Below you’ll find biographies for the RESJ Committee Members.
I am Betty. I am on a journey, the early stages of my journey of learning and understanding the place of privilege that I was born into and how it has shaped and continues to shape my life. I envision this committee as being vital for the health, authenticity and growth of DDPI.
Serving on this committee I desire to open myself up to receive insight and understanding from perspectives outside of my own inherent perspective and bias and from there to grow. I understand this committee to enable DDPI board and DDPI members to hold space to sit in what at times may be uncomfortable or uncertain places as we together continue to move towards health.
I am honored to be part of the RESJ committee, such a vibrant, progressive group, exploring how we can move towards inclusion rather than division. I am a white, gay woman continuing to learn how my own privilege and implicit biases have caused harm to others. Throughout my career as a family therapist, I have experienced apprehension during training events when asked by a presenter to introduce myself to the others and to tell a little about my background and non-professional life.
I want to connect and be accepted, but many times, I have wondered if it is safe to reveal that I am married to a woman and that we have chosen to be child-free. Over the years, I have worked intensely to challenge that fear, honor my various identities, and create safety in relationships. I hope to bring that same intensity to my work with this committee.
As a little boy who started realising he was different, I grew up trying my best not to be myself. I was born in Bolivia into a loving missionary family which valued other cultures very highly. From four years old I grew up in a pretty white town and slipped blindly into White privilege. When I started my Systemic training in 2013 I was confronted with all the uncomfortable stuff about racism, ableism, classism, sexism… which I had been happily ignoring.
Being more aware of the struggle of other communities helped me accept my own fears about myself and join with my own queer and HIV+ communities too. I see becoming part of the RESJ Committee as a privileged responsibility and a powerful opportunity to help my professional community and myself stand up to the quiet harms that exist in so many places within.
I describe myself as an Angelo Nigerian, heterosexual cis woman with strong Yorkshire pride, a husband, two kids and a pet collection. I am also dyslexic, and my children have dyspraxia and are hypermobile, and I am used to navigating an ableist world with children who often feel disabled by others’ view of them. I qualified as a clinical psychologist in 1994 and have worked almost exclusively with children ever since. I became passionate about DDP after training 10 years ago and have worked through my practicum.
In all my work and career, I have been driven by the need to hear the silent and give voice to the unheard in our society, and to be able to put a voice to the pain within. I am passionate about equality, and as a woman whose identity is deeply embedded in my colour, this is particularly played out in the forum of racial equality and finding a voice of my own that will be heard.
I am very proud to be a part of the DDPI Racial Equity Social Justice committee. I feel very strongly about addressing barriers that minority groups face in particular the barriers that stop ethnic minorities accessing therapeutic services due to their mono cultural structure. I believe that in being part of this committee we have the opportunity to create a unique service that would be able to better serve and represent all sections of the community in the different countries that we are currently practising in.
If I can contribute to this in any small way it will be done with great pride and a sense of joy in the fact that we can effect real change and have a positive impact on people’s lives.
I was 7 when my mother shared stories about her migration into the U.S. Stories of hardship and trauma, exacerbated by oppressive systems that she was unaware of. I have experienced the hateful and subtle touches of racism. As a hetero-, cis-, able bodied man of color, I am also aware that I have caused harm to others. I’ve had the privilege to re-examine and understand the complexities and manifestations of power and privilege in the communities I ascribe to and serve.
As a clinician, I learned to examine my positionally, biases, and intersections in order to refine my practice to a decolonized framework. Within DDP I have found that it is never too late to heal, to repair, and to mend. In this group is a community of individuals committed to addressing the barriers that historically disenfranchised groups and oppressed communities across the identity continue to face.
I am a British Asian Muslim child of immigrant parents. ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. Some of my earliest memories are of me feeling like an outsider within my village, worrying that our new tribe didn’t want us. The messages may have become more covert over the years but they’re still there.
We are still working with systems that take a uniform approach when offering services. Individuals and families must still conform to western centric models that are alien to their reality because the ‘village leaders’ know best. It has taken me all these years to accept these messages were wrong. There was nothing wrong with my tribe; it was the villagers that should have been more accepting of our difference. I now see the duty I have in spreading this message and hope I can be of some service to the RESJ committee.
