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The Black Crutch

Posted: Tuesday, May 8, 2018 | Wilbert Addison, Jr. | Pop Culture

Stockholm syndrome: A condition that causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their captors
as a survival strategy during captivity.

The term takes its name from a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden, in August 1973. The robber took four bank employees (three women and one man) into the vault with him and held them hostage for 131 hours. When the workers were finally released, they appeared to have formed a paradoxical emotional bond with their captor. They told reporters that they saw the police -- not the bank robber – as their enemy and that they had positive feelings toward the criminal.

Three central characteristics most experts agree upon concerning Stockholm syndrome are:

  1. The hostages have negative feelings about the police or other authorities.
  2. The hostages have positive feelings toward their captor or captors.
  3. The captors develop positive feelings toward the hostages.




So what is the black crutch, and what does Stockholm syndrome have to do with anything?

I would argue that the black community has submitted to a victimhood mentality that has become a beloved crutch rather than something to be despised. The captor in this case is the government, particularly liberal progressive policies and the Democratic Party. For years, through politicians, policies, and promises of a better existence for the poor, these entities have held the black community captive and disenfranchised -- all the while maintaining a stranglehold and power over the community. In turn, the black community has fallen in love with this captor, with an affinity almost unparalleled in America. At the mention of personal responsibility, the victim card raises its head. We have fallen in love with crutches and excuses for our lack of achievement.

Engineered mainly by the Democratic Party for political reasons, black America seems to have lost the strength it once possessed. Following slavery, during the Reconstruction period, black people were not looking for handouts; the sentiment seemed to have simply been, “Just give me a fair shot at the American Dream, and I will make something out of nothing." During that era, blacks began getting involved in politics and business, showing what they could do when given a chance. Oppression came again in the form of black codes, the KKK, and Jim Crow, but the Civil Rights Movement and our forefathers fought for the freedoms offered to us today.

Fast forward to today. The talk of oppression still exists. It seems that regardless of the time period, that is always a topic of discussion. But my question is are we still really oppressed? I would argue that black America is not in the same situation as it was during slavery or during the Civil Rights fight. I have many more opportunities now than my grandfather or great-grandfather had in their day. So why and how are we oppressed ... if this is true?

Some crutches are the mindset that "others are responsible for my tough situation," or "because I'm black in America, I don't have the opportunities." It's that "America is racist toward black and brown folk, so it's hard for me to make it." "'The man' is keeping me down;" "Police brutality" and "'the system' is against me."

But I wonder if it's harder today than it was after slavery or during the Civil Rights fight in the '60s. There was a time when there was strength in the black community, in spite of the difficulties.

My grandfather was a maintenance man in a department store. He lived in a housing project in New Orleans where he personally cut the grass and made sure that the court was clean. He had one garden in the projects and another at a friend's house not too far away. He didn't have much; he had more reasons to complain about not having, but instead, he made something of what he had. He was a man small in stature, and he didn't say much, but he commanded respect. I always saw him as strong. Each morning he would walk me to elementary school, and on our way, most people we passed would say, "Hey, Mr. Addison." His response was always, "Alright. How you?"

My grandmother was a missionary in the Church of God in Christ. Every morning when I would go to their house in the Magnolia project, she'd be sitting in a chair in her room, praying. She was a godly woman; it was apparent through and through. My grandfather on my mom's side owned his own lawn business. He was a great man who liked to laugh and have fun. His wife was a homemaker.

These people were strong. They were not searching for safe spaces or trying to avoid being triggered by the words of some insensitive person. They were not trying to segregate themselves. The men were strong and stern men, and the women were women. This was the black community I knew. There were struggles, yes, and many of them. But I didn't hear anyone blaming other people. I saw them trying to do much with what little they had.

We have to get back to a position of strength in the black community. Weakness has never traditionally been our portion. Given the chance, we can do anything. God has given us creativity and influence. This is apparent in America; all trends seem to stem from us. That was not given to us to be squandered. We were not created to blame others for our lack of initiative. God has given us influence to be an instrument for His use and to draw the nation to Himself. Let's put down the crutches. Let's have no affinity for the true slave masters, and let's press firmly into the God of strength.

Recently I met a young Hispanic man at the place where I work out. We started talking, and the conversation got around to what I do for a living. I explained my job and asked him about his. He said, "I'm a manager at a plant that supplies the government." He told me he started there ten years ago, at age 17, with no formal education and that he worked his way up from the position of mixing chemicals. We talked about how hard work got him to where he is now.

This is the kind of conversation -- where a minority becomes a manager in his workplace because of his work ethic -- that was once held in the black community. Others are coming into America and taking over the role that hardworking black men once claimed. These immigrants are making the most of every situation. They are not complaining, but they are steadily working to secure for themselves and their families the American Dream.

Another time I saw this guy at the gym, he had his dad with him. He just wanted his dad to come and enjoy himself. As I watched their interaction, I thought, "This is another missing piece in the community." I would wager that a lot of this young man's success has to do with his relationship with his father. We have to recover what's been loss in the black community and take responsibility of our homes and our families. 

Government control has gutted the black man and the black family of its drive, courage, and independence. We have allowed our community to be held captive by a new form of slavery. We need to take note of our forefathers and recapture what has been lost --- a reliance on God and on our God-given ability to make innovative and creative ways to enhance our communities and this country in general. We have to break the bonds of our captor and fall out of love with dependence on a system that seeks to wield its power over us. We have to move away from group think and lean on the everlasting arms of God and embrace the mind of Christ, as it concerns everything. The crutches of our past should be discarded, and in place of the Stockholm syndrome that has plagued us and rendered us ineffective, let's embrace true freedom through the ways our forerunners before us found freedom -- in Christ.

The Saints used to sing,

"Leaning, leaning
Safe and secure from all alarm.
Leaning, leaning
Leaning on the everlasting arm."

This arm was the mighty arm of God, the rock that's higher than I. Until we once again lean on His arm, and not the arm of government, we will continue to be overpowered and enslaved by taskmasters that will continue to destroy us under the guise of desiring to help us.

I believe Ronald Reagan proved to be right when he said, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'"