Freedom Fund Dinner

October 2, 2015
fund dinner

Guests at the annual NAACP Milwaukee Branch Freedom Fund Dinner wait in line to have copies of keynote speaker Dr. Joy DeGruy’s book, “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome” signed at the Pfister Hotel on Friday, September 25, 2015.

During the time that Dr. DeGruy researched her book, she said there was a shift occurring in the evidence about race. “What has brought us from there to now is a preponderance of the evidence,” she said. “We can never un-know what we now know.

“It’s not plausible that after being beaten, and raped; can we agree that at least some folks suffered trauma,” she asked an unidentified member of the audience. “Then along comes freedom and is there any help then? No,” she replied. She said America suffered from cognitive dissonance of the effects that 349 years of slavery have had on the African American race, especially the family unit. She noted that within the past month two scientific studies linking trauma across generations have been published. In the first, mice were given a mild electric shock when they behaved in a particular way.

Amazingly, even the children and grandchildren of the affected mice exhibited the same fear of the item which caused the electrical shock, despite the fact that they themselves had never been subjected to the shock. In the second instance scientists were able to note changes to the DNA of Jewish descendants before and after the Holocaust. “Like Jews we need to be fully comfortable talking about our own Holocaust and we should not care what others think,” she said.

Dr. DeGruy said the United States has actively worked to destroy Black families and in many ways continues to do so right up to the present. The most effective way to change Black behavior is to work with the extended family, but virtually no government programs address that, she said. “Another name for that is village,” she said, “and that does not cost $3.5 million.” “If a child is in the [legal] system chances are the family is broken,” she said. “Doesn’t it make sense to try and fix that? It doesn’t matter what behavior we are trying to change. It could be weight loss or crime or whatever.

This method is scientifically proven to work.” Rather than spending money on community programs, it would be much better to spend money influencing a young man’s social circle. Get his family, friends and classmates to help, which is much more effective, she said. That requires going out into the neighborhoods where Black families live and talking to the community, Dr. DeGruy said, declaring a clear lack of interest for that kind of field work among most white researchers. Dr. DeGruy said there is another support group within the central city that consists of schools, churches, sports clubs and mentors. Dr. DeGruy said it was important to talk with the leadership in these organizations and convince them not to contact the police at the first sign of a disturbance. The NAACP was instrumental in the passage of the Voting Rights Act; and in brief introductory remarks prior to the opening prayer, Freedom Fund Dinner Chairperson Dr. Gloria Pitchford-Nichols warned African Americans not to become complacent.

“The act of voting did not come quickly or easily to America,” she said. “Our ancestors fought and died for that right and I will not sit by and let that right be taken away. It is now our time to take up the fight for the pursuit of the liberty mantle through our protection of voting for all.” Also during the evening the Honorable Vel R. Phillips was recognized for her long and distinguished legal career in Milwaukee which began when she was first admitted to the Wisconsin bar in 1951 and included her becoming the first African American woman judge in Milwaukee County and the first African American woman to become a City of Milwaukee Alderman and the first African American woman to serve in the Wisconsin Judiciary.