No, this is not about the Rev. Louis Farrakhan and his march in D.C. Instead, it’s about an article today (15 October) in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer entitled, “ 'Slave syndrome' may still affect black behavior.” The thesis of the professor appears in the early paragraphs:
“The troubling images of African Americans displaced by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans' impoverished neighborhoods didn't startle researcher Joy DeGruy-Leary. ‘All Katrina did was reveal what was already there. I wasn't confused, wasn't surprised,’ she said....
“DeGruy-Leary, an assistant professor in Portland State University's Graduate School of Social Work, will discuss her theory of the relationship between race, culture, poverty and history today at the third Seattle Race Conference and tonight in a separate talk. Her theory of "post-traumatic slave syndrome" concludes that African Americans needed to adapt to survive more than two centuries of slavery, and that those adaptations are reflected in their behaviors today.”
There are two problems with this professor’s “slave” thesis, neither of them noticed or mentioned in this article. The first is that emotional reactions are not biologically inherited by children, much less great-great-great-great-grandchildren. If you go back far enough, all Americans are descended from humans who bashed in the brains of other humans, and had no aversion to cooking and eating them for dinner. Those traits are exceptionally rare among modern Americans.
The second error in the article is this: the history of race relations in Seattle itself demonstrates that the professor’s theory is a vat of snake oil, designed to deceive rather than inform. Washington State was one of the areas from which Japanese-Americans were rounded up and put in prison camps without charges or trials, at the beginning of World War II. The specific story about Puget Sound was told in the book, Snow Falling on Cedars.
Surely this reporter was aware of that. The broader story is told in the book, Manzanar, about the imprisonment of approximately 110,000 Japanese-Americans for no crime, for racial reasons only. These people, most of them American citizens, lost all or most of their property and remained in prison until 1944-1945. They were treated no better than slaves for the time of their imprisonment.
And yet, Japanese-Americans today are among the highest of all demographic groups in their achievements and success, measured by any standard. If the professor’s theory about a “slave” syndrome had an ounce of truth to it, damaging effects should appear in the Japanese-American community in Seattle itself. But they don’t. That strongly suggests that the professor’s thesis is false, and that the reporter and his editor missed the story that was right in front of them