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the national Association of Black Counselors

Black Excellence vs. Black Elitism: The Role of the Black Therapist

25 Mar 2024 4:26 PM | Dr. Nick Battle (Administrator)

In the realm of mental health, the concepts of Black excellence and Black elitism take on a unique significance, particularly in the context of therapy. As Black therapists, it is crucial to understand these concepts and their impact on our clients and communities.

Black excellence is often perceived as individual achievement in education, capitalism, athleticism, and celebrity. However, true Black excellence transcends these narrow definitions. It is about collective upliftment, community empowerment, and cultural advancement. It is about building and supporting each other, challenging systemic barriers, and celebrating our diverse talents and experiences.

On the other hand, what is sometimes labeled as Black excellence can be better understood as Black elitism. Black elitism, in contrast to Black excellence, is exclusionary, divisive, and can perpetuate harmful ideologies. It can involve conforming to dominant norms, distancing oneself from parts of the community deemed unacceptable, and aligning with oppressive systems like misogyny, bigotry, patriarchy, and capitalism.

As Black therapists, we must be aware of these dynamics and their impact on the mental and emotional health of our clients. The pressure to conform to elitist standards can create feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and internalized racism, especially among those who may already be vulnerable due to lack of access to resources or other systemic barriers.

Our role as Black therapists is not only to provide clinical support but also to challenge these harmful narratives and promote a more inclusive and community-oriented approach to mental health. We must strive to create a safe space for our clients to explore their identities, challenge societal norms, and build resilience against the pressures of Black elitism.

By understanding and addressing these issues, we can play a crucial role in supporting the mental and emotional well-being of our clients and communities. We can help them navigate the complexities of identity, challenge oppressive systems, and strive for true Black excellence that is inclusive, empowering, and uplifting for all.

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