Observations of an Invisible Woman

My Battle With Drapetomania

I remember the day I realized something was wrong with me but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I was in a meeting at work and the boss was speaking about our quarterly performances and monetary departmental gain. The Spirit commanded me to look around the room and what I saw shocked me. I witnessed everyone staring blankly at the speaker, slack-jawed, nodding in unison at his every word, even the ones that made no sense, agreeing with his hypothesis on how to make more and more money, never uttering anything against his policies and it was then, at that precise moment, that I realized I was a slave.

The notion stunned me into stillness.

Why did it take me this long to realize this life-altering conclusion? How long had I been a slave? Then it hit me…

From the day I was born, my purpose on this earth was to enrich and serve white supremacy. I stumbled from one despair filled job to the next, running nowhere, trying to find a way off the plantation but was lost, exhausted and was about to give up. It was purely by accident that a passage in a book caught my eye one day. It was describing a field hand who exhibited my exact same symptoms.

Drapetomania was a supposed mental illness described by physician Samuel Cartwright. In 1851, Cartwright explained that Drapetomania caused black slaves to want to flee captivity. 

Cartwright described the disorder – which, he said, was “unknown to our medical authorities, although its diagnostic symptom, the absconding from service, is well known to our planters and overseers.”

He stated that the malady was a consequence of masters who “made themselves too familiar with [slaves], treating them as equals”.

When I stumbled upon my diagnosis, I felt exhilarated, confused and angry. Happy for my diagnosis at last, confused because never in my life, had whites EVER treated me as an equal and angry for the fact that no black person had ever told me I was a slave.

Why hadn’t someone, anyone, said to me, “Hey Nigger…you’re one of us. Screw your education. Screw your job. That new house you just bought? Screw that too! You ain’t worth shit ’round here.” I fell into one despair-filled spiral after another since my self-diagnosis. I ran nowhere. Took job after job only to end up on someone else’s plantation with an even tougher overseer.

I struggled for freedom. I wanted some other black person to pass me on the street and see that familiar look in my eyes and smile and wink at me and say, “Don’t worry…I have Drapetomania too! I’ve been wanting to flee from my plantation for 20 years…wanna get together and work on a plan?”

But no one came. No one winked. No one smiled and offered any solutions. I was burdened to fight my illness on my own. There are days when I still struggle with my disease to the point of praying for wings to fly away. And there are days that the plantation doesn’t seem that bad. But I know that’s all apart of the illness. To fight and struggle in confusion with everyone…including yourself.

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56 thoughts on “My Battle With Drapetomania

  1. You and I are I have forever referred to my jobs working for someone else as ‘plantations’ . And forever pissed that while I’m making relative peanuts, they are making millions. There should be some type of venue or a monster.com/revolutionarynegroejobopportunities.com for black people who are conscious & want to use our God-given talents for the uplift for our people.

  2. Oops, for some my arrows didn’t print…anyway, should read: you and I are right here..

  3. nmaat

    The issue with that is this:

    It’s been my conclusion that blacks who suffer from Stockholm Syndrome do not want to see other blacks prosper. They will gladly step pass any self-reliant African trying to sell their products to fling money to their slave master.

    This is something EVERY member of my family, including me, can tell you about having a business.

  4. I believe you. I’ve had experience with this myself but I also know there are black people who like to support black businesses. I’d like to hear what you think is a way to circumvent that attitude. While a lot of our people are brainwashed, there are those that ‘get it’. I remember that experiment by the Chicago couple who spent a year committed to ONLY buying black products.

  5. Honestly..I don’t know. Envy plays a large role in it. Why should you be “happy and prosperous” if they are not? I make an honest attempt to buy from blacks only but our businesses are so few and far between. My brother knew a black guy where he lived who scraped and saved and opened a car wash…only to have black people fling their 20.00 bill to the white one down the street.

    My bakery business did not do well because blacks complained about the price and nitpicked on my ingredients just so they could buy stale cake and muffins from the white bakery in the supermarket.

    I don’t know how to combat this. It’s just another form of Negro Madness Disease.

