I had the pleasure of providing the keynote address for the Louisiana Mental Health Counselors’ Association Luncheon at the 2016 Louisiana Counseling Association’s annual conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The conference theme was “Diversity is the Spice of Life”, and it was important to me that I used this opportunity, speaking with a body of my peers, to say some things they may never have a chance to hear again. I gave an overview of Dr. Joy Degruy’s Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome and discussed some of the realities of why and how mental health treatment is failing communities of color. While there seemed to be a generally positive reception to the information I provided not everyone was pleased. For the first time in my professional life, my words were described as “provocative” and “unorthodox.” At first, I was taken aback by these descriptors. We have been socialized to believe that standing out in that way is a bad thing. However, after about an hour or so i began to feel pride in the fact that my words had garnered such a reaction. Maybe I accomplished exactly what I set out to do. Maybe someone in that room went home and thought about what was said and how it made them feel. And maybe, hopefully, they implemented a series of corrections that will increase the effectiveness of their work with the African American community and other communities of color. It is very possible that none of this takes place, and that they will go back to business as usual. Either way, I take comfort in knowing that they can no longer claim ignorance as a viable excuse.
Take a look at the video and let me know what you think. Are you familiar with the work of Dr. Joy DeGruy? What are some of your own personal biases that prevent you from being effective with communities struggling with the effects of PTSS?
**Video was recorded on a mobile device. The first and last 2-3 minutes failed to record. However I have inserted the conclusion at the end of the original video.