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Roby AAP Final Exam 1

African-American Psychology Final Exam



Crystal Roby



African-American Psychology

Dr. Kristina Hood

May 7, 2014, Wednesday 12:00pm

Mississippi State University

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1. In what ways has religion contributed to the psychological well-being of the African-
Americans?
Religion was used by African-Americans as a way to preserve before, during and after
the Civil War. The white slave-owners practiced Christianity (most slave-owners were
from Great Britain were Protestant), which their slaves embraced. This was because the
owners wanted to hold more power over their slaves so they wouldn’t rebel or run away.
During this time blacks in the North, who were free, worshipped in the open and founded
their own churches. The flip to this, is that Christianity teaches one that all are equal in
the sight of God, but it also teaches obedience. This is also why slave-owners didn’t
allow the slaves to read, for the might get the idea, that they deserved their freedom like
all God’s children. Religion was a powerful tool for the slaves, because it allowed them
to endure and to survive the cruelty of slavery, which would often mean being separated
from their family members or even worse, death. “Slave owners and clergy taught slaves
that Christianity would save their souls and provide if they were obedient to their
masters.”(Belgrave and Allison, 2005) Even when they could attend white churches, they
would hold services in their slave quarters, it helped them to cling to the hope that their
circumstances could change for the better, and this continued on into the 20
th
century
right up to the Civil Rights Movement, which had begun in the 1950’s. Religion is
everything in the African-American community in the United States, it’s part of their
identity, their heritage. Some would say that the role of religion some African-American
is essential, so many older black tend to wear their religion on their sleeves like members
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of Jehovah Witness (my grandmother is one of those people); it’s part of their
personality. Religion in the black community is a type of oral tradition that is passed
down from generation to generation.

In the early 20
th
century African-Americans struggled with their self-esteem mainly
because of discrimination they face from the white majority. But in the past few years,
you can see religion on a decline, especially for young African-Americans. Nowadays
young blacks are turning away from religion and spirituality, often turning to drugs to
help to cope with the things in their lives. I come from a very religious (Southern Baptist)
family, where attending church services was mandatory. So from what I can remember I
was introduced to religion when I was just five years old, and as grew up, it became
second nature that I would attend Sunday school and church every Sunday. I would even
teach Vacation bible school during the summer. For me religion didn’t contribute
anything to my psychological well-being, if anything it irritated me, so when I was
fourteen I stopped attending church and other church activities, now these really cause an
uproar with my parents who took it as a sign of my rebellion or hanging out with my
heathen friends, which I was. I realized at an early age (An age where I could think for
myself) that religion wasn’t for me, I just got to the point where I had to stop lying to
myself, in order to please my family. That’s why I described myself as being an agnostic
(spiritual), than me being atheists, which probably break my parents’ heart. But as time
went on, my parents finally accepted my choice to leave Christianity (they still want me
to get marry in a church). Being spiritual has allowed me to see things more clearly and
to respect all people and their religions.
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Belgrave, Faye Z., and Kevin W. Allison. African American Psychology: From Africa to
America. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications, 2005. pp. 190


2. Although there has been significant progress in the educational development of
African-Americans over the years, why do African Americans lag behind other
groups in their overall educational experience? What role does the resegregation of
schools, testing standards and schools conditions play in the psychological
development and academic performance of African-Americans?
The reason why Blacks lag behind in education, than other minority groups is because
the history of segregation of schools and colleges in the 20
th
century. In this day and age,
education has become a very powerful in becoming successful in life and business. So in
order to get an education, black created their own schools and colleges, known as HBCs.
Most blacks, mostly in the south (where there is a majority of blacks) attend low funded
high schools, where some teachers just pass the students, without teaching them anything.
There were a few teachers who tried to teach who didn’t just show up to collect a
paycheck, they really wanted to teach, but some students didn’t want to learn anything.
Programs like President’s Bush’s No Child Left Behind made things worse than better.
That was the status quo at McAdams High School, the school I attended from 2001-2007.
The school is located in the small town of McAdams, MS in the county of Attala.
Students (Like me), who lived on the outskirts of Kosciusko, were forced to go to county
schools like McAdams High and Ethel Attendance Center in Ethel, MS. McAdams was a
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level 5 school where athletic students were treated like royalty. This was around the time,
that the state test were mandatory in order to graduate from high school, it didn’t matter if
you had all A’s in your classes, if you failed the tests, you failed to graduate. So a lot of
my classmates didn’t graduate when they should have. If that was the case, it was really
no need of me to attend classes’ every day, when I could have just passed the state test
and graduate. Some these didn’t even bother to take the ACT or SAT, feeling they were
good enough to pass the state tests and on top of that students don’t look at education as a
way out of their poor communities, which is why the high school dropout rate is high for
young African-Americans. We have to show young blacks there is more to life than
trying to be an athlete or rapper. It’s these kinds of programs that discourage young
people, who would rather drop out of school than try to study for state tests. In Belgrave
and Allison book, they both see education as a sense of empowerment for young blacks
to be successful, “Education should serve to uplift others of the same race who have not
have access to resources and opportunities.”(Belgrave and Allison, 2005)

Belgrave, Faye Z., and Kevin W. Allison. African American Psychology: From Africa to
America. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications, 2005. pp. 94


3. What issues are prominent in the examination of the mental health of African-
Americans? Summarize and discuss how the readings below illuminate these issues.
Shame and pride are two of the issues that is involve why African-Americans don’t
seek out examines for mental health. African-Americans, especially for black men, pride
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is very important to them, they don’t want show their weakness. They shrug it off as
being unimportant. “But the statistics are loud and clear. African Americans are 20%
more likely to report having serious psychological distress than non-Hispanic Whites,
according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority
Services.”(Hamm) Most blacks view mental health and illness as a white problem so they
might have any monthly and yearly screenings. Mental health is often not discussed in
the African-American community, until there’s a major event like a shooting that claims
multiple lives, like the DC snipers (a perpetrator(s) mental health is always in question)
that in occurred in the fall of 2002. The issue of money and religion might deter blacks
from seeking help for a mental illness they may be suffering from. Religions like Jehovah
Witness, members of the religion, refuse medical help and embrace spiritual healing,
which could cause the serious harm, if the illness is not treated properly. We have to
educate the community on the different type of mental illness: like bipolar disorder,
which is classified as a behavior disorder. The disorder can sometimes cause depression
and suicide. “Socio-political and historical events shape the lives of racial and ethnic
minorities in ways not experienced by others.” (O’Connor) Mental illness is not a white
or black problem, it’s a human problem.

Hamm, N. (2012, October 1). Black Folks and Mental Health:Why Do We Suffer in
Silence? - Wellness & Empowerment - EBONY. Retrieved May 1, 2014, from
http://www.ebony.com/wellness-empowerment/black-folks-and-mental-health-
610#axzz30zOmktYf

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O'Connor, C. (2013, March 29). Series on mental health in black community seeks to
remove stigma - The Denver Post. Retrieved April 30, 2014, from
http://www.denverpost.com/ci_22896578/series-mental-health-black-community-seeks-
remove-stigma