July 1, 2021
Welcome to DIRECTIONS the monthly online newsletter of the Delaware Valley Association of Black Psychologists (DVABPsi). We look forward to providing our readers
wiith pertinent information to support, encourage, and uplift our community and those who
serve the community. The goal of DVABPsi is to make a positive impact on Black Mental
Health today and for the future.
DeBorah Gilbert White, Ph.D.- Editor
Dr. Ayo Maria Gooden
Delaware Valley Association
of Black Psychologists
. WHEN WILL WE BE FREE?
On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass was invited to address a crowd of primarily Caucasians/Whites.
He stated, ”…Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today?
What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of
political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us?
The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is
shared by you, not by me.” Since 1776, the 4th of July has been widely celebrated as Independence
Day in the United States of America. However, Melanics (People of Color) were not included in the
freedoms experienced by Caucasians/Whites. Blacks were held by Whites/Caucasians as enslaved
people until 1865. Native People were being massacred, scalped, raped, mutilated, and forced onto Reservations. Asians and Latinx people were abused (emotionally, physically, and sexually), and massacred. The abuse of Melanics and the denial of freedom has been a national process supported by laws created by Whites/Caucasians to support their undeserved privileges. Blacks and other Melanics
have been taught to celebrate the holidays observed by Caucasians and accept them as “ours” instead
of the biased tools of mental and cultural enslavement.
In June, 2021 Juneteenth was made a federal holiday. It is the oldest holiday celebrated by Blacks
in the United States to mark the last official group of enslaved Blacks in the United States who received
the news on June 19, 1865, that all Blacks were free from slavery. The speech by Frederick Douglass is
a profound statement and warning about celebrating the holidays of those who have been oppressing
Blacks and other Melanics. What appears to be an effort to include Melanics in a time of celebration is
in reality the wiping of Melanic memories and replacing them with the memories that require the rejection
of reality. Melanics were not free in 1776 and have limited freedoms in 2021. Rabbits do not lay eggs.
A fat Caucasian/White male does not slide down your chimney and give you presents.
Christopher Columbus never stepped foot on North, South, or Central America. He got lost and
landed on what is now Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Columbus massacred over 8 million Taino
people on the island and began slavery. He also died in prison after Queen Isabella caught him stealing from her. Thanksgiving does not commemorate the peaceful meals shared between the Native People
and the Pilgrims. The Pilgrims invited the Native People to eat with them and then slaughtered every
man, woman, child, and baby. After committing these heinous crimes up and down the East Coast, they gave thanks for delivering this new homeland from the “heathen savages.” Why have these holidays
been created while altering the truth? If everyone knew the truth about these and other holidays, the
spell would begin to be broken. Healthy Caucasians/Whites would not feel proud of the numerous
atrocities committed against Melanics in the past or present. Melanics would begin to see Caucasians
as they see themselves, imperfect people who need to be healed from the ravages of racism, sexism,
Are Blacks and other Melanics free? Do Melanics have the freedom to wear their hair in natural
hairstyles without experiencing discrimination in hiring, academics, and social interactions? Are laws
equally and fairly applied to Melanics? Do Melanics have the power to implement self-determination or, Kujichagulia, which is the second principle of the Nguzo Saba celebrated during Kwanzaa? Embracing Black holidays is one strategy to reclaim who we are and who we should be or who we should
become. Holidays help individuals connect to their cultural group. Blacks have been indoctrinated by
Caucasian/White society. Freedom starts with controlling your own thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors.
Blacks and other Melanics must start embracing culturally-specific holidays and creating meaningful traditions that help to heal and build from institutional racism.
Learn about the challenges your parents, grandparents, and others have experienced. Examine
how challenges were overcome. Create family businesses and support other Melanic businesses. Stop cursing. Stop name-calling. Stop emotionally, physically, financially, and sexually harming other
Melanics. Use your free time to join organizations that are fighting against racism, sexism, and other
“isms.” Explore who you are and what you can do to make your life and the lives of others better.
Eliminate those behaviors that prevent you from being your best you. Stop smoking. Stop drinking
alcohol and using drugs. Exercise and eat healthy foods. Surround yourself with healthy people.
DVABPsi can provide you with help to reach your goals. Healing from past hurts and trauma is a
journey best taken with the guidance of a trained Black professional. DVABPsi has the professional expertise to illuminate your spirit and provide you with effective strategies to heal your life.
Harambee! Harambee! Harambee! (Let us all pull together).
