Insanity and Privilege

There are many ideas and subjects that one could discuss on this section of James Baldwin because many of them are still relevant today. Per last class, the idea of mental health and insanity had risen as a topic. Like Baldwin had stated in his conversation with Audre Lord, to be Black is to be schizophrenic. Looking up the definition of schizophrenia and what it actually is, I began to wonder why so many Black men have been diagnosed with this illness. Although there is no cause for schizophrenia, according to the American Psychiatric Association, living a life as traumatic as a Black person’s it makes sense that many Black men and women would have breakdowns between thoughts, emotions, and behavior. However, as we were discussing in class, the ideas of delusion and hallucination made me wonder about the white people who believe that our country is the greatest place on Earth, or in the words of a delusional “leader,” a place that was once great. I agree with Professor Kinyon in stating that the white (moderate) liberal is the biggest problem to our country because of their passivity. There is no recognition for the problem of the oppressor and yet, there is confusion when Black people are disproportionately affected by mental illness, police brutality, poverty, etc. The privilege that they hold is unearned, yet at the costly expense of other people’s sanity. Baldwin writes about white children being “educated” and growing up to run this country saying “but at least they are white. They are under the illusion, which, since they are so badly educated, sometimes has a fatal tenacity-that they can do whatever they want to do. Perhaps that is exactly what they are doing…” (Nobody Knows My Name, 201). Again, it begs the question, as it has so many times before, what is the role of Black Americans in society?