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Institutional Racism


For generations eugenics—the fraudulent, dehumanizing and harmful psychological theory that certain races of color were not equal to whites and, therefore, “deserved” fewer rights—has been used in the mental health system and in other social policies to justify horrific oppression of African Americans and minorities. The normal, painful reactions to this oppression, tyranny, injustice, and inflicted hardship and emotional stress through racism has been and continues to be disingenuously diagnosed as a “mental illness.” As such, today’s offer of “mental health” services to treat the impact of racism is suspect—another example of pervasive racial targeting and discrimination, over-representing African Americans as “mentally disordered” to potentially drug and electroshock them. In actuality, this is harm in the name of help from the very ideology that helped create modern medical racism in the first place. During slavery, runaway slaves were labeled mentally ill, the “treatment” of which was whipping, justified in medical terms as helping revitalize the blood to the brain.  

And while horrific deaths from violent restraint procedures may have only recently been recognized, any failure now to address the underlying psychological or psychiatric eugenics mind-set that has permeated society and allowed modern racism to continue will leave in place the practice responsible for it—only steal more African American lives.

As the author of a 2019 book on medical racism pointed out: “When the concept of race is used in medicine and pharmacology, it continues to assert that minorities are 'other' human beings." 

Historically, institutional or scientific racism has been rife in the mental health system and still impacts it today—stemming back to the late 1700s and the 1883 invention of a destructive and lethal psychological theory, eugenics, a term invented by British psychologist, Francis Galton. He promised to “raise” the “miserably low standard of the human race” by “breeding the best with the best.” And that meant the exclusion of African Americans, people of color and the poor. He argued that the improvement of mankind by eugenics “must be introduced into the national conscience, like a new religion.”

According to a 2006 analysis of Scientific Racism published in the McGill Journal of Medicine, “While science has the reputation of objectively testing theories using the scientific method, scientific racism is the exact opposite. It seeks to create definitions of race and culture based on opinion and extremely questionable evidence: ‘Supposed scientific evidence was marshalled, to establish both the existence of different racial types, and their depiction within a hierarchy of superior and inferior, where the Black was regarded as inferior.’”

In support of a Mental Health Human Rights Declaration that spells out necessary healthcare rights and rejects psychiatric and psychological treatments offered to treat the impact of racism, the following facts and concerns are made available:

