Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate May 2001

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Psycho-negativity There appears to be a an ever increasing amount of Psycho-negativity, the negative attitudes and classifications of people swirling around in our matrix, gradually gaining momentum forming a cone-shaped typhoon with the intent on reeking havoc on our Society. The negative psychological attacks come from a variety of sources such as books, radio, television, newspaper, school, family, and the people we come in direct contact with everyday, in other words, the community. Psycho-negativity is the practice of using information and power negatively to psychologically oppress others that results in stereotyping, profiling, ignorance, hopelessness, hostility, poverty, and pride. It is the statistics that predict a young black man's future. It is the news stories that depict the poor as dirty, unintelligent, lazy, and lacking motivation and the magazines that trivializes the tragedies in people's lives such as a celebrity that battles drug and alcohol addiction. It is the marginality of our government and our communities and it is the heart and soul of what keeps us from evolving into higher beings.

"His"tory negatively explains what seem to be the staggering differences between whites and blacks, poor and rich. The plain truth turns out to be certain groups classified other groups of people perpetuating psycho-negativity. When some poor immigrants moved to the United States, not being accepted kept them poor (even though the United States is made up of immigrants). When the slaves were emancipated they were basically turned loose into the wilderness poor with no knowledge, no money, and no place to go; thus the battle to be accepted as a human being rages on.

As I became more enlightened about the world around me I became more aware of the negative information that surfaced itself in my journey through life. By "enlightened" I refer to the process of my own evolution from child to adult.

Statistics while very helpful, can and have caused irreparable damage when the information gathered is used in a negative way. Webster's Dictionary defines statistics as numerical facts collected systemically and arranged. The average person does not consider the source of the statistic or the extent of the test sample. Consequently, the average person has no way (or time for that matter) of verifying the statistics or even questioning the samples for their validity. It is taken for granted that the lab or persons taking the poll is being honest with all the information obtained.

The United States has some 200,000,000 plus individuals residing within its boundaries and common sense should tell us it is virtually impossible to predict an INDIVIDUAL'S lifestyle based on a sample of 1000 or even 100,000 people. Let us be mindful that with statistics certain factors must remain constant in order to predict a particular result over the long run. Yet, the long run does not appear to be considered when reporting negative statistics. For example in an article published over the Internet by Eric Lotke called Hobbling a Generation , Mr. Lotke provides a statistic: "¦42% of the young black men ages 18 to 35 in the District of Columbia were under criminal justice supervision"”in prison or jail, probation or parole, out on bond or being sought on a warrant"¦Nationwide the number of blacks in prison grew"¦An incredible 1 in 3 young black men nationwide is currently under justice control on any given day"¦observers conclude that African American involvement in crime is indeed higher, but that is not the whole story"¦disparities in economic opportunity and the quality of public education, and to selective enforcement of lesser crimes like disorderly conduct or the draconian crack cocaine statue applied 88% of the time against blacks "“ though the majority of crack cocaine is consumed by whites.

Hobbling of a Generation was a very interesting article, however the only statistic reported to the public is the 42% of black me between the ages of 18 and 35 are being incarcerated. I will venture to say that no one knew that statistic sample was taken from the District of Columbia and those statistics sound awful familiar! Moreover I have heard this statistic in the news and repeated as gossip in my community. Hence we have the stereotyping, profiling, and the ignorance of the plight of black men. The true purpose of the article is to make people aware and to be alarmed about an obvious injustice because there is truly cause for concern. In addition according to the 1990 Census the District of Columbia contains 399, 604 African Americans to its credit and ranks number 8 out of 325 cities populated by African Americans in the United States.

I have personally heard a young man state he's gonna "get his" because the odds are all ready set up against him, he doesn't believe he would ever see old age. Could it be that our society has brainwashed that young man into believing he has nothing to live for? Sadly, the answer to that question is yes.

There are so many negative statistics about Blacks and the poor that the public's perception remains in a constant state of judgment and bias. According to Theodore Cross, author of the Black Power Imperative classification is the way of the world and it stems back tens of thousands of years. Mr. Cross states: If a human being could classify objects and animals, it is not surprising that by the same mental process he also came to classify groups among his own species"¦traits were linked - sometimes accurately, but perhaps more often inaccurately"¦class membership came to control not only the ways in which people thought about each other, but also the ways in which they treated each other. Economic selections, voting decisions, friendship choices, the selection of neighbors, schools, teachers, and business associates come under the control of the class-trait expectation (83) .

Statistics control much of the population's perceptions. The utilization of statistics to provide beneficial information has somehow been turned into a tool for social classification; although the data collected and reported to the public may be invaluable solutions still evade our society.

The media, and our direct connection with our families or lack there of and the people in our communities are the main culprits that produce negative environments. Before the media we simply had gossip and although crime was as pervasive then as it is now there was no way of notifying the world heinous crimes existed in such prodigious numbers.

People who do not read the newspaper are still aware of the bad news in the world because it can be viewed on television or we pass it on by word of mouth when we come in contact with one another; perpetuating the division among people. Now that we have the media that is pretty much all we hear about murder, violence, theft, child abuse and neglect, dirty politics, racial upheaval and sometimes they sprinkle in some positive news stories but crime and negative statistical comparisons of black, white, rich, and poor are the truly "news worthy" topics as Theodore Cross explains: "¦in the field of racial disparagement"¦that honor goes to television. The single most influential communications force in the history of mankind continues to degrade"¦assign unflattering traits"¦and reaffirm traditional prejudices and role assignments"¦blacks and other minorities continue to be presented on television as blatantly negative racial stereotypes (163) .

Our media has practically inundated us with negative images and information that clouds our perceptions which leaves us with an insatiable appetite for more gossip and more stories of people who have worst luck than the rest of us.

However, the reality is we are a capitalistic and antagonistic society; we reside in the fantasy world the media has created for us resulting in materialistic goals and a lack of concern and compassion for one another unless we meet a certain criteria. Being a member of the "in-group" certainly has its advantages.

Our government and community's marginality have increased due to the maintenance of negative attitudes and continual classifications of different individuals residing in our matrix allowing psycho-negativity to remain the status quo. Negativity in the form of "negative strokes" have been so engrained in our society's psyche we naturally transfer it to our children (our most innocent of creatures), friends, families, and community. According to the authors of Born To Win, Muriel James and Dorothy Jongeward, negative strokes are described: "¦given negative strokes receives the message. "You are not OK." A person, who is ignored, teased, diminished, humiliated, physically degraded, laughed at, called names, or ridiculed is in some way being treated as insignificant. The individual is being discounted (53) It seems our government first laid the foundation for the negative perception of Blacks and other minorities with the laws of segregation and classifications. An example in the Black Power Imperative illustrates this point: Until World War II, all American Presidents expressed themselves as overt racists. Theodore Roosevelt demanded that "race purity must be maintained.""¦President Warren G. Harding"¦ declared in favor of immigration quotas on the basis of inherent "racial differences" and the difficulty of assimilating anyone but northern Protestants "¦By the last quarter of the twentieth century, overt racial insults had become bad manners, if not bad politics (157-8) .

As I read further I saw words spoken by The Great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln, words I never saw in any of the schoolbooks I've read! I was shocked to learn President Lincoln was in favor of racial segregation. He too was affected by psycho-negativity. Did our government spearhead a psycho-negativity conspiracy? Unfortunately it cannot be known for sure but assuredly the only cause for their (President's) actions was ignorance and pride.

Our freedom of speech allowed for the printing of books, which depicted negative images and information about different ethnicities. Most of us grew up reading this abundance of negativity and perhaps consciously or unconscientiously we teach what we've learned to our friends, families, and communities.

Our communities are in danger of becoming affected with psycho-negativity in greater proportions. Our youth are want for love and attention as well as our sick, less fortunate, and elderly, even adults who appear ok are in need of some form of positive stroking; one could be related to or personally know anyone in such a predicament. However our preconceptions and biases shape our opinions and take control of our actions or lack there of, and let us not forget the other conditions that bring about negativity; our outside environment, other people, the media, etc.

When a child of four years utters the words "I can't!" with no conception of what he or she can truly accomplish our psycho-negativity has spread. When we discount a person's ideas and opinions or when we hurt and curse one another or when we disrespect each other we take a little time off our own evolvement.

Let us also be mindful that we are very complex individuals; in order to evolve we must recognize each individual's complexities and accept each of us requires a certain amount of "positive stroking". The authors of Born To Win explains "positive strokes": "¦it takes "positive strokes" to develop emotionally healthy persons with a sense of Okness. Positive strokes range in value from the minimal maintenance of a "hello" to the depth encounter of intimacy (49).

Positivism starts with oneself, as Michael Jackson so eloquently put it, "I'm starting with the Man in the Mirror; I'm asking him to change his ways". The benefits of self-actualization far outweigh not knowing who you are and not knowing in what capacity does your existence serve.

The lack of positive information leads people to believe and accept the stereotypes, negative images, and so forth.

One may disagree and say this is not possible for without chaos there could be no peace, in other words there will always be negativity; to that I assert that the negative must not be in the majority. However, there are many positive people and many positive goings on in my community and all over the world. There are so many positive issues that do not get enough press and there are many good people in the world that far out number the "statistic sample", the media, the government, and the assorted communities. Our society has much to gain from collectively gathering ideas and working together to strengthen the foundation of our matrix.

At the conclusion of this paper my instructor asked a serious question. What would I do to improve this situation? I gave considerable thought to that question and I concluded I must start from within. I must change my attitude, rid myself of unproductive biases and preconceptions, and help and love my family, my neighbors, and my community, as I am able. I must insist that those that I teach,teach others as well. For we all make up the families, the communities, and the governments therefore we are in control of what types of environments are produced and what will be tolerated in our societies.

Bibliography 1 Eric Lotke, Hobbling of a Generation: Young African American Men in D.C.'s Criminal Justice System Five Years Later (1997): 1.

2 Census, Black Population by Place and Population Rank (1990) 3 Cross. T. (1984). The Black Power Imperative. New York: Faulkner Books.

4 Cross 163. 6 Cross 157-8.

5 James, M., & Jongeward, D. (1971). Born To Win. Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing. 7 James, M., & Jongeward, D. 49