The confluence of inherited instincts and social conditioning raises many questions. The scientific study termed Epigenetics – or the study of physiological and psychological traits passed down from your heritage – could perhaps shed light on what I term the Gazelle Effect.
Epigenetics became a hot topic in science when American ancestors of Jews, who didn’t know they where descendants of European Holocaust victims, discovered they were experiencing what was termed ‘holocaust symptoms’. This discovery sent shivers down the spines of the scientific community. This meant that trauma, fear and other psychosocial influences from the parents and grandparents could be passed through progeny. So, beyond learned or conditioned fear, it’s possible to express instinctual fear – like the gazelle. And, when society affirms this jittery fear through the media and in biased communities, the instinct becomes wired into the subconscious. If you’re a self-assigned member of the clan who believe instincts can only be conditioned through the conscious, try making a child fearful of a flower and love spitting cobras. Our evolutionary genius lies in the fundamental ability not being burdened with learning key survival instincts.
When snakes, flowers and gazelles are the backdrop, this conversation is easily digested, but when cops, who react to people as they would to a lion, then science is stressed for indisputable fact. As an American of the browner complexion who spent the first 30 years of my life between North Carolina, the undeniably racist south and New York, I have witnessed a phenomenon where white cops react instinctively differently when I wear a typical American clean-cut Brooks Brothers suit or Polo-styled attire versus the aggressive side of my wardrobe – the hoodie, high top sneakers, attire closer to a hip-hop style. The hip hop version of myself seems to trigger instincts in the cops that make their slave-driving ancestry tremble. Yes, the majority of black males, however we dress, are targeted differently, but the ones who seem to get shot are those whose image signals fear.
American whites have been exposed to dark black skin since the early 1600s. That means from the 17th century until now, about 20 generations of pale-skinned persons have engaged dark, black people. For 17 generations or 360 years of this period, the pale-skinned people not only dominated, but did so based on their ingrained, false-scientific belief that the darker humans where lower, less intelligent and violent – so violent, in fact, that the pale population developed social systems designed to rip apart the psyche of their subjects.
One such deconstructing policy was the Willie Lynch Effect. The fundamental role of the Lynch model of mental destruction was to create terror and darkness in the hearts and minds of those of the darker hue… in order to elevate the paler clan’s position as social and economic rulers. The magnitude of the Lynch Effect was designed to meet, in sheer horror, the level of fear in those of paler complexion. Whites believed black Africans were so physically superior that the only way to control them was to destroy the health of their minds by whipping, murdering and raping them; and committing further atrocities such as physically ripping body parts off in front of their families. In one tier of Willie’s terrorism project, the pale members would tie the African to two horses, one arm each to each horse, and when the horses went bucking in opposite directions, the family members of the African being dismembered would be there, in the front row, watching the terrorising display of Pale Power – bombing the humanity of the slave.
Willie, his children and grandchildren held the belief that this was necessary to sustain the economy. If the minds of the blacks were enslaved to Pale Power, then the labour force would be reliable and consistent, ensuring the viability of the cotton crops. Of course, Willie and his ilk were so successful that the American economy began to thrive. The Willie Lynch Effect and other models of psychological destruction sustained this imbalance in social roles between the two for some time. As generations passed, the substrate, or the key social systems, from schools to history books to films, art community and more, programmed this fear into generation after generation.
In 1712, when Lynch spoke to American slave owners on a Virginia Plantation, he said, “I guarantee every one of you that, if installed correctly, [this method] will control the slaves for at least 300 years. My method is simple. Any member of your family of your overseer can use it…I use fear, distrust and envy for control purposes.” He added: “Both horses and niggers [are] no good to the economy in the wild or natural state. Both must be broken and tied together for orderly production.” Willie, your 300-year experiment is over now – and sadly, the impact has indeed survived 302 years.
Now, 17 generations later, if Epigenetics has it right, it is possible that the white cops who kill Black Americans without justification are perhaps genetically influenced by their forefathers’ fear of an aggressive populace. Many, many conscious pale people override these instincts and have begun the process of rewiring – with the aim of eventually muting and dissolving these impulses. But unfortunately, far too many cops aren’t as enlightened. If Confucius was right about his social re-engineering philosophy (believing it takes seven generations to rewire deeply imbedded, negative instincts) we could see four more generations of brutality against blacks in America.
We must put extraordinary measures in place to manage racial balance – owning up to past influences on genes, fast-tracking economic development and integrating communities in order to offer hope for relations. As an African American, to Michael Brown, Eric Garner and all the other blacks gunned down by pale people, I apologise on behalf of the lighter people in my ancestry. And for all the enlightened pale cops who feel the fear of generations but react responsibly, I salute you. DM
There are no McDonald's in Ghana.