  • In 1792, Benjamin Rush, the “father of American psychiatry” and still the icon of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) today, declared that Blacks suffered from a “disease” called Negritude, which he theorized derived from leprosy. The “cure” was when their skin turned “white.” Like lepers, he said, they needed to be segregated for their own good and to prevent their “infecting” others.
  • While Rush is promoted by colleagues as anti-slavery and was a signatory of the Declaration of Independence, he was a slave owner and provided a “medical model”—still evident today—to justify “modern” racism, rationalizing, for example, that Blacks were able to endure surgical operations and pain with ease compared to whites, labeling this “pathological insensibility.”
  • It was asserted that Blacks were more durable to pain because they had evolved physiologically under the conditions of slavery.
  • Runaway slaves were diagnosed with Drapetomania (drapetes, runaway slave, and mania, meaning crazy) and Dyasethesia Aethiopis (laziness and impaired sensation).  According to Dr. Samuel A Cartwright, Drapetomania caused Blacks to have the “uncontrollable urge” to escape from their “masters.” The “treatment” was “whipping the devil out of them” and was justified in “medical” terms that whipping made idle Blacks “take active exercise” that vitalized blood to their brain “to give liberty to the mind.”
  • This influence in psychiatry and medicine is still evident. Today, half of white medical trainees believe such myths as black people have thicker skin or less sensitive nerve endings than white people. A current term used for it, as discussed in a 2019 article, is “Black hardiness.” Doctors have under treated pain in their Black patients, and often dismiss the pain of sickle cell disease (inherited blood disorder that can block blood flow, cause pain and infections) patients as exaggerated or even faked. A 2019 thesis, “Eugenics in Education Policy and the Impact on African American Students,” reported,“Eugenic ideas continued to prevail as they heavily influenced medical, social, and academic systems in the U.S.”
  • In December 1857, psychologist Francis Galton wrote to The Times in the UK about slavery, stating: “I do not join the belief that the African is our equal in brain or in heart; I do not think the average negro cares for his liberty as much as the Englishman, or even as a serf-born Russian; and I believe that if we can, in any fair way, possess ourselves of his service, we have an equal right to utilize them to our advantage as the State has to drill and coerce a recruit who in a moment of intoxication has accepted the Queen’s shilling… and if we can insure that our mastership shall elevate them, and not degrade them, by all means work them well….” Despite these beliefs, Galton opposed the reintroduction of buying slaves but was still self-serving, claiming: “We may succeed in deporting vast numbers of Africans to the colonies where they will do us good service, and in which we shall not have to reproach ourselves with neglecting our duty towards them.
  • A hidden eugenics agenda is evident in institutional racism in the psychiatric industry today, where African Americans are over-represented in admissions to psychiatric or behavioral facilities. Research shows that of those people admitted to state psychiatric hospitals, African Americans are almost five times more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia as compared with Euro-Americans.
  • Eugenics also spawned the false idea that certain races are inherently more intelligent than others stems from eugenics. In the 1920s, American eugenicists claimed that the IQ of Blacks was determined by the amount of “white blood” in them. Mixed marriages were said to lower the IQ of whites.
  • In the 50s, U.S. psychiatrist J.C. Carothers argued that the absence of depression among African Americans was caused by the lack of material wealth and a lack of social responsibility. He published a study with the World Health Organization on “The African mind in health and disease.” One chapter suggested “that in many ways the African resembles a European 8 or 9 year old child in his reaction to the environment.” Further, “The psychoses and psychoneuroses of Africans are then described with special mention being made of the ‘frenzied anxiety.’” The author also compares the African to a “leucotomized European.”
  • Such eugenics racism continued to be trumpeted in the 1994 book, The Bell Curve, which claimed that African Americans and Hispanics do worse than whites in intelligence tests, are “genetically disabled” and, therefore, cannot cope with the demands of modern society.  One of the authors, Richard Herrnstein, a psychologist, advocated selective breeding to prevent human“residue” from coming into existence.
  • According to Psychology of Blacks: Centering Our Perspectives in the African Consciousness, “a comprehensive examination of literature related to the history and systems of psychology” reveals that in every decade encompassing 1900-1970, “there was a prominent American psychologist  (many of whom were presidents of the AmericanPsychological Association who was a proponent of the genetic inferiority [of Blacks] hypothesis.”
  • Today, this is purported through “race science” or “scientific racism.”  In particular, many of those believing this, including some psychologists, argue that black people fare worse than whites because they tend to be less naturally intelligent.
  • In an October 2019 review of Kirk Johnson, Ph.D.’s book, Medical Stigmata: Race, Medicine, and the Pursuit of Theological Liberation, Johnson is quoted: “When the concept of race is used in medicine and pharmacology, it continues to assert that minorities are 'other' human beings."  This has been used to “justify immigration restrictions, anti-miscegenation [mixed-race marriage] laws, involuntary sterilization, and other selective breeding practices.”
  • While an April 2020, a Nature article correctly says: “How does a culture that enslaved people, encouraged lynching and developed racial segregation decide who is and is not sane?” Further, “Racist ‘science’ must be seen for what it is: a way of rationalizing long-standing prejudices… Racists don’t care if their data are weak and theories shoddy. They need only the thinnest veneer of scientific respectability to convince the unwitting.”

Denying Education: Inflicting Segregation

  • The 2019 study, “Eugenics in Education Policy and the Impact on African American Students,” also stated,“The country’s education system still carries the legacy of eugenicists who helped to build it.”  
  • African American students receive disproportionate discipline in schools. Representing about 15% of the total enrollment, African American students accounted for 27% of restraints and 23% of seclusion in schools.
  • In 2016, 12% of Black children (vs. 8.5% of white and 9.4% for Hispanic children) received services at school for disabilities ranging from emotional disturbances to physical disabilities to intellectual impairment. Across 11 southern states, black students were 44% more likely than white students to receive special education services.
  • Ruth Jones in her thesis, “Eugenics in Education Policy and the Impact on African American Students,” concluded: “Educators should be critical of all policies that have undertones of eugenic beliefs. The very foundation of the eugenics movement relied on the dehumanization of people who were deemed ‘unfit’ for the sake of advancing ‘the fit.’ It is imperative that modern education make space for all students to realize their own unique strengths.”

