Summitt tackles black psyche

The first National Conference on African/Black Psychology took place on Sept. 10 and 11 in the FAMU Pharmacy building, held in honor of its own Kobi K. K. Kambon. 

The conference focused on the discussion of Kambon’s work and his contributions to the field of African/black psychology.

It studied at length the psychological problems that emerge from being black in a predominately white society. However, an underlying purpose was evident and even articulated by panelist Reginald Rackley, Ph.D., of Southern University.

“I know [Kambon] didn’t want us to just come here just to talk about his contributions without talking about solutions,” Rackley said.

In trying to devise these solutions, the panelists discussed cultural worldviews. When a person adopts the worldview of a culture not their own, it supposedly results in “cultural misorientation.” The panelists suggested that this misorientation is the cause of most psychological problems facing the black community.

 “Research on cultural misorientation has been found to be positively associated with frequent use of the ‘N-word,’ light-skinned preference among blacks and higher levels of European worldview orientation,” said Andre’ Shaw II a Master’s of Science graduate student. “Not only are the components of the African worldview and the European worldview different, but they are … antithetical in nature.”

The concept of misorientation was only a possible explanation of the problem, not a solution. The conference, however, is believed to be a step in the right direction.

“It’s a teaching moment for everybody,” said Rackley. “[Kambon] said, ‘We didn’t get in this situation overnight; we’re not going to get out of it overnight. It takes time.’ At least we got to sit down … talk about the issues and address them so that at least from those issues, we can have something to work and start on in the first place.”

If the conference was one step then the next, according to the panel, was to know oneself.

Kevin Washington, Ph.D., of San Francisco University expounded on this, saying that only when blacks know their worldview can they know the world.

“That is what [Kambon] taught me: that you have to understand who you are in order to make sense of the world around you,” Washington said.

This idea resonated with much of the audience, including Oba Woodyard, a second year psychology  graduate student.

“What I picked up most from the discussion was the importance of accepting who you are unapologetically and being proud of that,” Woodyard said. “Once you know who you are as a person — as a black person, as an African person — that makes things so much easier as you move throughout your world because you don’t move through it confused.”

Tonya Hardaway, a third year psychology student, agreed. She said that in a way, coming to understand yourself both as an individual as a part of the black community was, in fact, FAMU’s legacy.