A short post about black mental health-care and having a white therapist
I had a white therapist once and quickly left because I can’t sit there and actually look a white person in the eyes and not only talk to them about the racism I’ve endured but the fact I STILL have self-internalized racism in me that has been in me since I was a child. I can’t sit there and tell them about how I hated the color of my skin growing up and how I told my mom when I was SEVEN years old I wanted to be white. I can’t look a white person in the eyes and tell them the shit I’ve been through racially and they try to give me advice on it. So much of my depression has stemmed from racially traumatic events in my life and I’m not saying a white therapist can’t help me because I know for a fact there are white therapists out there who help people of color. But in good faith I can’t sit there and have my black tears falling on their couch and them trying to help me dissect what white people have done to me when they are white themselves. They have not done anything to me but I can’t do it and maybe it’s just not something you can understand unless you’re a person of color. To be honest and to maybe make it more understandable, I can’t even have a male therapist because I ALSO can’t look a male therapist in the eye and tell them the shit I’ve gone through with men and what has happened when they are a man themselves. Opening up to someone and being completely vulnerable emotionally to someone who is in the group of your oppressors is extremely hard to do.
When I talk to white people, even my white friends, about things that have happened to me that deal with race, it’s actually really nerve-wracking because I’m so terrified they’ll tell me I’m playing the race card or minimize what I went through or say I need to get over it and “not all white people” B.S. (which always pisses me off because I know it’s not all white people!). When I open up as a person of color to another white person, it’s a lot for me to do and it means in some way I trust you. And if that trust becomes threatened then I have to shrink away because I HAVE had friends tell me to “shut the fuck up about race oh my god get over it nothing even happens to black people that bad nowadays” (hello 12th grade!) And it just hurts. A lot. It hurts me to the fucking core.
Anyways, while I don’t really go to therapy anymore, I do have a black therapist and it’s just a better, less awkward, less nerve-wracking, less heart-panicking experience. I can open up about my black experience to someone else who probably most likely understands it even just the tiniest bit. Because not all black people automatically get each other and share the same black experience. But sometimes we really do empathize with each other when we hear each other’s experiences because we know it’s not right what we’ve been through. And I don’t make my entire life story around the racist shit I’ve experienced because my story is more than that, but the racist shit is definitely a few chapters long. And to be honest, I don’t need it read by people who are gonna feel sorry for me or feel I’m attacking them.