Dear White Psychologists: – #BLM Guest Post

This author chooses to remain anonymous. The author is a Black, cisgender woman who is finishing up her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology at a school in California.


Dear White Psychologists:

A lot of you are so damn exhausting! As a black psychology intern who will soon enter the world as a psychologist, I am so concerned about the profession I have chosen. I’m concerned for myself, and even more concerned for BIPOC and other marginalized groups for whom we have the privilege of bearing witness to their healing. The frequency and severity of micro and macroaggressions I have experienced in this field, from supervisors, chiefs of psychology, professors, and program directors are extremely disheartening. I sometimes question if my presence in the profession makes me complicit in this culture of covert (sometimes overt) racism that is so prevalent. It is maddening the countless times I have experienced psychologists’ lack of ability to engage in self-reflection when given feedback about racist policies, comments, and supervision.  Instead, they become defensive and blame the victim of the offense and often expect the victim to teach how to not victimize them! A lot of us are leaving training programs disempowered and utterly exhausted. 

And, if that is how the field can treat us, what are you doing with your BIPOC clients? You cannot compartmentalize white supremacy! Do you hear me? If you are racist with us, it is showing up with your clients. And no, I cannot help you change your ingrained racist ideology. It is not my job, unless of course, you are going to provide me with a stipend outside of this meager paycheck we get as trainees. That is an example of your entitlement and white privilege to think black bodies whom you victimize are required to help you not victimize them anymore. How are you even psychologists?

Quit asking us for tips on not being racist.

Quit breaking down into tears and wanting us to comfort you when you did something racist. 

Quit ignoring our pain, frustration, tears and anger when we experience your racism.

Quit telling us that we are too sensitive to your racism and then when it is popular and sensationalized to be anti-racist, you then want to have five hundred conversations.

Leave us alone right now.

Do your own research. After all, you are already a Psychologist, a Professor, and so ironically charged with evaluating us on the very concepts you yourself are not able to comprehend.

I am sad. I am angry. I am exhausted and somewhat hopeless. And I find very little solace in how Mr. Floyd’s lynching has become sensationalized and you are now appalled and anti-racist. Are you really? Change, sustainable change, is more than statements and posts. If you were not advocating for us in this way after all of the other deaths, what is different now? And I mean advocating beyond simply being a part of an organization that is advocating. How do you show up in your life? Are you an ally when we are not around?  A lot of folks are jumping into the action stage of change without doing the necessary personal work. This tone-deaf, half-assed, “I want to not be seen as a racist” approach, increases the likelihood that people who look like me, including your BIPOC clients will continue to be harmed by the lack of cultural humility, responsiveness, and competence that plagues this field.

Do the fucking work, for real this time. 


A tired AF (almost, in one month) Black Psychologist

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About Karen Kelsky

I am a former tenured professor at two institutions--University of Oregon and University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. I have trained numerous Ph.D. students, now gainfully employed in academia, and handled a number of successful tenure cases as Department Head. I've created this business, The Professor Is In, to guide graduate students and junior faculty through grad school, the job search, and tenure. I am the advisor they should already have, but probably don't.

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