Abstract: This is an autobiographical essay where I briefly analyzes and interpret significant and impactful events that has transpired over my last 20 years in my life from school to my community in Portland, Oregon. The objective of this essay is to connect concepts and the course objectives related to Black Psychology which I enrolled in at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) spring 2009 term. The outline for this essay is in a chronological age order starting from my birth in 1988 till my current experience at FAMU.
The book that is mainly referenced in this essay is the Kobi K. Kambon textbook African/ Black Psychology in American Context: An African Centered Approach along with Joseph Baldwin’s class lectures that I attended. Divided Among two Different Views of the World: But this is my Story The idea that a black person is from Portland, Oregon seems to be shocking information for certain African-Americans. Once I introduce myself to new friends and professors who never traveled to Portland or were never informed that “Black people” live in Oregon.
Many are intrigued by this information and have a quest to know more. So to answer that question, yes there are blacks who live in Oregon. I am a product of Oregon I, Michelle Williams, was born and raised in the urban community in Portland amongst other African-Americans. One may assume that I had a difficult time growing up in Oregon. Experiencing discrimination, racism, or identity crisis; however, my six siblings and I never did. Although, I did not experience those types of issues, I understood that in Portland, the Black race was the minority and Europeans were the majority in the race factor.
In addition, do not assume that my family lineage only lines in Oregon, on both sides of my family southern roots run deep. Therefore, southern traditions, values, morals, beliefs, and customs were inbreeded into my up brings. Without questions, I am an African-American woman from Portland, Oregon; however, my geographic region does not define my blackness, nor does it determine if I am capable of experiencing hardships like my fellow peers who were raised in Southern states.
In my early childhood, I resided with my maternal grandmother due to my parent’s abuse to their environment and the use of narcotics. However, my time spent with my grandmother was not in vein, yet filled with years of observing and learning how to uphold traditional southern values, which the modern world of psychology considers the “African/ Black Worldviews”. In the book, African/ Black Psychology in the American context: An African- Centered Approach Kobi K.
Kambon explains the difference between the African/ Black and European Worldviews. The four components that compose the worldviews are: cosmology, ontology, axiology, and epistemology (Kambon, 1998) In the African/ African-American worldviews one are taught to believe in oneness/ harmony with nature, survival of the group, sameness; whereas the European Worldview have the notion of survival of the fittest, competiveness, independence, and uniqueness (being different).
In my middle childhood my parents redirected their life, and my mother returned to college and obtained her bachelors and masters in Psychology with a minor in Black Studies at Portland State University. While in school she begun to incorporate her findings into her parenting. Although, my mother and I were led by Eurocentric teachings, my family and our surroundings reinforced the black/African-American Worldviews in the household. I recall myself adapting to the ideologies and beliefs of those who were not within my own indigenous cultural group.
Kambon defines this experience as a black child who has been influenced by Eurocentric teachings resulting in “Abnormal Unnatural Circumstances”. The child has accepted and identified him or herself as a member of a “group that is not indigenous cultural reality (Kambon, 1998). I was able to bounce back to the normal-nature circumstances, with the help of my Black community friends, and family through our morals and beliefs. I had to stay true to my own cultural reality and not be amongst those who are “cultural mis-identified”.
An example of how I demonstrated abnormal unnatural circumstances was when I accepted the European philosophies and allowed the whites to dictate and define what was appropriate or correct based off their standards and views on life. By this I allowed the notion that white Barbie dolls are better, rather than the Black China Doll my grandmother purchased for Christmas one year. While in middle school, which is considered my late or pre-adolescence years, I was offered acceptance into the Talent and Gift also known as the TAG program.
The TAG programs honors and congratulates students “who demonstrated outstanding abilities or potentials in areas of general intellectual ability or specific ability aptitude” (Davenport Community School Website). After discovering the truth in the Black Psychology course, I have come to the understanding that this particular program has several flaws that discriminates against the Black race. The black students who excel above the standards set for Blacks are called “Talented or Gifted”. In chapter eight it stated that “there was some Blacks who scored as high as Whites on Standard tests of so-called intelligence (i.e research on Black “gifted” children)” (Kambon, 1998).
The foundation of the Tag program continues and supports “White Supremacy”. The definition the European psychologist use to define intelligence which were examined on Caucasians only was: “(a) the repertoire of intellectual/cognitive skills and knowledge available to a person at any one period of time, or (b) the aggregate of global capacity of the individual to act purposely, to think rationally, and to deal effectively with his/her environment” (Kambon,1998).
The names of a couple of exams that exemplified that one was intelligent were: The Alfred Binet and the Binet Test, also known as Intelligence Quotient/ IQ, Charles Spearman with the GS Factor test, and a few others (Kambon, 1998). Robert L. Williams the second National Chairman/ President of American of Black Psychologists (ABPsi) (Kambon, 1998), developed a “Black “cultural specific” intelligence test which demonstrated that Blacks could perform superiority to Whites on such a Black cultural based test.
The test was called Black Intelligence Test for Cultural Homogeneity” formally known as “BITCH’. His intelligence test showcased that African-American students were out performing whites by 30 to 50 points (Kambon, 1998). In relations to my acceptance to the TAG program I felt a sense of being privileged, superior, and connected to the white race in some sense. I belittled my peers who the Europeans and the test scored them as being underachievers. Through my actions I had continued on the European worldviews.
