5 Relevant Black History Month Facts We love

By Dr.J • 1 min read


Black History month 2015


Black History Month acknowledges our past as a foundation for us to build upon so we may become better citizens and, together, form a better nation. Let’s turn our attention to accomplishments by famous Black American that you should know.

  1. The first African American woman to fly in space is now inspiring the next generation to reach for the stars. Dr. Mae Jemison is a trained engineer, medical doctor and an astronaut who started a program called “The Earth We Share” shortly after retiring. The program exposes children to science, technology, engineering and math.
  2. The NASCAR Hall of Fame inducts an African-American driver for the first time last month. Wendell Scott drove during the Jim Crow era, and he was the first African-American to win a race at NASCAR’s elite major league level. He died in 1990.
  3. 75 years ago, Hattie McDaniel accepted the Academy Award for best supporting actress for her role as Mammy in the civil war epic Gone with the Wind, becoming the first African American to win the prestigious prize. It was fitting that the award was handed out on a leap day, Feb. 29, 1940—the win was a momentous leap forward for African Americans in film. Since McDaniel won the award, 15 African-American actors have also won the golden statuette.
  4. A Princeton dean and professor of literature and African American studies will lead Swarthmore College when the new academic year begins. Valerie Smith, 59, will become the 15th president of the 150-year-old institution beginning July 1. She becomes Swarthmore’s first African American president.
  5. For her work in Selma, Ava Marie DuVernay is the first black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award. With Selma, she is also the first black female director to have a film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, though she did not receive a nomination for best director.

I hope you will take a moment to honor the full range of achievements African-Americans have contributed to our nation. Let’s continue to celebrate Black History month all during the year until we achieve our goal of year-round integration of Black history in our schools, families and conversations.





3 signs that you are a Facebook Narcissist

By Dr.J • 2 min read

social media

Over Sharing

– You share your thoughts about random elements daily

Your daily posts about how you feel about news, folks in Wal-Mart and the children’s hobbies and friends can be a bit much.

– Daily or almost daily selfies

If I just saw your selfie yesterday, I don’t really need to see it again today. Heck, I wouldn’t even want to see daily selfies of Idris Elba and I really love, love, love Idris Elba.

-You take pictures of food you are eating

Screams “I am not used to food that looks this good, tastes this good or costs this much, so I need to share it and prove it to my Facebook friends.

– Pictures of you in the car every day or week reeks of low self-esteem. “I can’t wait to see pictures of my Facebook friends in their cars today,” says no one ever.

**My favorite- posts about clothes, shoes and cars. Now I like shoes, but nothing says “I need to show these items to let you-my FB friends- know that I am special, rich, smart or valuable like posting pics of your stuff”

As a psychologist I find it both disheartening and fascinating. There is a widespread belief that items with certain names/brands make you look and feel important. We have morphed into a society that depends on superficial items to determine our worth. Who doesn’t enjoy quality items, but if quality were the priority, we would just share, “I purchased a well-made leather purse today and I love it!”

Over Friending

– There must be some FB rule that states that more FB friends equal a better person. Perhaps I missed the memo.

-research states that the more Facebook friends one has, the more they need an audience. There is no way that you can personally know each one of your FB friends over 1000. It is an outward statement that you want and need more people to see you and validate your worth……… Unless of course you are a celebrity……… when in this case, your FaceBook friends are fans and help to build or maintain your brand.

Over Checking

-Constantly on FB all day long.

I have no idea how people do it.

If you incessantly post to Facebook then you have to incessantly check for comments as well!


We behave as if we will miss out on a life altering event by unplugging from Social media. Let’s attempt to be more strategic about we spend our time in 2015. For instance, that 30 minutes each day that you devoted to Facebook, could have been spent many other ways. 30 minutes a day amounts to 15 hours a month or 180 hours in a year solely devoted to Facebook. With 15 hours each month, you could pick up a new hobby, work overtime at your job, volunteer at a local organization, start a new sport or fitness activity or simply catch up on sleep. It amounts to 7.5 days each year that could be spent on a lovely vacation with the people in your life that you cherish the most.