Growing up in the Bronx, I remember going into different households and seeing their cultures honored through music, decor and food. I had grown to question my mother’s feelings about her own culture and home country. I would later learn that white supremacy played a role in shaming her and encouraging her to assimilate. As a second-generation Puerto-Rican and first generation Filipino American, I am aware of the lack of racial and ethnic representation in Western pedagogical approaches regarding therapy.
I have found it necessary to gain a better understanding of the intersectionality of my identity, to unpack my conscious and unconscious biases, and gain more awareness in my role to address and fight against systemic inequities and oppression. Being in the RESJ Committee means that I can be a part of developing an inclusive and culturally forward therapeutic model conducive to the healing and growth of people who have historically been marginalized.
RESJ Vice chair
I think the gift that my DDP practice has given me is a way to be open hearted in my intentions for deep connection with others even when things are tense or confusing. This seeming paradox of striving for connection and leaning into the truth of differences and discomfort was not something I had much experience with prior to my DDP training. I had a lot more experience being careful and nice, manifestations in my experience of being White, middle/upper class and CIS gendered female in the Northeast of the United States.
While I don’t know that I will ever be fully done working through the instinct for politeness and cognitive, I am beginning to process the loss, pain, and disconnection it has caused me and others in my life, and hope to use those emotions as fuel and an anchor to my accountability to be more humble, messy and honest in my efforts to connect.
The personal is political and inequality, discrimination and threat are key to understanding and alleviating distress. If we do not acknowledge our part in supporting unequal practice we are ensuring it continues. The purpose of the group is to address and consider how all the above is present in the DDP world. How we are open to this, acknowledge it, take steps to repair it and promote equality of vision, opportunity and understanding.
I myself am a white woman. I have always taken a political view about distress and wished to know how context informs experience. I have worked with refugees, run a specialist children’s trauma service and my research was in domestic violence. I also have a personal position about being able to bravely own our issues, blind spots and errors. To know and own is the only way to take responsibility and grow.
I am proud to be the former chair of the Racial Equity Social Justice committee and to be part of DDPI’s journey of acceptance. As a social worker I have observed trauma manifest for marginalised groups without the correct support in place, and one cannot underestimate the long-term effects of this. Experiences of racial trauma can lead to alienation and affect day to day functioning and wider relationships. The history of structural racism, ‘straight’ privilege and the social model of disability, can leave many with little option than to live their lives managing this trauma on their own, with the possibility of being re-traumatised along the way. This is not right; this is not fair and this needs to change.
It is important that DDPI grows as a model by increasing access for marginalised groups and providing therapeutic support which is free from unconscious biases, stereotypes and inequalities maintained through the status quo.
Many years ago I heard a brave Black woman speak passionately to a White audience about living with the persistently negative use of the word ‘black’. “black-list, black-ball, black-eye, black-mail, black-heart.” This eye-opener made sense to me. However, on the way home my young white traveling companions were seething, they felt the speaker was blaming them, effectively calling them racist! I realized this was trickier than I had thought. Feeling isolated, I did not speak up.
By 2020 I am clear about speaking up and I have colleagues who share my concern about white defensiveness against awareness of our racist U.S. systems rooted in centuries of horrifying slavery. Privilege is given to white people irrespective of their social status, for example a white person living in poverty will not face the same prejudices that a black person in the same economic position will face. This remains a constant temptation for whites to opt out of seeing/looking/acknowledging…and it’s past time to dig up those roots!
I have known what it felt like to be different since before I can remember. I was adopted internationally and joined a transracial family headed by White parents. I grew up just outside of Chicago and have lived in various places as an adult, including my home country. I have always felt passionately about making change and supporting those who do not have privilege in all sorts of ways.
However, it has taken time as a person of color raised in a White family and White system to really see what privilege I have received as a result of this and how I have been able to hide at times in “The Dream” as Ta-Nehisi Coates names it. I am now able to dedicate more of my strength towards directly fighting the current and very deeply belief that DDPI should be decisively working in that direction as well.