Lay My Burden Down: Unraveling Suicide and the Mental Health Crisis Among African Americans, by Alvin Poussaint, M.D., and Amy Alexander
The legacy of slavery persists in stress-related illnesses and self-destructive forms of behavior. "Researchers believe that racism has contributed to the high rate of hypertension, heart disease and other stress related illnesses in the black community," write Harvard Medical School professor of psychiatry Alvin Poussaint and journalist Amy Alexander. "Psychologists have argued that long after emancipation and the end of legal segregation, the conflicts inherent in being black in America have led many black people to attempt to escape from the pressures of being second-class citizens through the use of drugs, alcohol and other forms of self-destructive behaviors, including suicide (and homicide)."
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).