3 Things That Everyone Needs to Know About Ferguson

By Dr.J • 1 min read

shutterstock_46482637Ferguson Missouri has been in the spotlight since August 9th, when African American teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed. There has been anger and tension in the community the past few days as we await the grand jury decision.

1. Race relations in St.Louis have been bad for a long timeRace relations in St. Louis were more complex than many other places because the city was located in a border state that permitted slavery. Slavery existed and flourished alongside free blacks. African-Americans in the St. Louis of the 1850’s needed licenses to live in the city, and were banned from voting or testifying against whites in court. The “free” blacks had lives that were far more restrictive than those of their white counterparts. These “free” Blacks were subject to housing restrictions, curfews, bans on education, and prohibition from testifying in court against whites. Much of the segregated housing and education persists today and continues to fuel the feelings of disenfranchisement of African American residents today. 

2. Rioting is not unique to Ferguson. We simply need to look at how sports fans react to wins or losses. For example, when UConn made it to the final four in early 2014, the caused an extreme amount of damage. When Penn State fired Joe Paterno, students took the streets and overturned vehicles.

3. Anger is normal reaction to injustice. Think about a child or teenager that is sent to their rooms and told to stay there. They might  throw toys and break things as a way to express the anger. While it’s not appropriate, it happens. In this instance the child or teenager would destroy his own belonging simply because he cannot immediately obtain the belongings of the parents or the  siblings.


It does little to help the cause when we attempt to pathologize African Americans in Ferguson, simply because they are angry or because they riot or because they have the audacity to blast the very segregated systems that oppress them each day.

Angry man image available from Shutterstock.

3 Facts about Black Women and Depression

By Dr.J • 1 min read

Depression is a massive health concern among African-Americans — particularly women — but mental health is rarely discussed in the African American community. Since mental health is such a taboo subject in the African-American community, we are the least likely group to be treated or to seek treatment for depression. We are also less likely than other groups to even acknowledge it as a serious problem because of the shame and embarrassment that it can cause.

Statistics report that:

  • Adult blacks are 20 percent more likely to report serious psychological distress than adult whites.
  • Adult blacks living below poverty are two to three times more likely to report serious psychological distress than those living above poverty.
  • Adult blacks are more likely to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness than are adult whites.
  • And while blacks are less likely than whites to die from suicide as teenagers, black teenagers are more likely to attempt suicide than are white teenagers (8.2 percent v. 6.3 percent)

In 2010, African American women reported feeling sad more than 1.6 times more than Non-Hispanic White women. Two of the criteria for major depression are a loss of interest or pleasure in things that used to be enjoyable and loss of energy. As a result,  African American women are 1.7 times more likely than White women to report that everything is an effort all of the time. So, African American women are more sad, experience less pleasure and expend great energy just to get thru the day. What a horrible way to live! The quality of life has to improve for African American women.

Fact: Depression is treatable.

Even with the large disparities in depression, the CDC finds that just 7.6 percent of African-Americans sought treatment for depression compared to 13.6 percent of the general population in 2011. Thus, African American women are suffering in silence and refusing to seek treatment. Psychotherapy is an option, but so are acupuncture, meditation, medication and dietary changes. There are various options to treat depression, and it may take more than one tactic to alleviate the symptoms.

Fact: You do not have to live with it.

Depression is an illness just like asthma. Would you go to work each day without your inhaler? No, you would utilize the resources that you have to maintain your health. So, why is seeing a counselor or getting prescribed anti-depressant medication any different?

Fact: There are African American mental health professionals and physicians that can assist you in your community.

Check your local listings for counselors, psychologists and social workers. Check the yellow pages, local psychological associations and websites in your area. Search the Association of Black Psychologists website and find your local chapter. Begin there to find African American psychologists that treat depression or other mood disorders.