Hotep (Peace and Blessings)- Ayo Maria Gooden, Ph.D., ABPBC, LLC
Guest Contributor: Ingrid K. Tulloch, Ph.D.
Why Black People Should Pay Attention to Inflammation
Black people should pay attention to inflammation because both ancient and modern physicians recognized its role as a leading contributor to death and disease. Reports on translated Egyptian Papyri suggest that this most ancient society had descriptions of inflammatory conditions, their consequences,
and potential treatments for the conditions.1 The Harvard Medical Dictionary of Health Terms defines inflammation as "The body's reaction to injury or infection. It is characterized by swelling, heat, redness,
and pain."2 Most individuals think of inflammation in similar ways. Others relate inflammation to a specific disease, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBS). Generally, inflammation is a non-specific response
to anything harmful or stressful to the body.3 Chronic stress is detrimental to the body. The body’s
response to stress involves chemical signaling molecules as part of the stress and immune response.
For example, the hormone cortisol is one such chemical signal. However, the release of a group of small proteins called cytokines is another stress-signaling process. Researchers measure inflammation in
terms of the concentration of cytokine signaling chemicals.4 Thus, it might be easier to define
inflammatory cytokines as the body's alarm signal for mobilizing resistance to stressors.
A stressor is anything interpreted by the body as potentially dangerous. This danger can be real or imagined and directly or vicariously experienced as stress. Stress includes short-term physical changes, such as a vigorous exercise session that increases blood flow.5 This type of stress is beneficial. It puts
strain on the muscles in the process of strengthening them. Stress can also be a wound, in which case inflammation and cytokine-induced release of fluids and increased temperature at the wound site is necessary for bringing germ-fighting chemicals to the wound. Inflammatory cytokines also trigger the
increased production of immune cells to the wound site to facilitate healing. Elevation of cytokines in
these situations is usually a short-term and appropriate response to these types of stressors.
Stressors are also psychosocial conditions that have a negative impact on health. To illustrate the
point, imagine, if you may, an individual struggling to breathe each day because they live in a
neighborhood with high levels of toxic substances. The toxins cause asthma or make asthma and other inflammation-associated health conditions worse. For someone with asthma, when exposed to a
triggering substance or allergen, inflammatory responses occur throughout the body but especially in the respiratory system. Asthma is a chronic stress inflammatory condition that affects a larger
proportion of Black than White individuals.
Environmental and genetic contributions to inflammation and disease
Source: Kronfol Z. (2000) Cytokines and the Brain: Implications for Clinical Psychiatry. American Journal of Psychiatry.157 (5):683-694
The systematic and institutional racism that promotes the construction of major highways and toxin-producing industries in or near majority Black neighborhoods is one causative factor of this stressor. The journal Science recently reported on a class of environmental pollutants known as fine particulate
pollution (PM2.5), disproportionately affecting Black and other non-white communities in the United
States. This type of pollutant is the leading contributor of death due to environmental toxins.
The "[…]emission sources that disproportionately expose POC [people of color to PM2.5]are pervasive throughout society."12 Systemic racism underscores socioeconomic marginalization and exclusion.
These efforts result in job scarcity, mass incarceration, home or business loan denials, and limited or no access to fresh produce, green spaces, and adequate health care. These social realities contribute to chronic stress conditions such as asthma.13, 14 Stress causes and perpetuates chronically higher
cytokine levels in the body. Black bodies withstand the most and the worst types of these inflammation-inducing stressors even when highly educated and economically stable.15 It is then not surprising that
Black Americans have higher basal levels of inflammatory cytokines from conception to death.16–19
For example, a significant proportion of Black males who died from Covid-19 disease complications had extraordinarily high inflammatory cytokine levels.16 Rapid and significantly elevated cytokine release is
a feature of complications due to Covid-19 disease. One can imagine that having an already high
baseline level of inflammatory cytokines might contribute to mortality.
Citing the World Health Organization's report on health indices, a StatPerls research review suggests that approximately two-thirds of all chronic disease conditions are related to inflammation.17 Furthermore, increases in inflammation-related chronic conditions and death are predicted for the next thirty years.18 These are health conditions that top the list of the leading cause of death in the United States, and Black people are disproportionately affected.19 Conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes top
the list annually. However, allergies, arthritis and joint diseases, cancer deaths, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and autoimmune conditions are also high on the list.