The people see the good that the TAG program promotes; however, there are down sides and negative characteristics of being called a “Talented or Gifted” child. In my early adolescence years, I was considered at times a student who could be insubordinate, disrespectful, and disruptive in class. However, my actions were to challenge an question my teacher’s philosophy about Western History, colonization in Africa, slavery, and anything that focused on the Black race. Now looking back on what transpired in high school I was trying to discover the truth regarding my peoples.
I tried to unravel the mess that the Europeans, Western historians, philosophers, and psychologist created. Removing the blind folds that had been placed over my eyes through the European teachings; I was tired of receiving the edited, shorten, and beautified story the teachers and academic curriculum spoon-feed me every year during the one month Blacks are allowed to celebrate their history (February). I have come to accept that knowledge is key and discovered like John Henrik Clarke that, “African History/ Negro History are the missing pages of World History” (John Henrik Clarke, 1996).
In chapter three of Kambon books, he explains this idea of cultural reality and worldviews construct, and how “ones thoughts beliefs, values and actions are not uniquely our own, distinct and separate from those of others, particularly other individuals” (Kambon, 119). In today’s society we accept as true that European’s set the standards or dictated/ guide one to believe that their ways of living and doing things are how things ought to be done; continues white supremacy.
I am now in my third year at FAMU as a nursing major interested in psychology, following sibling’s footsteps of attending a Historical Black University. My journey in the Black Psychology has taught me new things about my personality and where I come from. In my opinion Oregon is a diverse and complex state. I had adopted and balanced the different worldviews. From my secondary education I have come to a new found knowledge about this Black Psychology and it’s striving for perfection in the Black communities.
I have come to understand that my people are from the Southern or African Cradle, which developed before the Northern or European Cradle a model Diop (Kambon, 1998). I am from the lineage of infamous Pharaoh’s and Queens such as Narmar, Pharaoh and Queen who whore the red and white crown Hatshepsut (Abarry, 1996). For years information has been hidden and sheltered from my peers and I. Not only from the African descendents in Oregon, but from all of the descendents of Africa has that populated the 50 states in America.
I have learned that I am a descendant of great Queens and Kings and African’s who were educated, governed themselves, ran a successful economy that was developed in many aspects before the 1500’s when Europeans arrived. Ancient Kemit (KMT) and the Ma’at which is the foundation in which the KMT people lived by (Abarry, 1996). I have grown accustomed to both Western and this new psychology called “Black Psychology”. I am able to observe and fully understand and acknowledge the course objectives in Black Psychology because I have been in the ream of both worlds.
My parents were educated and products of the early 60’s; where there was a large movement on civil rights and black psychologist making a change for the black community. Such as the Pan-African Cultural nationalism movement group who where “Black Psychologist who advocate that race and culture are the foundation of African self-identity and psychological well being” (Kambon, 1998). Black psychology has made tremendous accomplishments; they have challenged the ideals and ideologies of Western Psychology. Rather than being the blinded test mice used in Western Psychology, Black psychologist has made a mark in Psychology.
There has been a creation of Psychology geared to the Blacks. They have developed an impressive editorial journal that comes out quarterly called The Journal of Black Psychology which has been around for about 35 years (Kambon, 1996). The members of the Association of Black Psychologist have overcome many obstacles that have been presented in front of them, and will continue to do so for following years to come (Kamon, 1998). I find that my mind was once held captive in a sense, before I entered college under Eurocentric teachings.
I upheld the ideas of Eurocentric teachings, yet the status quo has changed; in favor for the Black Race, and my cognitive for that matter. In today’s society black children are taught by a Eurocentric teaching, where there is a mis-education which manifests itself in the Eurocentric conceptual incarceration (Kambon, 1998). The portrait the European psychologists painted through their views and studies of the black race, personality, mental health, and behavioral problems have not reflected the Black people in anyway. On the contrary it has caused a separation between blacks.
Those who believed in changing the psychology world for the black race have succeeded at founding its place and did not allow the standards set by Western Psychology to be the foundation for Black Psychology (Kambon, 1996). Today the black’s can see the ‘great depth of the Eurocentric cultural incarceration that encapsulates African intellectual consciousness and scholarship. ” (Kambon,1998). Which has caused a developmental problem of the knowledge of the African/ black race. From the motivation of Francis Cecil Sumner, Herman G. Canady, Robert L. Williams, Marcus Gravey, Nat Turners, W.
E. B Dubois, Frances Cress Welsing, and the thousands of members of the Association of Black Psychology, there is a psychology that focuses on the black community which is not defined by the Western Psychology standards. It is up to students like me to utilize the essential tools from courses like Black Psychology, and turn a deaf ear to the myths and misleading information that the Western Psychology once succeeded at incarcerating. This was my experience from growing up in Portland, Oregon and making a much need journey to Florida A&M University which landed me a seat in Dr.
Joseph Baldwin course Black Psychology. References Abarry, S. , Asante, M. ,(1996). African intellectual Heritiage. Philadelphia, PA: Temple Press A Great and Might Walk. Dir. St. Claire Bourne. Perf. Wesley Snipes John Henrik Clarke. 1996. Bourne, C. [Westley Snipes] (1996): Los Angles Davenport Community School Website. (1998, Aug). Retrieved Mar. 09, 2009, from http://www. davenport. k12. ia. us/curriculum/gifted. asp Kambon, K. (1998). African/ black psychology in the american context: an african- centered approach. Tallahassee, Fl: Nubian Nation Publication.