  6. Mickey on said:

    The slave shackles have left the wrists & ankles & have been placed on your mind. We are all in mental bondage. I just watched for a second time one of Dr. Umar Johnson’s lectures and said that all Black people do is send their children to school to learn how to make money and work for White folks. He also said that you do not see other races/ethnic groups training their children to make money for others: Jews are not training their kids to work for Black people, Chinese people are not training their kids to work for White people, East Indians are not training their kids to work for Arabs. They are training their kids to OWN IT, not run it but own it.

    Another serious problem is that Black people do not trust other Black people with their money. Collectively, Black Americans are the 10th richest group on the planet and, if the movie “Good Hair” is any indication, Blacks spend billions on hair as well as other products. Black can get together and pool their money to create a business. But what happens are the “petty differences” that crop up:

    He’s from X fraternity, I’m from Y fraternity.

    She’s from X sorority, I’m from Y sorority.

    S/He’s light-skinned, I’m dark-skinned.

    She’s got “good hair”, I’ve got “bad hair”.

    S/He drives a Lexus, I drive a beat up Pinto.

    Their child is cute, mine are not.

    White supremacy has made Blacks believe that everything that is good is by the White people, for the White people. Therefore, why would they give their hard-earned Black dollars to another Negro?

  7. Mickey

    You summed that up perfectly!

  8. This is puzzling to me b/c just say 25-30 years ago it seemed to me that black businesses were booming. Isn’t it true that black women are more likely to start a small business than any other demographic? I guess starting one and keeping one are two different things tho, huh? When the hell did we become brain-dead and I missed it? And I wonder if this is primarily an affliction of those closest in proximity to the ‘big house’? B/c I swear in the past 6 mths I’ve read about a Nigerian brother being the 1st auto manufacturer, as well as another brother (who also may be Nigerian, can’t remember) who has designed/manufactured a smart phone. Maybe I need to move my a## to Nigeria. lol..

  9. Kushite Prince on said:

    @ Sister Truth This is a very good post. Realizing you have Drapetomania is the first step to freeing your mind. The problem is that too many of us suffer from the other illness called Negrophobia. Our people suffer from internal racism and have no desire to leave “massa”. We are still a very much brainwashed people.

  10. I also came across this story today. This baby is 12. I refuse to believe that a child has the where with all to figure out something that stumps intelligent, conscientious adults. But maybe the fearlessness of a child, the sheer audacity to follow your dreams that everyone possesses at some point–is what we all need to tap into. I know that makes it sound simplistic but I will always believe that where there is a will there will be a way.

  11. nmaat

    Yes, we black females are most fearless when it comes to ownership. In Brooklyn, almost every shop on Utica and Flashbush Avenue was black owned! We brought pretty much all we needed from that 10 mile radius. Giuliani came out with these new “rules and regulations” and like magic…POOF!!! All of our stores disappeared.

  12. Prince


    Negrophobia plagued one of my former “friends” and we parted ways. It’s such a shame when the number one thing we aspire to obtain is integration.

  13. Kushite Prince on said:

    We were tricked into integration. We thought that would get us freedom and they would treat us as equals. As you can see,that’s not what happened. It backfired on us bigtime!

  14. Kushite Prince on said:

    Beautiful little girl! She’s a real inspiration to other youngsters. That’s very nice to see.

  15. arielle06777 on said:

    Entrepreneurship is the cure to this disease!!!

  16. arielle


  17. Matari on said:

    Part of the solution to this “problem” begins with segregating ourselves from them.
    I believe that’s the cornerstone for building something positive and sustaining.

    All black towns …. where the very well to do, middle/working class and the poor live within sight and grasp of one another – in a BLACK COMMUNITY. Or even a black region of the country. But this is something that WE would have to orchestrate, organize and bring to fruition – on OUR OWN, for ourselves, because no one else will do it, or should do it.

    We’ve built structured, successful, sustaining and prosperous communities/economies here before. We can do it again. Probably better this time around, knowing all that we know about – them.

    Can we cooperate (not compete) with one another? Or are we fated to eternally mistrust and mistreat each other for another 500 damn years??

