African Americans have come a long way in the difficult upward struggle from slavery to the relatively broad freedoms enjoyed today. Together, as a potent and well-knit group, they have battled endlessly in their march toward freedom. However, according to psychologist Dr. James Davison, Jr., having attained physical and political freedom, the time has come for black Americans to turn away from their collective struggle in order to take the last step to total freedom — and that step is Psychological Freedom.
In this blog, Dr. Davison signals that this last step toward Psychological Freedom must be taken as individuals and not as a collective. In an assessment of the problems facing black Americans, Dr. Davison argues that in order for achieving individuals to advance to the final step of freedom, they must break free from the mental shackles created by the black community. That is, break free from black persons, black myths, and black traditions that impede their personal progress.
The forces that impinge most upon psychological freedom for black Americans come from within. Guilt for being successful, shame in reaction to the misbehaviors of race peers, demands to give back to the community, and accusations of trying to be white are just a few of the mechanisms that thwart psychological freedom for black Americans.
Dr. Davison indicates that individual lifestyles, aspirations, and even identities are constrained by the specter of racial division and disunity. As a result, for black advancers, what remains to be overcome is not “the system” or “them,” but internalized community attitudes that put a choke hold on individual freedom. In order to truly achieve psychological freedom, black Americans have to detach from those members of the racial community who choose defeat rather than avail themselves of the opportunities that exist.
Dr. James Davison, Jr. is an African-American licensed psychologist and university professor. Through his writings and workshops with Beyond The Struggle and his private practice in Seattle, Washington, Dr. Davison helps people move beyond stereotypes and cultural expectations. He has appeared on several nationally-aired programs including The Phil Donahue Show, National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and C-SPAN. Dr. Davison hails from Philadelphia, and is the author of two books – Prisoners Of Our Past and Sweet Release – related to individuality and personal freedom for African-Americans.