At first it was workforce; then housing; now mental illness is the #1 challenge Black Minnesotans have? We really need to look at who sets these agendas that historically, organizationally, and politically that fail Black Minnesotans. Mental Illness in the Minnesota’s Black Community will turn in to millions of dollars for everybody but us. When will we have a chance to invest in the strength of Minnesota’s Black culture versus its wounds?
by Don Allen, Senior Editorial Columnist
I do not take this topic lightly because I too after serving in the U.S. Army was diagnosed with depression and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). The challenge I have is how is Minnesota’s Black community with disparities off the charts is now the target of a mass mental health movement? It bypasses the systemic causes of mental health, overlooks the bottom-up solutions, and targets us and others in poor communities, and labels us as unfit to be abnormal by having a good education, great career, and wonderful life; that is abnormal compared to the controlled-normal: unemployed, working in the struggle.
Black Minnesotans have been looked at for a long time as useful to justify funding because we (Black Minnesotans) have very few at the table that will speak the truth about what it is we need. Those who look like us, most comfortable in their positions will not become the central negative, not having a negative influence, but making sure to ask the right questions, make the correct suggestions and re-track those who might see people of color as ‘less’ during decision-making processes. To bring another voice into this conversation, I turn to devoted Black author educator, and speaker, Dr. Umar Johnson, who explains in parallel what’s happening to black people and how the system works:
“We are systematically denied access to wealth. We cannot build that hospital they built, we cannot open 10 supermarkets, I cannot get ten gas stations in three weeks because you are going to routinely deny me access to wealth. Because if I finance your empowerment, that disrupts my system of extermination and genocide. You cannot kill a people who you are financially empowering. So, we are kept without access to wealth. America has a policy where you do not empower black people for their own benefit.”
Take a closer look at hierarchy of the Twin Cities Black leadership and social clusters, most are too much into having personal agendas, silo thinking and a lack of trust. Success can abandon us (Black Minnesotans) quickly because the outer-designed-complex that needs separation to operate covertly inside the Black Minnesotan social maze (which is easy because there is no solid leadership).
Ergo, the mental health opportunity that labels and tries to explain that Black people are unemployed, uneducated, lazy and poor because they all have been through some type of mental illness and trauma passed down from generation-to-generation and that is why today we have more black-on-black crime, high unemployment rates and live in areas of blight because they cannot lift themselves out of some surreptitious (hidden) construct put there on purpose. Furthermore, there are hidden constructs within the black community, especially in Minnesota that prevents unity, collaborations – it seems that failed attempts are much-admired in the Black community (…we tried, it didn’t work, but we’ll try again next year – here’s a trophy), whereas success might trigger a positive mass change in the upward trajectory of Minnesota’s Black communities.