WMU News

Challenges of African-American men in spotlight

Feb. 1, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- Issues facing African American men will be in the forefront during Black History Month when a leading scholar and author on that subject visits Western Michigan University.

Dr. Joseph L. White, a psychologist and professor emeritus of psychology and psychiatry at the University of California, Irvine, will speak at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8, in the Martin Luther King Jr. Room (Room 204) of the Bernhard Center. His appearance, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the University Counseling and Testing Center and is part of the Visiting Scholars and Artists Program.

White is co-author of the book "Black Man Emerging: Facing the Past and Seizing a Future in America." His presentation is titled "African American Men: Challenges During the Journey of Living."

For the past 38 years, White has enjoyed a distinguished career in the field of psychology and mental health as a teacher, mentor, administrator, clinical supervisor, writer, consultant and practicing psychologist. He received his doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Michigan State University in 1961 and, in addition to his teaching and research, has served as a supervising psychologist and staff affiliate psychologist to five hospitals and three clinical practices in Southern California. He has worked as a consultant with school districts, universities, private organizations, drug prevention programs and government agencies and was appointed to the California State Psychology Licensing Board by former Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr., serving three years as chairperson.

White's 1970 article "Toward a Black Psychology" in Ebony magazine helped usher in the modern era of African-American and ethnic psychology. Today, he is recognized as a pioneer in the field of black psychology.

In "Black Man Emerging," White and his colleague, James H. Cones III, move beyond the "endangered species" social pathology statistics and one-dimensional popular culture images of black males as athletes, entertainers, sit-com clowns, homeboys and occasional super-achievers to tell the story of the mind of the black male. The book traces the historical and psychological evolution of the African-American male from the dawn of civilization in Africa through the psychological transition into slavery and the long struggle for racial justice in America.

The authors explain the psychological and social challenges black males face as they move through life; how they think, feel and perceive the world around them; the major forces that influence their behavior, attitudes and identity; and the nature of the forces in America which affect the realization of their aspirations.

Published in 1999, the book has been acclaimed as a moving psychological and social portrait of African American men as they struggle against oppression for self-determination. Case histories and biographical sketches give the reader insight into how African American men confront dilemmas, move through difficult decisions and rebound from setbacks. The book delves into a variety of psychosocial styles and personality types black men have developed to resolve identity problems, build and maintain close relationships, cope with racism and discover strengths.

Booklist termed the book "a wide-ranging thoughtful look at the history of black men in the U.S. that takes a position on how to repair the damage of racism."

White's other book credits include "The Psychology of Blacks: An African-American Perspective" and "The Troubled Adolescent."

White's visit also is sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs, Division of Multicultural Affairs, Department of Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology, College of Education, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. and the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

The Visiting Scholars and Artists Program was established in 1960 and has supported some 500 visits by scholars and artists representing more than 65 academic disciplines. The chairperson of the committee that oversees the program is Dr. James M. Hillenbrand, professor of speech pathology and audiology.

For more information, contact Dr. Evelyn Winfield or Dr. Delores Walcott in the University Counseling and Testing Center at (616) 387-1850.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 616 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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