FREE AT LAST: Overcoming Black Political Victimhood

How would your life be different if…You stopped validating your victim mentality?

There is no value in victimhood. One of the principle ways that people mismanage their anger is by playing the role of victim. According to Robert W. Firestone Ph.D. many people adopt the victim role, albeit unintentionally because they are afraid of their anger, deny its existence in themselves, project it onto other people, and anticipate aggression or harm from them. For instance, with this expectation and high sensitivity to anger in others, they may even distort other people’s facial expressions, imagining that they have malicious intentions. The anger that they would have experienced in response to frustration or stress is transformed into fear and distrust of others and into feelings of being hurt or wounded[1].

Individuals who habitually indulge in self-victimization (also known as playing the victim) do so for various reasons: to control or influence other people’s thoughts, feelings and actions; to justify their abuse of others; to seek attention; or, as a way of coping with situations seemingly out of their control.

Although they can actually change circumstances to avoid being victimized, they won’t seize the opportunity because they want to play the role and appear as victims to others and themselves. The main identifying traits of those who choose to play the victim role include:

  • They tend to manipulate, or abuse others verbally or physically, but then blame the other person (i.e. the real victim) for provoking the abuse.
  • They influence or control other people’s sympathy to gain compassion or support.
  • They form friendships, intimate relationships, or alliances with those who disrespect, mistreat or abuse them to convince themselves and the world of their unfortunate status.
  • They tend to avoid taking responsibility for their life, instead blaming others for their mistreatment or unfortunate circumstances.
  • They think and talk a lot about how others take advantage of their kindness and disposition in the world.

This victimhood narrative is pumping through liberal media and ensnaring the minds of many of my people. Black Americans often push aside intellectual thought and logic for emotional responses and race baiting. It is not emotion that can rebuild the black community, but only self-initiative and hard work that can do that.

 Playing the victim is maladaptive. Even though passive manipulations may occasionally work (such as what we see in the liberal media), taking this powerless position hurts the perpetrator and is never in one’s best interests.

In the long run, it does more harm than good. People can control their destructive urge to play the victim by acknowledging that their personal world and the external world may or may not contain many inequities and social injustices that are discriminatory and unfair to individuals or groups of people, yet they can take power over their lives[2].

CLARENCE & ME

Conquering what is attempting to consume you and flying when the facts say otherwise is not easy. It takes a complete mentality change. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, I believe, speaks to this shift in thinking.  Many of his views, despite the author’s angle, are summarized in the book The Enigma of Clarence Thomas by Corey Robin.

Thomas, in summation, asserts that one doesn’t have to choose between economic self-determination and political participation. Black Americans should have both integration and independence, democracy and entrepreneurship. These things are not at odds; in fact, it’s truer to say they’re co-determinate. Thomas says you can only have one; we should say you can only have both.

For Thomas, the worst kind of racism is liberal paternalism (busing, welfare, affirmative action, et al.) because it assumes black inferiority and casts doubt on individual accomplishment. With affirmative action, for example, an employer isn’t sure if Black applicants actually deserved the education they received or if they just got it to fulfill a racial quota.

Liberalism (so the argument goes) makes it harder for Black Americans to get jobs because of trade unions, professional licenses, and minimum-wage laws, then gives them welfare which makes them dependent on the state. This is all done in the name of helping Black Americans but so, Thomas points, out, were slavery and segregation. Slave apologists said slaves were better off picking cotton in Christian America than roaming the fields of pagan Africa; segregationists said they were protecting Black Americans from White bigotry and being put into competition with white workers[1].

This train of thought shows how regressive so called liberal progressive policy, thought and actions are in practice. The issue here is one of free thought—independence. Independence births ambition and a man without ambition, as Walter H. Cottingham said, “a man without ambition is like a bird without wings. He can never soar in the heights above, but must walk like a weakling, unnoticed, with the crowds below. He never feels the thrill of enthusiasm which pulsates through the veins of the ambitious man as he presses forward in the exciting struggle to reach his aim.”

I feel very strongly that my community, Black Americans, have been robbed of their right to soar—their wings to fly. The ravished family structure and the venom of biased media has weakened the free thought and social responsibility of many within my community.

We must consciously decide to review all that we think we know, reevaluate all that we hold dear and look at the greater good. Muhammad Ali said; “the man who has no imagination has no wings”. So, I ask you (the reader) to imagine with me.

Imagine Black American homes with two, strong, influential parents present and active in their children’s lives. Imagine with me businesses, owned, operated and sustained by communal support fostering dynamic economic independence. Imagine with me young Black men who share their talents with society instead wasting their lives on street corners or in prisons. Imagine with me a nation of men, women, boys and girls who did not fall prey to the victimhood of the past but were empowered by the possibilities of the future and voted that way! Imagine such with me—it’s beautiful. It’s powerful. It’s, really quite liberating.

NOTE: THIS EXCERPT FROM A FORTHCOMING BOOK BY JAY SHAKUR


[1] Dunbar , Mark. “The Enigma of Clarence Thomas.” TheHumanist.com, 27 Aug. 2019, thehumanist.com/magazine/september-october-2019/arts_entertainment/the-enigma-of-clarence-thomas.


[1] Firestone, Robert  W. “How to Stop Playing the Victim Game.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 30 Nov. 2013, http://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-human-experience/201304/how-stop-playing-the-victim-game.

[2] Firestone, Robert  W. “How to Stop Playing the Victim Game.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 30 Nov. 2013, http://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-human-experience/201304/how-stop-playing-the-victim-game.