I lost my white friend to Racism/How to combat bad racial bias in good white people

Black Therapist Podcast formerly Black In Therapy: Brooklyn based Licensed Psychotherapist Clinical Social Worker Nikita Banks discusses examining her privilege, discussing racial bias with a colleague and the need for culturally competent care and safe spaces for people of color.

Nikita Banks, LCSW  0:00  

Welcome to black in therapy. My name is Nikita Banks. I am a New York City based psychotherapist licensed in New York and New Jersey as a clinical social worker. Our podcasts will cover all of the unique issues people of color face when dealing with mental health issues and mental health diagnosis. But first, follow us at Instagram and Twitter, at Black in therapy, and like our Facebook fan page. Ok, ok. Ok. So today I’m going to talk a little bit about losing one of my friends. But she was more than a friend to me. She was actually a colleague. And we went to social high school together. And we got licensed at the same time. And she’s very instrumental in early stages of my career. And so my friend had is in a party with some of her colleagues. I was invited and we we went, it really wasn’t a dinner party was a dinner, but kind of like a meetup. I think I was already out. And she caught me. And she asked me if I would come through. And so I went through. And so was she is Caucasian. And another one of her co workers was Caucasian. And it was me and as American couple. So she started introducing me started talking about what I was doing in my career, she told them that I was in private practice, and that I was doing amazing things. And I mean, she, she bragged about me a little bit. And she’s amazing, you know, in terms of like her career advancement and how goal driven she is. And she really gave me some great advice early on in, you know, like I said, in my process, and so, we were sitting at dinner, and they asked me what my specialty was. And I said, Well, my specialty is that I work with asking him American women. And she was like, I don’t understand why you need to specialize in African American women. She speaks another language, she’s not sure if she was born in another country, or just from an immigrant family. But she was saying that she would never just limit herself to her only her community. And I was saying that she probably wouldn’t make a lot of money if she did, not just limiting herself. But you know, she’s from a different culture. She’s also Jewish. I think that if she focused a little bit on her community, like she would have like a niche, a niche, niche, niche, whatever. And so I like working with African American women and Latinas, because I feel like culturally, there are not enough conditions to go around that understand the cultural nuances. And a lot of time, you know, clinicians that deal with these populations, they are not all that competent, they’re not all that respectful. And we know just from research, that what happens a lot of times is that people are either over diagnosed, or under diagnosed, but they’re, they’re very rarely appropriately diagnosed, if they’re a person of color. And what we know from the research also is that white people are usually under diagnosed. So I’m valuable to my people and the people that I serve, and the people who look like me, because I know that if you’re, for example, Latina, and you’re talking to me about angels and spirits, that you’re not, you’re not crazy, or you’re not schizophrenia, that you’re spiritual, and that I have to ask a few more questions in order to kind of rule certain things out. And I know that if you’re if you’re Haitian, and he talked to me about view, who are you today me about spirits that you’re not crazy, right? So that’s just like, some examples are us Ne Ne, from the south, because my family has all kinds of wives tales and things that they thinking about. And some of it sounds nuts to some people, but how some of it actually works. And some of it,

Nikita Banks, LCSW  4:20  

like has been proven in like science, like when you watch, Dr. Oz, he does some of these odd things like that, when passed down from tradition to tradition, and all of this, like, you know, Ancient Medicine, like it’s real. And so if you if you only think with the one cultural lens, you’re not going to get the the unique perspective and give your clients a tailored and individualized practice experience. And so I was trying to explain all of this, but of course, the Dominican couple, they got what I was saying. And she kind of got upset, and I don’t know, at what point the conversation turned to race. But I’m a pretty blunt person. And so she was at a new position. And she was in a supervisory position. And she was stating that the black girl who worked for her was lazy, and that she has accused her of racial bias. And this is my friend. And this is somebody that I know, and I do I think she’s racist. Absolutely not. Do I think she has animus in her heart towards black people? Absolutely not. But I know that she has bias. I know that I have bias. I know that everybody has bias. So at this dinner, I just said to her, you know, I’m your friend, I love you. And but lovingly, I’m going to tell you like some there’s some of the things that you say about people of color is not cool. And she got all upset. See, I was calling her races, she didn’t want to, didn’t want to hear me and like everybody else at the dinner, heard what I was saying, but she couldn’t hear it. And