Stereotyping Blacks as Violent

  • During the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, psychiatrists invented the term “protest psychosis” to describe Blacks participating in the movement. It was used to stereotype them as aggressive, with claims that joining in Black protests was a symptom of “schizophrenia.” Psychiatrists said that Blacks developed delusions and “dangerous aggressive dealings” when they joined civil rights sit-ins.
  • Advertisements for powerful antipsychotic drugs in psychiatric journals at the time showed angry Black men or African tribal symbols to influence the prescriptions of these physically damaging drugs, to African Americans.
  • Psychiatrist Eugene Brody, later President of the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), a group funded by pharmaceutical companies, stated: “Many, if not all American Negroes appear to suffer from a series of problems in identification, stemming from culture conflict, caste restrictions, and minority status… growing up as a Negro in America may produce distortions or impairments in the capacity to participate in the surrounding culture and will facilitate [cause] the development of schizophrenic types of behavior.”
  • In 1970s, Psychiatrist Frederick Goodwin, the Director of U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), compared Black youth living in inner cities to “hyper aggressive” and “hyper sexual” monkeys in a jungle.  NIMH developed a “Violence Initiative” program targeting African Americans and Hispanics, looking for a “violent gene” that could be controlled by psychiatric drugs. This included the antidepressant Prozac—known to cause violent behavior—given to children, some as young as five.
  • Following the civil rights movement, stereotyping or profiling Blacks as criminals became so pervasive that “criminal predator” was equated with a “young Black male,” according to the Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice. Ushered in were stereotypes of the violent African American: “To be African American was to lack intelligence and have a propensity for violence,” according to a 2019 article on eugenics in education policy.
  • A New York Law School Journal report in 2017 reported continued psychological profiling: “Behavior by African-Americans is more often interpreted as ‘dangerous’ than identical behavior by whites and African-Americans are more often diagnosed with a conduct disorder than whites.”
  • The thesis, “Eugenics in Education Policy and the Impact on African American Students,” also reported racist claims that Black students have a propensity for violence because they are not socialized appropriately and that African American parents are unable to discipline their children to behave appropriately in school. “These arguments perpetuate false stereotypes that African American students as a group are not only violent and prone to misbehavior, but also that they deserve to bear the brunt of punitive discipline practices in the name of school safety,” the author wrote.
  • Black youth were more than five times as likely to be detained or committed compared to white youth, according Department of Justice in 2015, 44% percent of these youth were African American, despite comprising only 16% of all youth in the U.S.
  • Black children are more than twice as likely as white children to be arrested, but the data shows this disparity is not because Black children are committing more crimes, Mother Jones reported. Rather, they are burdened by a “presumption of guilt and dangerousness”—a legacy of the history of racial injustice that marks youth of color for disparately frequent:
  1. stops, searches, and violence and leads to higher rates of childhood suspension, expulsion, and arrest at school;
  2. disproportionate contact with the juvenile justice system;
  3. harsher charging decisions and disadvantaged plea negotiations;
  4. a greater likelihood of being denied bail and diversion;
  5. an increased risk of wrongful convictions and unfair sentences; and
  6. higher rates of probation and parole revocation.
  • The road to incarceration can occur when a child is labeled a troublemaker or is diagnosed with a mental illness—for which there are no medical tests to confirm the diagnosis—and which can “put them into the pipeline for prison,” according to a Harvard News article.
  • In 2015, a book, A Troublesome Inheritance, still purported the fraudulent theory that racial genes made Africans violent. The book was described as “just one example of a new wave of racist science that has been spewing out of the computers of a disparate group of biologists, evolutionary psychologists and journalists over the last few years.”
  • In 2017, blacks represented 12% of the U.S. adult population but 33% of the sentenced prison population. There were 1,549 black prisoners for every 100,000 black adults—nearly six times the imprisonment rate for whites (272 per 100,000) and nearly double the rate for Hispanics (823 per 100,000).

Abusing African Americans for Psychiatric Experiments

In the 1940s-60s, African Americans were subjected to electroshock, psychosurgery, LSD and other experiments and “treatments.”