The Psychology of Racial Profiling

By Dr.J • 2 min read

shutterstock_198665327Recent events, including the shooting death of Michael Brown, a young unarmed African American man in Ferguson, Missouri has re-awakened us as a nation to the continuing problem of race-based violence and racial profiling across the United States. These painful events brought needed national attention to the ongoing problems and complex inter-relationships of race and violence in this country. Sadly, our nation has a very long history of racial violence that has not been adequately treated and thus it persists. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) defines racial profiling as a form of discrimination adding that discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion or nationality undermines our basic human rights. I can recount the times that I’ve been stopped by the police in my car or followed in the store. One incident stands out in my mind. It occurred in the spring of 1993 as I was driving home from college. I was stopped by the police for speeding. However, a second police car was called to the scene and if that wasn’t enough, they called for the drug search dogs. Why? I guess because a 19 year old African American female looks suspiciously like someone who would be transporting kilos of cocaine in their sports car. Nevertheless, they found nothing and I was released without even a speeding ticket, because I had not been speeding. So…..what happens when a person has been a victim of racial profiling?

Victims of race-based or anti-minority group aggression know that they have suffered. Yet they incur further psychological damage when despite an attack happening in the glare of daylight it goes unacknowledged.

Shame and guilt about unacknowledged hate and fear– and their denial– lead to emotional numbing and insecurity when in the presence of the majority (White Americans) population. These psychological factors in turn can restrict reason and judgment and may contribute to untempered aggression.

Patterns of racial profiling and race-based violence have a severe deleterious effect on the self-esteem of black youth who realize they are often seen as an ominous, unwanted “other”, no matter how pacific and innocent their activity. It leaves us to wonder, do young black men and young black women feel they have value in this country?

What needs to be done?

  • Promotion of a sense of individual responsibility and “speaking out” against racism. Observers and bystanders must not be silent.
  • Confrontation by the majority group of its unconscious prejudices and blindness to the effects of these prejudices on minority groups and on themselves. The majority’s role in minority problems must be actively examined and acknowledged
  • Begin a national conversation about race, violence, and the related unresolved traumatic history in our country, bringing together minority and non-minority children and adults in neighborhoods, schools, churches and other communities.
  • Educate teachers, pastoral care professionals and community group leaders to look for depression and behavioral problems in minority children who have been exposed to racial violence and profiling.
  • Train law enforcement personnel in sensitivity to the psychological vulnerability of poor and minority populations.
  • Examine state and local laws to see if they are designed to promote dialogue rather than to encourage violent confrontation.

We all need to remember that we are Michael Brown, and remember that whatever city we live in, is Ferguson.#JustiecforMikeBrown

Young woman driving car image available from Shutterstock.

My Love Hate Relationship with Women in Reality TV

By Dr.J • 2 min read

shutterstock_108249626I must admit, I watch the cocktail sipping, Range Rover driving and high end shopping of the Real Housewives franchise and the ridiculousness of Love and Hip Hop. But before you agree or disagree, let me explain why I watch these shows. I love the unscripted format of reality television because it displays exactly-not considering the editing-how the cast lives and behaves on a daily basis. As a psychologist, I can appreciate the fact that these individuals are not being given a piece of paper and being told what to say. They haven’t had a script and weeks to memorize lines and practice in the mirror. They are giving us as viewers the unfiltered versions of who they are. Now, those were the positives, on to the reasons why I absolutely loathe the women on reality television. My discontent with the women in reality television is based on my personal and cultural objective of empowering women. I don’t think that wearing expensive clothing, living in large homes, driving certain cars or engaging in public verbal or physical conflict with other people helps women to be the best “them” that they can be. In fact, there are three areas that simply make me cringe every time I see it occur.

  1. Comparison

Women have enough ways in which we already compare ourselves to other women, based on appearance, vocabulary, etc. Do we really need to add in cars and clothes? By and large, most people watch reality TV so that they can compare their lives to others. If the women on the show travel to Mexico on vacation, they can say that they aren’t doing so badly because they travel to Mexico too. If the relationships on the show consist of hitting, throwing drinks and spitting in faces, then they can say that their relationships aren’t so bad because they don’t include that type of physical conflict.

  1. Relationships

The relationships displayed on reality television serve as a comparison for the amounts of and type of conflict in their own relationships. Thus, if your template for a romantic relationship includes intense drama and instability, your own relationship dysfunction might not seem so bad, although it actually is very bad and unhealthy. If the type of relational drama on reality TV is what is normal for you, you may be less likely to accept the quieter form of satisfaction that comes with a committed relationship.

