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Black and Blue Personality Disorder (BBPD): Should Racism be a Mental Health Disorder?

Policing in the United States has a pretty long history. Though policing has remained a controversial topic for centuries, recent instances of police brutality and the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement have helped force the topic back to its political and social limelight. The diverging beliefs around policing are greatly influenced by popular political activists and outlets on both sides of the spectrum. When examining the facts and history around the creation and implementation of th


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Raheem Lay, DSW, LICSW, BCD

a year ago | 4 min read

Policing in the United States has a pretty long history. Though policing has remained a controversial topic for centuries, recent instances of police brutality and the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement have helped force the topic back to its political and social limelight. The diverging beliefs around policing are greatly influenced by popular political activists and outlets on both sides of the spectrum.

When examining the facts and history around the creation and implementation of the US policing system, it is evident that policing has a racially biased history.

The History and Role of Race in Policing in the US

Below is a detailed breakdown of how the policing system took off in the US and how the biases and injustices of the old continue to have a grip on the modern-day police system.

The Days of Unofficial Slave Patrols

The first instances of policing date back to the days of slavery in colonial America. During these early days, slavery was a critical part of the economy, and the wealthy and policymakers wanted to safeguard their economic interests. This resulted in the adoption of unofficial slave patrol units which were tasked with capturing runaway slaves and returning them to their wealthy plantation owners.

Considering that slavery was the gravest inhuman treatment of mankind in history, slave patrols were cruel and brutal in the way they captured runaway slaves. Slave rebellions were often perceived as a great threat to the day’s economic status quo. Therefore, wealthy plantation owners protected the interest of slave patrols. This created a social hierarchy with plantation owners at the top, slave patrols at the middle, and slaves at the bottom of the hierarchy.

Police Units During the Civil War and the Reconstruction Era

Slave patrols would later morph into official policing units tasked with breaking up insurgencies that began after the Civil War. Following the infamous Civil War, a majority of colonists, particularly Southerners, felt threatened by the freed African Americans. The black community was viewed as a threat and disruption to social order.

The African American community experienced a surge in violence and brutality from the police. The Reconstruction Era, which came shortly after the Civil War, created a racially charged environment, in which the newly freed population tried to live peacefully amongst its oppressors.

During the Reconstruction Era, the policing system used cruelty as its major policing style while protecting the economic interests of the wealthy which was beneficial to the police unit. The police were used as a means to protect and offer a sense of security to the white community. To achieve this goal, the police would intimidate black communities and segregate them from the whites.

Restructuring the South required a lot of free labor, most of which came from the freed black populace. However, the African American communities would soon begin to be targeted for a different form of slavery — the prison system.

Racist Policing Policies

Jim Crow laws were several legislative enactments that sought to segregate the white and black communities. These racist policies gave the police power to target and imprison members of the African American community. There was a loophole in the 13th Amendment, which indeed abolished slavery, but except for slavery as a form of punishment.

The police would arrest people of color for violating Jim Crow laws and deny the arrested their fundamental human rights. The rampant racism in the South was tolerated through the prison system. Ironically, it is the loophole in the 13th Amendment that encouraged and gave rise to the modern-day prison industrial complex.

The racist policing policies were further reinforced by the “Separate but Equal” racial decidendi in the Supreme Court decision in the Plessy v. Ferguson case. The court argued that provided the black community and the white community enjoyed the same access to resources, they could remain segregated. This ruling served to embolden the police to incorporate racism into law enforcement.

Sadly, the racist legal segregation lasted for close to a century, until the enactment of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

The Civil Rights Movement

In an effort to perpetuate their role of breaking up insurgencies, policing centered around riot control during the Civil Rights Movement. The movement sought to inspire people of color to come together and demand justice, but the police were always on the frontline of the opposing end. It has been argued that the police continue to protect the economic interest of the wealthy at the expense of human rights.

The police would use force and brutally beat up peaceful protesters for simply daring to protest for their civil rights. Since then, policing has evolved to incorporate more racially discriminatory practices such as the “Stop and Frisk policy” and racial profiling. The war against drugs in the US further aggravated the black v. blue antagonistic relationship by granting the police power to detain drug abusers by racially targeting African Americans.

The modern-day racially discriminatory policing policies of racial profiling and stop and frisk tend to uphold the social hierarchy created during the era of American slavery.

What’s The Relationship Between Police Brutality, Racism, and Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

According to a recent study, there exist different reasons for acts of racism as there are etiologic agents that cause racism. Upon examining intrapsychic dynamics of racist behavior, researched found that the lack of empathy for the supposed inferior race is a constant trait in all racists. Scientific evidence also shows that an individual’s psychopathology has an influence on how they respond to group or class pressure and that racist beliefs often serve psychopathic needs.

Research shows that some racist individuals reveal the same kind of psychopathology of narcissistic personality disorder found in murderers, rapists, and child abusers. A narcissistic racist is any person whose racism is primarily a symptom of narcissistic personality disorder.

According to Kohut, every instance of narcissistic rage shows common features arising from the matrix of a narcissistic view of the world. Those under the grip of narcissistic rage tend to show a lack of empathy towards those who do not seem to fit in their perceived ideal nature of life. This happens to be the state of being for police officers involved in overt acts of racism and police brutality.

References

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/15807184_Racism_A_Symptom_of_the_Narcissistic_Personality

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057/9781403918475_19

https://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/reconstruction

https://www.ferris.edu/HTMLS/news/jimcrow/what.htm

https://www.archives.gov/milestone-documents/plessy-v-ferguson

https://www.adl.org/resources/backgrounder/civil-rights-movement

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Raheem Lay, DSW, LICSW, BCD

I write for Tealfeed, CEO at Raheem Lay LLC, EQ & Empathy Coach.


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