Thursday, May 29, 2008

Murdoch Compares Obama To A Rock Star: It Ain't Enough.

"[Obama] is a rock star. It's fantastic. I love what he is saying about education. I want to meet [him]. I want to know if he's going to walk the walk."

Lemme get this straight, Mr. Murdoch. You publicly stated that Obama is the better candidate compared to McCain? Are we to conclude you had a change of heart and no longer will be promoting racism?

It ain't enough. Put your money where your mouth is and fire the haters on your empire, FoxNews. They are the equivalent of pre-1970s Southern redneck police, dogs, and water hoses.

Then give us specials produced by blacks that other blacks respect and white liberals. Have them make honest followups of the injustices done to blacks during and after Hurricane Katrina. I recall well how Fox News perpetuated racist stereotypes and fueled prejudice and fears against my people, who where victims of not only of the weather, but the media storm against them after the hurricane.

I still mourn for the over 1,000 who died and thousands of blacks vilified in the constant replaying of a handful of dirt poor teens and young men stealing diapers, food, tennis shoes, clothes - all needed due to the contaminated water, and would have been written off as a loss by the store owners' insurance companies - not that this was pointed out by Hannity, O'Reilly, or the other bigots who work for you. Of course, there were a few young, black dumb-asses who looted TV sets, but hey, every race has it's morons. Fox made it look like we were all criminals and stupid as well. Your station fueled the lock n' load mentality in New Orleans which harmed more than helped innocent, traumatized people, and I haven't gotten over this and never will.

Mr. Murdoch, also please do specials that spotlight the heinous beliefs and comments by racist lawmakers who made it possible to turn the War On Drugs into a War On Blacks, Latinos, & Poor Whites and resulted in America having the largest incarcerated in world. Have them mention how our current President "can't recall" whether or not he's ever used cocaine, then contrast this with young, non-violent felons who can no longer even vote much less run for office.

Give the FoxNews audience film footage of war crimes by our soldiers who have admit they'd have never killed innocent civilians if their commanders hadn't encouraged it, or if their Iraqi victims had looked like them... and how this was a deliberate military strategy that heavily recruited in the South.

Then call Dunkin' Donuts and tell them you thought that Muslim-style scarf was cute on their model in the ad they yanked, and they were wrong to buckle under pressure by bigoted loony right-wingers who are so ignorant that they confuse belonging to a religion with being a terrorist.

That's just the short list. I'll be watching.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I Kissed A Girl & I Liked It - Raising A Daughter In Different Times

The pics in this article are of my two kids. That being said, you might want to listen to this song, I Kissed A Girl by Katie Perry, if you're unfamiliar with it, before continuing with this post.

(Edit: The May 2008 was removed from YouTube, so here's another, if it ceases to work, try another on the 'net.)

I was pulling groceries out the back of my mini-van this weekend when my 12 year old daughter, Casie, yelled from the front seat, "Mom! How ya like this song?"

I could only hear the music and voice quality when I answered, "Sounds great!"

"I never heard words like this," she said excitedly. "What do you think?"

"Can't hear them from back here," I replied. "Come give me a hand."

"Ma, listen, she's singing she kissed a girl and she liked it."

Uh-huh, I thought. I said, "We'll listen to it on YouTube or Napster once we get in the house."

And we did. The words were a shocker and damn, I thought I was shock-proof by now. Great voice, catchy tune, and the kind of beat that makes you wanna dance. But the message, oh the message!

"Whaddya think, Mom?", she asked me, smiling. Smiling!

"I don't know yet, Casie," I answered honestly. "I'll have to think about it. What do you think of the words?"

"I don't know," she said.

"Do they make you want to kiss a girl?"

Her face frowned up. "Nooo..."

At the same time, I wonder. Kids are adventurous and don't always tell the truth about these things. The lyrics makes it sound innocent, inconsequential, and acceptable for any straight girl or young woman to cross the line into bisexuality. It hasn't even been out that long but she told me it's already at the top of the charts.

