Welcome to DIRECTIONS the monthly online newsletter of the Delaware Valley Association of Black Psychologists (DVABPsi). We look forward to providing our readers with pertinent information to support, encourage, and uplift our community and those who serve the community. May is Mental Health Awareness Month. There continues to be a need to eliminate the stigma connected to mental health. The goal of DVABPsi is to make a positive impact on Black Mental Health today and in the future.
DeBorah Gilbert White, Ph.D.- Editor Ayo Maria Gooden, Ph.D.- Co-Editor
Dr. Tashekah Smith
Delaware Valley Association
of Black Psychologists
Hotep DVABPSi Family,
Resilience is defined as the ability to bounce back in spite of the obstacles we may experience in life. Mentorship and support are two of the most vital components of resilience. When we are supported genuinely and guided by Elders who love and care for us, there are no limits to what we are able to accomplish in this life.
Most of us are able to identify at least one individual in our lives who have been there for life's major milestones and who supported and loved us through life's challenges. For some of us it's a family member, for others they are mentors or jengas.
When your jenga/mentor reminds you that "you can do it," you not only believe it, you wholeheartedly experience a warmth in your core that illuminates your spirit and gives you the strength to accomplish your goals. You know your mentor/jenga are on the sidelines cheering you on and are expecting you to succeed in life and will be with you as you celebrate.
This month, I hope that you take the time to show appreciation to your mentors/jengas, aunties, uncles, fathers, mothers, and all those who've mentored you in life. Be sure to thank these persons for their role in developing your resilience. If you feel alone and/or if you don't have a mentor/jenga, know that the Delaware Valley Association of Black Psychologists is here to offer that mentorship/jengaship and support that you need.
We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at our monthly meetings and Mbongis on Zoom!
Ericka So'uter in her article Mental Health In The Black Community interviews mental health experts to explore what are the barriers that keep us from seeking help when we need it. Following is an excerpt from the article that provides some insight:
Growing up in a military family, Aisha Shabazz moved many times throughout her childhood. Though the move to Delaware in 2000 was the most trying. In the past, she made friends quickly and had a sense of belonging. Now thrust into a school of a couple of thousand kids, the then 15-year-old was a bullied outsider. The experience left her dejected and disconnected.
A nurse, noting her demeanor during a physical for the track team, suggested she see the campus counselor. “She asked my parents to come in for a family session because I was exhibiting signs of depression,” says Shabazz, a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). “My dad refused to attend and my mom arrived and was pissed the whole time. It made no sense to me. If someone is telling you
that your daughter is struggling with a major life change, why would you refuse to hear what they had to say and express frustration about it?”
Now that she’s a therapist, Shabazz sees this scenario play out in her own Media, PA, practice, where she focuses on anxiety relief and confidence building. The notion of mental illness has long been cloaked in shame and embarrassment for the Black community. While this population is 20% more likely to experience serious mental health issues like generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder, a condition marked by persistent feelings of sadness, worthlessness, guilt, and thoughts of self-harm, they are also less open to seeking professional help. Experts across the country believe longstanding misconceptions about mental health have created barriers to care that are as complex as they are harmful. . . Ensuring access to care is critical. While Black young adults have higher rates of mental health issues, they are less likely than whites to receive services. Clinicians note that less access to adequate health care and the financial burden of treatment are factors.
To read the complete article visit Mental Health in the Black Community (webmd.com).
The Experience of Black Motherhood
Are Black mothers being placed under a more intense lens and if so,
what inspires this push to hold such expectations for Black women to be good mothers?
Mother of two and contract recruiter Pamela Jones, who is a mother of a nineteen-year-old son, stated that in her experience, there is a certain level to which Black mothers are expected to adhere to. Because of this standard, she felt that what her son did would ultimately be reflected upon her. “I just felt held to a higher standard with everything just how I raised him and how he presented himself. I felt like everything he did you know, I felt like people reflected on me, you know, how he was, which, you know, may or may not really be the case. You know, that’s kind of how I felt,” Jones said. This pressure to reflect a certain image of durability can be backed by a paper titled, “The Superstrong Black Mother,” by Sinnika Elliot and Megan Reid, which argues that Black mothers, if viewed as good, are meant to exemplify strength.
