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Personal disclosure: I come from a family of law enforcement officers and black and white members of society.

I am a social change advocate. Yesterday was a dark day for the social change community. It is a dark day for law enforcement officers who want to do the right thing and are now living under the dark shadow of yesterday. It is also a dark day for the majority of the black community who is also now living under the darkness of yesterday yet is trying to do the right thing. But there is hope that enough people on both sides will make the positive social change necessary as a result.

The only way to truly effect positive social change is to change the system itself. We must pursue positions of power within the system where we are not proportionally represented so that institutional discrimination and culturally based bias is put into proper perspective with the reality that exists. We must balance our systems to accurately and fairly represent who they serve.  Just because something is lawful does not mean there is justice.

What we see happening on a local level is a mimicking of what is going on at the highest level of power. When we have so many grown-up white men publicly, viciously and purposely spewing their biased vitriol at the black leader of the free world, what are we to expect white men with lesser power to do to black men with no power on a street level? What do we expect those systems to operate like when we have our highest systems, the House of Representatives, state governments, the media, etc., acting as they do?

Law enforcement officers are not the ones with the real power. They are tasked to enforce laws made and implemented by systems out of their control. Changing the system and replacing those in the position of power within law enforcement is what will effect social change.

Just as rape culture within our higher education and military systems will not change until the individuals with the power to change that culture are replaced. The students, soldiers, marines, etc., are not the ones with the power to change those cultures.

The institutional discrimination and religious and culture based bias that lead to creating hostile and dangerous encounters for the gay community will not change until we change the system and replace the hostile leaders with leaders who promote equality and justice for that community.

Those of us, who are educated, trained and experienced in human behavior and reaction, have our own evidence-based perspective on why the protests, looting, burning, and violent responses to injustice is foreseeable. It is not justifiable, however it is foreseeable. It is human nature. Those who are educated trained and experienced in enforcing the law have their perspective. Both perspectives are equally valid and should be honored and respected.

The Ferguson Police Department is in dire need of an Industrial Psychologist to make the changes it must make at its most fundamental level. Most police departments are. Most institutions are.

It is also predictable that the people who are too uncomfortable with the disturbing precipitating event that caused the looting and burning will focus only on the looting and burning. They will not put the equal amount of attention, judgment and disgust into the precipitating event to the looting and burning. They will instead focus on the looting and the burning now, because it is too uncomfortable for them to focus on the events that lead up to and directly caused the effect they are now unhappy about. Those people will continue to focus on the burning and the looting rather than the precipitating event, rather than trying to understand it without judgment. That is human nature. That is the epitome of bias.

Xiomara A.  Sosa, NCC, LPC-I

BS, MS, PhD student

Today, I want to introduce you to a group of Latina women who are doing extraordinary work on behalf of the Hispanic community — a community that represents 18.2 percent of the total population of the state of New York.

These women are making a difference and have excelled in the fields of health, education, community, art, culture, business and technology; they have worked hard throughout their careers and have made a positive impact on society, fighting for progress so that 30 percent of the Hispanic population may obtain health insurance; so that the income of Hispanic families will increase past $38,000 per year; to raise the level of Hispanic college graduates to more than 13 percent; to help 67 percent of children over 16 years old and in the labor force complete their high school education and go to college all of which can be viewed and measured through studies of the Census Bureau of the United States.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/adriana-aristizabal/2014-outstanding-women-of_b_5207390.html

 

During the Conference on LGBT Suicide Risk and Prevention at the San Francisco State University, the component that struck me most (and made me want to make this a 2 part blog) was the work being done by the Family Acceptance Project around LGBT youth’s families and faith communities to increase support for LGBT youth and decrease the various problems that LGBT youth face: family and community rejection, depression, homelessness, substance abuse, STDs and suicidal thoughts and attempts. Caitlin Ryan, Project Director of the Family Acceptance Project, spoke at length about the issues the project tackles.

http://lgbthealthequity.wordpress.com/2014/04/08/lgbt-suicide-prevention-lgbt-youth-family-and-faith-communities-part-2-of-2/

 Apr 7, 2014 (Tell Me More) — The shooting at Fort Hood leaves many people talking about mental health and military culture. Host Michel Martin learns more from veteran Xiomara Sosa; and former Undersecretary of Defense Ed Dorn.

http://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/npr/300241340/fort-hood-shooting-no-simple-link-to-mental-illness

Two weekends ago I attended the Conference on LGBT Suicide Risk and Prevention at the San Francisco State University.  While I knew that LGBT peoples had higher rates of suicide ideation and attempts than their heterosexual peers, the numbers were themselves shocking. Anne Haas, PhD, from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention explained that, overall, there are some data discrepancies when it comes to counting LGBT people.  Sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) are not identified in death certificates, nor is it systematically identified in the National Violent Death Reporting System; this prevents the analysis of suicide mortality rates by SOGI.

http://lgbthealthequity.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/lgbt-suicide-prevention-1-of-2/

 

Hacer el bien y ayudar a los miembros de la comunidad le hacen feliz. Graduada en psicología y con una maestría en salud mental, en 2005 fundó una consultoría que ha ido creciendo. Veterana del ejército fundó en 2011 un organización sin ánimo de lucro para ayudar a los veteranos y sus familias en cuestiones de salud mental.

ImpreMedia SmartEdition – El Diario – 5 abr

http://www.eldiariony.com/Especial/article/20140405/Luchadora-incansable-a-favor-de-la-salud-mental

 

The alarming news of another military service member going on a shooting rampage killing and wounding other service members on a military base is unnerving. For us Latinos it is especially upsetting to know that Iván López, a Latino, perpetrated the recent Ft. Hood shooting. I do not care for highlighting a person’s ethnicity or culture in these tragic events, but I feel that I have a responsibility as a Latina, a veteran, and a mental health professional to state the obvious that others are already commenting on.

http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/opinion/2014/04/04/opinion-people-link-killing-rampages-to-ptsd-due-to-colossal-misinformation/

 

This post is going to be more personal than I’ve written before. But now that I am resurfacing, I thought it would be appropriate to do so. Many people know that I have been working very hard for a long time to acquire my graduate degree so that I can legally have my own clinical mental health private practice someday. I set that goal for myself immediately after 9/11. I knew it was where I needed to be in the near future because where I was no longer brought me joy. And 9/11 fundamentally changed my entire paradigm. I was at the Pentagon that day.

http://newlatina.net/saved-career-self-care/