I entertain the idea that this song - and the copycat versions to come - will influence the thinking of the next generation of girls, much like Bill Clinton getting a blow job in the White House in the 90s made oral sex among teens acceptable. After Bill and Monica's behavior was publicized 24/7 in the news, all the therapists in our office heard more stories from our adolescent clients having oral sex. What used to be a very private act was downgraded to being no more important than a kiss between casual friends.

I have always had a strong belief that gender orientation is biologically programmed in us and we can no more force attraction to a specific gender than we can shift comfortably to being right-handed if we're lefties or vice versa.

As I listen again to this song and read the words on the video, I recall an all-girl sleepover party my daughter went to last summer. At 11, she was innocent enough to tell me everything.

"Ma, we were giving each other back massages, but one girl gave us butt massages."

"Butt massages?"

"Yeah," she answered. "I got one too. It felt good."

I took a deep breath, and right or wrong, gave a push for the straight life. I said, "It'll feel a lot better when a boyfriend gives you one, when you get much older."

I hope I'm right that she's straight, because if her gender orientation is otherwise, my words could heap needless guilt and confusion on her.

"Trust me on this," I added. "If you are straight, and I really think you are, it will feel wonderful when a guy you really like or love does that, and a whole lot more great stuff to your body. Letting girls mess around with you now could confuse you, so until then, please don't let a girl touch you like that again, okay?"

She nodded and asked, "Is that girl bad?"

"Bad? No," I said. "She may have had someone do that to her and she liked it, so she did that to y'all... she probably doesn't know any better. Doesn't sound like any of you did. At any rate, don't be mean and bad mouth her. Gossip is a terrible thing. She may be straight, or one day she may not, but either way, she doesn't deserve to be mistreated."

In my family, there are damn few secrets and we talk about everything. I told my son in front of my daughter.

"That's some gay shit," he said loudly. "A butt massage! Damn."

Then he shook his head, smiling, as he visualized this. Casie giggled too.

"Xavier, you mean you never had a butt massage by one of you're homeboys at a pajama party?", I said jokingly.

"Hell no!", he yelled. "Casie, don't let no girl do that shit to you."

I knew his macho ass would say something like this. It was really interesting to watch my then 18 year old son take the role of a father to his little sister, and say in clear and decisive terms that this behavior was unacceptable.

I couldn't do it the way he did out of the slim fear that one day Casie could wake up and be a lesbian, and I didn't want to F up her head just in case that happens, as I've seen the pain it's caused others.

At the same time, I was glad he took the tough, black and white no gray areas role he did. I don't want her to be a bigot, but I also don't want her to embrace an anything goes, hedonistic lifestyle where she's straight, but if it feels good, does whatevah with anyone, particularly if she's had too much to drink at a party - which is what happened in the song, I Kissed A Girl, which normalizes that kind of lifestyle.

I mentioned the massage incident to a male relative and asked him if thought I handled the situation well. He's an evangelical Christian, but also a social worker. He was aghast. I wasn't terribly surprised.

"No! It wasn't enough! You should report this to the mother of the girl who had the sleepover! And we've got to have a long talk with Casie that this is evil and not God's way. It's a sin, and she has to know this."

"That's a bit heavy-handed, dontcha think? I mean, let's be honest. Kids do experiment, and what if she does turn out as a lesbian one day? She doesn't need all that baggage. It might also make her homophobic and a bigot."

He thought some kind of Biblical perspective and reinforcement was needed. I lied and said I'd think about it. Actually, I thought about homosexuality decades ago and concluded that God wouldn't have been so cruel as to make 5 or 10% of the population gay if he didn't intend them to be like that. I'm not ignorant to the biblical passages forbidding it, but how does anyone really know that the person who wrote them wasn't just sticking in his homophobic opinion?

In the end, I recall the words of man whom I once worked for. He said, "The water seeks it's own level." In other words, she will be what she will be, and aggressively or unconsciously, seek out people like herself.

