Charmeka Newton, University of North Dakota – Healing Anti-Black Messaging

What tools do we use to heal from harmful messages that pervade in society for some?

Charmeka Newton, clinical assistant professor in the college of education and human development at the University of North Dakota, develops a toolkit to do so.

College of Education & Human Development at the University of North Dakota. Dr. Newton is also the owner of Legacy Mental Health Services, PLLC. She has over 20 years of experience in clinical, academic, and community settings, including teaching experience at both undergraduate and graduate levels of higher education. Her work on internalized racism and anti-Black messaging has been featured in Newsweek, U.S. News & World Dr. Newton is also a member of the Michigan Board of Psychology, appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. She is a sought after psychology expert featured in prominent magazines and newscasts, recently featured on the June 2020 broadcast of West Michigan Woman, where she discussed how to have difficult conversations with your family about race. She is also co-author of the soon to be released book, Black Lives Are Beautiful: 50 Tools to Heal from Trauma and Promote Positive Racial Identity, published through Routledge, an imprint of Taylor & Francis Group, LLC., as well as co-author of the peer-reviewed article, “Culturally Adapted Cognitive Behavior Therapy as a Model to Address Internalized Racism Among African American Clients,” published in the April 2022 issue of the Journal of Mental Health Counseling.

Healing Anti-Black Messaging

The anti-Black messages that pervade U.S. society have had a detrimental impact on the psychological well-being of Black people. In particular, beyond the negative impacts of racism in itself, the resulting internalized racism that occurs due to anti-Black messaging has contributed to poor outcomes in the Black community as it relates to education, physical and emotional health, and socioeconomic status.

Thus, a colleague and I developed a toolkit to heal from the impact of anti-black messaging. Within this tool kit, the first step is identifying and understanding the psychological impacts of racialized trauma, as well as knowledge of strategies for wellness.A second step in healing is the active promotion of higher self-esteem. In our research, we learned that affirming one’s personal strengths and replacing negative beliefs can help individuals deal with racialized trauma. The third is developing resilience. Tenacity during adversity is important. The ability to bounce back and persevere can come from connecting with individuals, family and community.

For some Black people, this work is especially powerful, as research indicates that spending time engaged in activities that focus on cultural strengths can increase feelings of personal control and lead to higher self-esteem. The fourth way is to promote empowerment. Finding strength in one’s personal choices is fundamental to achieving a higher self-image. Those choices could include supporting Black-owned businesses, attending cultural events and developing a strategy to gain financial independence. The last way of healing is found in promoting a sense of community. By doing so, an individual can increase a sense of belonging and counter the feelings of isolation triggered by anti-black messaging.

Read More:
[Routledge] – Black Lives Are Beautiful50 Tools to Heal from Trauma and Promote Positive Racial Identity

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