Dr. Patricia Newton Speaks to Juneteenth Celebrants

Posted on June 27, 2011 by


Dr. Patricia Newton Admonishes Juneteenth Celebrants to

Become the “New Africans” That Our Well-being Requires

By Bro. Mxolisi

Juneteenth Celebrations give us opportunity to reflect on the facts and the fiction of our Ancestors’ quests (praying, agonizing, fighting and dying) for their rights to freely exercise their humanity. These celebrations call us to revisit, re-create and vicariously experience the jubilation they felt when “O Freedom” finally was achieved – with the valiant efforts of over 200 thousand Black troops making the significant difference in the outcome of the U.S. Civil War and leading to the end of the legalized lynching of African lives (hopes, dreams and humanity) via the obscene and immoral institution of chattel slavery.

As important as the facts and fiction of history might be, Juneteenth is a time to give serious attention also to what we sons and daughters of those amazing Africans are doing with the gift of freedom that they secured for us. It’s a time to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and re-affirm the values and practices by which to realize the greatest good for the greatest of our numbers and, ultimately, all of humanity.

At the Richmond, VA Juneteenth Celebration of Freedom (6/18/2011), under the leadership of the Elegba Folklore Society, we gathered once again on the banks of the James River, where hundreds of thousands of our ancestors (perhaps more than at any other U.S. location) were sold up and down the river into slavery in days gone by. Among the presenters was Dr. Patricia Newton, a physician and specialist in behavioral medicine, discussing post-traumatic slavery disorder, and the things we must do in order to find the path to the realization of our greatest good.

Dr. Patricia A. Newton, M.D., MPH, M.A.

The sister made a point of emphasizing “disorder” rather than “syndrome” as the appropriate term for the condition that afflicts far too many of our people, and continues to be imposed upon us by the anti-African evil-ness of U.S. culture, customs and institutions, and our unwitting absorption of their values, images and expectations.  (Editor’s note: “Disorder” comes from a 15th century alteration of old French and Latin terms meaning “dis-ordain.” Yes! — Disruption of the divine spiritual order!!!)

Dr. Newton spoke of an onion like structure in our brains, the heart of which is called the “red nucleus” which plays a large role in dictating behavior. Layered around the red nucleus are “mirror neurons” that reflect what is stored in the red nucleus, giving rise to the behaviors that are routine and customary for a person.

The problem for African people, she asserted, is that the tragedy of the trans-Atlantic experience was so deeply impactful, resulting in wide-spread re-wiring of our Ancestors’ red nuclei and the negative impacts that such disorders are known to have on succeeding generations. The prolonged experience of urine and feces flooding over African minds and bodies in the bellies of slave ships, with the filth and stench of those excretions merging with the putrid aromas, sensations and diseases of decomposing carcasses of men, women and children who were chained to survivors resulted in the abnegation of traditional values, with the grotesque values of mere survival invading one’s being and finding their way into the red nuclei and DNA of our continuous self-hate and self-destruction.

“Our children are showing you that we are living a destructive insanity,” she said, a reflection of this country and our historical reality. “We’ve become experts at dying,” she added.

If we are to make the most of the gift of freedom that our ancestors secured for us, Dr. Newton said that we need to be diligent in the development and utilization of vision and determination that will result in a new “virtual system” — a new layer on top of the red onion layer; values, aspirations, behaviors and expectations that nurture and manifest our greatest good.

“We must become the new Africans that our greatest well-being requires if we are not to go the path of extinction that the universe imposes on beings and things having no moral, ethical, social and spiritual responsibilities and self-determination,” she admonished.

Critical for this healing and restoration process, Dr. Newton said, is that we live the “Ancient African Principles of Rightness”:

Intend to do right; Think about what is right; Develop right speech and authoritative utterance; Relate to one another according to that which is embodied in those thoughts and utterances; Act always according to that which is embodied in right thought, speech and utterance; Live accordingly; Acquire further knowledge of the depth and dimensions of rightness; Develop Right Life Rhythm (frequent opportunities to demonstrate, celebrate and to reward and honor rightness).

In a brief private moment following her presentation, Dr. Newton agreed with this writer that the Nguzo Saba principles and symbols are excellent sources for the “rightness” that we need to pursue. “But we can’t leave it until the last week in December, She said. “It’s something we need to be about 24/7 – and have significant observances every month.”

There’s something to work on between now and Juneteenth 2012.

Last year’s Juneteenth gathering in Richmond closed with a vow to make significant progress toward reclaiming the African Burial Ground in this city which had been being used for a number of years as a parking lot for Virginia Commonwealth University employees; to get the asphalt off our ancestors. This year’s gathering closed with a celebration at that site — where the asphalt has been removed, where parking is no more — with a vow to continue pursuing the development of a memorial structure and program worthy of those great ones gone before us, including, perhaps, Gabriel Prosser.

Let’s intend to do that; Think about it; Talk about it; and more. Something more to work on between now and Juneteenth 2012.

Ankh, Udja, Seneb!