I can only hope that my guidance influences her to postpone sexual activity until she's mature enough to at least know what her orientation is and not become confused by the anything goes barrage of messages... or become a bigot... or recklessly promiscuous in this hedonistic, materialistic world. I told her this.

"You are beautiful," I also tell her, "inside and out. Hang on to that."

She smiles, and it's the one thing I'm 99.9% sure she will always be.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Hillary, Thanks For The Warning
Of A Hit On Obama

Dear Hillary,

Thanks for warning the American people. I wrote in my blog on May 6th that a person is only as sick as their secrets, and my guess then was that you were remaining in the race against mathematical odds with the expectation that an assassination attempt was being hatched somewhere by the men who run the globe. The last thing these guys want is change
à la Obama; it would cut into their plans and profits.

You casually voiced the possibility of a June assassination and stirred up the fears that every single black person I know has whispered about for months. We've lost quite a few of our best civil rights leaders, black and white, to the murder of their bodies or destruction of their careers via set ups or media lynchings. While many white folks are alarmed that you used the word 'assassination', I'm glad you put it on the table as an option that haters consider reasonable.

Do I think you want Barack shot dead or blown up? I hope not. Instead, I like to think you were stressed out of your mind when you blurted it out for the third friggin' time, and fortunately people paid attention when your words were caught on video.

As a therapist, it crossed my mind that you looked like a trauma victim who was mentally dissociating when you dropped this bombshell of a hint. I took a snapshot of you (below) as you uttered the out-of-place words, "We remember Bobby being assassinated..." This was a very strange thing to say since it was not part of the conversation or topic. You just blurted it out of the blue.

I've studied this video. One of the things police and good mental health professionals look for are signs of lying. Early on you state repeatedly that "I don't know why people people are trying to push me out..." The interviewer is sitting across from you to your right. When people are using the imaginative part of their brain - which is also the side that lies, they look to their left. You do a lot of this. You know exactly why so many people want you out of the race. Mathematically you can't win, so why the hell are you still in it?

Although you've run a dirty campaign, I've chalked most of what you've said and done as "just politics". It has been fairly easy to forgive you for much of this because of your good deeds in the past. I even wondered if you made this 'gaffe', as the apologetic media is calling it, to alert the public that
(unconsciously) you were trying to protect him. If so, I sincerely thank you for that.

On the other hand, Hillary, I also thank the honorable and sincere Keith Olberman too, because I may be completely wrong, and he may be correct in his Special Comment and assessment (see this YouTube video if you haven't) that you "might really be sticking around in part just in case the other guy gets shot."

This is a mind-boggling and horrific possibility that I haven't completely ruled out, because even though I am a therapist and have seen your good works, one never truly knows what evil lurks in the heart and mind of another.

Until more becomes revealed through your words and actions, I give you the benefit of the doubt by contemplating that you could have been trying warn the American people of a bullet with Barack's name on it.

One only needs to view your video interview,

and the other two (linked below to YouTube) to get an idea of the homicidal tendencies of those in responsible positions who feel very, very threatened about a brilliant, liberal black man becoming President.

They outrageously joke about Obama being murdered, from Mike Huckabee who joked about someone aiming a gun at Obama to Liz Trotta, a Fox News commentator who was asked on Sunday 5/25/2008 what she thought of the Hillary 'gaffe'.

Trotta even mixed up the names Osama [bin Laden] with Obama, then laughed at her own gaffe and said "We'd knock off both, if we could." No outrage was expressed by the other Fox News redneck talking to her, and he didn't miss a beat in chuckling with her and continuing the interview.

Murderous thoughts are rampant among the GOP and power movers on the globe, and Hillary, I know for sure what my heart knew early this month in my May 6th post: you've heard the rumors, and I think you have an inside scoop that someone, somewhere is going to try to take out Obama and it won't be one of your West Virginia or Kentucky "white, hard working, white, blue collar" men that you cozied up with there and fanned the flames of racial division. Unless of course, one of your billionaire racist endorsers and supporters sets him up.