    At the very least WE have to figure out a way to break this cycle of self-hate so that perhaps our children/grandchildren might succeed where we’ve come up short.

  18. Matari

    My family and I were just talking about that this evening. There are a few and I really mean a few blacks who want to seriously try to self-segregate and formulate our own communities and businesses. The issue is we have no idea on how to lay out a tangible business plan.

    We throw ideas around and try to sell here and there but it just won’t take off without black support. My friend in WI tried to start a little company right out of her own home but was thrown off track when other blacks cried” You want how much for this?!” and raced to Walmart to buy items made in China.

    I’ve tried, Lord knows how many times, to have a little success with things here and there but blacks won’t bite! In NY, an African woman opened a hair care product store only to have her customers buy from the Korean shop who bad mouth them in their language…in front of her face. She’s bleeding money monthly and probably won’t keep her shop for much longer.

    I don’t know anymore what to do. It’s like we have a mental block that just won’t subside.

  19. I met a brother who had me in awe..he made his own baked goods and went around and sold them to stores daily. He said he had lived off the ‘grid’ for at least 30 years. He lived simply but he seemed genuinely happy and content. That’s the quality of life I’m trying to create. To be able to use my God-given talents for the upliftment of black people and be at peace. Or die trying to obtain it.

  20. soforeal on said:

    I too suffer from drapetomania, F massa i hate the plantation even though i was getting good pay I still wanted out, bosses couldn`t stand me because they saw something inside me that wouldn`t make me be obedient to them hopefully one day i can finally break free from the plantation for good, and serve my people overall i just wan`t to be far away from white folks i don`t know about the states but over here in canada blacks have made up their mind that they will serve masta for the rest of their lives. they don`t want to start nothing or network, whatever you name it. i think it`s worse over here than in the states not enough blks over here have drapetomania.

  21. Matari on said:

    If we cannot SELF-SEGREGATE (self-organize) and acquire/own tracts of LAND in North America on a scale large enough to support THRIVING BLACK COMMUNITIES, then perhaps we should leave Amerikkka and go to a country where the people look like us and would welcome our presence. Some/many have done this.

    Either way, we’ve got to break the downward negative cycle. Forward moving black people have got to hook-up (READ develop TRUST RELATIONSHIPS – FRIENDSHIPS) with other forward moving blacks.

    We got to get the hell out of our mental/psychological kindergarten, for the sake of our children, and for the advancement of our people.

    I like me. I love me. I trust me. It’s my natural inclination to like, trust and love others. Yet people (of ALL colors, ethnicities, races) have taught me over and over that I can’t or shouldn’t give people the benefit of the doubt in matters of importance, even if I’m so inclined to do so. Why? Very few people keep their promises/word nowadays. And if people cannot keep their word, how can they be trusted/depended on in even the smallest/littlest things … then how can they be trusted in large matters?

    We don’t need to be perfect. But we need to keep our word, our promises. Or we ought not make them. If we tell someone that we will be there, then BE THERE! On time.

    If we say that we are going to give something … then GIVE IT.

    If we said we are going to do something – DO IT!
    Words mean little… nothing. It’s ACTIONS that count !

    If we can’t keep our word, then don’t give it. But if we give it, then keep it. That’s how trust is built and nurtured. We simply gotta have that TRUST to move forward. It’s the number one prerequisite!

    If we cannot build and forge relationships based upon truth and trust, then we will remain a STUCK (sick) people… not trusting ourselves, not trusting anyone – and remaining on the lowest rung — forever.

    If anyone in your circle of friends, associates are jealous of you – they are not your friend, and they don’t deserve to be your associate. Drop these individuals like a hot potato and keep it moving – toward like minded, forward moving individuals, that want to achieve positive things for themselves – AND OTHERS.

    Why network or build relationships with those you cannot trust?
    We are, more or less, the company we keep.

    We have got to be trustworthy!
    Say it, teach it, BE IT. Be the example. Be trustworthy!

  22. blackmystory on said:

    “…blessed are those who struggle, oppression is worse than the grave, it’s better to live and die a freeman (woman) than to live your lofe a slave…”

    Start from where you are and build from there. Just came across this website last night. http://www.blackswithoutborders.net

    As per your previous works truth…things that make you go mmmmm!

