where we can just be mad — but in a controlled environment — so that we can get it out. We need to have folks who understand us, who we can cry with, who we can lean on, who we can share with, who understand. We need to have those spaces, but then we need to figure out how to mount and walk in the purpose that we’re supposed to walk in. If we don’t walk in that purpose, we’ve allowed mental terrorism to set in. And those looking to suppress or oppress us, they can sit back and say “job well done.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Dorsey is an author, business entrepreneur, community organizer, speaker and podcaster. He hosts the Black Fathers, NOW! podcast and founded the apparel company Black Family Apparel. He has author two books: Dynamic Black Fatherhood Manifesto and ABE: Always Be Engaged — The 7 Keys to Living a Fit Urban Life. He can be reached via Instagram, Facebook or email.