Lastly Hillary, I think you're outta your friggin' mind for saying all of your problems stemming from your assassination comment is Obama's fault. What a lie.

In summary, while it's crystal clear that you want to be the Democratic nominee, without him dying to make this a reality, your Southern-style campaign laced with a subliminal suggestion to the loonies to off him has left me cold.

And to Barack: Bro, please have a food taster available if Hillary invites you to lunch.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Winning Thru Fighting Over Obama-wear With My Apolitical Kids

I grew up without a sister, and thus, skipped the whole sharing-your-clothes experience. At least until I ordered an Obama tee-shirt, Obama jacket, and thank gawd, two Obama hats from his site.

Suddenly, I'm thrown back into the adolescent stage I missed, and I'm fighting every day over my stuff. My 19 year old son Xavier grabbed one of the hats, checked out his fine self in the mirror, ran out the door, and I haven't seen since Friday night when he and his homeboy Go-Go rolled out of our parking lot.

He called me today.

"Where my flowers, nigga?", I growled.

"Too expensive this year, Ma, but I want to wish you Happy Mother's Day."

"Thanks, and ain't that the truth," I agreed. "Twenty bucks for a handful of flowers is criminal. You lost my hat yet?"

"Don't worry, Ma, I got it! I won't lose it!", he swore over the phone.

"I don't know," I replied. "Bettah not let it outta your sight. Go-Go was checkin' it out pretty hard. I think he wants it."

"He ain't like that," Xavier said dismissively.

Yeah, right, I thought. If he leaves it in his buddy's car, it's as good as gone.
I saw that look in friend's eyes, and it's the same look in my daughter Casie's eyes over a week ago when the mailman delivered my package of Obama goodies.

"Where's my stuff?", my 12 year old demanded that day. She's as tall as me and swears she's bigger.

I rolled my eyes. "You said you weren't into politics when I asked you what you wanted."

"Pffft," she said, and happily tried on my Obama shirt, jacket, hat, and oh yeah, the button, before asking me sweetly, "How do I look?"

"Like you're about to get jumped," I growled.

It was awhile before I caught her. Damn but these apolitical kids are fast. Before I could retrieve my stash, her lil' friend knocked at the door.

"Oooooh," Gi-Gi said when she saw my kid all decked out in my Obama wear, "why are you wearing that?"

"Looks good, huh?", my daughter replied.

"Yeah," her half-pint Indonesian friend said. "Can I try it on?"

Oh, hell, I thought.

I'm chuckling now. It's been a week of sharing, and Casie just pulled off my Obama tee shirt.

She said, "Happy Mother's Day."

And hugged me, probably so I wouldn't notice the wrinkles in my shirt.

What a nice gift: my children aren't apolitical after all. I got hope. Think I'll order that tee next week. Thank you, Barack.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Hillary Fakes That Hillbilly Heaven Is Acceptable Whiteness

If you've never heard of the concept of acceptable blackness, Shark-Fu explains it in her April 30th post:

"Acceptable blackness is defined as the absence of overt culture and of difference. It is a level of conformity that requires absolute perfection. One break…one mistake…and the illusion is shattered, once broken never to be repaired again. And the perfection isn’t limited to not indulging in public displays of blackness. Oh no, acceptably black requires perfection in your appearance, manners, speech, family, friends and associates. I’m not talking about not having unacceptable black friends. I’m talking about not having unacceptable friends…or family…or associates…or pets...or hair...or neighborhood...or car...or musical tastes.

"Achieve that perfection and your black ass is acceptable…to a bunch of trigger happy assholes that soothe their privileged guilt by letting you tag along, all the while prepared to lay down harsh and rigid judgment should your perfect mask crack."

