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*Spoilers included in this post. See the movie before you read.*
Get Out was crazy, right? I mean, Black people gettin’ mind-controlled by White liberals who would’ve voted for Obama “for a third term”…
Chris and Dean (Daniel Kaluuya, left, Bradley Whitford, right)
As I watched, I couldn’t help but see a powerful message that could serve Black mental health.
The entire movie is about Black people being psychologically manipulated by White people.
First, through hypnosis, Black people are trained to think and behave only as Whites want them to.
Andrew King on right (played by Lakeith Stanfield)
Eventually the minds of Black folks like Andrew King (played by Lakeith Stanfield) are replaced by the souls of White folks *shout out to Dubois*. What remains is a White person inhabiting the body of a Black person.
In other words, Black people become “White” on the inside in terms of values, morals, beliefs and codes- but wield the dark body. Horrific, indeed.
In the end, it is a goofy, but WOKE Black man named Rod (played by LilRel Howery) that helps the main character, Chris (played by Daniel Kaluuya) escape from the clutches of Whiteness.
Get Out is a great film, not only because of the great acting, but because it offers social critique in the form of a horror flick. Jordan Peele, the writer and director, wanted to create a film that reflected real modern horrors… and he did.
As a matter of fact, think about how the movie critiques White Liberals. These are often well-meaning people who want to display their “love” for Black people by voting for Obama for a “third time”, or maybe they wear that cool “Black-lives Matter” pendant or they’ve seen the movie, “Moonlight”. Or maybe they can tell you all about the prison industrial complex’s reliance on Black bodies.
Dean (Bradley Whitford), Left, & Missy (Catherine Keener), Right
None of this means that they treat actual Black people fairly and with respect…
In the movie, White Liberals are the most dangerous…they domesticate Black people as servants and proper house guests by controlling Black minds.
You see, in Get Out, Whiteness is a disease. It kills Black people on the inside, leaving only their bodies. Whiteness uses Black bodies as tools to fulfill sexual fantasies & athletic dreams. After Chris meets the famous blind photographer, we learn that the artist wants to take-over Chris’ body to acquire Chris’ eye for creating visual beauty. Even Black artistic talent is under threat! The controlled Black body is the only body Whiteness can trust, the only Black thing that Whiteness will allow to co-exist.
In real life, racism does have a psychological component.
Researchers have identified racism not just as a set of practices, but also as a way of looking at the world.
Racism is a worldview. 1 It literally changes how a person sees themselves and others.
Dr. Kenneth Clark
You might be familiar with the story of how Dr. Kenneth Clark’s doll test showed how Black children internalize racism in the 1940s. These children often picked White dolls over Black dolls when told: “Give me the doll that is the nice doll”.2 Or “Give me the doll that is the smart doll”.
This study was repeated informally in 2004 with similar results. You can watch it HERE.
No, these kids did not learn to think they were inferior from their parents. They learned it from the incessant negative messages of Blackness found in media, educational institutions, and even religion.
As a psychological problem, researchers have known for a long time that the psychological effects of White Racism are associated with a variety of mental health issues, including Depression, Obsessive-compulsive disorder, Anxiety & even PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).3
Not to mention, when you feel anger and suppress it, there is a psycho-biological effect that increases your blood pressure.4
In Get Out, White people literally control Black people by tapping on glasses and with brain transplants.
But in real life, this control is much more covert.
The control happens in the work place when you find out your White colleague with less education and experience received a promotion over you; when White slave-owners still occupy the face of our nation’s currency; when the only Black historical heroes you know are fighting for equal rights but are never viewed as sovereign; when Black history is thought to begin with slavery;
when your White co-workers talk about how wrong “All lives Matter” is, but can’t seem to question their own privilege; when those same co-workers love to cheer for “Moonlight” & “13th”, but can’t seem to treat their Black peers with dignity; when it seems that the only contributors to modern society and technology are White guys; when Black neighborhoods are associated with poverty and White ones with wealth; when “I feared for my life” becomes a legitimate excuse for killing.
Any one of these can have a psychological effect on you. When these happen over and over and over again, though, we get mentally CONDITIONED to view Whiteness as Rightness.
Catherine Keener (left) plays “Missy”
If Get Out were real, many-a-Black-person would be in the “Sunken Place”. Remember when Missy Armitage, the mom, sends Chris to the bottomless chasm of his own mind? This is the place where Black people would go when they have been psychologically oppressed.
It is the place where you are the most vulnerable and weakened. It is a place many know well.
If all this sounds gloomy, there is good news: There is a mental health lesson inside of Get Out…
Here’s the mental health lesson: You must & can resist the psychological effects of White Racism.
Remember, it was Rodney who found his home-boy Chris and rescued him from the mind-stealing family…
In other words, it took a Black man to affirm, rescue and support another Black man in order to achieve freedom.
Here’s the minor lesson:
First, you need a support system who understands psychological racism and knows what you’re going through. Research indicates that having a social support system can help Black people remain resilient in the face of racial discrimination.5
Here’s the major lesson:
You must kill the control Whiteness has over your Mind. There are a few ways to do this… But the most vital is Meditation.
Here is a meditation that WILL allow you to take back control over your mind.
The meditation I am about to describe for you is specifically designed to understand your Mind and its primary tool: THOUGHT.
