Porto Seguro, Bahia, Brazil
To the Editors of American Prospect:
Adam Serwer's April 9, 2010 article, "Our Racial Interior," reviewing Claude M. Steele's new book, "Whistling Vivaldi: And Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us (Issues of Our Time), is timely and important. The studies cited in the article confirm the existence and importance of a psychological phenomenon I call "color arousal," wherein the perception of others' skin color and the complex knowledge of our own skin color arouse ideation, emotion and behavior that can range from the benign (toddlers expressing curiousity about the skin color of other toddlers) to Extreme Color-Aroused Disorder (ECAD), in which extreme color aroused emotions, ideation and behavior lead to threats, violence, and loss of liberty for those suffering from the disorder.
At present, those who verbally and physically threaten or assault others at work or at school based on skin color are often referred to one-day "sensitivity training" workshops. Psychiatric interventions conducted by "sensitivity trainers" are frequently unsuccessful and often lead to tragic results when the level of intervention is inappropriate for the severity of the illness.
A longtime Lockheed employee, [Doug] Williams fumed when blacks at the plant complained about his racial slurs or received better-paying jobs, according to several co-workers. He once wore the bootie of a white protective suit on his head in the shape of what black workers said looked like a Ku Klux Klan hood. Given the choice by management to remove it or go home, Williams left. Lockheed took no disciplinary action against him for the incident, according to Lockheed documents.
Many who knew Williams had feared, even predicted, violence would eventually erupt.
Doug Williams killed himself, as well as Black and white co-workers, on the very morning when he was to attend yet another required "sensitivity training." Instead, he should have been referred for psychiatric evaluation to determine whether he could safely and constructively participate in intimate encounters with those polychromatic workers whom he most hated and wanted to kill. But his psychiatric color aroused symptoms received less seriousness than depression or obesity would have.
Unfortunately, there is virtually no psychiatric treatment available for persons with Extreme Color-Aroused Disorder (ECAD) (which should be diagnosed as the Social Security Administration diagnoses disability claims, based on whether the sufferers' emotions, ideation and behavior cause significant impairment in one or more critical areas of life functioning, e.g.:
- unlawful and punishable workplace behavior that leads to discipline and/or dismissal;
- antagonistic behavior towards strangers in public based on skin color and risking violent arguments, physical harm to self and others, arrest and imprisonment;loss of employment and social status;
- isolation from children, spouses, family, friends and co-workers resulting from the the sufferers' hatred, fear, jealousy, envy or other strong emotions on skin color;
- Fights, taunts, expulsion, suspension or absences from school or college resulting from color-aroused ideaiton, emotion and behavior, including cases in which they inhibit the sufferers' own educational attainment.
Every employee or student who taunts, threatens or harms others based on skin color should be immediately referred for psychiatric evaluation, lest these behaviors progress and erupt in extreme color-aroused violence or lead to intolerably workplace circumstances for which employers then become civilly liable.
Many Americans are in jail resulting from hate crimes. All of them deserved an offer of psychiatric help, in the face of their escalating color-aroused behavior, before they committed crimes that harmed themselves and others. In light of the Doug Williams experience, it should be clear that a day of "sensitivity training" is not an appropriate psychiatric intervention for a student or worker who who is known to possess firearms and who has threatened to kill himself and others.
Atty. Francis L. Holland
The American Journal of Color Arousal (AMJCA)
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