Not Your Token Diversity Page

America has a way of capitalizing on all of the moments that it thinks will hide its historical and present-day oppression and exploitation. In February, we celebrate Black History Month. White organizations, schools and the like, will host luncheons and assemblies to appease their Black employees and make it seem like they have turned a racist corner. There are posters of Martin Luther King Jr. everywhere, and a myriad of “special events” that serve to assuage the guilty consciences of those whose ancestors stole and enslaved Africans and brought them to this country to “work” (for free). Then, on March 1st, the celebrations end. The token moments of reverence are over and a new group is called up to the podium – women. 

Women are another one of the “minority” groups that history has shown America to mishandle. We could talk about the suffrage movement that forced women to unite and fight for the right to vote, but that left out Black women. Should we address how men are still, even in 2021, controlling the reproductive rights of women? How are we still fighting for the right to have an abortion 48 years after Roe. v. Wade? In some places/hospitals, women cannot even get their tubes tied without their husband’s permission. 

We could talk about the atrocity of female genital mutilation that is happening across the globe in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Arab states and other countries in Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. 

Let’s talk about how the world finally starting taking notice about the sexual predation of women after the #metoo movement, which was started by a Black woman named Tarana Burke, with the aid of Alyssa Milano, gained notoriety and traction in 2017. 

Just look at how ugly the elections have been when women have most recently run. Yup! I think it’s safe to say that women, while great strides have been made (ssshhh…there’s a Brown girl in the White house), have a long way to go before we are considered equals to our male counterparts.

In June, we celebrate Pride month. However, the rainbow colored flags that fill office corridors, but don’t make us forget how the LGBTQ+ community faces discrimination on the daily basis. They are denied access to healthcare, education, employment and other civil liberties that cis-gendered white men take for granted. Even as this website page is being written, we are embarking on the 5th anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting, where an assailant shot and killed 49 people simply out of hate. So, while Pride month happens and is celebrated (in grand style!) across the country, we also recognize the long battle ahead for equality in that community. 

People are hated and stigmatized for their differences. Some would argue that this is most true for people who are differently abled. The intellect of people is judged and measured by their ability to “function” in mainstream society. There is an invisible bar that people must measure up against. And, at a whim, that bar’s height, rules and position could change just to keep people who don’t look like the puppeteers from being able to navigate it. It’s like an old boys club and Deaf people don’t get in. Blind people don’t get in. Depressed people don’t get in. Neurodiverse people (those that are on the spectrum, or who have other developmental differences) do.not.get.in!! Why?? Because they don’t fit the mold. 

We could go on, but you get it!

Ageism. Racism. Sexism. Ableism. Colorism. These are just a few of the isms that plague, oppress and separate us in this country. They are ways to keep us feeling like “others’ ‘ and otherness never feels good. We said all of that to say this: here, at Beltran and Associates, we are you and you are us. There isn’t a wall here that divides us. We welcome everyone irrespective of sexual or relationship orientation, sexual expression, gender or cultural identity. When you walk through our doors, the only thing that we want you to feel is…safe. You are safe with us. We’re here to help you with your relationships and mental health so that you will have what it takes to go out and compete in this world for your space. No matter what the world’s messaging is to you, you matter to us. Your life is worth celebrating more than just once a year during a token celebration. You are important everyday. Our doors are open to and for you, and yours, everyday….because we’re in this fight too, with you, everyday. 

We could have just had a little note that said that “all are welcome” on our website. But, we thought it (and you!) too important to not address with a more comprehensive statement. We understand what challenges come with finding a therapist as a Black or person of color (understanding as BIPOC people that there is a definite distinction between Black people and people of color), as a member of the LGBTQ community, or any of the other groups that “don’t fit in” as a part of the old boys club. Counseling requires vulnerability. And that’s hard to do when you have to navigate the perceived or real implicit bias of the professional sitting across from you. You want to talk to someone you feel gets you…really gets you! And we get that. We pride ourselves on, intentionally, having a diverse group of therapists that can help to meet the needs of our very diverse client groups.

The Breonna Taylor and George Floyd murders rang a bell that was heard around the world – a bell that seemed to wake up the consciousness of white America. But we know that even though the alarm has gone off, there are many that are still hitting the snooze buttons. We know this because, for them, diversity and social justice are just the new buzz words for 2021. There’s no real change in their behavior and there is no manifestation of a changed heart that can be observed. The words are just the words. For us, here at Alicia Beltran and Associates, we have built our practice on the solemnity of words and actions. So, when we say that we are intentionally diverse, we mean just that. 

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