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PEP May 2006
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Public Employee Press

Author Anderson J. Franklin speaks on
the black “invisibility syndrome”


BLACK BUT INVISIBLE: Author A. J. Franklin addresses an attentive union audience
March 29 on a key problem that afflicts
African American males.

The lecture series sponsored by the DC 37 Campus of the College of New Rochelle and the DC 37 Education Fund got off to an auspicious start March 29, when Dr. Anderson J. Franklin addressed an attentive audience on problems of African American men.

His talk was based on his new book, “From Brotherhood to Manhood: How Black Men Rescue Their Relationships and Dreams from the Invisibility Syndrome.” The book is available at the fund library, Room 211 at DC 37.

Campus Director Dr. Gwen Tolliver-Luster introduced Franklin. She said, “The cultures of oppression, poverty, the sense of powerlessness and the ­resultant culture of invisibility, have significantly inhibited the journey to manhood for minorities generally, but have almost ­arrested the journey to manhood for Black American males.”

Like comedian Chris Rock, Dr. Franklin grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant and went on to achieve success. He directed the Clinical Psychology Program at the City University of New York and at its Graduate Center and was president of the New York Association of Black Psychologists. Like Chris Rock, he left the neighborhood, but it hasn’t left him. The experiences of the people he grew up with infuse his life’s work.

Dr. Franklin said that what he calls the “Invisibility Syndrome” was at the core of Ralph Ellison’s classic novel, “The Invisible Man.” In 1947 Ellison wrote: “I am an invisible man. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.” Dr. Franklin spoke of a March 20 front-page New York Times story that was full of devastating statistics on unemployment, incarceration and education statistics for Black men. “These statistics are frightening. They speak to the crisis in our community,” he said.

Dr. Franklin spoke about daily “micro-aggressions” and the presumptions that occur in individual encounters. “Over time, it begins to eat away at peoples’ souls. It weakens you,” he explained. His work has centered on helping people deal with these daily experiences that act to make people, and in particular, black men, invisible. “The results of these daily indignities form an ever-increasing cycle of problems, including the inability to form relationships,” he said.

His book provides a roadmap for the journey “From Brotherhood to Manhood”— a way of overcoming things that contribute to failure. A provocative question and answer session demonstrated that his lecture had touched a responsive chord with his audience.

— Jane LaTour

 

 

 

 
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