Representative Joe Wilson, the South Carolina Republican who shouted “You lie!” at President Barack Obama while he addressed Congress on health care, is a prime example of a sufferer of Post-Traumatic White Supremacist Syndrome (PTWSS). This is a condition born of the rationalizations needed for professedly freedom-loving people to use others as slaves. The congressman’s inability to feel a need to control himself, reflects a mind-set that has been passed down through generations and is ingrained in American culture and systems.
That Wilson is not alone in his affliction is evident as Mike Madden writes on salon.com, “Overnight, he went from a little-known junior House member (and former aide to Strom Thurmond) to a celebrity, a frequent guest of Sean Hannity’s who has raised, Republicans say, nearly $2 million in the last week.”
We’re not qualified to say where Congressman Wilson would fall on a scale of PTWSS sufferers, but I’d imagine it would be below the more severely afflicted Arizona pastor Steven Anderson of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Phoenix. The Cleveland Leader reports that the pastor “had previously received national attention when he dedicated an entire sermon to ‘Why I hate Barack Obama.’ One of his parishioners,” of a congregation of 30 according to Fox News, “also caught media attention when he brought an AR-15 to a protest outside of a speech delivered by President Obama.” (That parishioner was an African-American, which makes him a 10 on the Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome (PTSS) scale. We had thought Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas owned that position but it’s hard to argue with a man carrying an assault rifle.)
We had said before that African-Americans looking for special consideration from a President Obama, if for nothing else than their all-out political support, would be disappointed and that has proven to be the case. He and his advisors know that faced with the PTWSS that permeates the culture, any help to African-Americans has to be couched in helping-all-ships-rise, rhetoric. Even that is highly suspect and anything more will trigger right-wing radio talk show hosts like Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh to rush in and fan any racial flames they can for their share of the market.
Certainly no one can argue that our ship isn’t in need of repair, especially after the just-released report from the Fiscal Policy Institute on what they call the “Great Recession in New York,” where they find the real unemployment rate, where the ranks of those no longer looking are added in, hitting 14.1 percent statewide and the real unemployment rate for black men reaching “a startling 27 percent.”
As programs are designed to put this force to work, is it just a potential workforce that can be used to build more of someone else’s empire, or is it a potential workforce to build a people? The difference is between working on a basketball arena and working on an African-American owned major hotel and convention center. The difference is between spending stimulus paychecks on a passing material want versus saving to own property. It’s the difference between spending money with others, versus someone who looks like you.
If the book Blueprint for Black Power by Professor Amos N. Wilson, was the basis for school curricula from K-12, what we have today would change in a generation. In order to do that, real power will have to be taken. You know you have real power, when having listened to the ardent supporters of the opposition, you can thank them for their concerns but tell them you’re doing it anyway. Kind of like the way they do us.
One thing is for certain, we’d better get this act together quickly. Joe Wilson is not an aberration, he is the tip of the iceberg, he is a wake-up call. The country reflects the mood of the people, and the people are short on money and tense all over. These are dangerous times but in going forward there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Community builders such as decades-long worker Erma Winslow, Founder of the Bedford Stuyvesant Community Block Association, have been working in the small groups and meetings, the kind that Barack Obama probably led in Chicago, that have changed the destiny of nations and that we can use to change the fate of a people.