  23. Mickey on said:

    I saw part of that documentary. I have even posted a few Youtube videos on it. It is very interesting.

  24. blackmystory on said:

    The universe always gives us opportunities, we just have to be aware of it and have the courage to grab it. For many who are givng their under valued skill and experience to Yurugu, they can make a difference and bring the knowledge tto Africa, in this way we can’t or won’t be asking what can be done? Becasue we are already doing it..

  25. @ Blackmystory

    We were just talking about that. I swear, you have my house bugged!

  26. Tyrone on said:


    In order for black folk to prosper in the US and beyond, we must segregate ourselves from the pack. As long as we chase the pipedream of integration and inclusion, we will always be pawns for others. Black people are the “Constructors” of human civilization. Meaning, we’re supposed to be interdependent and self-sufficient. We have more than enuf brain and cultural power to rule the world. Instead, we allow others to eat from the fruit that we have cultivated as a people. It doesn’t mean we have to hide in a hole, we have to put our needs and wants first, as others do.


  27. blackmystory on said:

    Great minds think a like m’lady Lol!

  28. Kushite Prince on said:

    Great site brother! Thanks for that!

  29. blackmystory on said:

    Not a problem African. If more of us do this, just sharing information and supporting each other like truth said, then more of us would get on that Tubman train…just saying!

  30. Ty

    agreed but how do we do that? Most blacks that I’ve met LOVE massa and mistrust their own.

  31. Tyrone on said:


    We must identify institutions within our race that keep us in the dark. Journalism, Education System, Popular Culture, Politics. These are the 4 walls that keep us enslaved to Massa. Journalists hide the truth, Teachers lie about the truth, Culture makes money via the truth, and Politicians don’t want the truth to see the light of day…Ditto! The Black Church is a vivid example of what i’m talking about. Phony blackmen brainwashing our people to worship a religion that gave it’s blessing to the enslavement of our african ancestors. Why are we giving them the time of day? A whiteman is all over the walls of the church, and they have the nerve to talk smack about those of us that see thru the bs…Insane! Blackmen playing with balls, enriching the pockets of whitey at our own expense…they benefit, we don’t.


  32. Kushite Prince on said:

    Yeah I hear you!

  33. @ Negress, have you heard this video??

  34. Great post, Negress!! spot on!

  35. Yes. I watch or try to watch all of Umar Johnson’s lectures.

  36. Crissjensen on said:

    I do too. Very Powerful Stuff!!

  37. larissa on said:

    @sister truth how did you survive all those years working and studying amongst whites while still maintaining your sanity? Was it prayer, luck, a strong family unit, or did you already practice the steps listed in this blog?

  38. Larissa

    I had a bout of madness that made me more sane and sober than I’ve ever been. Reading the Bible helped and talking endlessly to family and friends.

  39. Do you remember the late Ralph Wiley? He was a black man who wrote books on racial issues, back in the early 90s. In the preface to one of them, he told a story on himself. After he told a friend about the book in progress, full of fiery denunciations of racial injustice, the friend told him that he would never find a black publisher for it. And this turned out to be true. He shopped it around and finally got it into print with a mainstream publisher, which was quick to smell the profits to be made on the hot current events topic.

    http://bit.ly/US3D8S Directories of Black-Owned Businesses

  40. Sanity inspector

    Thanks for the link.

  41. You have a way with words. Drapetomania. But I feel this post. My Ancestors were for a large part Maroons. We didn’t much care for plantation life. I still don’t.

  42. I hear ya, Onitaset.

  43. Pingback: The Caucaus-Asians and other myth | Blackmystory's Weblog

  44. @ Negress: I wouldn’t give up on your bakery business simply because it did not do well here in the states. How about considering revising your business plan(s) to market your baked goods into internationally? Have you considered extending your line of baked goods and food products with a new “twist”? Unique branding?

    We have to start creating “circles” and “pockets” of encouragement for one another, especially those like yourself who’ve proven to have what it takes to succeed when equipped with the appropriate resources. I love my people, but the world, our dreams and potential for commercial success should not be limited to the states.