And damned if we didn't we see this play out in the racist media that gave an unprecedented 40 minutes of uninterrupted airtime to Rev. Wright's keynote address to the NAACP. Their sole motivation was their hope he'd repeat the words, "God damn America" or something equally offensive so they'd have more ammunition to shoot Obama down with guilt-by-association.

The hypocrisy was stunning as the media pretended to be sooo shocked and offended by Wright's 2001 words suggesting the US Govt was capable of infecting blacks with HIV.

Not once did I hear commentators say, "Well, from 1932 to 1972, our government ran the Tuskegee Study. They lied to 399 black sharecroppers that they were being treated for syphilis so they could study the effects of it and transmission in the black communities - long after a cure for this was available. This doesn't even count the wives, children, and girlfriends infected and others in the black community, and it was 1997 before the US government gave a formal apology, via President Bill Clinton."

Rev. Wright and whole lot of older blacks remember that atrocity and have damn good reason to be paranoid.

Obama was too scared to mention it. He couldn't afford to agree with anything his old pastor and former friend said, because then he wouldn't be 'acceptably black'.

That was a sad day. A lot of truths about the effects of racism in black America died when Obama rejected everything Wright ever said as though the shit never happened.

Most black folks are forgiving and understanding, though. We know how much white folks - both the innocent and the guilty - hate to be reminded of past and present racism. We figure he has to play Judas to Wright or he could kiss his chance at the White House goodbye.

Then other day, Hillary insulted her own race by lowering the bar for what I call acceptable whiteness.

She pandered to the kind of white folks who appear on the Jerry Springer show and are often the butt of jokes or despised by their own race. These are the ones who dirt poor, unschooled and narrow-minded, and reminiscent of the old movie, Deer Hunter.

Hillary elevated this group by stating coded racist phrases that endorsed their view of the world and bigotry. In WV and Kentucky, she fed into their ignorance and promoted their culture of hillbillism to being acceptably white. She not only exploited them to gain their votes, but set back the clock of progress for her own race.

Fox News and other conservative media assisted her by dismissively labeling progressive whites who vote for Obama as 'latte liberals'.

I'm not saying that poor and uneducated whites aren't acceptable, but no matter what race a person belongs to, an education is a good thing - it aids in critical thinking skills needed to look beyond race and religion so we can all be good citizens, treat each other with respect, and vote for people who have the best skills to get our nation out of the mess we're in.

Thus Hillary, in my view, is a traitor to her own people by feeding into the very belief system that keeps them backwards.

In an excellent, must-read op-ed commentary on Clinton's interview with USA Today, the Houston Chronicle also quoted her:

"I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," she said in an interview with USA TODAY, and cited an Associated Press article "that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."

She mentioned working and white twice in one sentence. My ears heard the underlying messages:

They need not aspire beyond their barely-making-it lifestyles.

If they couldn't afford college or even finish high school, no problem! No education is needed! That's for those elitists like that uppity coon running for President!

And chug-a-lug lots of beer to avoid thinking about the crappy blue collar job you have, the mortgage or rent you can no longer afford, and the medical insurance you long for - and feel good about this sh*t because at least you ain't black.

If I were white, I'd be very offended. Thank God a predominantly white college student crowd in West Virginia was. They boo'ed her bullshit, and at another WV outdoor location, several residents said they were for Obama and it was "time for a change."

God bless them, and I hope enough of them show her they aren't suckered by her desperate, oh-so-pathetic strategy of playing on racial fears and slyly promoting stereotypes to get their votes.

I remember fondly that her hubby Bill, despite his wandering eye for the ladies, at least before he got caught, was a good guy who played sax at his inauguration, had lots of black guests and entertainers, and freaked out the good ole boys with his easy acceptance of all God's children.

Toni Morrison can talk trash now all she wants to Fox News about what she meant in 1998 about him being America's first black President, but black folks knew the real deal as soon she said it back in '98. He was kinship to us by his soul, and later, even rented an office in Harlem after he left office. What a guy!

