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  • Dorothy E. Roberts (a1)

In March of 1969, a Black man from Detroit named Abdul-Rasheed Karim arrived at Ionia State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Ionia, Michigan, after spending two years locked up in prison and a psychiatric ward for a fight that started when he was assaulted by three White boys, then brutalized by the police who responded. Mr. Karim, who suffered two broken ribs, a cracked tooth, and a deep skull laceration, made the mistake of hitting one of the officers who were beating him with clubs. As Metzl quotes, the clinical evaluation that led to Mr. Karim's transfer to Ionia noted “cultural retardation is thus a significant factor in his schizophrenic disease” because he had been “socialized toward ghetto survival” (p. 143) as a child. The doctor interpreted Mr. Karim's Islamic beliefs as “religious delusions,” writing, “his identification with the Black Muslim group is a projection of his feelings of inadequacy” (p. 143). Once at Ionia, doctors treated Mr. Karim's hostility toward authority figures by confining him to a maximum supervision ward where he was injected daily with escalating doses of antipsychotic drugs.

Corresponding author
Professor Dorothy E. Roberts, Law School, Northwestern University, 357 E. Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611. E-mail:
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Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race
  • ISSN: 1742-058X
  • EISSN: 1742-0598
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