• Thomas A. Parham, Adisa Ajamu, & Joseph L. White, Psychology of blacks: Centering our perspectives in the African consciousness, Chapters 2, 5, 6
  • Robert Guthrie, Even the rat was white: A historical view of Psychology – Chapters 1 & 4 

Class Discussion: 

  • NCAAM + 100 Black Men of America
  • National Institute of Responsible Fatherhood
  • Hartford Family Reunification Program (liberal vs. conservative)
  • Rituals and ceremonies are necessary for moving stages in life
  • Biological manhood vs. Social manhood
  • School mediation

So today’s class revolved a lot around the psychology of black lives and the black psyche. The readings by Parham, Ajamu, and White were incredibly interesting because I am a psychology major and I constantly found myself being surprised and stimulated. The Guthrie article was also really eye opening in the way that it spoke about Black lives and how they are directly affected by the white forces in their lives.

Dr. Palmer offered so much great advice and I left the class feeling so enlightened! He began by talking about libation ceremonies and the importance they have had both historically and in the present. We even had the opportunity to participate in a libation ceremony of our own! He then dove into phenotypic traits and how they characterize racism. I had always taken for granted how much privilege there is in not having to worry about Eurocentrist beauty standards because I basically look like I am white. But then again, women don’t have to worry about erections in classrooms and men don’t have to worry about bleeding through white pants. It is so difficult to just be in America and all of the white supremacy really invades the lives of those around them.

We then talked about how the people with the least money often have the most kids, while people that are rich generally have less children. Dr. Bedford Palmer then gave the class a motivational boost, saying that we were all the descendants of a victor at some point- in history, however long ago, someone great fought in order to procreate and continue the generational line. He proceeded to basically outline a map of black survival and asked the class to offer up ways in order to survive in America as a person of color. Below is what we came up with:

  • resilience
  • ambition
  • perseverance
  • survival
  • grit
  • motivation
  • adaptation
  • tenacity
  • community

Of course, there were more, but these were some of the primary terms. He carefully took his time in order to outline seven tips for black survival in the 21st century, all of which were very meaningful. These tips originally came from Dr. Joe White, but were offered to us from Dr. Palmer. The first is improvisation, and I think this is definitely a way in which human beings can find fulfillment in community. He recommended to roll with it and adapt, to allow yourself to make something out of nothing and grow and develop within your environments. The second was resilience, which implies that people should be able to be strong in all of the broken places in order to be truly happy. Number three talked about a connectedness to others and how it is important to reach out to family, peers, romantic partners, and mentors who understand (really) where you are coming from and where you want to go. Number four was spirituality, and that fulfillment that comes from being a part of something larger than oneself.

Five was emotional vitality, as in keep yourself sane and take accountability for the wellbeing of your emotional self. Six touched on gallows humor and being able to laugh with others about things that are sad, or upsetting, or frustrating. Last, always have a healthy suspicion of white people. I can’t lie and say that I wasn’t initially made uncomfortable by this advice. But then Dr. Palmer put it in a perspective that I really identified with and found relatable. He said, “Just like you can love and marry and befriend a man, you should always have a healthy suspicion of men in general.” It took me some time, but I found that this was amazing advice and I have tried daily to incorporate this into my daily activities. I think that using these tips, we can all find fulfillment in community.

Common Good #1 – Reflect and write substantively on ways in which human beings find fulfillment in community. 



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