  1. Objectification

Shows like “The Bachelor” showcase a regressive view of relationships by allowing women to compete for a relationship and saying “pick me, pick me” in hopes that they are chosen by the bachelor. From the slut, the airhead, the backstabber, and the Angry Black women often portrayed, the type of behavior portrayed on reality television has set the feminist movement back at least 30 years! The objectification of women is both common and accepted. Women are objectified – this means we are seen from the outside and our thoughts and feelings are overlooked. The more recent waves on feminism focus on sexuality and family; however, the latest wave of Black feminism challenges racism and sexism directly. I can’t think of a better example of sexism than “The Bachelor.” Women shouldn’t have to be seen as a slut or an Angry Black woman to gain attention and ratings. Nor should any woman have to compete for the prize of becoming a man’s wife. Check out how one woman rejected the opportunity to showcase the Angry Black women stereotype. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/19/laverne-cox-girl-fight_n_4992454.html)

I hope that as women, we demand better programming regarding reality television so that our children will see various images of women on television and not just a few dysfunctional images.


Real Housewives image available from Shutterstock.

4 Things That We Can Learn From Maya Angelou

By Dr.J • 2 min read

mayaAfter reading numerous articles, books and internet posts regarding the impact of Dr. Maya Angelou, I couldn’t’ help but reflect on the elements of her life that we can learn from.



  1. The Value of Friendships.

Alvin Ailey, Malcolm X, James Baldwin and Martin Luther King Jr. Any one of these individuals would have made the “I wish this famous person was one of my friend” list, but all of these and let’s not forget Oprah. Oprah makes everyone’s imaginary best friend list. As the old saying goes, “in order to get a friend you have to be a friend.” So we must assume that Maya Angelou was a phenomenal friend because she managed to remain in the company of many people that have had a significant impact on the world. This all suggests that she had an energy that drew others to her.

  1. Don’t be Afraid to Laugh, Live and Love hard

Her past vocations include a streetcar conductor, business manager of prostitutes, cook, singer, dancer, university administrator, newspaper editor, producer, market researcher, activist, writer, poet, teacher, composer and actor. That’s a very long list of jobs for only an 86 year time frame. What is fascinating about Maya Angelou is that she was never afraid to take a chance at love and life. She changed jobs based on the circumstance and wasn’t afraid to take on new and different titles. She was married twice and lived in various parts of the world. During those times she was courageous in her zest for love, life and people with various backgrounds.

  1. Overcoming Devastating Situations Can Propel You Into a New Level of Greatness.

We all know that she was raped at the age of 8 by her mother’s boyfriend. After telling her brother, her extended family subsequently learned of the rape. Shortly thereafter that man that raped her was beaten to death. As a result, a young Maya felt as though her voice had killed him. Thus, she decided not to speak for the next 5 years. However, after having been influenced by a teacher and friend of the family, she was introduced to many great pieces of literature. She later turned this devastating time of her life into her first autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” The work highlights her quest for independence, dignity, self-love and identity. We’ve all encountered trauma in our lives, but it is how we rebound from that trauma that defines us.

  1. Mentoring is Crucial.

Of course her most famous mentee is Oprah Winfrey. But what about the countless lives that she touched over the years? Some of which we may never know who they are. Maya Angelou has mentored us all indirectly as a result of her influence on Oprah Winfrey, the Oprah Winfrey Show, Dr. Phil, Brene Brown and countless other entities that have enlightened us through the years. Her works are often used in college and graduate programs to initiate discourse on race and privilege. “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” is a pivotal element in the Black feminist writings because it was one of the first pieces to give voice to the experience of both being African American and being a woman. As a result of the significance of her works, Maya Angelou will continue to mentor generations forever.


In many cultural traditions, it is crucial that we honor our ancestors. Let’s honor Maya Angelou by treasuring our friendships, living life to the fullest, turning our trauma into greatness and participating in mentoring. Either serve as a mentor to someone in your community or reach out to someone that you admire and let them know that you would for like them to serve as your mentor. ‘When you learn, teach. When you get, give’ and we all agree that Maya. Angelou has taught us well.

Maya Angelou image available from Shutterstock.