Our goal is to step back from thoughts.
We are putting thoughts on a shelf and viewing them from a distance.
We do not become dumb, here.
Instead, we begin to see our thoughts as natural, passing through the mind and leaving us unaffected.
Why is this important?
In today’s world, it is nearly impossible to grow up and NOT be exposed to racial bigotry. It is difficult for children of Color to grow up and feel as powerful as White children. How can they?
Most images of White kids are positive, most images of themselves are violent.
This is why the doll test remains a simple, but powerful indicator of low racial self-esteem, particularly for Black children.
Here’s the thing:
Psychological racism affects the mind. Therefore, we must take time to cleanse the mind of unwanted messages.
We have to take time to Love ourselves.
Here’s the most powerful thing:
When we take time to love ourselves, we can love all people, even those who treat us poorly.
The meditation practice is below.
- If you’re new to meditation, set a timer for 4, 8, 10, 12, or 15 minutes. Take a seat in a chair or on the floor, whatever is most comfortable. Close your eyes.
- Begin to watch your thoughts like you watch a movie screen.
- What are you thinking right now? If you don’t know, that is okay…Just let thoughts come. They will come.
- See your thoughts like images on a screen. See how they come and quickly go? You are not interested in them, you are just watching them.
- Do not follow your thoughts, just watch them.
- When you notice yourself getting caught in a thought, thinking about what you’ll do when this meditation is over or what is for dinner, remind yourself that you are merely watching your thoughts as an unbiased observer. Let thoughts pass on their own. No force.
- Notice how thoughts bubble up and claim your attention. They have no power over you, return to simply watching them.
- Sometimes emotions will bubble up that are painful or joyful. Not a problem either way, just return to simply watching thoughts.
- When it is time to finish your practice, take a deep breath, slowly exhale thru the nose.
- However Life is moving for you- Good or Bad- mean it and say: “Thank you, I have no complaints”.
People asks, “how do I know if I’m doing it right?”
I ask them: Do you feel light and at ease? Then you did it right.
Don’t worry if great sensations don’t hit you right away. Like anything, you get better with practice.
If you’ve done this meditation, you have taken a step toward emancipating yourself from psychological slavery.
You, like Chris, “Got Out” from the trap of White psychological oppression.
Our thoughts (and emotions by extension) are the primary ways we make sense of the world. When we gain the power to step back from them, they lose their power to control us.
How can anyone make you think negatively about yourself when you control your thoughts? People can say all the negative ‘ish they want, but if you don’t internalize and believe in their statements or images, what power do they have?
Imagine if Chris and the mind-controlled Black people of Get Out had this ability in the movie…
They would’ve never been controlled.
No one can hypnotize you when you have control over your own thoughts.
More importantly, imagine if every actual Black child, teen and adult took time to cleanse their minds.
Never too young
Would they be able to see that racism is really just a system of fear?
Would they be able to resist internalizing Whiteness as Rightness?
Would they still be unconsciously afraid to explore what being Black means?
Would they be able to “GET OUT” from under psychological racism?
Try the meditation for yourself… then answer.
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Hi, I’m Shawn, a Health researcher and writer deeply dedicated to the personal enhancement of Black Bodies, Black Minds, and Black Bank Accounts. I’m also the Founder of Black Health HQ. I created Black Health HQ to be a research driven platform for the development of Black physical, mental and financial health. Black Health HQ works toward the extreme well-being of Black people, offering free content along with services and products to assist you on your journey to maximum Black Living. Together, I believe we can build a vibrant and thriving Black community by strengthening what is most precious: our health and wealth.
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- Kovel, J. O. E. L. “White racism: a psychohistory.”Racism: essential readings (2001): 136-140.
- Kenneth B. Clark.Prejudice and your child. Wesleyan University Press, 1988.
- Sharon F., Lambert, Keith C. Herman, Mia Smith Bynum, and Nicholas S. Ialongo. “Perceptions of racism and depressive symptoms in African American adolescents: The role of perceived academic and social control.”Journal of youth and adolescence 38, no. 4 (2009): 519-531. David R. Williams, and Ruth Williams-Morris. “Racism and mental health: The African American experience.” Ethnicity and health 5, no. 3/4 (2000): 243. Yin Paradies. “A systematic review of empirical research on self-reported racism and health.” International journal of epidemiology 35, no. 4 (2006): 888-901. Janis V. Sanchez-Hucles. “Racism: Emotional abusiveness and psychological trauma for ethnic minorities.” Journal of Emotional Abuse 1, no. 2 (1999): 69-87. Anderson J. Franklin, Nancy Boyd-Franklin, and Shalonda Kelly. “Racism and invisibility: Race-related stress, emotional abuse and psychological trauma for people of color.” Journal of Emotional Abuse 6, no. 2-3 (2006): 9-30.
- Elizabeth Brondolo, Nisha Brady Ver Halen, Melissa Pencille, Danielle Beatty, and Richard J. Contrada. “Coping with racism: A selective review of the literature and a theoretical and methodological critique.”Journal of behavioral medicine 32, no. 1 (2009): 64-88.
- Danice L. Brown. “African American resiliency: Examining racial socialization and social support as protective factors.”Journal of Black Psychology 34, no. 1 (2008): 32-48.