Black Behavioral Norms

iven the negative conceptions of Black people and Black behavior that emerged from the Euro-American frame of reference, it was clear that an alter- nate frame of reference was not only appropriate, but absolutely necessary. Whether one considers the awarding of Sumner’s degree in 1920, the establish- ment of the Association of Black Psychologists, or the era in ancient KMT, as the marker for the establishment of the discipline of Black psychology, is an interesting debate. What is undebatable, however, is the recognition that general psychology had failed to provide a full and accurate understanding of the Black reality. As such, the discipline of Black psychology and the new emergence of an African psychological perspective can be defined as a discipline in science (continuing to evolve) that is attempting to study, analyze, and define appropriate and inappropriate behaviors of Black and African people from an Afrocentric frame of reference.

A second point made by White in his article that is reinforced by White and Parham and Parham, White, and Ajamu is that Black psychology as a discipline should emerge out of the authentic experiences of Blacks in America. On the surface, White’s contention seems absolutely logical. However, I believe that this premise requires closer scrutiny. For years, Black psychologists in the discipline of Black psychology have concerned themselves with trying to combat negativistic assumptions made about Black people by White society in general and traditional psychology in particular. In doing so, many of the writings have been reactionary in nature in their attempts to com- bat the racist and stereotypic assumptions perpetuated by the Euro-American culture. In that regard, Black psychology has served a vital purpose in the evolution of thought about the psychology of African-American people. In their attempt to negate the White middle-class norm and to assert the necessity for analyzing African-American behavior in the context of its own norms, Black psychologists have been attempting to establish this normative base that is uniquely Afrocentric. In developing that norm, however, new questions are now being raised about whether or not the behavior of Black people

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