I like to think he hasn't changed, and cringes at his ambitious wife's racially divisive words. I wonder if he's lost a degree of respect for her. If she loses the nomination or a shot at the Vice Presidency, etc., I wonder if she'll lose her marriage too.

Maybe one of those "white, uneducated, working, hard-working, white again" guys she was chug-a-luggin' beer with in a bar I'd be scared to step foot in will be interested in her.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

You're Only As Sick As Your Secrets - McCain, Clinton, & Obama

John McCain. I'm sorta sad for the man. He reminds me of someone in a group that drew straws on who would take the lead in escaping not out of - but into - a very strange P.O.W. camp. He lost by pulling the short one. His mission: convince the other prisoners that they're better off where they are, and with him leading them through four or eight years of more of the same and worse torture. He's not the same war-hero and man I saw make a 2000 bid for the Presidency in the quiet-before-the-storm, pre-9/11 days. The man often looks as tired as a soldier ordered back to Iraq for the 4th time and would rather be on beach, golf course, or any friggin' where except campaigning for this new job.

Hillary Clinton. Clearly a strong woman and fighting, but fighting like a prisoner of war, perhaps a mother who is telling whatever lies necessary to save a young daughter or son from rape, torture or death. She plays her captors with charm and pretends she's on their side. The loony right wing fringe at Fox News and elsewhere, who did everything they could to destroy her husband during his presidency and shred her to pieces in the past are now treated like friends from her days in the sandbox - or blackmailers who will do her azz in if she doesn't comply.

Barack Obama. Another P.O.W. of the men who run the world, including the ones who own many of the newspapers and networks. While McCain looks worn out, depressed, and like he's running for the Presidency because he's been ordered to, and while Clinton reminds me of a wife who's lying through her teeth to Social Services and the police that her husband is a good man who doesn't beat her or rape their daughter, as of last night Obama looks like he's aged five years in the past two weeks of media lynching, and one can almost see invisible rope burns on his neck.

The mental gymnastics he puts himself through by necessity is taking a toll on him. He's been backed into the P.O.W. corner of throwing out the baby with the bath water.

In this case, he's discrediting Wright (the baby) and denying that every single truth his former friend and pastor ever said about racism (the bath water) is a lie and total nonsense. In addition, he's had to suck up to too many modern day klansmen who wear ties rather than white robes - media rednecks who are working 24/7 to kill him politically. Surely he knows that if they fail, there are men who run this globe who won't blink twice at hiring an assassin to take him out literally.

Maybe Hillary senses this on an unconscious level, and it's one reason she's staying in race since mathematically she can't win. She'll win the Democratic nomination by default if she's still in the race and he's six feet under, pushing up daisies - and but surely she knows her vicious captors will turn on her and ensure she loses. Like Obama, who had to legitimize and endorse the fringe lunatic view of the world, she's already publicly done that in too many ways to count.

McCain would then win the honor of being our new powder puff President in this neo-POW camp we thought was America, but is secretly run and owned lock, stock and barrel by a tiny group of extremely politically powerful, rich and bigoted men who don't give a rat's ass about us, any of us.

In therapy circles, there's a saying, you're only as sick as your secrets. I see all three candidates having a sickness in their hearts from the secrets they've learned but dare not speak. I think they're all victims of blackmail and prisoners of a secret war on America and democracy.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

When Blackness & Therapy Collide

First, welcome to my blog, Keep It Trill.

Trill is a wonderful urban compound slang word that means true and real, and my articles will attempt to be this in the best way I know how. I'll address a huge range of issues, many which touch upon how racism affects us as individuals, parents, a group, and a nation.

This being said, I have two adopted kids. My son, Xavier, is 19, and I'll be talking about him today, along with a former black adolescent client in my caseload, some of my former colleagues and the danger of cultural incompetence and/or racism in a therapeutic setting.