Initially emerging from Black communities’ valorization of Black mothers’ intensive efforts to raise their children and shield them from the dangers of living with racism and poverty, the superstrong Black mother image now dictates the terms of good mothering for Black women; be strong and be solely responsible,” Elliot and Reid said. The pressure to uphold a certain standard is something that Jones finds impacts the way she goes about existing in a predominantly white area. “I felt like I didn’t want to be the loud mom at the basketball games, or I didn’t want to speak up too much because I didn’t want to be looked at a certain way, you know, from the other parents and things like that.”
April Nicole, owner of Nicole Paradigm Media(a public relations firm) and a mother of two daughters (24 and 15), stated that with the diverse education she has provided them comes diverse situations, resulting in her conducting herself in a certain way. "You have to keep up this facade. And not even that it’s completely opposite of who you are. But even just living as a Black woman, we have to adjust when you know when in the presence of non-black mothers or not black families. So I’ve had to deal with it all of my life. Even before I became a mother just being in diverse situations,” Nicole said. Nicole believes that single Black mothers are pre-judged. “If you’re a single black mother, there is this stigma of your single black mother, you’re on government assistance, you don’t drive a nice car, you don’t live in a nice home,” Nicole said.
This is backed by the concept of the “Welfare Queen,” a stereotype that was present during the Reagan administration. This extends from the life of Linda Taylor, who committed welfare fraud through the 70’s. In an Op-Ed, LA Times writer Noah Remnick states that the “mythology,” of the bad Black Mother ignores that this is a result of the system Black women are in. “Like all mythology, that of the criminally bad Black mother spread through storytelling — lurid tales told with bitter resentment. Haven’t you heard the one about the jaywalking mother whose son was hit by a drunk driver? Surely you know all about the homeless mother who left her two children in the car during a job interview. And now there’s the McDonald’s mother who abandoned her daughter at the playground,” Remnick said.
The expectations that come with Black motherhood can also affect the way that Black mothers parent, and what is ultimately passed on to their children. As Jones points out, she had to teach her son what to do when being pulled over by law enforcement. This is referred to as “the talk,” and according to one article, this has become such a norm that one mother did not even have a discussion about what she was going to do. “The talk” for me was — how can I put into words — normal, which should not be normal? It’s a very sad reality. I remember not even having to discuss with my husband, “We’re going to sit down with Quintin, and now we should have a talk at this moment in time.” It wasn’t something we just said we’re going to put on the family calendar and plan it out,” mother, Querida Walker said.
Nicole stated that an aspect of Black motherhood for her was also teaching her daughters about racism they will encounter in their predominantly white neighborhood. “I’ve had teachers that have been racist towards my child, I’ve had a teacher called my child ghetto. And these conversations and you have a teacher calling your child to get on your checklist, five or six years old, they have no idea what’s going on. Why are you saying this? What does this even mean? So, it’s a lot of trauma that ends up just kind of being overlooked. And you have to teach these things. You have to deal with these situations,” Nicole said.
ShaJherika Whitfield, a mother of three and owner of Everchanging Motherhood stated that she also works to teach her children about the racism they will inevitably encounter, while still maintaining their innocence. Whitfield says, “I think just, trying to teach them certain things without making them see everyone in the world as a bad place- still trying to maintain their innocence, but also wanting to teach them boundaries with other races and boundaries with themselves and being comfortable with who they are, especially with so much going on right now. Like the pandemic and a lot of police brutality. You know, it’s really hard to navigate that as a black mother-that can be a huge challenge."
