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A Lesson Before Leaving: The Psychohistorical Impact of Enslavement, White Supremacy, and Learned Helplessness on Black Fatherhood in America

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This book began in search of a sophisticated solution for a superficially simple question: What would make me not abandon my son the same way my father had abandoned me? In hope of finding the answer, I began by rewording the question: What psychohistorical forces made my father and so many other Black fathers abandon their children? I ultimately realized the answer: Learn This book began in search of a sophisticated solution for a superficially simple question: What would make me not abandon my son the same way my father had abandoned me? In hope of finding the answer, I began by rewording the question: What psychohistorical forces made my father and so many other Black fathers abandon their children? I ultimately realized the answer: Learned helplessness regarding both Black manhood and fatherhood deliberately taught to the Black man since enslavement via the historically oppressive reality of White supremacy. This book will explain the intricacies that underlie this vivid realization. Freire explained in The Pedagogy of the Oppressed that “a deepened consciousness of their situation leads people to apprehend their situation as an historical reality susceptible of transformation. Resignation gives way to the drive for transformation and inquiry, over which men feel themselves to be in control.” It is my belief that in writing this book, not only have I deepened my own consciousness but hopefully the consciousness of any and all who read it. And in doing so, the essential effect would be the development of an understanding of the contemporary reality of Black paternal abandonment as a historical situation susceptible to transformation. Consequently, by acknowledging the trans-Atlantic origins and evolution of Black male reluctance to be fathers consistently and authentically, this trend, precisely because it is just a trend and not irreversible, can be more feasibly eradicated. The goal of this book is not to excuse Black paternal abandonment by blaming everything on the mythically oppressive White man by implying his devilish omnipotence. I’m too personally connected with this phenomenon to totally excuse Black fathers from their most divine responsibility. However, as a psycho-historian, I believe it is important to understand the historical origins and evolution of psychological reactions that create present day realities such as this one. Black paternal abandonment goes way beyond personal weakness or individual moral vulnerability; it is a historical trend beginning not coincidentally with our ancestors’ conquest by European enslavers. Most people, particularly Black people at least on a subconscious level and because of their other-directedness, have begun to believe that Black paternal abandonment is, as Akbar explained, “a racial trait attributable to some type of moral weakness in African-American people. Such conclusions fail to identify the real origin of such traits. Such family irresponsibility does not occur among African people who have not endured the ravages of slavery.”


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This book began in search of a sophisticated solution for a superficially simple question: What would make me not abandon my son the same way my father had abandoned me? In hope of finding the answer, I began by rewording the question: What psychohistorical forces made my father and so many other Black fathers abandon their children? I ultimately realized the answer: Learn This book began in search of a sophisticated solution for a superficially simple question: What would make me not abandon my son the same way my father had abandoned me? In hope of finding the answer, I began by rewording the question: What psychohistorical forces made my father and so many other Black fathers abandon their children? I ultimately realized the answer: Learned helplessness regarding both Black manhood and fatherhood deliberately taught to the Black man since enslavement via the historically oppressive reality of White supremacy. This book will explain the intricacies that underlie this vivid realization. Freire explained in The Pedagogy of the Oppressed that “a deepened consciousness of their situation leads people to apprehend their situation as an historical reality susceptible of transformation. Resignation gives way to the drive for transformation and inquiry, over which men feel themselves to be in control.” It is my belief that in writing this book, not only have I deepened my own consciousness but hopefully the consciousness of any and all who read it. And in doing so, the essential effect would be the development of an understanding of the contemporary reality of Black paternal abandonment as a historical situation susceptible to transformation. Consequently, by acknowledging the trans-Atlantic origins and evolution of Black male reluctance to be fathers consistently and authentically, this trend, precisely because it is just a trend and not irreversible, can be more feasibly eradicated. The goal of this book is not to excuse Black paternal abandonment by blaming everything on the mythically oppressive White man by implying his devilish omnipotence. I’m too personally connected with this phenomenon to totally excuse Black fathers from their most divine responsibility. However, as a psycho-historian, I believe it is important to understand the historical origins and evolution of psychological reactions that create present day realities such as this one. Black paternal abandonment goes way beyond personal weakness or individual moral vulnerability; it is a historical trend beginning not coincidentally with our ancestors’ conquest by European enslavers. Most people, particularly Black people at least on a subconscious level and because of their other-directedness, have begun to believe that Black paternal abandonment is, as Akbar explained, “a racial trait attributable to some type of moral weakness in African-American people. Such conclusions fail to identify the real origin of such traits. Such family irresponsibility does not occur among African people who have not endured the ravages of slavery.”

8 review for A Lesson Before Leaving: The Psychohistorical Impact of Enslavement, White Supremacy, and Learned Helplessness on Black Fatherhood in America

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