African American Minister Fights for Protections Against Mental Health Abuse

We cannot be silent about the abuse of not only our African American children but also Hispanic, Native American, White and, indeed, all children. We must fight for their protections and abolish the stereotypical labeling of our past as a mental ‘illness.’ – Rev. Frederick Shaw

Rev. Frederick Shaw reminds African Americans of the Mental Health industry’s history of stigmatizing them—from labeling runaway slaves and civil rights protestors as mentally ill to segregating children in the foster-child-welfare system today and drugging them.  

By Rev. Frederick Shaw
CCHR International
President, NAACP Inglewood-South Bay chapter

As the country celebrated the remarkable life of Martin Luther King, I point to King’s quote about our children needing our presence. This is more vital than ever, with African American children being over-represented in foster care and drugged. According to one pharmaceutical company-funded group, African Americans experience more severe forms of mental health conditions. This stereotypes African Americans and redefines their history of slavery, discrimination and enforced poverty as mental illness rather than injustice. It justifies children’s segregation from their families and enforced mental health “treatment,” rather than better education and equal rights.

February marks Black History Month and I am committed to raising awareness about the pitfalls in placing African American children in foster and the child welfare system and special education, which I define as a new form of segregation. I am also garnering civil and human rights group support for a ban on the use of electroshock treatment.

African American children are being prescribed mind-altering drugs at an alarming rate that can cause suicide, psychosis, diabetes, hallucinations, hostility, heart irregularities, stroke, and other dangerous side effects. When antidepressants are seen to be unworkable, they can become potential candidates for electroshock. Parents need to make informed choices for their children and should know the history behind what is being offered as mental health treatment today:

  • According to the IQVia Total Patient Tracker Database for 2017, there are a staggering 7.2 million U.S. children and adolescents taking prescribed psychotropic drugs.[1] Factoring in a study of welfare children receiving mental health services and applying this nationally, nearly 20% of those children receiving such services are African American.[2]
  • African American children represent 23% of the foster care population, or 101,888 children,[3] yet comprised only 14% of U.S child and adolescent population in 2016.[4] In 22 states the percent of Black children in foster care is more than two times the percent of Black children in the overall child population.[5]
  • Foster care kids are sometimes given five or more drugs at a time, with some younger than five.[6]
  • Students in foster care are more likely to be suspended or expelled, score lower on standardized tests in reading and math, be involved in special education, have higher rates of grade retention and drop out, and less likely to attend and graduate from college.[7]
  • A JAMA Pediatrics study published in 2018 assessed patterns of psychotropic drug use in children insured by Medicaid, finding that by age 8 years, 10.2% of the children had received a psychotropic drug, 16.4% were prescribed two drug classes concomitantly, while 4.3% received three or more classes concomitantly for 60 days or more.[8]
  • In an article headlined: “The Black Academic Holocaust: Psychotropic Drugs and Black Students,” Dr. Rick Wallace, Ph.D. stated: “Not only is there an issue with young black students being disproportionately diagnosed with learning disorders, but they are also being prescribed psychotropic drugs at an alarming rate—with some being prescribed these medications as early as at the age of 18 months.” [9]
  • Even more alarming is that research shows foster care youths at risk for child sex trafficking. According to a 2018 study, close to two-thirds (63%) of sex trafficking victims reported a history of involvement with the child welfare system. Interviews with those who experienced sex trafficking found that 41% described being removed from their parents’ care and placed outside of their homes by the child welfare system at some time during their childhood, with 87% of those placements in foster homes.[10]
  • Too many Blacks, especially boys, are also identified for special education, which Gary Orfield, co-director of Harvard University’s Civil Rights Project reporting that “for a lot of these kids, this is a direct path to jail.”[11] Special education classes are just a new form of segregation.
  • The majority of all public school fourth and eighth graders cannot read at grade level, including more than 75% of Black, Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native children, according to The State of America’s 2017 report.[12]

Fellow African Americans are not often educated on the history of betrayal of the mental health industry. For example:

  • During slavery “mental disorders” attributed to African Americans were Drapetomania (drapetes, a runaway slave, and mania, meaning crazy) and Dyasethesia Aethiopis (impaired sensation). Drapetomania was said to cause Blacks to have the “uncontrollable urge” to run away from their “masters.” The “treatment” was “whipping the devil out of them.”[13]
  • In the 1960s, psychiatrists claimed civil rights protests caused violent “schizophrenic” symptoms in African American populations, labeling this “protest psychosis,” according to The Protest Psychosis, How Schizophrenia became a Black Disease.
  • Author, Jonathan M. Metzl, references a 1968 article by two psychiatrists who wrote that Black men were said to have developed “hostile and aggressive feelings” and “delusional anti-whiteness” after listening to civil rights leaders.[14]
  • Pharmaceutical company ads for psychotropic drugs used “African” symbols to reflect so-called “violent traits” in African Americans, [15] marketing the use of antipsychotics to treat this.
  • In the 1970s, the late Dr. Louis West, a psychiatrist who worked at University of California Los Angeles’ Neuropsychiatric Institute (NPI) claimed civil riots were caused by genetic factors in young Black urban males, and that they were “prone to violence.”[16] To curb violence, West planned to implant the brains of persons “suspected of violent trends” to small transmitters and monitors—an experiment the CIA had previously tried but failed to prove “workable.” The idea was to have, as Gordon Thomas, author of Journey into Madness documented, a means of “measuring the degree of violence.” Staff at central control stations would watch over screens producing signals from the implants. Thomas wrote that the first indication of an abnormal impulse was purported to “‘indicate the onset of violence.’ Attendants would rush with suitable psychotropic drugs to overpower the person.”[17] West also conducted mind-control experiments for the Central Intelligence Center.[18]
  • Psychosurgery operations were performed on Black children as young as 5 to control “hyperactive” and “aggressive” behavior.
  • In 1992, National Institute of Mental Health psychiatrist Frederick Goodwin compared Black youth living in inner cities to “hyperaggressive” and “hypersexual” monkeys in a jungle.[19] His solution was to drug 5-year olds with antidepressants for the “prevention” of violent behavior.

Dr. Wallace advised: “One thing that black parents should be aware of is the fact that mental illness diagnosis is highly subjective, depending on professional perspective and school of thought. The diagnosis of mental illness in children is far from an exact science. Modern psychiatry has expanded its reach to the point that even the most normal of emotions and mental states are now labeled as one ‘disorder’ or another.”[20]

People need proper and effective healthcare but not the damaging drugs and electroshock that passes for mental health treatment today. Martin Luther King told us that “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” We cannot be silent about the abuse of not only our African American children but also Hispanic, Native American, White and, indeed, all children. We must fight for their protections and abolish the stereotypical labeling of our past as a mental “illness.”

[1] “Total Number of People Taking Psychiatric Drugs in the United States,” obtained by CCHR International, ( IQVia Total Patient Tracker (TPT) Database, Year 2017) Extracted April 2018,

[2] “Mental Health Service Utilization Children/Youth in the Child Welfare System,” Child Welfare Council, 1 Mar. 2017,

[3] “Foster Care Statistics 2017: Numbers and Trends,” March 2019, p. 8,

[4], p. 14; In 2016, 10.1 million children were Black (14%) and 18.3 million were Hispanic (25 percent)

[5], p. 30; On September 30, 2017, there were an estimated 442,995 children in foster care, “Foster Care Statistics 2017: Numbers and Trends,” March 2019,


[7], p. 29



[10] Debra Schilling Wolfe, Med, “Foster Care Youths at Risk for Child Sex Trafficking,”

[11] Gary Orfield, “A Ghetto within a Ghetto,” Rethinking Schools, Vol. 17, No. 3, Spring 2003, Internet URL:

[12] firewird

[13] Samuel A. Cartwright, M.D., “Report on the Diseases and Physical Peculiarities of the Negro Race,” New Orleans & Surgical Journal, 1851

[14] Jonathan M. Metzl, The Protest Psychosis, How Schizophrenia became a Black Disease, (Beacon Press, Boston, 2009), pp. xii, xiv, p. 101

[15] Tanya M. Luhrmann, Ph.D., “The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease,” Amer. Journ. Of Psychiatry (online), Apr. 2010

[16] Peter Schrag, Mind Control, (Parthenon Books, New York, 1978), pp. 3-5

[17] Gordon Thomas, Journey into Madness, Medical Torture and the Mind Controllers, (A Vorgi Book, 1989), p. 425

[18] Colin A. Ross, M.D., Bluebird Deliberate Creation of Multiple Personality by Psychiatrists, (Manitou Communications Inc. TX 2000) p. 108;  Alan W. Scheflin and Edward M. Opton, Jr., The Mind Manipulators, p. 149

[19] Gerald Horne, “Race Backwards: Genes, Violence, Race, and Genocide,” Covert Action, Winter 1992-93, p. 29