    Part of the solution to some of our economic problems and challenges is the fact that most of us are embattled with fighting against racism here in the u.s. Admittedly, it’s tiring at times. But we also have to believe that, while we know that racism is indeed global, there are still others around the world who want to do business with us. I truly believe this, and it becomes more evident as the factors of increased opportunities and more positive information seems to come from “outside” than “within” the u.s. There are many people around the globe that are more receptive to our business acumen, creativity and proven skills that will respect us more for what we can do rather than using race and skin color as precedents for opportunity. Given the challenges we all face and as hard as it is nowadays, we have to develop a thinking mode that reaches beyond the borders of the u.s. and fully recognized as a possible option.

    In a sense, you could view the current unemployment levels and economic conditions of Black people as a modern version of drapetomania. Many of us are starting or seriously contemplating self-employment ventures that give more freedom, more flexibility and more opportunity to use the skills, gifts and creativity given by The Creator to be used in becoming successful. As they say, we should keep our options open, because the new Black consumer market resides not just here in the u.s. anymore. It is gradually becoming a just a smaller segment of a larger global market, with more promise and more opportunities.

  45. Emile

    I’m not giving up on the bakery thing. We’re making a different move, if you know what I mean. I’m being watched like a hawk so I won’t go into details over the web.

    My family and I are making strides to appeal to the black family with different things at the moment. But we have not given up. Thanks for the encouragement.

  46. When you’re in control of your economy, whether a family budget, as a community, group or even a nation, only then do you have true freedom. Freedom to control your own economic destiny, to save as much money as you want, to build, produce ans sell as you please. Freedom. This is why the economic powers that be don’t want independent-thinking people to have major influences on the thinking of the masses, primarily because they are dependent upon them for perpetuity of “their” economy through labor, acquired (sometimes stolen) wealth, resources of all kind, intellectual capital, professional management, etc.

    It has been my impression that most people only want to make enough money to live decently and in peace. There is nothing wrong with this. However, when the mental sickness of greed overwhelms your motives, then that’s when all of the other nasty stuff comes along with it: corruption, theft, exploitation and control-freak mentalities.

    There is no question as to the capabilities of Black people becoming self-sufficient and able to create thriving, independent economies. Historically, it has been proven with the success of such commercial enterprises such as the Greenwood District of Tulsa (Black Wall Street of the West), Harlem, NY, Bronzeville-Chicago, IL. Homewood, FL, Harris Neck, GA, and many other pockets of Black economic infrastructures. Whites were jealous/envious of their success (no reason given) and destroyed everything that was created through the essence of pure enterprise and entrepreneurship. Flash-forward to 2013 and the game is a little more refined and slicker. Socioeconomic tools such as cyclical recessions, “attempted” interracial marriages, gentrification, promotion of self-hatred through media, anti-sexual confusion and poor education are the new ways in which the system construct of racism (mistreatment) manipulates the current economic potential of Black people in the u.s. That’s why it’s important, at the very beginning of any venture small or big, to have a sense of strong organization and structure, an outline of a consensual agenda with principled interests and priorities and a vetting process to weed out counter-productive individuals. It is these essentials that must be used in laying the foundation for the establishment of a new economic framework. We also have to acknowledge the fact that they are some Black people, no matter how genuine our efforts may be and how much we love them, are going to refuse “risking” what little they have for a bigger and more rewarding venture. Realistically, if anything gets jumped off for the better, it will begin with small groups. When times become more challenging, that’s when people will finally wake up.

    I’d would like encourage any of you to take that chance, whatever you are thinking, and venture out on your own. It is risky, challenging but it is also rewarding. There are many Black people who are globetrotters and enjoying life by doing what they want to do. And not all of them are on the corporate dime either. Time is passing and waiting for no one. The Creator meant for us to live out our dreams and hopes just as others are doing. Why should we be the exception? I’m tired of seeing Black people lose. Just think of what kind of life you’d want 20 years from now, and not only for yourself but your children too.

  47. Emile

    That’s why you gotta invest in Africa. In some way shape or form, Africa is going to be our salvation.

