Last Updated 2/04/21
[If you’re in need, find a comprehensive list of mental health resources here.]
Black people stim. Black people have intrusive thoughts — including violent ones. Black people hear and see things others do not hear or see. Black people have panic attacks. Black people have meltdowns. Black people are hyperactive. Black people live in dissociative/multiple systems. Black people yell and otherwise “act out” in public.
Black people attempt and complete suicide. Often.
Black people are unable to comply with heightened demands of “compliance” under a system of white supremacy and psychiatric hegemony.
Black disabled people, particularly Black Mad people, are routinely overlooked both within Disability/Mad studies activism and scholarship as well as in larger conversations about prison and police-abolition. This is perhaps most evident in discourses of police replacement with social workers, therapists, and psychiatrists, and the replacement of prisons with group homes and other psychiatric/”therapeutic” institutions.
Those we typically call “cops” and those we might deem “brain cops” serve identical purposes: not to alleviate suffering but to maintain social order. Vitale’s (2017) claims in the incredibly-relevant, yet deeply flawed, book, The End of Policing, reflect sane/abled presumptions about the role of medico-psychiatric professionals in civilian lives. Vitale contrasts these a priori “benevolent” and “healing” professions with the police, whose endgame is social control. This is a, dare I say, “criminal” obfuscation of the realities of psychiatric violence.
In bodyminds marked in perpetual opposition to (white) rationalist idea(l)s and deemed both cause and result of their own inherent dis-order(s), Mad Black people face what Abdillahi et al (2016) call “anti-Black Sanism.” The inherent violence of diagnostic pathologization and institutionalization increases exponentially in severity, too. And psychiatric institutionalization — I cannot over-emphasize this — is carceral in nature.
Psychological professionals police (in the definitional sense of maintaining order or curing dis-order(s)) affective realities in all patients, but it is Black patients for whom requisite “social skills,” “emotion-regulation” techniques, “self-discipline,” and other therapeutic, coded language for self-surveillance remains least attainable. Not only are the so-called “social [survival] skills” demanded of Black people impossible to fulfill, but for as long as Blackness symbolizes disorder itself, the white supremacist psychiatric industry will never overcome its centuries-old compulsion to white supremacy. Perhaps it needs to see someone!
Below is a list of resources regarding the unique violences faced at the intersection of Madness/neurodivergence/psychiatrization and Blackness. By no means does this frame every person whose areas of specialization include psychiatry — indeed, Frantz Fanon (read here) himself was a psychiatrist who utilized his knowledge to disturb the hegemonic “commonsense” other psychiatrists seek, in “treatment”, to preserve. That said, the profession of psychiatry remains committed to the normalization of “aberrant” individuals, and under a white supremacist social order, the system itself remains entrenched in racism.
This is by no means a complete list — just the result of a week of searching and reading. If you have more resources, message me, and I’ll add them. Read. Share. And critically reconsider your calls to replace prisons with prisons of another name.
Racialized In/Sanities; Eugenics; Mad Black Studies
- An Introduction to Anti-Black Sanism
- Racialized Communities, Producing Madness and Dangerousness
- Black Madness, Mad Blackness (book, link is to my Google Drive)
- Thread on Blackness, Disability, and Eugenics by @Imani_Barbarin
- The Perils of Attaching Value Judgements to Intelligence
- A (Head) Case for a Mad Humanities: Sula’s Shadrack and Black Madness
- Incurable Blackness: Criminal Disenfranchisement, Mental Disability, and the White Citizen
- Whose Reality Is It, Anyway?: Deconstructing Able-Mindedness
Black Medico-Psychiatric Trauma/Abuse
- Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet Washington
- Race, Gun Violence & Mental Health: #BlackLivesMatter
- Race, Apology, and Public Memory at Maryland’s Hospital for the ‘Negro’ Insane
- Sufferers from ethnic minorities are more likely to be locked up than given proper treatment, reports Sophie Goodchild
- Report: Racism pervasive at Vermont psychiatric hospital
- Big Pharma and the prison industry are colluding to overmedicate incarcerated populations
- 6-year-old Florida student sent to mental health facility for 48 hours after alleged tantrums at school
- Race And Madness: Locating the Experiences of Racialized People with Psychiatric Histories in the Canada and the United States
- Black Women, Mental Hospitals, and Public Housing — A California Carceral Story
- If You Are Black and in a Mental Health Crisis, 911 Can Be a Death Sentence
- Black Mental Health UK: Philip Morgan (podcast)
- All Our Trials: Prisons, Policing, and the Feminist Fight to End Violence by Emily Thuma
Depression & Anxiety
- Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey Through Depression
- Depressed While Black
- I’m Not Afraid of Getting Sick. I’m Afraid of Starving.
- Postpartum Depression in Black Women Is a Silent Epidemic
- Postpartum Depression While Black
- We Were Never Meant to Survive: On Considering Suicide in a World Designed to Kill Us
- How my “functionality” kept others from seeing the severity of my depression
- Speaking to my Jamaican grandma about her depression taught me how to be a mental health advocate
- Black Suicidality and Mental Health #BlackLivesMatter
- Black Autistics Exist: An Argument for Intersectional Disability Justice
- No Time to Confront Racism in Neurodiversity
- Avonte’s Law: Autism, Wandering, and the Racial Surveillance of Neurological Difference
- Twitter @BeingKaylaSmith
- Worst Practices: The Discrediting of Autistic Narratives through Pathologising Constructs
- My Educational Experiences with Attention Deficit Disorder and Why Accommodations are So Crucial
- Associating disability with weakness made it impossible to embrace my autism
- White children are more likely to be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD than black children. Black children are over-diagnosed with Oppositional Defiance Disorder.
- Twitter @AshleighJMills
Schizophrenia, Bipolar, PDs:
- The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease (book, link to my google drive)
- Controllin the Planet
- At the Intersection Between Black Pride and Mad Pride
- I’m not bipolar, I’m just traumatized: What I learned about Black womanhood from my misdiagnosis
- How to be Loved When You’re Black & Broken
- The Curious Case of Psychosis
Disordered Eating, OCD, Addiction, Trauma:
- Watcher Within, Watcher Without: My Black OCD Story
- Too Much Space
- My Family Shamed Me About My Relationship With Food
- (Live!) The Post-traumatic Futurities of Black Debility
- We Need to Banish White Supremacy from Eating Disorders Treatment
- Yes, Black Women Struggle with Eating Disorders, Too
- Black Girls Do Get Eating Disorders: I Did and I Survived [part 2]
Fiction, Poetry, Poetics:
- An Unkindness of Ghosts, Rivers Solomon
- Beloved, Toni Morrison
- Bird-Eyes, Madelyn Arnold
- The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
- The Bull-Jean Stories, Sharon Bridgeforth
- Citizen, An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
- Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
- Just Another Dead Black Girl, Michelle Evans
- Mosquito, Gayl Jones
- The Nickel Boys, Colson Whitehead
- Parable of the Sower, Octavia E. Butler
- The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson
- Sula, Toni Morrison
- The Turner House, Angela Flournoy