The Silent Fraternity: Minority Male Traumas and the Mystical Power of Silence
Emory University, Candler School of Theology
How have African American men who have been socialized to suffer in silence coped
with traumas that are socially taboo? This study examines three culturally stigmatized traumas faced by African American men - pregnancy loss, prostate cancer, and men separated from their children due to incarceration. While not thematically linked, I have encountered these issues with frequency in private pastoral and counseling situations. I stress my notice of these traumas in private consultation because while public awareness or these issues is heightening. I hypothesize that many African American men will face these issues in silence, privately, or alone, if at all. However, I have also become aware of a more clandestine response to these traumatic events. Numbers of African American men. bonded together through these initiatory traumas, form "silent fraternities" as private and informal networks of support. This interdisciplinary project (pastoral care, mystical theology and public health) examines the utility of this fraternal order as a support network, raises awareness of long-stigmatized traumas, and proposes practices or care to inform Christian communities seeking to assist African American men. Key in this study is a practical theological exploration or how 20th and 21st century Christian mystics have utilized silence to promote healing.
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