"It's a wonder we all haven't all gone stark raving mad!"--James Baldwin, 1968 interview with Marvin X
"Homicide and suicide are two sides of the same coin!"--Dr. Nathan Hare
Suicide among North American Africans is a communal affair, or shall we say societal affair since we live in a hostile environment that invites us to suicide by the very nature of our existence that is marginalized at best, but it is our psycho-social condition that leaves us no way out of suicide on so many levels. The very air we breathe is killing us, but what choice do we have? The food we eat is killing us but how many can afford to shop at Whole Foods? One piece of organic chicken for $5.00? Get real!
Education is toxic for it inculcates us with self-hatred that is destructive to our mental equilibrium. Ancestor Amiri Baraka once said, "We send our children to these colleges and universities and they come back hating us and everything we're about--and they don't even know what we're about!" Dr. Wade Nobles said, "Our men are in prison, but our women are in prison at these universities and colleges." One of my daughters who graduated from Yale and Stanford Law School, told me she and her girlfriends found it almost impossible to date a Black male student. What does this do to the Black sense of self? A beautiful young lady who graduated from Spelman informed me she thought she was black and ugly! So many times Black lives don't matter even to ourselves since we are addicted to white supremacy Type II (Dr. Nathan Hare, foreword to How to Recover from White Supremacy by Marvin X, aka Dr. M). Even our best and brightest live lives of rejection leading to depression and death. And when it is not outright suicide, many of us fall victim to diseases caused by the hostile environment, including and especially the workplace. When my dear friend, Poet/Professor/Critic Sherley A. Williams, died at 51 years old, Dr. William H. Grier, psychiatrist and co-author of the 60s classic Black Rage, told his son to tell me, "Tell Marvin Sherley didn't die from asthma but from the hostile environment at the University of California, San Diego." Indeed, Sherley often told me her job was toxic and that she hadn't spoken with her colleagues for years! Three brilliant Black women professors at UC Berkeley made their transition, we think, for the same reason as Sherley: Barbara Christian, June Jordan and VeVe Clark. Is not continuing to work in a hostile, toxic environment a form of suicide?
I talked with a friend today who was at work but said she wasn't feeling well but could not go to the hospital because she would be penalized as she had taken too many sick leaves. Yes, she works in a hostile environment as well. Imagine, you are sick but can't afford to leave the job for medical attention. Is this the glory of free market capitalism and wage slavery?
I have no doubt we suffer a plethora of psycho-somatic disorders from America's toxic society. I have read that due to fear of the medical profession and its known experimentation on Blacks (beginning with gynecologists who began this branch of medicine by practicing on African women in the American slave system without providing any anesthesia), many bourgeoisie Blacks do not seek medical attention even when they have excellent medical insurance. Is this not a suicidal attitude?
Because of white jealousy and envy (along with the crab in the barrel mentality of Black co-workers in competition with their Black fellow workers) most jobs for us are in a hostile work environment that ultimately kills.
Of course chronic unemployment leads to self destructive behavior such as drug abuse and domestic violence. Surely, partner violence leads us to harm our partner and ourselves. Often the violence is fatal, so we kill our partner and ourselves, but is not our partner part of ourselves, hence we kill ourselves. Black on Black homicide is thus a form of suicide because when we kill our brother/sister we kill ourselves! The notion of self is a communal idea or even better, a communal reality, not individual. The self is born of tribal and national mythology and ritual. Can we therefore imagine how pervasive homicide and suicide impacts not only the individual, but the family, village and national group? As a result of the last few days of police violence and the ongoing internal violence, North American Africans are suffering trauma and grief.
Imagine all the families whose members are killed by the police or another Black, but the family tragedy never hits the headlines, never enjoy marches and rallies, and often there is only a miller lite police investigation, for after all, Black lives don't matter, yes, even though we are children of the Creator, precious and holy, each and every one of us.
So we know many homicides are in reality suicides because the person put himself in a homicidal situation where the person was killed because they didn't have the strength to kill themselves. Sometimes we escalate a situation to the point we don't give a damn whether we die or live, so often we are killed but if there had been a strong desire to live we wouldn't have escalated the situation to the point of death.
For sure, many of us engage in unsafe sex that is suicidal for in the deep structure of our minds is the attitude of not caring whether we live or die, as in the case of many persons who contract HIV/AIDS from unsafe sex.
Marvin X's son, Darrel, suffered manic depression and under the influence of psycho-drugs walked into a train at 39 years old. He graduated from UC Berkeley in Arabic and Middle Eastern literature, studied at the University of Damascus, Syria on a Fulbright; also studied at the American University, Cairo, Egypt, and did graduate work at Harvard University. "Dr. Nathan Hare comforted me with the fact that my son's death was one side of the same coin. Hare reminded me Malcolm and Martin died at the same age." Well, death is death by any name! Don't make me quote the infamous Hillary Clinton, "What difference does it make?"