As for what can be done to support Black mothers (particularly those who are single) Nicole suggests having more conversations and having therapeutic sessions and forming spaces where Black mothers feel safe speaking about their difficulties. “I think there are more conversations that need to be had. I think therapeutic sessions where single Black mothers can get together doesn't have to be specific therapy. But, group sessions, situations where girls can gather and women can gather and they can have these conversations in a safe space and share these conversations with each other,” Nicole said. It seems as if strides are being made towards support for Black mothers, with groups such as Black Moms Connection, a support group centered around “increasing the social, emotional, financial, and well-being of the Black family.” There is also Akina, an app that was designed by mother of three Leigh Higginbotham Butler to create a safe space for Black mothers, aunts, and caregivers to connect.
Adaptation of article appearing in The Dallas Weekly, May 5, 2022, https://dallasweekly.com/?s=Black+Mothers
Who you callin’ a…………….
Psychosocial Effects of the “N” Word
by Faruq T.N. Iman, Ph.D., C.H.P.
This will be a brief examination of the psycho-spiritual effects of using the “N” word. However, using the “b” word, “w’ or “h” word and all profanity will be implicated by this brief examination. Is the “N” word and all profanity a reflection of our self-hatred that was taught to us or terms of endearment? The following excerpted article by Dr. Umar A. Johnson will attempt to put things in context.
Dr. Umar A. Johnson titles his article, Understanding Word-Symbols in the Black Community: The “N” Word and the Psychological Holocaust Against African People. (Mashariki Gazeti, Spring 2008). Can a word that has historically and contemporarily been used to dehumanize a race be borrowed by that same victimized group and used as a term of endearment? Unfortunately, many Americanized Africans would answer “yes” to that question. However, a much deeper psycho-racial analysis of the problem will reveal an inherent contradiction in the verbal behavior of these Americanized Africans who currently argue for the right to resurrect a term of oppression in a failed effort to prove that their” civil rights” guarantee them the right to have “equal access” to the same terminology that their natural enemies have used to stigmatize their entire global human family and render them decidedly beneath contempt.
Negro proponents of “N” word usage premise their right to use the word on the inaccurate assumption that all words are neutral and thusly only given power and meaning when invoked within a given social dynamic. However, what these “N-as-positive” Negroes fail to understand is that words, in and of themselves are symbols of much deeper conceptual and psychological meaning. The etymology of a word never changes and is permanently set upon its initial creation. In fact, words as symbols are created principally to give expression to thoughts and ideas that previously may not have existed. In other words, vocabulary as verbal symbolism is nothing more than the lettering of views, perspectives, concepts, and beliefs that previously were without expression in any given language.
Drs. David Pilgrim and Phillip Middleton from Ferris State University wrote about “N” word caricatures. (Mashariki Gazeti, Spring, 2008). There is a direct and strong link between the “N” word and anti-black caricatures. Although the “N” word has been used to refer to any person of known African ancestry. It is, usually, directed against blacks who supposedly have certain negative characteristics. The Coon caricature, for example, portrays black men as lazy, ignorant, and obsessively self-indulgent. These are the traits historically represented by the “N” word. The Brute caricature depicts black men as angry, physically strong, animalistic, and prone to wanton violence. The Tom and Mammy caricatures are often portrayed as kind, loving, “friends” of white folk. They are, also, presented as intellectually childlike, physically unattractive, and neglectful of their biological families. The “N” word was a shorthand way of saying that blacks possessed the moral, intellectual, social, and physical characteristics of the Coon, Brute, Tom, Mammy, and other caricatures.
The Coon – 1900’s Postcard Mike Tyson – The Brute Uncle Tom Mammy
Dr. Iman is a psychotherapist in private practice, a certified holistic practitioner, and a retired educator. He is currently senior consulting editor of the Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi) newsletter, Psychdiscourse, and editor of the ABPsi Eastern Region newsletter (i.e. The MasharikiGazeti). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What We Do
We chose to help empower those
Who struggle and suffer in pain, Dr. Denise Hinds-Zaami
Who need kind guidance through their woes
To get on their feet once again.
