Facilitating Conversations on Multiculturalism & Social Justice (Video)
I went to the 1963 March on Washington, on the trip learning that the "color-blind" idea of race that I was taught by my otherwise progressive parents did not fit my experience. I put on a big old "March on Washington" button (I hate buttons) and promised myself that I would only take it off when I joined a Civil Rights organization. I went to college at Clark University a few months later, and joined D'Armey Bailey's Worcester Student Movement, picketing the downtown department store and the Wyman Gordon factory over discrimination in employment. D'Armey more or less instructed me to sign up for the Freedom Summer. I trained in Ohio, forever grateful to Lawrence Guyott for teaching me how to be conscious of my Whiteness my experience and my practices of privilege.
I worked primarily in DeSoto County, organizing the county Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party on a team with Robert Fullilove and Robert Feinglass. Like many college students, I made the decision not to leave at the end of the summer, writing to my parents that, since they had already had to come to terms with the possibility of my dying in Mississippi, they would have to come to terms with my not returning to college! I cringe every time I think of my 19 year-old adolescent arrogance in that letter. Fullilove, Feinglass, and I took an overnight R&R in Memphis, which was just north of DeSoto County, staying at D'Armey's family home. I proudly told D'Armey that I was staying, and D'Armey firmly told me that I was going back to college, to take responsibility for the struggle in the North.
My experience in Mississippi continues to shape the course of my life. I was radicalized, and adopted my parents' Marxist-Trotskyist world view for decades (My sense of the world is now seen through a spiritual lens). I married a working-class African American woman, and for the fifteen years of that marriage my in-laws were always ready to remind me whenever I became unconscious of my race. Our multiracial children, now 47 and 41, have taught me a lot about how race is a social construction.
I later married a White Jewish feminist, and it was relatively easy for me to learn how to be accountable for my gender privilege, having practice at being accountable for my racial privilege.
My graduate school training in clinical psychology was alienating for me, as my political and racial perspectives were invisible until I spoke, then treated as a personal quirk. I had the opportunity in graduate school to become a "prototype" for what was to become the Minority Training Program at Boston City Hospital, now the Center for Multicultural Training in Psychology, the oldest psychology internship program in the country specifically committed to training interns to work with poor and working-class urban clients of Color. The vast majority of CMTP graduates over more than 40 years of our history are People of Color. I have been active with CMTP since before it began, and now teach the Multicultural Family Therapy Seminar there.
I have done my best to be engaged whenever I am able with progressive political activity, all of it inspired by my Mississippi experience. A member of the American Family Therapy Academy, I have over the last couple of decades been active in bringing conversations about race, in our organization, in the professions, and the world, to the foreground. I am a founding Board member of Artsbridge, which provides leadership training for Palestinian and Israeli youth, with instruction in the arts (painting, sculpture, film) and in a reflective dialogue practice developed by family therapists.
I recently joined the Restorative Justice and Responsibility Group, which includes inmates at MCI Norfolk, a Massachusetts prison, community survivors of violent crime (including homicide of loved ones), and community members interested in developing restorative justice practices as an alternative to the "New Jim Crow" of mass incarceration.