What have you learned this Black History Month?
October is Black history month. While it seems right that we give specific focus to this, I wonder why it is we have only one month in twelve where we focus on black history. Should we not be celebrating black history as an integral part of our collective history all year round? Given this sadly is not what is happening, it’s important we have this October focus to give prominence to black history.
The events of recent months with the Black Lives Matter movement have been an eye opener for me. As a caucasian woman it has long been easy to take for granted my experience and to assume it is the experience of others, to get complacent and stop putting myself in other people's shoes. I am glad of the opportunity to learn so much more about how it can be for minority groups, and to really step into this experience and suspend what I previously thought I knew.
We all belong to many groups, potentially including those of our ethnicity, gender, sexuality, socio-economic background, geography, spirituality, politics, family history and more. Some we may strongly identify with, some may be side issues for us.
We are all unique. We have our idiosyncrasies and foibles, our talents and USPs. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we all had a level playing field on which to express ourselves without fear of favour or disadvantage? I wish the world were that way, and I want to do what I can to help it be.
Psychotherapy is a place where clients should be able to come and be fully who they are, in all of their multiple identities. It is a space where we can differentiate and understand, where we can celebrate and integrate. Where our whole self is welcome, with no part left behind.
It is my responsibility as a practitioner to be alive and awake to my own filters, assumptions, beliefs, values and biases. I need to reflect on them, to hold them in awareness, and to make sure as far as possible that they do not negatively influence the work I do with my clients. I am human, like anyone else, and I will not always get this right. What I can do though is have humility, I can continually reflect, learn, assimilate information, and challenge my thinking.
I am glad of Black History Month to remind me of the values I signed up when I took up my profession. What has most stimulated your thinking this Black History Month?