Many of us are familiar with Maxine Waters, whom I and so many others within the Black community refer to affectionately as Auntie Maxine. She is a current U.S. Congresswoman and her powerful presence as an advocate, activist, and lawmaker reverberates beyond the Capitol.
Auntie Maxine is perhaps best known for a phrase she used during a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee in 2017: “Reclaiming my time.”
Her repeated use of this phrase to declare that she was given the floor to speak and be heard didn’t just spark a social media frenzy of people deeming Auntie Maxine a hero. It also highlighted a growing shift in mental health, related to the need to create space for marginalized populations in therapeutic theorizing and practices. Counseling centers around the country are moving to include identity-based services. Identity-based services are counseling services tailored to the specific needs of a particular social group that has historically underutilized mental health resources. The mission of such services is to increase access, promote inclusion, and provide culturally appropriate and sensitive resources to ensure that all students receive the care they need.
Often our identity reflects the complexities of who we are as people. We each sit at the apex of several backgrounds, cultures, and life experiences that converge and ultimately shape how we navigate the world. This reality can make it difficult to simply choose one of our various identities as the sole representative of who we are, let alone a single service that speaks to all parts ourselves.
Because of this, an intersectional approach to therapeutic services is critical.
Kimberlé Crenshaw, legal scholar and leading theorist of intersectionality, posits that intersectionality examines the various social, political, and socioeconomic factors that blend together and create a complex system of advantage or disadvantage for an individual. Essentially, intersectionality helps to shine a light on all aspects of self and the many intersections of those aspects with the goal of truly seeing the individual.
In line with an intersectional approach, the Homewood Counseling Center will offer a support group for Black women students called Reclaiming Our Space: Black Women’s Support Group (ROS).
Derald Wing Sue, a leading psychologist in the field of multicultural counseling, once stated: “For too long [people living at the intersections] have not had the opportunity or power to express their points of view. For too long our voices have not been heard. For too long our worldviews have been diminished, negated, or considered invalid…No wonder that we are so tired, impatient, and angry.” 1
ROS will serve as a supportive and healing space where Black women, occupying the intersections of racial and gender marginalization, can build community. This space will encourage the free exploration and discussion of challenges related to identity, academic life, current events, relationships, and mental health. The group will meet every Friday from noon until 1:30pm EDT beginning August 27.
Individuals interested in joining the group should contact the Counseling Center (410-516-8278) and schedule a group screening appointment with me, the group’s facilitator.
This group will be a space where the voices of Black women, no matter the volume or intensity, are embraced fully. ROS seeks to further Auntie Maxine’s declaration to reclaim our time by also reclaiming our space within mental health services.
Group Title: Reclaiming Our Space: Black Women’s Support Group
Group Description: A supportive and healing space for Black cis and trans women to build community among one another as they freely explore and discuss challenges related to identity, academic life, current events, relationships, and mental health. If you are interested in participating in the group, please contact the facilitator, Dr. RaiNesha Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org), via email to schedule a screening or leave a message with the Counseling Center at 410-516-8278.
Eligibility: The Homewood Counseling Center serves all full-time undergraduates and graduate students enrolled in KSAS and WSE. It also serves all Peabody Conservatory students and students enrolled in the post-bac pre-med program.
Location: ZOOM, until further notice.
Day & Time: Fall 2021, Fridays from 12:00pm-1:30pm EDT, beginning August 27.
1. An Open Letter to Brothers and Sisters of Color,” 2003, pp. 257-259