Nikita Banks, LCSW  6:13  

number one, this gave me

Nikita Banks, LCSW  6:17  

it kind of proves my point that it’s necessary to have somebody who you work with, in in a power position, because as a therapist, I’m in a privileged position. And I’m in a position of power, like I have the ability to call 911 and get people committed every single day. And so to have that kind of power and not have a context of where my clients are coming from culturally is a dangerous thing is the first thing. And the second thing is is to have her be in a position of power over some now and not be introspective was also a dangerous thing. And I tried to get her to understand that, even though I don’t think she’s racist, we all have biases, and biases. With with power, is what racism is. Right? Isn’t is not that you are biased. I think I read an article recently where someone said that racism is like being punched in the stomach. Right? And that my my four year old can punch me in the stomach and be being that him being racist, but he doesn’t lack the power or he doesn’t have the power to actually make it hurt. For her being bias is one thing. But now she was in she was this girl supervisor. And so all I told her was that she probably should be introspective enough to to look and see how her privilege could possibly be influencing her decisions when it came to calling this black girl lazy, and the ramifications of making bias without evidence. Because if she’s lazy, like you should be able to have evidence to substantiate that. I mean, I’m, I don’t even know what lazy means. And I don’t even remember if she gave it an examples of what but she just like, emotionally shut down. And so currently, I’m taking a class in Columbia, and we’re talking about Columbia University, and we’re talking about bias and how it comes up. And we’re talking about privilege, I think that we all have to examine our privilege and how it shows up in our lives and and try to see if we have the power to exercise that privilege in a negative way against someone else, keeping them from doing something or denying them access to services, as I’m pretty sure that no matter your socio economic background, your cultural background, I’m sure that in some ways you do. I’m cognizant of the fact that I am able bodied, which is a privilege. I am sis gendered, which means I was born a woman identify as a woman, and I’m, you know, live in a woman’s body, I’m having a sexual, I had the right to marry before, you know, homosexuals do, I’m not a black male, which makes me a different kind of target. But it doesn’t make me a target for police brutality, we hope I mean, things are changing, they beating women killing us too. But I’m not as much of a target not seen as much of a threat. But I’m also not privileged in certain ways, oh, I have two legs, right. So if I’m going in the handicapped bathroom, which I like to do, because it’s spacious, I probably shouldn’t, because there’s somebody who may not be able to get into the normal size or the I don’t know, I don’t know what to call it, pardon me, if I’m just falling over myself with the width with the words, but you get what I’m trying to say like, these are all privileges that we have. And it shows up in the way that we move to live. So we have to learn to be introspective. And we have to learn that there has to be safe spaces for people of color to be alone with their thoughts and not have white intrusion or not have dominate race intrusion, or not have to deal with others. And defending themselves is not my responsibility to be the spokesperson for all of black people. I didn’t in this case, because she is my friend. And I really wanted her to understand that now she was in a position of power. Unfortunately, what happened with that is usually what happens sometimes when black people do take the time out to kind of become vulnerable and let the other person know, it ended up being like almost a

Nikita Banks, LCSW  10:58  

screaming match in the rest. She likes stormed out, she was like we’re not friends, whenever friendship, follow me on Facebook, etc. And, you know, there’s nothing that I can do about that. I’m very sad that she took that that position, and that she didn’t take the opportunity to discuss it with me, I think that she would have grown from that experience. There’s this positions and possible ways that I could have grown from that situation. But it proves my point that there needed to be safe spaces where I didn’t need anybody else. And so everybody else kind of understood where I was coming from. But there’s a necessity in communities of color to have practitioners who look like them. And it’s also necessary, because what ends up happening is a lot of times, we don’t get people who serve us who service us who really truly understand us. And I kind of thought she did because she was my friend. But you know what, I’m not mad at her. She’s not ready. She wasn’t ready. And maybe one day she will be ready. But I hope that she grows enough that it doesn’t impact our employees, and that it doesn’t impact her her client work if she’s still doing that. But she’s not my friend anymore. And I don’t know, she’s, she’s still cool by me. But I think that, you know, it was my responsibility to call her out and lovingly, because I probably said I love her more than you know, more than anything in the conversation. So she understood that this was really not about me accusing her, but just about me saying that, you know, in conversations, you have said some things that I’ve checked you in the moment that is possible that you have said some things to this person that you don’t really like as much that she’s taking the as you know, racially bias. And you know, I think that why people have to be more cognizant of the possibility that what they say can be taken as a micro aggression, just as black people are always questioning whether their race has anything to do with their treatment. And that’s the only way that there’s going to be change is that we first recognize it and then we take responsibility. So thank you for listening to our episode. Please subscribe if you liked what you heard. Follow us follow us. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram and our Facebook fan page at Black in therapy. Also, we’re on Soundcloud at Black and therapy and check us out subscribe to our mailing list at Black in therapy calm to be up on the news. Thanks for listening

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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