Basic Schools of Psychology for Blacks

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For Black psychology, to be received, understand, and fully grasped as a discipline, a critique and rejection of white psychology is a must. The rejection of white psychology would mean rejecting its methodology, conclusions, and ideological premises. In addition, Afrocentric models of study and therapy need to be introduced and lastly, there needs to be a self-conscious intervention in the social struggle for a more black and human environment

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There are three schools of Black psychology that explain different approaches, perspectives and offer insight on ways to induce change of thought processes. These schools tackle the rejection of white psychology, introduce models that focus solely on African culture and gear black people toward self-awareness. The schools are labeled the traditional, reformist and radical (Karenga, 1995, p. 22). The traditional school is merely concerned with changing white attitude, isn’t concerned with the development of Black psychology and doesn’t offer any corrective measures for the views upon which they are critical of. The reformist school is focus on changing public policies and pushes for Afrocentric psychology, while the radical school is not concerned with whites, but focuses solely on black people and developing a psychology that is strictly for black people (Karenga, 1995, p. 21-22).

Kenneth Clark, William Grier, Price Cobbs and Alvin Poussaint are all members of the traditional school. As previously stated, the traditional school isn’t concerned with the development of Black psychology and supports the Eurocentric ideas, and only suggesting minor changes (Karenga 1995, p. 22). Kenneth Clark points out that segregation not only affected black people, but also the victimizers. Clark also expresses that society enforces negative views of blacks, and it has nothing to do with black people being inferior but a mask of white people’s insecurity (Karenga, 1995, p. 22).

William Grier and Price Cobbs main agenda was to make white people understand what they were doing to black people and the effects these behaviors had on them which would invoke change in their behaviors and attitudes toward black people (Karenga, 1995, p. 24)

Alvin Poussaint pushed the idea that white parents should raise their children free of prejudice. He also stated that white psychiatrists preferred to treat their own, and due to lack of training on different behaviors anything against the norm was viewed as deviant behavior. This lack of training leads to lack of knowledge and understanding of black behavior as well as treatments. He also contends that the labels placed on blacks, such as being socially disadvantaged or culturally paranoid are merely for the oppressor to keep their sense of superiority. He voiced that even though society has put constraints on black people, black people must charge their own lives and seek self-love (Karenga, 1995 p. 24)

Charles Thomas, from the reformist school, voiced that black people need to embrace their blackness, he contended that social scientists have an ethical responsibility for changing black people. To further support the claim that white psychology needs to be rejected (Karenga, 1995 p.25).

Joseph white argues that it is extremely impossible to understand the lifestyles of black people based on theories developed by white psychology. These traditional theories further push the idea of inferiority towards black people. William Cross introduced a model detailing the process a black person goes through called nigrescence which is the negro to black conversion (Karenga, 1995 p.26).

The radical school includes James Baldwin, Na’im Akbar, and Amos Wilson, to name a few. Na’im strongly critiqued the traditional psychology models. He stated that black people have been victimized intellectually and physically. This victimization resulted in shaping black behavior (Karenga, 1995 p. 28).

James Baldwin also strongly critiqued the European American society, from its setup to the impact it had on black people. Black people are restricted due to the control that whites possess (Karenga 1995, p. 30).

Amos Wilson argued that the study of Black psychology should not begin with slavery but in Africa. He urged others to be careful when examining European-based psychology. Wilson also pointed out that blacks need to examine their melanin not in the context of skin tone because the melanin in is the brain. Wilson noted that black people have been pushed to use only the right side of their brains, which is creative arts such as singing and dancing. He stated that white people are afraid of those who use the right side of the brain which is responsible for analytical thought and logic (Karenga 1995 p.34-35) 

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