Black Lives Matter: Statement from the Black Mental Health Graduate Academy

June 07, 2020

A statement authored by members of the William James College Black Mental Health Graduate Academy: 

Our country is broken and in crisis, but this is not new: 400 years of White supremacy* has meant this reality has existed for generations. We, the members of the Black Mental Health Graduate Academy, are in pain. We are full of rage. We are raw. We are tired. We are exhausted by the constant hypervigilance we experience as we try to keep our Black bodies safe and our resilient souls intact. It is past time for societal change. 

Given the profound lack of mental health providers of color, and the associated epidemic levels of misdiagnoses of  people of color, we at the Academy are playing a critical role at the forefront of this needed social change. We ask you to join us. We are specifically calling on our White brothers and sisters to stand in solidarity and to assume responsibility for tearing down the veil of White privilege that has for too long, and with devastatingly deadly consequences, permitted these traumatic realities to be ignored or denied.

George Floyd’s name has now been added to a long devastatingly heartbreaking list of victims, of America’s dehumanization of Black lives and policing practices, which includes Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Botham Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. The casual cruelty on display, on May 25, 2020, as Mr. Floyd’s life and soul drained from his body in broad daylight and in full view of many is one of innumerable tragic examples of the daily and persistent physical and psychological burden of White supremacy. Dismantling White supremacy requires that White allies loudly and unequivocally condemn systemic racism, while aggressively rooting out its resulting disparities. 

The Academy stands with social justice allies from all racial/ethnic and cultural backgrounds to create fundamental change in our society and in the fields of psychology and mental health counseling, as we stand with our Black brothers and sisters who are in righteous pain. 

Academy Scholars: Oluwafunmilayo Aguocha, Adetutu Ajibose, Nathalie Alexis, Regina Banks, Sade Callwood, Michelle Codner, Samuel Kwame Dance, Sohenga Depestre, Fatuma Dzilala, Melanie Robinson Findlay, Ava Floyd, Carmaudely Galliotte, Kriselle Green, Ashley Hernandez, Errol Hudson, Beverly Ibeh, Alexis Leca, Simone Matthews, Deon Mowatt, Gabrielle Palmer (alumnus), Dr. Damon Pryor (alumnus), Carol Rannie, Roslyn Sanders, LaTashia Raymond, Jehovanie Robert, Jessica Sharp, Donicka Suprice, Darryl Sweeper, Pilar Tucker

Academy Student Leaders: LaNisha Allen, Briana Reid, Tia Rivera, Lisa Saunders

Academy Director: Dr. Natalie A. Cort

Black Mental Health Grad Academy Scholars

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*White supremacy refers to a “…political, economical, and cultural system in which Whites overwhelmingly control power and material resources” (Ansley, 1989, p. 1024n). It is based on the implicit and/or explicit ideological belief, enforced by racially discriminatory practices, in the innate superiority of the White race in comparison to racial/ethnic minority groups (i.e., people of color), especially in matters of intelligence and culture.