I have always chosen my son's therapists with great care. Working in the mental health field enabled me to know, or at least have an idea, who to avoid. During Xavier's childhood, he attended a short-term adoption group run by two young white social workers. They used art therapy as it's main tool. It was great and they were wonderful. The art was non-threatening and helped him connect with his feelings. He met other kids in the same or similar situation. It also allowed me to peek into his world on a different level.

He was also seen by a colleague of mine -
a fine white male psychologist - for many years to address his ADHD, oppositional behavior, school struggles and adoption issues. This guy retired when my son was 16. It was just as well. Therapy stopped working well when he turned 14, and by 15, they weren't making any progress.

had become aggressive and extremely destructive at home. I'd give him a consequence for skipping school, or coming home too late, (sometimes drunk or high) and he'd give me a consequence of tearing up something in the house. He was quietly failing in school. He needed several hospitalizations for depression, mood swings, and horrible behavior. In addition to his ADHD, they labeled him Bipolar. At one three week in-patient hospital stay, a psychiatrist gave him six different medications which resulted in a painful and embarrassing episode of tardive dyskinesia a day after discharge and while on a school outing. I nearly died when I saw him in the ER, smacking his lips, his face frozen and his body jerking. They gave him a shot of something that relieved the symptoms.

I called his white hospital psychiatrist who had doubled the dosage of one of his six meds upon discharge as casual as an afterthought, maybe thinking this would keep my angry kid from returning. Dr. Wannabe Freud blew me off like my kid's medical crisis wasn't a big deal - and harshly told me not to ever call him on his cell phone before he hung up on me.

The arrogant bastard. I should have sued him and the hospital, but I was too overwhelmed. Sounds so lame now, but I think it's why hospitals and doctors don't get sued more often. As a caretaker of hostile and possibly mentally ill loved one, there's no energy left to fight a legal battle with hostile doctors, hospitals and lawyers. You just want your kid to get better, and all your emotional and psychological resources go into this.

I did research on the web. Against shitty medical advice, I took Xavier off all but three of the meds, then weaned him down to two. His mood stabilized - but he got fat, which is every teenager's nightmare. He said he didn't feel like himself, nor did he act like himself. He hated this and a year later, and at 16, refused to take meds. Instead he smoked more marijuana to chill out on bad days. I didn't like this mainly because of the legal repercussions and warned him until I was blue in the face, but I couldn't follow him around every time he walked out the door and he could care less about my taking away his PlayStation. In all honesty, the weed he smoked on the sly kept him calm. On the downside, his grades didn't improve and were the same - straight Ds and Es because he didn't give a damn about school.

As he aged, it became clearer that he wasn't bipolar. Xavier was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from early foster home neglect and the pain from getting to know his birth family and their problems, and worrying that he could never be better than them. To do this would, in his confused adolescent mind, would be akin to being disloyal to his past.

I never thought my son, at 14, would get into drugs since he knew his birth family's history, but he did. He also took up a new hobby of chilling with the Bloods.
This is a pic of him taken when he was 16 or 17.

Cute, huh? Yeah, for a rap album or art project. He was tired of being a victim, which he unconsciously, like many black children and teens, perceived himself to be. I think this comes from a combination of learning about slavery and oppression at too young an age, through Black History Month topics in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades. They see our people treated harshly in news stories, left to suffer during Hurricane Katrina, and listen to music that legitimately expresses anger and sorrow.

To avoid feeling like or being the victim, he flipped to the opposite side of the coin and became the aggressor, a la gangsta style. He loved looking and being tough, and is damn good at it, so good that he caused me untold misery during the middle part of his adolescent years.

A couple years ago, his appearance scared the hell out of a 50-something, very middle-class looking white woman therapist. He'd been court-ordered to return to therapy at a program where I had no control over who his therapist would be. I wasn't worried; a little over half of the therapists I've known, black, white or Hispanic, are competent, so I figured the odds were slightly better than 50% he'd be assigned a good one. Well, he wasn't.

I told him to dress nicer for the interview, but he's was a hard head. We argued in the parking lot for 20 minutes before I could even coax him in the building. Finally, we sat in the reception room and waited to meet his new therapist.