Friends with Benefits

By Dr.J • 1 min read


I just returned from my college reunion where I spent the weekend with over 500 of my college classmates. I can safely say that I laughed harder in 48 hours than I’ve laughed in all of 2014. It was wonderful and I’m convinced that the feelings will carry over into the rest of my year. The laughter and positive emotions that I experienced over the weekend was therapeutic for me.

Let’s look briefly at a few of the benefits of laughter. In a 2006 study conducted by Dr. Lee Berk, findings revealed that beta-endorphins (the family of chemicals that alleviates depression) and human growth hormone (HGH; which helps with immunity) – increased by 27 and 87 percent respectively when volunteers anticipated watching a humorous video. Using a similar protocol, that same research also found that the same anticipation of laughter also reduced the levels of three stress hormones. Cortisol (termed “the stress hormone”), epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) and dopac, a dopamine catabolite (brain chemical which helps produce epinephrine), were reduced 39, 70 and 38 percent, respectively.

In other words, the benefits of experiencing the happy times are beneficial but, simply looking forward to a happy experience may also be good for you. This study adds to research that has been showing for years that laughter really is good medicine. I can recall the anticipation that I felt during my travel to the college reunion. The feelings were powerful.


People who have satisfying relationships have been shown to be happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer. Friends may even defend against dementia. Researchers suggest that regularly visiting friends or relatives could significantly reduce a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Overall, friends can really enhance both the quality of our lives and length of our lives.

National Friendship Day is August 3, 2014. But, don’t wait until then. Let’s make every day National Friendship Day. Let’s all agree that instead of feeling down, alone or angry we simply make more of an effort to connect with our friends. Whether it’s a road trip, a telephone call, text message or Face Time, let’s attempt to connect with our friends more. Remember, it’s never too late to build new friendships or reconnect with old friends. After all, laughter and love are the TRUE benefits of friendship.







American Physiological Society. (2008, April 10). Anticipating A Laugh Reduces Our Stress Hormones, Study Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080407114617.htm

Bring Back our Daughters and Sisters

By Dr.J • 1 min read

On April 15 in northern Nigeria over 300 Nigerian girls were kidnapped, 50 escaped but 276 are still missing. The girls were kidnapped by an extremist Muslim group called Boko Haram. Boko Haram is known as “Nigeria’s Taliban.” The group’s name means “Western education is forbidden.” These girls were the smartest girls in their families and villages and were expected to do great things in their villages and in the world. So far, the Nigerian government has done next to nothing to recover the girls.

The attack in Nigeria is part of a global backlash against girls’ education by extremists. Extremists threw acid in the faces of girls walking to school in Afghanistan. And in Nigeria, militants destroyed 50 schools last year alone.  According the Polaris Project’s 2013 statistics, an estimated 20.9 million men, women and children are trafficked for commercial sex or forced labor around the world today. Victims are trafficked both within and across international borders.  Within our own US border, 76.6% percent of human trafficking victims are female (National Human Trafficking Resource Center). This is both a national and international crisis that needs to be addressed.

As a mother of two sons, I shudder at the thought of the horror the kidnapped girls are going through. I think of the trauma these girls are most likely facing presently. We are all connected by our shared humanity; beyond culture, tribe or nationality. We need to stand up, the best way we can so that authorities can take the appropriate action.

If we can’t fight for our daughters and sisters, then who shall we fight for?

dont buy girls

Use #BringBackOurGirls on social media to show your concern over this outrage.

Introducing Diary of a Therapist

By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. • Less than a min read

Even amongst people with a mental health issue or a mental illness, there remains discrimination. Women and many other minorities suffer from additional hurdles when seeking treatment, or when asserting their rights in treatment. Television often portrays minorities — and minority women especially — in a certain light that’s all too often unflattering or plays into well-worn stereotypes.

That’s why I’m pleased to present our newest blog, Diary of a Therapist with Jameca Falconer, Ph.D. Dr. Falconer will help explore these complex issues on this blog from her experienced perspective as an accomplished counseling psychologist, educator, entrepreneur and civic leader. You can learn more about her diverse and rich background here.

Please give Dr. Falconer a warm Psych Central welcome!


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