BY Donica HarpER, PHD STUDENT
SCHOOL OF PSYCHOLOGY

I want to take a moment and thank you for the struggles, the pain, and the hard work that helped pave the way for someone like me: a Black therapist, a Black student, a Black womxn, and a Black child. While our classes may not have shown us who you are, through future research, we discovered all the things that you did to help our community and our country better understand who we are. People do not understand that representation is vitally important to self-esteem, self-confidence, and identity. Representation affords us the opportunity to see that another person—another Black person-has accomplished what we are wishing and praying to accomplish. While there is still learning, researching, and healing to be done in our communities, it has been so rewarding to see so many different individuals take the time to advance the field and make our presence known. With that said, I will say some of their names not because they need it but because others need to know how far Black people and Black psychology has come. Thank you:

  • Joseph White
  • Mamie Phipps Clark
  • Robert Lee Williams
  • Kenneth Clark
  • Inez Beverly Prosser
  • Francis Sumner
  • Albert Sidney Beckham
  • George Canada
  • Janet Helms
  • Jessica Henderson Daniel
  • Carlton Goodlett
  • Robert Val Guthrie
  • Carl Hart
  • Reginald Jones
  • Hope Landrine
  • Charles Thompson
  • Harriette Pipes McAdoo
  • Linda James Myers
  • Beverly Daniel Tatum
  • Alberta Turner
  • Kitch Childs
  • Jennifer Eberhardt
  • Beverly Greene
  • Anthony Greene
  • April Harris- Britt
  • Konjit Page
  • Stephen Ruffins

While this is nowhere near a comprehensive list of the individuals who have shaped Black lives, it does show us that some people are just within our reach, and others have come before us so that we can continue to reach. This open letter is a call to current Black students and Black alumni that you belong in this field! You belong in this world! We are standing on the shoulders of our ancestors and the Black psychologists that came before us. While the country has only given us one month, we know that every day we are Black, and every day we get to see the work that our ancestors have done and the work we still have yet to do. Do not let the work go in vain, and remember, even a phoenix grows through the ashes.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Donica Harper is a first-generation Bajan-American second-year doctoral student at Fielding Graduate University. She graduated from Winston-Salem State University with a dual bachelor’s degree in Biology and Psychology in 2013. She obtained her M.A. in Military Psychology from Adler University and her Certificate of Professional Counseling Studies from the University of Baltimore. She currently works as a Director of Clinical Training at a local outpatient mental health clinic in Baltimore County and is an LCPC-S in the State of MD. Her clinical niches are interpersonal trauma in children/teenagers, couples, the LGBTQ+ community, and military/first responders. She is also passionate about racial and sexual identity disparities in the mental health field. Her career goals are to become a psychologist, author, and professor at a local HBCU.

Donica is a current member of the Black Student Association, Division 32 Student Ambassador for Fielding, and the Student Delegate for the Retention, Recruitment, and Diversity Committee for Student Governance. She is also a member of the Association for Black Psychologists and the American Psychological Association.