Imagine having to sit your unapologetically black ass down and vent about your life obstacles, repentance, and embarrassments to an individual whom you have never met. Better yet imagine conversing with that same individual who may have already passed judgment about you prior to your “Thank you for taking time to meet with me today.” salutation.
First and foremost I would like to acknowledge the committed psychiatric clinicians who aid in overseeing and regulating our mindfulness. Thank you. For had it not been for your professional intervention, I would most likely still find myself self-coping on my bathroom floor, crying to both Jhene Aiko and Drake at 2:00 am. Well more often than I would like to admit. Truth be told, the abundance of mental health resources that are “accessible” are not as “accessible” to persons of color. What I mean is this. “People who look like me do not receive the same psychiatric resources and care as much as people with the whitest of skin.” Resources are either obsolete, concealed, withheld, or quite expensive. Especially for those with language barriers and uninsured. I vividly remember being so ignorant about mental health resources other than the suicide hotline. Counselors in high school were inattentive, and the counselors in undergrad were completely dismissive (unless you were suicidal of course). My friends always joke about how therapy and psychiatry is a “white people thing”. But white people are receiving adequate treatment. White people are receiving adequate treatment, because they have adequate resources. Resources that are not concealed. Resources that are not withheld in communities. Resources that are affordable. Resources that are openly expressed during their annual physicals after expressing their increased stress levels to their provider. Who tells minorities? Who is educating and dismantling stigmas to melanated communities regarding mental health? Who? How many of you can sincerely concede personally knowing a black mental health clinician? How many of you can sincerely concede to ever being treated by a black mental health clinician?
“I Can’t Relate”
My psychiatrist’s name is Kelly. And she is amazing. She smiles, ask me how my morning is, and even rubs my back when I need to breathe. She attentively listens to me speak and while listening she documents. Kelly is white. She is an amazing clinician, and her and I have been seeing meeting every three months for the past thirteen months. But as amazing as Kelly is… she is a white woman. She is a white whom may never truly understand me. And that is alright. It is alright because she does not have to. But if she wanted to, she must then be open to the raw truth of being a woman of color. And that is where the barrier lie.
Representation matters in minority communities, and it is time we start passionately acting like it. As much I would love to sit down and express my life trials, self-esteem battles, and adult trauma with a psychiatrist who looks like me… I honestly do not know any. And with all do respect, white men and women you cannot relate. You cannot relate as to why black women get misconstrued as “angry” or “aggressive”. You cannot relate as to why black men are instinctively apprehensive while around white women seeking their attention, and white men of L E G A L P O W E R . You cannot relate as to why people of color feel the urge to code switch, and consciously watch their behavior while in your presence. When in all actuality, your predisposed judgments don’t allow us to be anything greater than a negative connotation to you and your beautifully ignorant children in which you’ve conditioned. So you empathize and sympathize. And as flattering as that may be, it does not change the fact that you still can’t relate. It does not change the fact that my depression to you may be what you think is stress. Nor does it change the fact that my panic attacks to you are just an excuse for me to be an ” intermittent introvert”. But your gestures do not go unnoticed. So I thank you.
I can’t relate to those who have a black psychiatric clinician. I can’t relate to those who have a person of color to relate to. I can’t. It is not because psychiatric clinicians of color do not exist, but simple because they are not publicized to melanated communities. It is not because we are not asking the right questions, but because we are not receiving the correct answers. Know the difference.
*Here is a link of a list of black providers in the United States per state thanks Therapy for Black Girls!