When Black Psychiatrists Reach Out to Teens of Color
“Black Man to Black Man”
As noon approached this recent Tuesday, Dr. Stallworth told the team about his exam with a black middle schooler with ADHD. In the spring, he had been bullied at school by gangs. This fall he changed schools and now, Dr Stallworth said, he says he is happy – playing football, making friends and, according to his mother, going home and doing his homework.
“He smiled, it was the first time I had seen him do that,” Dr Stallworth said. “There was a nice little boy in there today. I saw it. It was so cool.
Dr. Lewis spoke. “I know you’ve had a lot of difficult cases, Dr. Stallworth,” he said. “I want you to remember that.”
All the doctors on the clinic team have faced racism. Dr. Lewis grew up in an upper-middle-class family in Parkland, Florida, among a few black peers, with white friends who called him ‘Oreo’, he said: ‘Black on the outside, white inside, not really black.” In his high school group, it was a tradition for the underclass to give each graduate a gift. Dr. Lewis was given a watermelon, “because it’s what black people eat,” he recalls.
Dr Vinson described an encounter at his first job, at a major Atlanta hospital, when an older white social worker told him in a meeting that he “felt unsafe” with her, a she declared.
“I was like, ‘I’m a five-foot-two woman who never raised my voice with you, never used inappropriate language, definitely never threatened you,'” Dr Vinson said. . “‘You don’t feel safe around me – that’s basically calling me angry black women.'”
The fourth member of the team, Dr. Joshua Omade, grew up in a middle-class home in Bowie, Maryland; he played rugby and football in high school and was tall for his age. Once, at the mall, he was stopped by a policeman who demanded to know, “Why are you here? he called back. He was waiting for his mother to finish her shopping.