I actually thought I would get more upset watching these clips than I did but I think it's important because I do feel a lot of guilt about how people of color are treated in this country. I was aware of the disparity starting in high school, when I went to a very privileged high school (public but top rated) and i noticed the Black kids all sat together and I wondered why there wasn't more diversity in my school and what determined whether kids went to Nicollet (my school) or MPS (milwaukee public schools). I always noticed the disparity but I never questioned it. As I got older, and pursued a career in counseling and psychology, I took cultural psychology courses for my program and I learned more. it was a realization doing the privilege line exercise and seeing how far ahead of others I was based on race and being able to have my parents help pay for my schooling. I also took a multicultural literature class and an Asian theater and cinema class both for fun. Neither were requirements. I've always been interested in other cultures, particularly Japanese and Chinese culture.
Anyway, back to white guilt. So when I took the cultural psychology classes, it got me to reflect on who I was and as a white therapist (well someone studying to be a white therapist), do I even have the right to counsel people of color? But then I get stuck in that guilt and shame and become paralyzed as a result. I want to be a therapist for children and adolescents and I think if I'm counseling young children of color and their families, how do I avoid pathologizing cultural issues? How do I work with a population that has been abused and over-diagnosed by the mental health system. I wonder as a white person in a position of power as a therapist if I even have the right to treat a Black person. But I have counseled people of color in my room and usually the clients or I bring up race and I try to make it a point to discuss it in session. I have had successful sessions with clients of color I have seen for over a year. I think though my own feelings of guilt still come up. In addition, I feel exceptionalism or that I am a good one. Well, yes there's a history of slavery, but those weren't MY ancestors. My ancestors were Jewish and were fighting pogroms in Europe or fleeing the Nazis, so I don't actually contribute to a system of racism. but I do. I contribute every time i halfheartedly listen to a person of color's story. I contribute ignoring the homeless and choosing not to notice how Black people and people of color work more in the service industry, while people of lighter skin have higher level jobs. I choose not to notice how many more white therapists and social workers there are than mental health workers of color and in choosing not to notice, I become complicit and become a bystander.