  • 1940s: U.S.psychiatrist Walter Freeman believed that African Americans, especially women, were among the best candidates for lobotomy because families were more likely to give their relatives who survived the lobotomy devoted post-operative care.
  • In 1951 Freeman lobotomized Black patients in an experiment at the Veterans Administration hospital in Tuskegee, Alabama. The VA banned its use there and in the words of Freeman’s fellow lobotomist, British mind-control psychiatrist, William Sargant, the “whole Negro-rescue plan had to be cancelled.” Of note,Freeman described the procedure as “a surgically induced childhood.”
  • In 1952, Freeman lobotomized African Americans at West Virginia state hospital, calling it a success when he returned “a week or so after operating upon 20 very dangerous” Blacks and “found 15 of them sitting under the trees with only one guard in sight,” he wrote.” Freeman's definition of success was that patients were no longer agitated.
  • Psychosurgery was also performed on African American children as young as five at the University of Mississippi to control “hyperactive” and “aggressive” behavior. Their brains were implanted with electrodes that were heated up to melt areas of the brain that regulate emotion and intellect.
  • In New Orleans, African American prisoners were used for psychosurgery experiments that implanted electrodes into their brains.  Dr. Robert Heath from Tulane University and Australian psychiatrist, Dr. Harry Bailey, boasted that they used Blacks as it was “cheaper to use N****** than cats because they were everywhere and cheap experimental animals.”
  • Heath also received funding from the CIA to carry out drug experiments on African American prisoners. According to a CIA memo, it was to determine whether the drug could cause “loss of speech, loss of sensitivity to pain, loss of memory, [and] loss of will power….”
  • At the NIMH Addiction Research Center in Kentucky, under Dr. HarrisIsabell, drug-addicted African Americans were given LSD, keeping some hallucinating for 77 consecutive days.
  • At this same center, healthy African American men were used in the 1960s as test subjects for the experimental drug, BZ, a military agent described as a “central nervous system depressant,” which was 100 times more powerful than LSD.
  • Given NIMH’s past, its offered “help” today should raise alarm bells. In June 2020, the Director of NIMH wrote, “Right now, people across the country are currently coping with yet another episode of violence perpetrated against a person of color. I am outraged, and I condemn racism in all of its forms,” but says nothing of NIMH’s racist experiments or even apologizing for them.  He commits to supporting even more research—profiting from those conducting it—to benefit African Americans. While suicide is a grave issue, beware of the traditional psychiatric methods proposed as a “solution” for this, as studies show psychiatric drugs can increase or induce suicidal thoughts and behavior. Of nearly 410 psychiatric drug warnings, 49 warn of the link to self-harm or suicide/suicidal ideation.

False Diagnoses Stereotype African Americans

  • Professors Herb Kutchins and Stuart Kirk, co-authors of the renowned book Making Us Crazy: The Psychiatric Bible and the Creation of Mental Disorders warns about the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM), stated: “Defenders of slavery, proponents of racial segregation… have consistently attempted to justify oppression by inventing new mental illnesses and by reporting higher rates of abnormality among African-Americans or other minorities.”
  • The authors warned: “Innovations in diagnostic and treatment techniques are often proposed by those who claim to be committed to helping African Americans and other minority groups, but these innovations often perpetuate and increase racist thinking and lead to solutions that intensify persecution.” They say “enduring racism” in the “identification of mental disorders” persists in theDSM.
  • “There are no objective tests in psychiatry—no X-ray, laboratory, or exam finding that says definitively that someone does or does not have a mental disorder.” “It’s bull—. I mean, you just can’t define it.” — AllenFrances, psychiatrist and former DSM-IV Task Force Chairman.
  • By labeling the legitimate pain today experienced from racism as Post-TraumaticStress Disorder (PTSD), potentially harmful drugs (antidepressants) can be prescribed that can cause nervousness, agitation, restlessness, hallucinations, suicidal behavior, birth defects and sexual problems.
  • Patrick D. Hahn, Affiliate Professor of Biology, Loyola University Maryland, warns, “The link between antidepressants and violence, including suicide and homicide, is well established.”
  • Research shows that within the population of people admitted to state psychiatric hospitals, African Americans are almost five times more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia as compared with Euro-Americans.
  • Today, there is still an over-representation of antipsychotic drug use among African Americans and harmful psychotropic drugs are prescribed to African American children as young as 18 months.
  • Antipsychotics cause long-term severe side effects such as tardive dyskinesia (tardive meaning “late” and dyskinesia meaning, “abnormal movement of muscles”), which is marked by abnormal muscular movements and gestures.
  • Tardive dyskinesia causes permanent damage to the nervous system.  Several studies show it to be significantly more prevalent among African Americans than among whites.
  • A second effect is akathisia [a, without; kathisia, sitting; an inability to keep still] or extreme restlessness, which can lead to violent behavior.
  • Sexual dysfunction is common in those taking antipsychotics.  
  • Atypical (new) antipsychotic drugs can induce diabetes, as well as obesity.
  • African American men in particular are most likely to receive excessive doses of these drugs.

