Q: More of my white clients are coming into treatment presenting with issues related to discrimination against them or their discomfort about racist feelings and actions within their own families. What do you suggest?
A: As an African American psychologist, I’m used to hearing about race matters from my clients of color; however, my Caucasian clients now seem to be facing race-based challenges of their own. These newer racial issues haven’t replaced the historical ones faced by people of color, but have taken their place beside them. Far from entering a postracial era in this country, ultraracial may be a more accurate term, reflecting the realities of interracial unions and multiracial offspring, international adoptions, and increasing immigration to the U.S.
That boundaries between groups have become more fluid means that whites are now struggling to deal with a decline in their privileged status, accommodate family members of other races, and confront their own racism. These changes occur in a therapeutic community that’s uncomfortable addressing race and fails to see how race issues fit into the larger picture. This avoidance is sometimes related to the belief that race issues are a “societal problem” beyond the realm of psychotherapy or the worry about saying something offensive or politically incorrect on the topic.
Having a clear model for addressing race issues, therefore, can…