A Giant on the Topic of Black Identity and Racism Dies at 80*
By Alyssa Rachelle
Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, a psychiatrist whose ideas about racism and society sparked years of debate and controversy, died on Saturday, January 2nd, at age 80.
Often described as Queen Mother of Black Consciousness, Dr. Welsing became famous for her work, “The Cress Theory of Color-Confrontation” in 1974 and later published the controversial The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors in 1991.
Welsing was born March 18, 1935 to Dr. Henry Cress, a medical doctor, and Ida Griffen, a schoolteacher, in Chicago, Ill. She attended Antioch College and graduated with her bachelor’s in 1957. She earned her doctorate at Howard University in 1962.
According to Blackamericaweb.com, Welsing joined Howard’s faculty as an assistant professor of pediatrics after working in the Washington, D.C. area as a psychiatrist. It was during this tenure when she published her essay, “The Cress Theory of Color-Confrontation and Racism (White Supremacy).”
In that essay, Welsing put forth the idea that racism was a worldwide behavior – and that whites’ status as a global minority feeds a fear that leads to oppression and violence.
In a 1974 TV appearance with William Shockley on Tony Brown’s Black Journal, Welsing said:
““I think that… even though most white people are not consciously understanding their problem in genetics, they are certainly aware that they are genetically dominated by people of colour – that’s why there’s the statement that one drop of black blood makes you black. Because people of colour have the genetic capacity to annihilate white people.”
According to Welsing’s account, Howard decided to not renew her position with the school after the publishing of the paper. She then began working with Department of Human Services and worked over two decades as a psychiatrist, mostly with children. She was acclaimed for her work.
The Isis Papers expanded on several of Welsing’s ideas around whites feeling threatened by the scope and reach of Black people around the globe, even down to the size of genitalia. The seminal book also explored the Black family structure, AIDS and the crisis of Black male and female relationships. In The Isis Papers Welsing wrote:
“The whole of white culture is designed to say that whites have [certain] qualities. Everything possible is done to demonstrate this. First, you have [only] white players, then blacks come in, but a white has to be the quarterback. Western culture has to project white supremacy. When blacks succeed athletically, whites are forced ‘up against the psychological wall’ because white youngsters are ‘brought up to believe a white has to be superior’.”
Welsing specialized in child and general psychiatry and her books were the basis for measuring the damage of racism in America and the world.
In calling for strong families and role models in the Black community, Welsing wrote, “Children are the only future of any people.”