As we end Black History month and head into Women’s History Month, I would like to send a special shout out to all the girls that run the world. We have certainly come a long way which is evident in the current leadership of our parent organization, the American Counseling Association, and our divisions. This year, 17 out of the 19 divisions of ACA have women at the helm. Furthermore, I am proud to say that almost half of our divisions are currently led by Black women. So, on this last day of Black History Month join me in saying the names of the Black women who have led us and continue to lead our professions forward for the 2022-2023 year.
Dr. Kimberly Frazier, President – American Counseling Association (ACA)
Dr. Natoya Haskins, President – Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES)
Dr. Angela Coker, President – Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development (AMCD)
Dr. Ebony White, President – Counselors for Social Justice (CSJ)
Dr. Valerie Russell, President – American Rehabilitation Counseling Association (ARCA)
Dr. Dannette Berksteiner, President – Military and Government Counseling Association (MGCA)
Dr. Lakeisha Matthews, President – National Career Development Association (NCDA)
Dr. Tamekia Bell, President – Society for Sexual Affectional Intersex and Gender Expansive Identities (SAIGE)
Dr. Martina Moore, President – International Association of Marriage and Family Counselors (IAMFC)
It is with enormous personal sadness that I tell you that Mark Pope died last week. Mark had a long list of professional accomplishments, most notably as a founder and leading author in the area of cultural diversity issues in our field, especially GLBTQ career development. He was president of ACA, NCDA, and many other organizations. He received the National Career Development Association’s highest honor, The Eminent Career Award, and ACA”s Humanitarian award. Mark was the Thomas Jefferson Professor and Curators’ Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Mark described himself in an interview for Rich Feller, for the NCDA Newsletter, as, ‘A poor gay Cherokee with Spina Bifida from southeastern Missouri.” The accomplishments of this man, who had in some views, many strikes against him, are awesome. But more important to me was his unrelenting friendship. He found time for a loving relationship with his husband, Mario Carlos. He had many friends, mentored countless students and other new professionals, wrote prolifically, and ‘walked the talk.’ He was a founding member of CSJ, always came to the annual luncheon, and was a staunch supporter of social justice in everything he did. He was my friend. I shall miss him.
Jane Goodman - CSJ Retiree Representative
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