Words From a #BlackTherapist

Updated: Jun 5, 2020

As a Black therapist, I have struggled this week seeing people hurting from the things going on in this world .Cultural stress is a huge part of mental health; so much so that we have move towards ways on how to be more culturally competent with services From my experience, I grew up attending a predominant white institution. I was "perceived" as the angry Black girl, the one who always spoke her mind and didn't care what I said. I was also perceived as the Black girl who changed her hair every week. "What hairstyle this time?" was a common question I got asked by peers. I thought nothing of it because I had thick skin. Truth be told, I tried to shy away from saying much due to not wanting to be labeled a certain way. Even though I felt accepted, even though I was the first African American Prom Queen, and many other achievements - I knew there was a part of me missing.

Once I attended an HBCU, it filled that missing piece. I realized that it was okay to be assertive and speak my mind without being labeled. It was a well needed move to help me understand myself. I was educated on experiences of the past and how rich my culture was. Shout out to FAMU's Psychology Program for the help!

As I became a therapist, my experiences began when my students told me stories about the social injustice they witnessed for themselves or those around him . All of this did one thing -affected their long term mental health. It made me realize maybe I am missing a crucial piece of education and treatment for them. I reflected on so many questions of "I don't get why all this is going on can you help me understand?" Truthfully, we can no longer shy away from these situations. Our kids are suffering because we are not talking about it. No child comes home and points out race unless it is learned behavior. Education is power -power brings healing- Healing is rooted in education. It is all Connected. So all my experiences, education and questions poses two thoughts : 1) How can healing begin from years of injustice and trauma that have happened towards African Americans? I created an analogy of STOP to begin the healing process for individuals who may suffer from cultural stress.

S- Seek a safe place to process my feelings. Whether it is your home, the park, or your backyard, having a space to understand your feelings is important T- Take a time-out . Focus on a activity that can you project all the negative energy inside you feel. Many relaxation techniques like deep breathing, yoga, and meditation can help soothe you. O- Only rely on the facts of social injustice to help you heal. UNDERSTAND NOT EVERYTHING ON THE NEWS/MEDIA IS TRUE. Try to limit yourself on all what you take in. However, Some people heal through actively educating themselves on events that are happening.There is a slew of literature that supports social injustice that you can access at your local library P- Practice self care as it pertains to social injustice. Understanding that everyone won't have the same response or feelings you have about this subject. You do not have to engage in every conversation about injustice- this can contribute to your tiredness. Take the time to take care of you and your mental health by resting, writing, and seeking social support 2) How can I educate myself and others on social injustice?

I saw this list of media sources from a Facebook friend on how to educate ourselves on the experiences of African Americans in this country from slavery to present. I've removed and added some things for kids. Films: - 13th (Netflix) - American Son (Netflix) - Dear White People (Netflix) - When They See Us (Netflix) - See You Yesterday (Netflix) - If Beale Street Could Talk (Hulu) - Detroit (Hulu) - The Hate U Give (Hulu) - Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 - Clemency - Fruit vale Station -For Colored Girls - Just Mercy -Hidden Figures -The Great Debaters -Remember the Titans -Zootopia -Do the Right Thing - Selma - The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution -Malcolm X -Sankofa - Moonlight - Notable Black Filmmakers: Ava DuVernay, Jordan Peele, Spike Lee, John Singleton, Ryan Coogler, Barry Jenkins, and Kasi Lemmons are a starting point. Books: -Know Thyself- Na'im Akbar - White Fragility (Robin Diangelo) - I’m Still Here (Austin Channing Brown) - An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz) - How to be Anti-Racist (Ibram X. Kendi) - So You Want to Talk About Race (Ijeoma Oluo) - Me and White Supremacy (Layla Saad) - The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas) - The Bluest Eye (Toni Morrison) - The Source of Self Regard (Toni Morrison) - Notes of a Native Son (James Baldwin) - Kimberlé Crenshaw’s work on Intersectionality - Wade in the Water (Tracy K. Smith) - Notable Black Authors, Scholars, and Theorists: Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Angela Davis, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Angie Thomas, Audre Lorde, Cornel West, Tracy K. Smith, and bell hooks are a starting point. Music: - Albums “Lemonade” A Visual Album by Beyoncé **accompanied by film visuals** “Dirty Computer” An Emotion Picture by Janelle Monáe **accompanied by film visuals** “To Pimp a Butterfly” by Kendrick Lamar “The Electric Lady” by Janelle Monáe “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” by Lauryn Hill “EVERYTHING IS LOVE” by The Carters “Redbone” by Childish Gambino “Straight Outta Compton” by N.W.A. “Still I Rise” by 2Pac - Singles -J. Cole, “Be Free” -Beyonce -"Freedom" -Daye Jack feat. Killer Mike, “Hands Up” -Prince feat. Eryn Allen Kane, “Baltimore” -Rhiannon Giddens, “Cry No More” -The Game feat. Rick Ross, Diddy, etc., “Don’t Shoot” -Changes-2pac -Blood Orange, “Sandra’s Smile” -Common feat. John Legend, “Glory” -Jay Z, “spiritual” -“This is America” by Childish Gambino

Theatre: “What the Constitution Means to Me” by Heidi Schreck The Pittsburgh Cycle/Century Cycle by August Wilson “A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry “Les Blancs” by Lorraine Hansberry “Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf” by Ntozake Shange “Notes from the Field” by Anna Deavere Smith Spotify also has a list of music you can listen too. Now is the time to educate yourself on social Injustice and how it plays a huge part of cultural stress with minorities in America. Now is the time to understand why African Americans feel a disconnect in how they are expressing their feelings about social injustice. Words from a Black Therapist,Cultural trauma is real- education is power -use that pain for power!

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