A Letter to my fellow Therapists- Therapy is inherently white and privileged
Why the Black Lives Matter Movement matters and our responsibility as therapists to our community.
My name is Judy Lui, and I am a registered psychotherapist in the province on Ontario, Canada. By default, I am problematic, I provide a therapeutic service that costs money and only serves the privileged folks of this community. I can sit here and tell you of the times when I put the aside money to work for the underprivileged and those at risk, that I always seriously consider every request for financial support and reduced fees, that I’ve ‘done my time” in helping those that needed support the most…. but that would just be another example of my defensiveness and own discomfort in not recognizing my privilege. A way to prove to someone that I deserve the privilege I have.
The truth is, I don't deserve the privilege I have, no one with privilege deserves it, we were simply born into it. I can either choose to deny it, or I can own it and do my best in trying to wield its power for the greater good.
I recognize my privilege in this world, and yet it does not take away from my pain. I am a person of colour that has been traumatized by the systems that were meant to serve and protect me, I created my clinic because I did not see myself represented in this white therapeutic world. The things I experienced as a sad lonely child……. I had no one to look up to, I had no one to tell me that it was ok to go to therapy, and when I learned what therapy was for myself, I failed to find any professional that remotely looked like me or represented my story in this community. This is my driving purpose, the passion that fuels me to do what I do.
I am in no ways disillusioned to think that I’m doing any solid work addressing poverty and systemic oppression, I know inherently that therapy really only works for folks that have the privilege and power to make it work for them. What I can do is shine a light on it and such disparities they experience. I see my work as to help support and raise awareness of the systemic, cultural, societal, and political influences of our lives so that one may be able to step back and make a more informed decision of what they would like to do, what they are responsible for, and also what they can renounce and de-claim. especially from the effects of prejudices experienced in their lives.
In all the ways possible, I know that my positive, my education, and my training allow me to have the power to step away from front line work, I hope that you can learn to forgive me for protecting myself in those ways and see that I too am doing my best to step up, to continue to learn, to use my voice however I can. To my front line movement makers and shakers, I appreciate you and thank you for being braver than me in stepping into those roles. I am in awe of your strength and I have much to learn from you.
What I can say is that my work as a psychotherapist means nothing if folks don’t have access to physical and financial safety. This is why we fight, this is why I stand with the black lives matter movement. This is why the movement is not all lives matter matter but rather black lives matters. How can we justify watering the gardens and front lawns of our all folks when our black neighbours are being denied that same water to save their burning homes, their burning loved ones. The black community are one of our most disenfranchised communities. Not just in the United States but across the border on our own Canadian soil too.
Therapy is social, it’s relational, it’s cultural, and it is political. My fellow therapists, our community and our clients look towards us to be brave, to be vulnerable enough to speak out. I urge you to raise your voices, to speak out loud, and to challenge prejudice in your offices day in and day out. Do your part in addressing the trauma and pain and the outpouring of compassion and hope that the #blacklivesmatter movement brings. I sincerely hope you utilize your power and lend your voice to the right side of history.
Thanks for listening and reading.