Inflammation in multiple disease conditions. Source: Ambrose Cell Therapy
Additional conditions associated with chronic inflammation are neurological and mental disorders
such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, anxiety, depression. These conditions are all increasing or
occurring at earlier ages in Black Americans.20, 21 For example, the proportion of Black children
committing suicide surpassed white children for the first time in 2018. The suicide rates of black children were increasing while it was in decline for white childen22. These Black children likely had high levels of brain inflammation because studies have reported increases in inflammatory cytokines in the brains of individuals who attempt and complete suicide. 23,24 Compounding these health concerns is that Black people are terrorized and traumatized directly through systemic discriminatory psychosocial conditions
and indirectly through media reports. Almost daily, one hears of another Freddie Grey, George Floyd, and
too many others to list in a short article. The terror and homicide committed against individuals that share one's skin color and because of their skin color would naturally keep black bodies in a constant state of biochemical and psychological alarm. That alarm is a chronic inflammatory state, and such conditions
lead to chronic illness, early death, or suicide.
What can be done?
Things that be done to mitigate chronic inflammation are challenging when one is immobilized by terror
and illness as cited in a review of cytokines in health and behavior6. However, we can and must consider
the following seven items. First, can and must acquire knowledge, and reflect on how our thinking and behavioral responses either exacerbate or mitigate inflammatory conditions as our biochemical alarms
are blaring for us to do something. Second, we can and must search for and use green spaces to relax
and breathe deeply. Third, we can and must start moving as Michelle Obama encouraged us to do
because physical activity promotes the production of healing chemicals in the body. The increased blood
flow also allows these chemicals to reach areas of the body desperately in need of them.24 Fourth, we
can and must eat a life-promoting diet and avoid death-promoting refined sugars and toxified protein sources.25,26 Many spices, fruits, and vegetables indigenous to Africa and available in the West contain anti-inflammatory substances. 27,28 Fifth, we can and must get sufficient sleep because lack of sleep increases inflammation.29 Sixth, we can and must engage in more healthy social interactions and relationships and community building30. When unhealthy social interactions cannot be fully avoided, we
can take time to rejuvenate through meditation, prayer, or even a walk in the park and find other
like-minded individuals. Seventh, we can and must continuously educate ourselves on how we are
affected by and affect the world around us.
Living while Black is living with a body in a constant state of inflammation. We might be greater than
our bodies but we need our bodies in this world to be able to do the important work we were born to do.
As Black educators and practitioners, we need to pay attention to the conditions and behaviors that lead
to inflammation and its associated health consequences and work together to mitigate them. To do
otherwise is to accept a leading cause of chronic disease and death as documented by the Ancient Egyptians and currently discussed and studied by biomedical researchers worldwide.
Dr. Ingrid K. Tulloch is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Morgan State University since 2018. She serves as the founding Director of the Animal Research Core Facility, an NIH-supported Research Centers in Minority Institutions
(RCMI) core laboratory. Dr. Ingrid Tulloch earned a BA in psychology with special honors at Hunter College and a Ph.D.
in psychology at the City University of New York Graduate School. She completed post-doctoral research in the
Molecular Neuropsychiatry Branch of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Tulloch’s research uses animal models of addiction to understand how early life experiences and biological
processes interact to influence risky behaviors. Her recent research has examined psychosocial factors and
inflammatory cytokine activation to predict risky health behaviors. She has co-authored several papers on the
molecular mechanisms of addictive substance-induced toxicity and mentored over thirty undergraduate students in psychology and neuroscience. In her spare time, she gardens and volunteers as a tutor and instructor of psychology
and statistics at the Maryland Correctional Institute in Jessup, MD.
CONGRATULATIONS DR. AYO MARIA GOODEN
The Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi) has selected our President Dr. Ayo Maria Gooden
as a 2021 ABPsi Service Award recipient. Dr. Gooden was selected based on her outstanding record of service to the African -American community. She will be recognized with the other 2021 award winners during the Awards Ceremony at the ABPsi Virtual National Convention on Saturday, July 24, 2021,
5:45 pm - 6:30 pm EST. Congratulations Dr. Gooden from the officers, members, and friends of the Delaware Valley Association of Black Psychologists (DVABPsi).
2021 ABPsi Annual Convention
July 22 – 26, 2021
The ABPsi International Convention provides an outstanding educational program that includes continuing education units and general professional development. Keynote speakers, general panelists, and general sessions cover a diverse array of topics related to practice, research, and professional development training dealing with the total well-being of our world community.
For more information visit: