What Is Black on Black Prejudice?

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What is black on black prejudice? In keeping with my belief about ‘Authenticity and bravery in sync,” it is impossible to not address an issue that I believe is pervasive in the black community. Prejudice towards other blacks is extremely pervasive in the black community but it is very rarely talked about. Even in working on this post, and researching recent articles, the results were very limited. Most people would not use the term ‘racism’ to address the prejudice that exists within the black community, because it’s not black and white or across racial groups.

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Our race has, for centuries, been told that white is perfection and black was of no value. We tend to underestimate the lasting effects of slavery. Slavery had more deeply-rooted issues that we tend to understand or admit to. We know that the church was crucial to helping slaves maintain their identifies, cultural practices, and keeping hope alive for a better future. But on a relational level, we really do not know much about how they dealt with their pain. Hence, our race is filled with so much complex trauma. There are deeply rooted issues that are not talked about and are just left to fester below the surface. Some of these issues include loss of identities, loss, forgiveness, acculturation, depression, assimilation, shame, mortality, embarrassment, and ignorance. There is a wide gamut of feelings and thoughts that come with recognizing that you are black, you are a descendant of a slave, and you may not even know which slave. With the entrenched and conditioned beliefs that our race has been exposed to, it is no wonder that we have internalized a lot of those beliefs. ...

Mental Health in the Caribbean: Changes in the Afro Caribbean

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The Caribbean is seen as this place of paradise for visitors to come and frolic for a period of time and then return to their lives. The truth is that many people that live on these islands have never experienced the tourist attractions for the islands they live on. Underneath all the sunny days and rolling seas lies everyday people with thriving cultures built on independence from colonialism. The underlying social impact is slowly rising to the surface with the rise of mental health problems in the Caribbean.

When I was growing up, mental health in Jamaica was a foreign term. Psychologists existed but it was not a very socially accepted field. When I shared with my family, my desire to become a therapist, most of my family members laughed and joked that I would “deal with the crazy people.” In Jamaica, the people that walked the street – oftentimes barely dressed and carrying a heavy scent – were called “mad woman” or “mad man.” I guess maybe these would be considered the extreme cases as they had not received the help they needed before and had basically become societal outcasts. You were either normal or like these people in society’s eyes. I was young and did not fully understand that these people probably had various mental illnesses that were left untreated since our island did not believe in the concept of mental health. Even now, if the term “mad woman or man” in Jamaica is typed into Google, there are YouTube videos showcasing these people’s lives for the world to see. In graduate school, I began to realize that many of these people probably had diagnosable mental illnesses such as major depressive disorder and schizophrenia. ...

Black Panther: A Mental Health Perspective

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The Ryan Coogler film, Black Panther, has been breaking records and making waves in the media. A Marvel Entertainment big budget superhero movie that is set squarely in the Marvel cinematic universe (Black Panther is an Avenger) but has become a movement all its own. As a movie buff and a big superhero fan, the excitement and anticipation for that movie was so inspiring to watch, and just plain fun to be a part of.

The movie sports an almost all black cast, with strong individual characters, and clearly depicts the African continent in all its glory. The movie covers so many different themes from self-identity, power, family, betrayal, forgiveness, tradition, modernism, futurism, politics, and so much more. I saw the movie a few times during opening weekend in different locations and it was interesting to observe the various audience reactions to the movies. In the urban and mixed areas, the reactions to the movies were relaxed, engaging, and responsive throughout the movie. In the suburban area, the audience was reserved and quiet, barely laughing at the jokes.

As a therapist, there were more than enough of themes in this movie that affect the mental health of the black community. So, I realized that I had to write a post on this moment in pop and black culture.

Spoiler Alert – Please note that the post below contains spoilers from the movie!!

Mental Health Perspective

Black Men – Can we talk about the power of seeing black men in positions of power and authority? In the movie, T’Challa is a black prince who becomes a king. The black men in the movie are seen with grace, humor (M’Baku), authority, power, and self-control. They are not shown as the media tends to portray black men – as criminals or social outcasts. ...

