Happy February and Happy Black History Month! Let’s take the time to appreciate and converse about the Black pioneers within the field of psychology and mental health. Without these pioneers, the way we view and learn about psychology would be very different. Today, I wanted to talk to you about Dr. Joseph White. He is famously known for being the “godfather of Black psychology” and becoming one of the first African American psychologists. White was born on December 19, 1932 and passed away at the age of 84 on November 21, 2017. Not only was he a distinguished psychologist but he was also a teacher, mentor, consultant, writer, and clinical supervisor. Throughout his work as a licensed psychologist, White dedicated his life to social justice and advocacy by amplifying the need for diversity within the field of psychology. During the height of the Civil Rights movement, he proclaimed the need for psychologists to understand the needs of people of color/ ethnic minorities.
His publications not only described his findings in psychology but discussed timely issues of diversity and social justice. In the year 1970, his publication in the magazine Ebony named “Toward a Black Psychology,” brought attention to his work and mission to amplify the voices of ethnic minorities. Within the article, he criticized the norm within psychology by detailing how there was a need for a strength based psychology instead of a deficit based psychology approach. Due to this, the idea of cross-cultural psychology began to arise and the standards of eurocentric psychology were questioned. He continued to create conversation between his readers and psychologists through his following pieces of work: “The Psychology of Blacks,” The Troubled Adolescent, and Black Man Emerging. Due to this exposure, he was able to create the Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi). Present day, his ideas continue to impact the face of psychology. His contributions have inspired ethnic minorities to pursue careers within the field of psychology.