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Color and Culture

I'll admit it.  I'm reluctant to use the term--"people of color" and hesitated for a long time about using it due to my ambivalence about these words.  However, it's probably still the best descriptor of those of us who identify as non-Caucasian. I consider "people of color" to be not only those who are obviously not of Caucasian descent, but but also those who identify primarily with a non-Caucasian ethnic identity even if they can "pass" as Caucasian (for example, a light-skinned Latina who considers herself Mexican, or a European Jew who feels he "passes" as a WASP when he isn't).

The bare fact of the matter is, when you scroll through online "choose a therapist" listings in Austin, Texas, you're going to see very few people who aren't Caucasian.  People of Hispanic, Black, Arab, Native American and Asian descent are grossly under-represented in the field of counseling in this area of the world.  

The choice to visit a counselor at all may be heavily informed by the feeling that a non-Caucasian person might be more understanding of the issues faced by people of color both in everyday life and in a counseling setting.  I have also had clients ask me if it's OK with me that they are LGBTQIA or polyamorous or kinky. When I asked some questions, it turned out that these folks had had experiences where they were met with shaming, anger or rejection by a mental health professional when disclosing this information.

I believe that everyone has a culture. Everyone. A culture is a mix of beliefs, regionality, ethnicity, social class/income, gender, orientation, and a handful of other things. Knowing the culture you come from is instrumental both to understanding yourself and understanding when you may need to challenge or re-examine cultural beliefs that you are not in alignment with. Just because something is a norm in a culture doesn't mean it's right, or right for you, or that it's something you agree with. You may have grown up in a culture where prejudice against particular groups of people was a norm, but you yourself don't believe in that. But your family and friends still might, so how do you work that out?

Or you might have grown up in a culture that instilled beliefs like, "don't be too shiny, don't get beyond your level." Or that people of certain genders don't do certain things. At some point, I think we all have to examine our original cultural matrix to see if what we learned matches what our life experiences have taught us as well as our internal value systems. And for multicultural people, there are going to be places where those sets of values don't overlap and you have to work it out for yourself.

It's complex. It's deeply human. Let me know if you need help.


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My Therapeutic Approach
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Connection And Relationship
Chronic Illness and Wellness
Artists and Creatives and our "Stuff"
Healing Through The Body
Color and Culture
For Women
The Sons and Daughters of Change
Shamanism
The Kalahari San
TARA Approach
Mentoring For Young People
About Elaine

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