Deflection, in a psychological sense, is a method of changing the course of an object, an emotion or thought from its original source. It is a strategy used increasingly in the Black community wherever problematic issues arise. For example, when allegations about inappropriate sexual behavior started circulating about comedian and educator Bill Cosby, there was an outcry from the Black community with people saying “What about Weinstein, what about the Catholic priests, what about all of the other white people who have been accused of sexually inappropriate behavior?” Enter R. Kelly – a recent docuseries that is very damning to him features alleged victims testifying that they were abused by him. There are allegations that he actually has young women who are in a sex slave cult. Parents of two of the young women started a campaign in order to bring attention to the situation so that they can extricate their progeny from R. Kelly’s clutches. Predictably, a very vocal group of people, many of them women, are basically blaming everyone but R. Kelly for the situations. They ask, again, “What about Weinstein, what about the Catholic priests who are molesting children, what about Hugh Hefner?” They are also blaming the parents of the girls, or calling the girls “fast hoes” who are willingly putting themselves at R. Kelly’s disposal in order to advance their careers.
All of the foregoing are examples of deflection, i.e., ignoring the original issue while bringing up another one that may, or may not, actually relate to the original situation. Many African Americans, probably due to the long history of oppression in America, are overly protective of anything that threatens members of the community, especially Black men. The situation is so intense that there are those who will go to any lengths to deflect accusations of Black male misbehavior. The result is that some Black wrong-doers are getting the message that they can do ANYTHING and get away with it because the Black community will support them. They will always be protected and there will be a deflection that will take the pressure off of them. A very wise African American male philosopher/scholar wrote a book in which he talked about the plight of the Black male. He said that we love our sons but raise our daughters. As a result, many Black males who have chosen to embrace criminal behavior have not been held accountable. Because we are aware of the oppression that comes from the white community, we are protective. This behavior dates all the way back to slavery.
Why is it important that we recognize and adjust our behavior when it comes to deflection? First, if we are to address our dirty laundry it must be aired. We can’t correct those things that are harmful to our collective well-being if we cannot see how we are sabotaging ourselves. In other words, the more we rely on deflection, the further away from truth that we will find ourselves. This does not mean that we should resort to witch hunts to seek and destroy all of our alleged wrong-doers. What it does mean is that we should strive to look at every situation with balanced vision. We must give people the benefit of the doubt while at the same time using discernment in order to hold people accountable for behavior that can contribute to community devastation. Ignoring those things within that are harming us will only worsen the situations that confront us because wrongdoers will become more emboldened to continue deleterious behavior.
There is truth and falsehood in most situations that cause us trouble. We know right from wrong. We know that we should not harbor and enable those who would rape and pillage us from within. We know that all boys or all girls are not wrongdoers. But we also know that some of them are. We must remove the deflective blinders from our vision so that we can separate truth from falsehood and consequently identify the correct course of behavior that should be taken. If we are to save ourselves and our progeny, we must start this journey now! Deflection has no place in the search for truth. A Luta Continua.