As a white, female mental health counselor in-training, it is my duty to continue building upon my cultural competency. This can include my being mindful of my whiteness, the privilege that comes with it, and power differentials that can result from this privilege.

Additionally, to build competency, I often read books written for people of color by people of color. Here are three book titles that can help identify trauma, provide a guide for Black mental health, as well as assist in the liberation of oneself through radical self-compassion and love.

The Body Is Not an Apology, Second Edition: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonja Renee Taylor

“When we act from this truth on a global scale, we usher in the transformative opportunity of radical self love, which is the opportunity for a more just, equitable, and compassionate world—for us all.”

– Sonya Taylor

World-renowned activist and poet Sonya Renee Taylor’s book, The Body Is Not an Apology, focuses on radical self-love to prevent unnecessary harm from oppressive symptoms and soothe indoctrinated body shame. Taylor presses that systems of oppression thrive off the inability to make peace with difference, consequently injuring the relationship forged with individuals and their bodies. Sonya hopes to inspire others to interrupt the systems that perpetuate body shame and oppression against all bodies through their own self-love practice. This second edition includes stories from Sonya’s travels around the world while combatting systems of oppression, a light on the path toward liberation guided by love. Additionally, the second editions offers “specific tools, actions, and resources for confronting racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and transphobia.”

What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing by Oprah Winfrey & Bruce D. Perry, MD, PhD

“Through this [trauma-informed] lens we can build a renewed sense of personal self-worth and ultimately recalibrate our responses to circumstances, situations, and relationships. It is, in other words, the key to reshaping our very lives.”

― Oprah Winfrey

In this New York Times Best Seller, Oprah and Dr. Bruce D Perry explore how our earliest experiences shape our lives far down the road. Here, Oprah shares stories of adversity and trauma that she faced at a very young age. What Happened to You? provides “powerful scientific and emotional insights into the behavioral patterns so many of us struggle to understand.”

Through conversations, Oprah and Dr. Perry focus on understanding ourselves, others, and behaviors. By understanding one’s past, one can become unstuck and move forwards into the future by opening the door to resilience and healing in a proven, powerful way. There is power in shifting from asking “What’s wrong with you?” instead of “What happened to you?”

The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health: Navigate an Unequal System, Learn Tools for Emotional Wellness, and Get the Help you Deserve by Rheeda Walker PhD (Author) and Na’im Akbar PhD (Foreword)

In The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health, psychologist and African American mental health expert Dr. Rheeda Walker informs of the ongoing health crises simultaneously occurring in the Black community. Dr. Walker also discusses the forces that have undermined mental health progress for African Americans, and what needs to happen to heal psychological distress, find community, and undo years of stigma and marginalization in order to access effective mental health care.

This book can help you:

  • Recognize mental health crises
  • Understand the variables creating these problems that impact overall health and quality of life and relationships
  • Develop psychological tools to neutralize ongoing stressors
  • Navigate a mental health care system that is unequal
  • Learn to live a fulfilling life

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