Black History Month: Our Past, Present, & Future
Written By: April Sumter
Synergy eTherapy Intern
The month of February, we celebrate Black History Month recognizing pioneers who have paved the way for African Americans today.
Without the sacrifices made by our pioneers to fight for equal rights, there would be no African American scientists, political leaders, physicians, athletes, teachers, counselors, and surgeons who work alongside their fellow partners who are judged by their job performance rather than their skin color.
As I began to think about the many monumental events in history including Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, March on Washington, and Brown v. Board of Education, what stands out is how they came together and supported one another as they stood for justice.
I can only imagine how African Americans were treated which could have brought about feelings of anger, sadness, shame, and frustration, etc. With such feelings, individuals sought counsel from their community members.
The community provided individuals with the encouragement to go back out there and fight for equal rights another day. Also, the church and/or individuals’ faith played an important role in their lives which enabled them to connect with a higher being through prayer.
As we fast forward to the present, we have come a long way but still have much more work to do. We have all heard of the many unjustified shootings of our Black men and women. For many of us, hearing about these racial injustices is not just another news story, but something many of us have lived and dealt with too often.
Many Black men, women and children may have felt anger, rage, disappointment, sadness, hopelessness and/or frustration. Everyone copes differently with hearing about and living through these events. Mental health (and mental health therapy) in the Black community is still taboo; however, it is improving. There are many Black therapists that could provide Black clients a safer place to process their emotions in regards to racial injustices and continued disparities in our nation.
From generation to generation, Blacks may have been taught to seek God for guidance and/or talk to a family member or friend. By seeking counseling, individuals could feel they are being judged for the information shared with a counselor. Seeking counseling can be a sign of weakness rather than viewed as strength to recognize one has a problem.
How do we move forward as a community?
- It is important to educate our Black friends and family about how matters of the heart can affect our mental health including stress and medical issues. Overall, our mental health is important. We must take care of body, mind, and soul.
- Model it! If you are a Black parent or caregiver, model for your kid(s) that seeking support from a trusted counselor can be a positive thing.
- If you are a Black high school or college student and have an interest in the mental health field…then go for it!! We need you! Whether you want to go into a Master’s program or get your Doctorate, the more Black therapists in our communities the better.
- If you are a non-Black therapist (more specifically a White therapist), begin to connect and engage further in training on topics like White privilege and learn about Black history.
If you would like to schedule a FREE consultation to learn about therapy with me while I’m an intern with Synergy eTherapy, please go to my bio page to learn more and schedule.