    You know, the Chinese are over there right now doing “business”…they know our land is the richest place on earth.

  48. Quite a lot of Africans have immigrated to my area, and they are indeed invigorating the local economy. They run parking garages, start insurance agencies, take para-professional healthcare positions, etc. Their children are poised and confident. I sometimes try out my mostly forgotten high school French on the Cote d’Ivorians and Senegalese, which is good for a laugh if nothing else.

    One thing that is inspiring is how they aim high in life–that’s the reason they came here. I had a conversation with one Ethiopian woman a few years back. She had been destitute and starving during the 80s famine. She made her way to Europe and then finally to the U.S. We were talking about our children, and she deplored the U.S. public schools, saying how she was working extra to put them through private school. That impressed me. Decades ago this woman had been living on sacks of donated rice in the middle of a collapsed state. Now here she was bulldozing a path for her children in her new land, not settling for the public accommodations. If only the First World nations would clear out and let them find their own way, surely the rest of Africa could shine as well.

  49. Matari on said:

    I don’t recall if this has been already posted here or not. In case it hasn’t …


    101 Ways To Start A Business For Less Than $1,000
    (How to start a business without breaking the bank)


  50. http://colorlines.com/archives/2013/01/10_things_django_wont_tell_you_about_slavery.html

    Interesting article I discovered online. This illuminates the LIE that black people haven’t offered anything of value to america. It’s what I’m sure most of us here know but the author spells it out in a way that makes you marvel at how very different the WORLD would be without the stolen wealth gained from black chattel slavery.

  51. @ nmaat433:
    Great article full of truth. I believe this is why a renewed study of economics by Black people is s-o-o-o-o-o-o important. I was listening to a radio interview a few years back (forgot host and guest names) about the intellectual properties that were stolen and misappropriated from Black slaves and post-slavery Blacks, all of which were most of the primary factors behind the creation of america’s unprecedented wealth! Many inventions and patents were stolen from Black people during these periods, as well as their free skilled labor, were used by white agriculturists and industrialists to build the framework for u.s. economic power during the late 19th century and early 2oth century. The whole point that the host was trying to make was that of the interesting correlations that existed between the sudden upsurge of unheard-of technological applications used in agriculture and various industries and that of the two generations of Black people who were victimized by intellectual theft and exploitation by wealthy white men. There was a time when Black innovators, engineers, artists, designers and inventors could not legally apply for intellectual property protection and registration. If any convention did exist, it had to be done through the assistance of a white applicant (white men) who signed all authorship, licensing and financial benefits under his name. You can only imagine what happen to the original creators in getting compensated. When we tell white people of how much they are directly benefiting from these past exploits, their typical reactions (I didn’t own any slaves” and so on) indicates that they are ignorant of “true” american history, taking for granted all of the bullshit that they were taught about how it was solely whites who created all of the wealth throughout generations past. Or they consciously chose to deny these facts to avoid being held responsible in complying with reparational demands and inflation-adjusted compensation for these criminal acts. Even today, as whites benefit from generational wealth passed down to them from their parents and fore-parents, they still reject acknowledging the convention that was initially created to render them as beneficiaries.

  52. You are so right. I remember my mom (who grew up during the 50’s) said that she was thrown out of a history class b/c she argued that there was no way that Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin; her theory was that a black person had to have invented it b/c they were tired of picking that damn cotton. Where was the incentive for a white person? lol..I get that anti-authority gene from her. lol..but yes, there is no telling how many inventions were stolen from black people. And I don’t know how many are familiar with Royal Raymond Rife but once I read his story–I knew that the american system is depraved without redemption. For those unfamiliar, look up this man’s work and what the gov’t reportedly did to him and see why big Pharma is so intent on treating symptoms instead of causes of disease. On a side note: US Special Cancer Virus program was formed to find a ‘contagious’ cancer. Hmmm? Wonder curiously selective disease fits that profile? And I wonder does cancer have a political affiliation? Wondering that after realizing that 5 current Latin American leftist leaders have or are recovering from bouts with cancer? What are the odds?

  53. Great post. Thanks for teaching me what Drapetomania is. Very interesting.

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