Thoughts on Damon Tweedy’s article in NYT

The need for more Black doctors is much more complex than skin color. As an African American psychologist, I have run into people who do not want to see me because of my skin color. I once had a Latino male tell me that he believed people with dark skin are less than- he was transferred to me from a White female- and he felt that he was given a therapist who was second best because he wasn’t good enough. I have also had people specifically request to see an AA because they have had extremely negative experiences with non-AA therapists. So, is it just skin color? No, of course not.

The Latino male viewed me through the lens of his personal experience, because he was darker than his siblings and was treated worse than his siblings, he came to the realization that it was because of his skin color. However, in his story, he shared that his mother was spurned by his father and she was deeply in love with him. He didn’t hear this and did not give me the chance to help his process this. His mother took out all of her frustrations on him because he looked too much like the man she loved but could never have.

I have discovered that when non-White patient requests someone of their own ethnicity, it is usually because of negative treatment. Let’s be honest, AA have been notoriously mistreated by the medical profession since we were forcibly brought to this country. The first that comes to mind is J. Marion Sims for not only his surgical procedures on female slaves, without anesthesia, but also for his experiments on enslaved Black infants for trismus that always resulted in death. And of course, the oft-cited 40 year Tuskegee syphilis experiment; forty years!

As I previously stated, it is not as simple as skin color. It is about the common mistreatments from the medical community and the history of social injustice in this country that AA continue to face on a daily basis. It is the deeply entrenched beliefs held by so many people, including other minorities and AA themselves, that make it so difficult to trust those in power.

Because the problem is complex, the solution must also be complex. In the article, Dr. Tweedy suggests that accepting applicants to colleges based on socioeconomic diversity instead of race is a start; I think a better first step would be attacking racial disparities in neighborhoods, elementary, and high schools .

Implementing true multicultural diversity in the teaching materials in undergraduate and graduate school is also necessary. I can honestly say that the multicultural class in graduate school was a joke and all of the students treated it as such. There was NO dialogue about privilege, economic disparity, or social inequities, nor was there a discussion about the economic and racial differences of the students and their patients.

Those are just a few suggestions, there are many, many more ways of reducing the racial disparities in the medical community. But it would be a good place to start. Look, I get it; race is extremely difficult to talk about. White people don’t want to feel guilty about something they are benefiting from and Black people don’t want to feel less than when the issue of slavery comes up- and it will. There is so much anger from both sides that it is hard to get past, but if we don’t talk about it, this country, my country, will NEVER reach its potential.


In the first few sessions of therapy with patients, I like to discuss goals: what do you want to accomplish in therapy, work, relationships, or life in general? I have asked this question so many times that it has become routine. This morning, when I was awakened in the wee hours (I didn’t realize it at the time but my hamster Buttercup had escaped her cage), I started thinking about the question and how it applied to my life. It is a difficult question- one that definitely cannot be answered while looking for a fugitive hamster- but I decided to write down how I achieve my goals. Below is a simplified version of how I get to the finish line and onto the next goal(s).

Five steps to reach your goals.

  1. Make a plan to achieve your goal. Once you have spelled out exactly what you want, figure out what you need to reach it. A broad goal is “I want to improve my relationship.” Improve how? Let’s say, you and your partner argue…a lot… like everyday. One specific goal could be, “I want to reduce the amount of arguing in my relationship.” That’s a good goal. You could start the week by tabulating how many times you argue and/or you could figure out what you are arguing about.
  2. Examine your obstacles. What is keeping you from achieving your goals? Is it you? Your partner? Your job? What is it that is getting in the way?
  3. Be Flexible. This is rather important. Sometimes the obstacles that get in your way seem immovable, if you are not flexible enough to find wiggle room or ways to readjust your goals, you will more than likely give up.
  4. Be kind to yourself. There will be stumbling blocks and setbacks, there will be people who will try to tear you down (yeah, haters gonna hate). When you are kind, gentle, and loving to yourself along the way, it will make the goal that much sweeter when it is reached.
  5. Be kind to yourself.

Why is 4 repeated? It needs to be, as it is one of the most important steps.  We don’t give ourselves enough kindness as it is and a little reminder is a good thing.

Hello there!

Since starting my private practice I have decided to start a blog. I have been pondering this for several years but never took the plunge. Now seems like a good time, especially since EVERYONE is telling me I need a “presence” on the interwebz (too cheeky?); so, here it is.

I’m sure there will be some blunders along the way so please have patience with me. I will post musings on the state of psychology (from my point of view, of course), informative articles, tips, and sometimes pics of cute animals just because. I hope you will join me for an interesting journey.