ProTip (For Therapists): Educating Yourself About Systemic Racial Oppression

ProTips are blog posts for therapists, social workers, educators, and counselors in training. 

For those of us who take a systemic approach to counseling we acknowledge the impact of our clients’ roles in a variety of systems - whether it be their families, romantic relationships, office hierarchies, their intimate communities or within the society at large. If we take the initiative to become well-versed in attachment, birth order, organizational communication, etc…. one could then argue that we also have a responsibility to educate ourselves on the influence of systemic oppression as well.

We get it, race relations are an emotionally charged topic, and America’s history of oppression is a dark one, however as therapists, we are all too familiar with the concept of sitting with the “hard stuff” and “leaning into” discomfort. Historically, our nation has perpetrated a number of acts of racial terror on its citizens. And while we get closer and closer to racial equity, from an intergenerational perspective, the trauma of this oppression has been passed down for decades.

This post is merely meant to introduce the question and provide a path for you to begin to find some answers. It should be made clear, that it is not the responsibility of the oppressed to educate those with privilege, but thankfully, there are plenty of stories being told and resources available for those who seek a more thorough and accurate history of racial oppression in America.

The Equal Justice Initiative created an illustrated video that briefly, but powerfully explains the transition from slavery to mass incarceration of America’s black citizens.

Looking for more ways to become educated about institutionalized oppression? Below are some excellent resources to start your journey: