John Henry, Sambo, Scary Black man, and Mandingo, these archetypes have been used across the centuries to quantify the perceived lived experience of Black males. Despite their differing points of emphasis, a common thread woven through each narrative is a portrayal of Black males as emotionally distant and socially inept. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), Black males represent less than .5% of all psychologists in the US. Additionally, mental health professions across various disciplines are also reporting a similar disparity regarding Black male representation. Why are there so few Black males engaged in the psychological healing practices?
A connection can be made between the narratives imposed upon Black males in the form of the archetypes mentioned above and the Black males belief in their own emotional and relational capacities. Furthermore, if a Black male experiences their own relational and emotional capacities as limited, then they are more likely to not view themselves as individuals that can facilitate healing for others. We can help Black males see and fulfill their healer potential by:
(1) Normalizing the experience and expression of a full range of emotions early in the Black males upbringing.
(2) Exposing Black males to Black male healers across a number of mental/physical health professions.
(3) Eradicating systemic barriers that prevent Black males from accessing the education needed to engage in healing work.
(4) Advocating for fair compensation for healing professionals to encourage more Black males to pursue healing work.
(5) Affirming and validating Black males in healing professions and letting them know they are needed and supported.