Some struggle to gain sobriety;
Some sleep in streets so cold.
Some are shunned and rejected by society
With nowhere else to go.
There are elderly living alone in fear,
Unaware of their benefits, too,
Often worried that nobody gives a care,
And resigned to a future so blue.
There are those who are ill from nutritional lacks,
Feeling hunger and pain so severe
So with pantries, and kitchens, and kind-hearted acts,
Food is offered to them through the year.
Some falter in coping with stress and strife;
All their dreams and hopes unrealized.
And it's hard to re-enter community life
When you've been institutionalized.
Many cower at home, fearing violent streets;
Some would like to have jobs to go to.
Others numb their souls in daily repeats
Of drug use and denial, too.
Mental, physical, emotional and spiritual
Balance is what we encourage;
Strength and faith in life's renewal
To those too quick to discourage.
Human Services is our calling,
Our commitment strong and true,
Helping helpless, homeless and hungry
. . . This is What We Do.
From REFLECTIONS OF MY LIFE: A Book of Poems and Thoughts by Dr. Denise Hinds-Zaami. Dr. Hinds-Zaami serves as a member of the Board of Directors for NYABPsi and Chair of the NYABPsi Legislative & Social Action Committee.
REGION WIDE ZOOM CONFERENCE Saturday, May 28, 2022
10:00 am to 1:00 pm
Ending Black Community Violence and Toxic Trauma
AN URGENT CALL TO ALL BLACK COMMUNITY PROFESSIONAL HEALERS [ psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, social workers, faith-based and secular Black community leaders, et.al.]
BLACK PROFESSIONAL HEALERS are urged to submit brief abstracts of proposed presentations to be made at the Zoom conference. DVABPsi will curate/review all proposals and provide assistance in obtaining funding for evidence-based, toxic trauma-informed, effective group and individual psycho-social healing programs and therapeutic techniques that are culturally appropriate and generational and systemic oppression informed.
DEADLINE to submit brief abstract Wednesday, May 11, 2022. Please submit all abstracts and questions to DVABPsiorg@gmail.com
Tasheka Smith, PsyD. President, Cole Holmes, M.Ed. and Ingrid Tulloch, Ph.D., Co-Chairs-
Community Outreach Committee (DVABPsi.org)
Join The Association of Black Psychologists (www.abpsi.org) and DVABPsi.
Make your contribution to healing our people!
Free CEs for Licensed Psychologists and
Act 48 Hours for Educators
Advertising Products (Books, Research, etc)
Afforded the Opportunity to Present your Books
or Research during our monthly Mbongis
Mentoring for Graduate Students
Community Partnerships and Involvement
Job Opportunities Notices
Networking with other Blacks in the Field
Opportunity through a Partnership to get
Supervision for Licensure
Will advertise your Workshops/Training or Business
to Members and other Mental Health Professionals
JOIN The Black Health Trust every Sunday 12:00 pm PDT/3:00 EDT
Visit https://www.blackhealthtrust.org/ for updates and more information.
A CALL FOR PAPERS
Calling all articles (scholarly, opinions, etc.) about Africa, Africans, African Americans, psychology, advertisements, events, poetry, quotes, and announcements. The Mashariki Gazeti (MG) is published twice (i.e. September and March) during the fiscal year (i.e. August to July). Submission deadlines are August 15th and February 15th.
Advertise employment opportunities, business ventures, office space, conferences,
business cards, trips, and other events. Our circulation reaches over 300 people in
Boston, New York, New Jersey, Delaware Valley (i.e. Philadelphia and
surroundings), and Washington, D.C.
$100.00 – full page
$50.00 – ½ page
$25.00 – ¼ page
$15.00 – business card
Advertisements must be camera ready. Make checks or money orders payable to:
Dr. Faruq Iman
Articles, etc. Submission
Please submit all articles, ads, etc. to:
Faruq T.N. Iman, Ph.D., C.H.P., Editor
1301 N. 54 th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19131-4307
(215) 921 – 2557