When Did You Begin Accepting Your Black Self?

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“When did you accept your black self? When did you add your blackness into your self-identity?

When did you first acknowledge it? When did you begin to like being a black woman/man?”

I did not always like the fact that I was black. For many of us, accepting our blackness comes with a lot of history and responsibilities? Though, you may not be aware of it, at some point, you had to go through a self-acceptance process to make sense of who you are. I wonder how many people are walking around in their lives and have not experienced this process?

My Black Experience

For me, the day had to come where I could look in the mirror and I accept the reflection that looked back at me. In my home country of Jamaica, I became quickly aware of the fact that I was supposed to hate my dark-skinned complexion. I became quickly aware that although I was being raised in a country that was black, the people that had the money and influence were not always my race, and soon on the heels of that, I began to learn that people who were lighter-skinned were viewed as prettier and more appealing. I often got reminded that my skin was too dark, that I should never marry anyone that was my complexion or darker because my babies would be too dark, that my lips were too big, and all the other issues associated with having a dark-skinned tone.

At a young age, I discovered that I was not happy with who I was, and that I should not be happy with who I was. When I moved to the US, I moved to New England where I was suddenly often the only black person in the room, or a handful of blacks in the room. I developed a new practice of immediately counting how many of us were in the room, a practice I still do today, something that I have come to recognize as a norm within the black community in America. I suddenly felt a weight that I never experienced before. Because I was often the only or one of a few present, I now had a responsibility to my race to behave, to speak well, to become a positive representation as I met people who had never met or did not have many interactions with black people. Although, as an adult now, the situation may not be the same as in New England, I still find myself being one of a few in the room often and still feel that responsibility. As a therapist, that responsibility seems to have become magnified as I recognize the low levels of representation within the mental health field. ...

How Awesome Is Our God?

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This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise.”

Isaiah 43:21 KJV

I was reading a devotional (I forget which day it was) and after reading it, I just felt amazed. Sometimes, we are so busy with our lives and distractions, we just forget that God really is good all the time. The service that I went to this past Sunday also reinforced those thoughts that I had. We get bogged down with complaining about everything that we never take the chance to just relish all the small and daily miracles that God gives. It rained for two days this weekend and I’m sure everyone, including me, was complaining, and saying…enough of the rain. Then, I was watching the weather and the meteorologists was reporting how much we needed the rain.

I know that sometimes we are just so focused on our lives, and the issues that we are having within them, it is hard to lift our head and minds out of the fog and look at the big picture. So, this post was my reflection to God on his small mercies that I take for granted. Small mercies such as, having a car, having a working car, having a few days of 60-degree weather in the middle of winter, waking up excited about the work that I am doing, and the list goes on and on.

These thoughts were especially on my mind as Lent started today (February 14th). I have seen a lot of the posts on social media that are either using Lent as a joke or social media trend and that just really me of the importance of remembering why we celebrate these holidays in the first place. ...

Why Do Black People Suffer With Mental Illness In Silence?

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 I like the Instagram account of Mental Minute Project (@Mentalminuteproject) who showcases videos about people who are living with mental illnesses. I have noticed that there are a few minorities on the page who have shared their stories, and I wondered why there weren’t more videos from minorities. I am so thankful for those who were brave enough to share their stories. We need more conversations like these within our communities. Thank you to MMP for providing the platform for others to share their stories.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reported that approximately 1 in 5 adults in the US experience mental illness; that’s approximately 40 million Americans who are dealing with mental illnesses, there should be more videos from people of color.

As a therapist and a woman of color, I recognize there are many people of color who still believe that in seeking help, they are expressing weakness instead of strength, and this is just not true. It is always easier to hide from the things that cause us pain instead of dealing with them head on. It is always easier to give up than it is to fight for something that matters.

African Americans tend to focus a lot on past assumptions and past histories, we have a hard time of letting go of the past and focusing on the future. A lot of the prevalent thoughts and beliefs about mental illness are outdated and incorrect and we may not always be willing to amend or change our ideologies and assumptions when presented with new information. ...