Black in Medicine

Black in Medicine

To be black is to be strong—to be are unaffected, unmoved and unbothered.

To be black is to refrain from vulnerability—to present yourself as unflawed as possible.

To be black is to be resilient – to recover from unfortunate circumstances effortlessly and to strive for total control of one’s life. The independence and tenacity expected as a natural part of blackness has shown to be regressive.

While black people do suffer from mental illnesses, they are often deemed weak and attention-seeking. In order for the black community to progress, it is important that stigmas regarding mental health illnesses are addressed and subsequently eradicated.

Moreover, it is important that we recognize that we all play an active role in mental health.

 One’s mental health status impacts coping mechanisms, social interactions and psychological well-being. It is important that we acknowledge the pride that prevents us from seeking help, the naivete that stops us from putting our health at the forefront of life and the fierce independence that makes us believe we can conquer every problem on our own.

The stigmas regarding mental health are belittling, invalidating and condescending. We have the power to re-frame the perspective on mental health illnesses. We have the right to recognize illnesses as real and the responsibility to be educated enough to point ourselves in the direction of intervention. To be black is to be strong – to muster the courage to be forthcoming about shortcomings.

To be black is to refrain from vulnerability – until you have arrived at the safe space that encourages openness.

To be black is to be resilient – to acknowledge our illnesses and work relentlessly towards rehabilitation. Blackness and mental health illness are not mutually exclusive, and we too, no longer have to be exclusive about the issues that plague our community.

Ashly Okoli, first year student at Texas A&M College of Dentistry

*The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and are not endorsed by

This is YOUR Year.     Own It!

This is YOUR Year. Own It!