Preface Kimber Shelton Michelle King Lyn Mahlet Endale The intent of this book is to further mental health practitioners’ aware- ness, understanding, and ability in providing competent mental health care to Black and African American women. Post slavery, Jim Crow, Black suffrage and civil rights, gendered racism, and other forms of oppression continue to impact the mental wellness of African American women, their relationships, and their families. Our hope is that readers will take away conceptual knowledge, concrete skills and tools in affirmative practice, and increased motivation to advocate and participate in systemic change bettering the mental well-being of Black and African American women. Black and African American women are deserving of mental health services that empower and honor them, that invite challenge to internal- ized and externalized forms of oppression, and that foster personal and familial growth. However, practitioners are often ill prepared in creat- ing therapeutic environments of safety, challenge, and respect for Black and African American women. For one, mental health professionals con- tinue to be undertrained in working with Black and African Americans. Although there have been improvements in the number of diversity- focused courses offered at the graduate level, mental health practitioners continue to express being underprepared for work with ethnic minority groups. Two, mental health practitioners are not immune from internalizing negative and dehumanizing societal messages targeting Black and African American women. As all other Americans are, mental health professionals
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