Man, the knee-jerk fear on her face as soon as she laid eyes on him is memorable. She didn't understand that he was fronting - the grill in his mouth, the braids in hair and his baggy urban wear was for show, and a clue into his determined search for an identity as a masculine black male. Like many black youths, he got his clues from gangsta videos.

On one level, he thought her reaction was hilarious (and in a way, I did too), but on another level, he was so offended by her fear that permeated the interview that he refused to return. I couldn't blame him.

As I black therapist who has worked in two mental health clinics staffed almost entirely by white therapists, I can honestly say that a couple of these women were very uncomfortable working with macho black male teens or men. The genuinely nice one who was friend could admit it this. She wasn't racist, she was just nervous due to her early childhood conditioning to fear men, and black males in particular. She struggled to overcome this for personal and professional reasons, and I admired her for this. The other woman was just plain contemptuous of blacks and closed out every black case she got as quickly as possible, going to the lengths of lying in her records that she couldn't get in touch with these families. When I'd get re-assigned these cases that came back in, I never had a problem.

There was also a white male therapist whose racism was revealed to me unexpectedly one day. At our agency, we occasionally provided urine testing for teens we did therapy with until the late 1990s. One day a teen in my caseload needed this; he'd been busted on a minor weed charge but recommended for therapy to deal with the trauma he experienced in his war-torn country of origin.

He was as tall and regal-looking as his ancestors, intelligent, and unlike my own son years later, dressed appropriately and had a pleasant demeanor when he had an appointment.

I walked around our office, which took up an entire floor, to find a male therapist who could watch my client pee in a cup. I approached the only guy in the office at the time. He was a generally very quiet white male therapist. He was doing absolutely nothing. I asked him to assist me. He looked up and down at my 6'4, jet black African adolescent client, smirked, and said, "Nuh-uh", then walked away without a care in the world - to do more of nothing.

This helping professional's body language and words were akin to a psychological drive-by. You could not only see the racism in his face, but hear it in his voice and feel it in your heart. The look on that kid's face was one of tremendous pain. He instantly knew what the real deal was. I turned to my client, who by then had covered his face with his hand. I apologized for this man's behavior by spitting out the words, "F him."

This 16 year old took a deep breath and nodded. As the say in AA and NA, Denial ain't a river in Egypt, and any therapist who denies blatant racism to their client is lying and tampering with their reality. For young blacks and males in particular, this generally leads them to having a deeper distrust of the system, or worse - becoming more dysfunctional as they turn to alcohol or drugs after one bad day after another, similar to the way adults might have a drink or two after a bad day at the office. At least they're getting paid and have good days at work. You don't get paid for putting up with racism and then dealing with the anger turned on itself in the black community.

But back to my own son. At 16, Xavier wanted a black male therapist. The guy had to be straight as well. He's not anti-gay, anti-woman or anti-white; he just wanted someone he could relate to. When he had been younger, he had seen my pain, coming home late from the office, and heard the tales of subtle, hard-to-prove racism that I was forced to endure and witnessed, all to keep my damn job and raise my family.

In hindsight, maybe when he showed up at that program, looking and acting like a hoodrat with attitude, he was testing the system to see if his new shrink could accept him - as he was expected to accept them.

After much searching, I found the needle in the haystack - a black male psychiatrist for my son who had an opening and accepted his insurance. The icing on the cake was that he is also a part-time minister.

Prior to meeting us, the doc took the time to listen to me on the phone (!) and describe his tough early years in foster care and how he'd lived a solid middle-class existence after coming to me - including a couple trips to Broadway plays and several to Disney World, but despite all this, had been raising hell since turning 13.

When the new psychiatrist met my son, he sized him up immediately, smiled at him warmly and said, "Yo, bro, I like your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle outfit."

My son laughed. He was at time in his life where he needed a black male role model who understood him. And thus, a decent therapeutic relationship was born.