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Diversity Challenge 2008 In Review

race, culture, and trauma

Diversity Challenge 2008The Institute for the Study and Promotion of Race and Culture (ISPRC) sponsored its 8th Annual Diversity Challenge at Boston College October 3-4, 2008. The conference drew more than 300 participants and hosted more than 60 different sessions providing scholars, practitioners, educators, community activists, and policy makers a forum to share life experiences, professional practice, and scholarship. This year’s theme was "Integrating Race, Culture, and Trauma to Promote Better Mental Health and Quality of Life."

The two-day Diversity Challenge included panel presentations by invited experts and community members. This year’s presenters included trauma scholars, practitioners, educators, clerics, community workers, and youths who enhanced the conference with mutual sharing and learning. Among this year’s panelists were:

Diversity Challenge 2008Robert T. Carter, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Education in the Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at the Teachers College at Columbia University, discussed race-based trauma. Among his most notable works are: The Influence of Race and Racial Identity in the Psychotherapy Process and Racial Identity Development Theory: Applications to Individual, Group and Organizations.

Priscilla Dass-Brailsford, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Division of Counseling and Psychology at Lesley University and author of A Practical Approach to Trauma:  Empowering Interventions and Disaster and Crisis Response: Lessons Learned from Hurricane Katrina examined the enduring effects of failure to consider culture in the lives of Katrina survivors.

Lisa Goodman, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Counseling and Applied Developmental Psychology at Boston College and author of Listening to Battered Women: A Survivor-Centered Approach to Advocacy, Mental Health, and Justice, examined race and class issues as related to domestic violence.

Diversity Challenge 2008Reverend Raymond Hammond, M.D. is Pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church and Chairman and Co-Founder of the Ten Point Coalition, an alliance of youths and community activists. He discussed trauma as a community concern.

Judith Lewis Herman, M.D., Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of Training for the Victims of Violence Program at Cambridge Hospital, discussed general principles for treating trauma. She is the author of Father-Daughter Incest and Trauma and Recovery.

Martin Pierre, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and Mental Health Coordinator for Generation Excel, a faith-based nonprofit agency that serves the mental health needs for “at-risk” and "high-risk" children and adolescents, described trauma as it pertains to youths of color.

Comments from participants:

  • "...very powerful and thought provoking."
  • "[Presenter] helped me consider well the difference between 'diversity' as a descriptor and 'multiculturalism' as action."
  • "Excellent. The ISPRC staff was wonderful!"
  • "It has been refreshing to hear many of the presenters shift the focus of intervention away from individual pathology to societal racism and its effects."
  • "Excellent framework, valuable information."
  • "I really enjoyed the conference. This was my second time attending and I plan to be a regular attendee."
  • "The sessions were educational and informative."
  • "[Session] addresses systemic racism that’s often not recognized."
  • "Panels were excellent."
  • "Very insightful!"
  • "Best conference that I have ever attended. All the topics seemed relevant and helpful."

Diversity Challenge 2009 will focus on Racial Identity and Cultural Factors across the Lifespan in Mental Health Treatment, Education, Research, and Policy.