In the wake of the killing of Tyre Nichols, and the countless other lives brutally taken, we are reminded of the lack of value of Black lives. This is yet another tear in the wound we carry, that never has a chance to heal. The political agenda to remove African American studies from curriculum because it “lacks educational value” is yet another reminder of the lack of value placed on the contributions and histories of African Americans. It is evidence that supports our need to yell “Black Lives Matter.” This affirmation is not simply a slogan, but it is a reminder of our humanity and value to others and ourselves in juxtaposition to other lives.
In spite of the continued atrocities and attacks on the African American spirit, I still have joy. I am full of joy today because I know this agenda to keep us down continues to be recycled because we won’t stay down. With each barrier that is built, we break it down, over and over again. We not only thrive in every field in which society has tried to marginalize us, but we have created joy within our own circles. We are trendsetters, gamechangers, and wavemakers. Yes we have pain, and we turn that pain into purpose, progress, and power.
As president of Counselors for Social Justice, and as a Black woman in America, it is my mission to support the mental health and wellness of the Black community, and that extends to all oppressed communities that have been misrepresented, misdiagnosed, and made invisible in our mental healthcare system. All oppression is connected. Given our sociopolitical climate, mental health should be at the forefront of all of our minds. As providers, ask yourself, “how am I contributing to the pathologizing of the communities I serve?” As counselor educators ask yourself, “how am I marginalizing the voices of my students of color?” And then make a commitment to educate yourself and take action, remembering that advocacy is core to the counselor identity.
On this first day of Black History Month, I honor the tears that have been watered and the blood of the slaughtered, that makes it possible for me to stand at last. I hope you all join me in standing up for equity and justice in our profession and in our society. I hope you reject the comfort of silence and the posture of “just listening.” And to my fellow Black Americans, I leave you with a remix of a remix. Can’t nobody take our pride, can’t nobody hold us down. Oh no, we got to keep on moving!
Happy Black History Month #Black365
Ebony White, PhD, LPC, NCC, ACS
President, Counselors for Social Justice
2021 Recipient of the ACA Dr. Judy Lewis Counselor for Social Justice Award
Commissioner, Anti-Racism Taskforce – American Counseling Association