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Breaking The Chains Of Psychological Slavery History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

Breaking the Chains of Psychological Slavery is a book by Dr. Na’im Akbar. This book dwells on the reasons why African-Americans almost never get out of the “Mental Slavery” mindset. This begins with the unforgettable treatment of slaves and their demise which makes a permanent mark on all African-Americans. This scenario makes it clear why there is a Psychological Legacy of Slavery in all societies of African-American origin and even White Americans. Dr. Akbar also pointed out the ways on how to break out of this chain of mental slavery. He advised that the recognition of each other’s character – white or black and the acceptance of ignorance will help the society to learn new ways to deal with problems like these. Lastly, in his last essay, Dr. Akbar highlights the contributions that religion did to this chain of mental slavery; he gave the reasons about this and also called out scholarly persons and clergymen to express what they believed in.

The book Breaking the Chains of Psychological Slavery is written by Dr. Na’im Akbar. Dr. Akbar is famous as an author, professor and also a psychologist at the Florida State University. Dr. Akbar was born with the name Luther Weems Jr. but he altered this when he adhered to Islam as a religion. He was a graduate of the University of Michigan and has handled several teaching positions in the field of psychology at Norfolk State University and Morehouse College. Today, Dr. Na’im Akbar is well-known for this expertise in dealing with the psychology of African-Americans as well as Africans. He has played a significant role in recognizing the flaws of today’s society in terms of the mindset related to slavery and the thought of superiority and inferiority of color, origin and race.

Dr. Akbar begins with his first essay in the book entitled “Psychological Legacy of Slavery”. In this early part of the essay, Dr. Akbar gave a historical background of one of the reasons why the idea of slavery caused a long lasting trauma and shock to African-Americans. The animalistic treatment in slavery and the intense cruelty added up to the communal and mental distress suffered by the people affected. One of the important points that Dr. Akbar made was about property. Slaves are not qualified to own things because they themselves are “things”. They only get to have the necessary things that are needed to do their jobs and to live in a simple way. Slaves take orders from their Masters and this gap between them created more hatred and disgust that resulted to destruction of property and the usual torture and killing of disobedient slaves. These tragic moments were all covered by our historians. They have provided complete and detailed accounts of what really happened in slave trade and in the actuality of slavery. However, Dr. Akbar pointed out that these narratives and explanations only describe “what has happened” and for the most part failed to concentrate on the resolution of the real crisis which is the twisted outlook and thinking about our social lives which is undoubtedly rooted in the perspectives of slavery.

Slave trading were also discussed in the first part of the book. Dr. Akbar named one slave trader in the name of William Lynch who gave out his ideas on how to “control” the slaves by tiring them always and letting them work hard for long periods of time. This “hardship” will also help the Master to control the slave/s because they will remain distrustful to each other. Dr. Akbar related this to the current situation in America by explaining the fact that African-Americans work on their own goals and did not cooperate with each other. I strongly agree with Dr. Akbar on this “Psychological Legacy of Slavery”. The historians remained as observers to the tragedy that was happening. They failed to deliberately address the issue of certain problems in the society which is rooted in slavery. In my opinion, Dr. Akbar’s idea that African-Americans focus more on their individual goals rather than working together to accomplish one goal is really true and can be very well observed even today. The idea of slavery and the chance to have the best or better life continues to permeate through our minds. The pain of accepting that you belong to the “low class level” makes people work more and be self-oriented to achieve the goals of money and a good life. In this context, it is clear how the psychology of slavery still lingers on the minds of people most especially African-Americans.

The next part of Dr. Akbar’s book is entitled “Liberation from Mental Slavery”. Dr. Akbar advises different ways on how to break out of our “Psychological/Mental Slavery”. It was further explained that as humans we act according to our self-awareness and this means that Black and White people only do what they do because it was the only thing taught to them. Dr. Akbar pointed out that Black and White people became slaves under the disfigured belief about White people and consequently the lack of knowledge about blacks.

The Liberation from Mental Slavery was a great title to put in for the essay. Dr. Akbar’s focus of changing the mindset of African-Americans was very impressive. No one has attempted that hard, especially in the society today, to think and analyze like Dr. Akbar. He also talked about having a strong faith. He focused on the firm belief that you need to maintain your faith in order to have freedom from slavery – to really come true. I believe this idea and also I think that without a positive outlook in life – happiness and success will never be reached. I think being a slave to negative thinking and lack of faith will impede any advancement of any desire to liberate from mental slavery. In this second part, Dr. Akbar cautions that the Liberation from Mental Slavery will be difficult and the very acceptance of having a slave mentality will be one of the ultimate tasks to overcome. A quote from Dr. Na’im Akbar tells that: “the very nature of mental slavery creates an illusion that we are free.” This is the underlying shell that the Americans and the African-Americans need to break out from.

The last essay on the book of Dr. Na’im Akbar is entitled Racial Religious Imagery and Psychological Confusion. This part of the book is the main highlight of all the titles presented. It is in this writing that Dr. Akbar portrayed that the mindset of having a definite image and characteristic of a Creator is one of the most negative thoughts to have. What he means about this is that racial discrimination and slavery is present because of perceived superior and inferior characteristics of a person. If the Creator is characterized as a Caucasian image then this will become the main point of conflict. The idea of having a close resemblance to the Creator also encourages superiority from the one who is not even near the resemblance – inferiority.

I also agree to this point by Dr. Akbar. I was raised in a Christian family and the idea that I have of Jesus is that he is sort of Caucasian and definitely not black. This alone makes me think twice about why Jesus was portrayed as a Caucasian. It was later in the book that Dr. Akbar mentioned that these biblical figures were reinvented by artists in Europe and from then on the “image” that was inscribed in our minds about the Son of the Creator was of Caucasian ancestry. Dr. Akbar also pointed out the role of this Divine image in maintaining the chains of Mental Slavery bounded to each of us: “Perhaps the most disturbing fact is that this Caucasian image of Divinity has become an unconsciously controlling factor in the psychology of African-Americans.” This is indeed one of the most controversial quotes in the book. Dr. Akbar directly involved the way religion was structured to accommodate inferiority and failed to address certain morals in dealing with this these kinds of prejudices. Furthermore, Dr. Akbar reacts to this situation critically and states that despite the knowledge basis, African-American priests still thinks twice of facing up to fact that the Creator can be of any color and race.

Towards the end of the book, certain issues were left open by Dr. Akbar for the reader and the African-American people to dwell on. Conflicts on religion, beliefs and faith were unconsciously left open. In my opinion, the last part was a hard pill to swallow for all of us – black or white. We are all guilty of failing to uphold what is right. Our reluctance to admit that “something is wrong” is the reason why our society is like this today. Our own family values and morals are the ones that we go against every time we remain chained to this mental slavery; and only in the proper recognition of our mistakes shall we be able to face the dawn of a new era. Dr. Akbar succeeded to break into the hearts and minds of his target readers. Hopefully, we will all indeed break away from our own chains of doubt and guilt.

Work Cited

Akbar, Na’im. Breaking the Chains of Psychological Slavery. Tallahasee, FL. Mind Productions and Associates, Inc. 1996.

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