Juneteenth: Blackness in Education

June 9, 2020 : Psy.D program – Carlow University Town Hall

It was a moving time for me and as expected for other students as well. #BLM.

My partner is in the National Guard and was sent to Philly the day before to “police” black America – per trump. My partner is also a white woman. We struggle a lot as LGBTQIA +++ misfits and we care for each other. We are all each other has and my education has helped us stay grounded in times like this.

The town hall was my break from my reality … and then … I had to fight further for my race and humanity within academia. I have always had to.

A break from reality as Black Person. What does that look like?

As a black student in academia I don’t feel as if I’m advocated for. I advocate for myself and that’s tiring enough. The program foundation seems afraid of my blackness and it’s kinda annoying at this point.

I’m authentic in discussions and I share my opinions as I believe they are warranted. All I ask is for the same in return. We have one of the greatest tools as psychologist which is our ability to understand the human mental capacity. I have to be aware that white American education does not encourage or build black America with our needs in mind.

I had a transformative experience in doctoral school that affirmed my genuine ability to reach people’s authenticity. I love that about myself. Each position I transitioned into specifically about healing within mental illness continued to reject my belief that focusing on wellness and regaining internal balance would help people feel grounded in a world that is full of ground to walk on.

My belief system is my experience of the world. By refusing that form of empathy to drive internal change it seems selfish. White America is selfish towards black people.

I am 26, I’ve given myself the grace to accept the things I can not change but that also means I can not change my goals to meet the demands of an education that has not considered what it is like to be a black student, a black persons, a black woman, a black homosexual, and a black psychologist.

I want to help people in pain – I want to help Black humans – as their pain is my heartache. I have to help the majority. Which is black America – right now.

I am so grateful for 2020 because of #BLM. The world affirmed my strength when I looked to my education and I was disappointed. To have strangers supporting you all over the world is “goosebumps kinda love!”

I want to think and conduct research with people who will build me up. I’m not sure what school I’ll go to next but it won’t be Carlow and that’s a fact I had to recognize in a moment of adversity. It gave me clarity.

In 2016, I moved to Greensburg, PA to start a masters in art therapy and then trump won. My partner of 3 years who is also a white female voted for trump. Her entire family did. 💔

In a predominantly white area like Greensburg, PA I never expected Seton Hill to save me. But they did. Well they helped me stay afloat until I was strong enough to go to doctoral school despite being the only black student – again. When this happens maintaining confidence and ego strength is a bitch. No one knows you are in pain. They don’t bring it up either. Do we even know we need help?

I wish I had that same genuine care and love in a program that aligns their morals with social justice. I was worried to start at Carlow University because I feared I would not succeed and I would be alone in my journey. I guess that’s the sacrifice my mom was talking about. “Go to school as long as you can – it’s the greatest freedom to learn”

-An African Single Mother of Four Black Children : Freedom is different for each generation.

I asked during our town hall meeting the questions:

What does it feel like to be white in America right now? What does it feel like to be black in America right now? Out of 52 people only a handful spoke up.

How does it feel to silence a room with your reality?

The moment I ask that question I knew I was not in the right place. Why am I always facilitating in room full of educators and academia protocols as the black student?

The town hall affirmed the same story: White America is uncomfortable with their experience of slavery. Black America is not- and will not be burdened with that guilt.

Black America is burdened by the projection of slavery from white America.

How come I have to hold your pain and my pain when you caused me the pain in the first place – even tho I’m “weaker”, “less than” , “unintelligent…” race … yet you create laws to never let me grow past your guilt of slavery.

Black Americans are consistently compartmentalizing their emotional pain and historical trauma just to survive a “race” they were destined to loose.

All while, supporting white ideals, education, money, crime, beauty, violence, laws, professionalism – I can go on.

White America validates my blackness. Which is our ability to persist past our empathy for white America. Which is to: love ourselves unconditionally.

We have had over 400+ years of slavery. That is beyond enough time to give yourself the grace to explore what happens next in the conversation of healing and supporting me – the black student psychologist.

Education measures what [it] wants to measure. I learned that in an intellectual assessments class. Taught by the only African American proffesor in my program. We read and explored the Mismeasure of Man. I’ve been in education for literally my entire life and she was the first person to let me explore the genuine hate that comes with our profession. Especially towards people like me. Black People.

Freedom is seen and felt , and you only know what freedom is if you’ve felt it. Similar, we choose to see pain. If we don’t – we fail at our job as therapist and as humans in my belief. After that, what’s next? Destruction of black America for the next 100 years? We must be better. I am going to do better for my community. That’s why I started this journey.

There is no ill will towards any of you or the Carlow community as a whole. My time has been filled with internal growth and knowledge that will last me a lifetime.

People are not all bad and people are not all good. But I will always choose me in deciding whats best for my education.

If you ask us how we are doing right now, the answer is that: black students aren’t doing well. We need support, empathy, compassion, and educational change that supports black cultures.

It’s going to be hard but please try… and even when it doesn’t work… continue trying.

Hire BLACK researchers, explore programs outside of university and education that will foster black culture and understanding. Implement research that encourages black healing after slavery. Accept BLACK students even if they seem uncertain to you. Teach students that black America is hurt and in pain. Psychologist have the right to.

Be the leaders in a time when we need you the most. If that’s hard please take time for yourself to explore what makes it difficult to grow a culture of blackness and black acceptance. I create art when I don’t where to start.

This is my reality as a black student.

Response Art: I already know that Black lives Matter. Do you?

With Intention,