Panel studies black psyche

Florida A&M’s Department of Psychology held its first national conference Sept. 10-11. The conference highlighted the study of African and black psychology and recognized the contributions of Kobi Kambon, who has dedicated the past 30years at FAMU as a psychology professor and department chair of FAMU’s Psychology Graduate Program.

Kambon’s career has been devoted to the development of African-American psychology and correcting inaccuracies written about the black psyche developed by European- American researchers.

The conference called for keynote speakers whose work and studies have been influenced by Kambon. Each speaker touched on varying topics including African-centered psychology, cultural misinformation and racial myths and stereotypes.

Conference coordinator and associate professor of the Department of Psychology, Jackie Robinson, said the study and understanding of black psychology by using accurate psych models, with African -Americans in mind, is crucial to the development of self identity within the black community.

“We need to do our very best for students to understand black psychology and righting the wrongs put in books about African-Americans,” said Robinson.

“It’s important for us to know black psychology on an intellectual level and infuse it into the community, making sure blacks can truly obtain self knowledge, and not what they have been taught to believe.”

Speakers at the event also keyed in on the vitality of educating students the truth about black behaviorism.

Jackson State, psychology chairman, Arthur L. Whaley, Ph.D., spoke on his studies dedicated to revising the fallacies of European-American research as it relates to their findings on African- Americans.

Whaley said it’s important for students to reject hypotheses like the cultural incompatibility theory, which suggest simultaneous success in being culturally inclined and high achieving is impossible in the black community, due to fear of being considered an “Uncle Tom.”

 “My new model promotes the idea that cultural identity and being successful, at the same time, for African-Americans is possible if they acquire a role that benefits their community,” said Whaley. “That is the only way one can have a balanced sense of self.”

In Whaley’s 10-year study his surveys have revealed alarmingly low numbers of black youth who have a sense of individualism. 

“It’s not the media at larges fault but the school system our children are exposed to, making it crucial to have an Afro-centric approach to psychology and teaching in order to make our adolescence stronger,” said Whaley.

Whaley was one of the many panelists who joined in during the conference and spoke to students about getting involved in developmental research towards eliminating the European-American theories on African-Americans.

 Anyia Johnson, a graduate psychology student from Miami, said she was very impressed by the presentations that were focused around cultural identity. 

“This conference was very beneficial to students because it encouraged self-actualization in a white dominant world,” said Johnson.

“I learned how important it is to pass on accurate depictions of our race to our children in order improve our future and better our people as a whole.”