Hospital Restraint Use & Deaths

  • African Americans are over-represented in restraint-related deaths of children and adults with disabilities, accounting for 22% of the deaths studied while representing only 13% of the U.S. population.
  • Using one state as an example, African Americans are disproportionately subjected to coercive and restrictive measures, including 72-hour involuntary commitment, seclusion, restraints and forcibly drugged.
  • International drug regulatory agency warnings and studies show psychotropic drugs can cause violent and suicidal behavior. Such behavior can lead to a patient being restrained. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regulations say that “a patient may experience a severe medication reaction that causes him or her to become violent. A patient may be withdrawing from alcohol and having delirium tremors(DTs).”
  • Misdiagnosis and untreated medical diseases can manifest as “psychiatric” symptoms. For example, in 2020, the University of Cincinnati Medical Center (UCMC) treated a 19-year-old girl who had memory lapses, was hallucinating that her parents were “poisoning” her and tried to jump out of a moving car. Two different hospitals had previously diagnosed her as mentally ill and prescribed antipsychotics. However, she suffered from an autoimmune disease that attacked the brain and would have died had she not been properly diagnosed and treated, thereafter recovering.

Over-representation in Foster Care & Drugging Kids

  • 33% foster care children are African-American, but comprise only 15% of the child population. Yet federal studies indicate that child abuse and neglect—reasons for children being removed from their homes—is actually lower for black families than it is for whites. In 2018, there were 99,025 Black or AfricanAmerican children and 90,688 Hispanic children in foster care. 
  • Once in foster care, African American children tend to be kept in the system longer than other children. The trauma from being ripped from their parents, placed with strangers with none of their normal surroundings and friends is redefined as “mental illness.”
  • The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimates that up to 39% of foster care children are prescribed psychotropic drugs. The Congressional Research Service also found the number of children in foster care on a psychiatric drug was more than four times the rate among children overall.
  • According to a law group report, foster children, some younger than five, generally are prescribed psychotropic drug at rates nine times higher than other children. These are mind–altering drugs that have serious side effects and long-term consequences that suppress and disrupt normal brain development and function.

Redefining Poverty as “Mental Illness”

Negative eugenics played on fears of “race degeneration.” At a time when the working-class poor were reproducing at a greater rate than ‘successful middle- and upper-class members of society,’ eugenics garnered considerable interest. Eugenical sterilization for the poor, African Americans and Latinos became common place. Used as a means of controlling “undesirable” populations—the poor and unmarried mothers, immigrants, people of color—federally-funded sterilization programs took place in 32 states throughout the 20th century.

  • 1960s -1970s:  Federally funded welfare programs implemented the coercive sterilization of thousands of poor black women. Under threat of termination of welfare benefits or denial of medical care, many black women “consented” to sterilization procedures.  Girls as young as 9 years old were sterilized.
  • Ensuring poverty, by denying equal rights, including employment is another form of eugenics.  In 2017, one in eight Americans were black, but they made up more than one-fourth of the nation’s poor population. Black Americans are more than twice as likely as whites or Asian Americans to live in poverty.  
  • In 2018, median household income for whites was 70% higher than for Blacks.
  • Poverty is used to justify labeling African Americans as mentally disordered living below the poverty level: They are twice as likely as whites to report psychological distress. This predisposes them to potentially damaging treatment essentially for being “poor.” This is “treating” the wrong problem—correcting poverty.

Today, psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health groups, many funded by pharmaceutical companies, claim that African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population, requiring their model of “treatment.”

Instead of fixing poverty, discrimination, stereotyping and racism, those impacted by oppression are labeled “mentally disordered” and often subjected to brain- and physically-damaging treatments. This must change.


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