Christopher Townsend-Michael - 5:14:22, 10.46 AM
2:01AM May 19, 2022
Michael Jones, PhD
Christopher Townsend, PhD
All right, just want to say a good day to everybody? My name is Dr. Michael Jones. And I want to welcome you to the thoughtful counselor, I and when the new contributors to this podcast and just really glad to be here. And so just getting this opportunity to be here, I had one person in mind that I just felt like had to be the first person I talked to. And so today, we're gonna be talking to Dr. Christopher Townsend. And I'm just gonna tell you a little bit about his background. And then we're going to let him talk a little about what what he's doing. So Dr. Townsend, he's a national and international trainer. He specializes in addiction and in trauma. He works at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center. And he is a recently appointed board trustee for the National Board of certified counselors. He's been appointed to the American Council, the American Counseling Association, black male experience, Task Force, and we'll be talking a lot about that today. His research interests are to improve educational outcomes for marginalized children, trauma supervision, and social justice advocacy for the bipoc community. Dr. Townsend is currently working to develop an evidence based model to to address predict police brutality, in collaboration with police officers, and other researchers. And so I'm just excited just to be able to spend some time with you today. And if you don't just have a couple of minutes to let everybody know a little bit about you, your family and your background. And how did you get into this, this counseling space man?
Well, interestingly, a brother brought me into the counseling space. In my undergrad, I will just happen to get a degree in psychology and I had planned to go back home. I don't know what I was gonna do with just a bachelor's degree in psychology. But a brother came to me he was a doc student, he was doing research and said, Look, man, you can get a master's degree. And I was like, what, and interestingly, I don't no one ever said this. Out blatantly. But somehow, in my mind, I thought only white people got master's degrees. And that perhaps I wasn't intelligent enough to get a master's degree. And just him saying you can get a master's degree, launched me, he gave me the opportunity to join this program, AMG program, it was a program for minority students. And what the program did was introduce you to a page with a researcher. It mentored you introduce you to different disciplines, and allowed you to take the GRE to practice and prepare for the GRE and I got accepted to that program that gave me a $500 stipend for that summer program. And I was introduced to counseling and that program, and it was a part of his research. And so it launched me into seeking a master's degree in counseling. So I applied to a master's program following that, that experience. And so I always say counseling chose me, I didn't choose counseling, it just it fit and because of my childhood, coming out of a domestic violence history, I've been saying I've been counseling a long time, helping to console my mother and, and all that, you know, being male victim of domestic violence, which we don't often hear about. So, so that's kind of how I got into counseling. I am happily married. My wife keeps me in stitches and we're enjoying life together have three children. I have a 19 year old twins and a two year old. Yeah, wow. Two year old so. So I'm often saying I'm too old for this, but I'm enjoying being a father. And I'm enjoying life, man. Really?
That's good. And, and I think my first interaction was with you as it was probably it's been almost 10 years. I can't even believe that Oh, back with it through NBCC. And connecting through there. And so yeah, it's been fun seeing how things have been developed for you and your career path and where you're going. And especially with don't do a PhD, and just all the good work you're doing. So it's been kind of nice to kind of sit back and kind of watch what you're doing and just get an expiring man. So I'm well,
well, yeah, I remember that. That has been a long time ago, and you all NBCC cohort with a minority fellowship? I remember, several of you have already had a PhD. Yes. I didn't. And I was in the room with you all teaching the mental health facilitation, I think, program and, and y'all were so inspiring. And that was part of what inspired me to go back was that first cohort, saying, if you need, we thought you had it, but you need to go get it. And so because you're also a real and real people, it wasn't inspiration to go back and do it.
So you've been, you've been exuding excellence for years already. So this has been great to see, you know, so today, we're gonna be talking about the black male experience, and specifically looking at you know, mentorship when it comes to black men, and how that how that affects us when it comes to our mental health. So I guess from you, for you, I guess the thing first thing, like they asked me, How would you go about even defining mentorship?
Oh, man, that is a that's a concept, when you really look at it, I kind of see it as a legacy that's imparted to someone else, particularly in the black community. I think of mentorship generally, from our elders. And my whole life, I've had older men who saw something in me, in this case, personally, I did not necessarily seek out to the mentor and, but they decided to mentor me, they saw something in me. And so they wanted to impart wisdom, impart understanding about living into me, so they took an interest to invest in me. And so they, they helped to shape my character. They helped me to see character flaws. They helped me to understand socially, the social constructs of how to live as a black man, in terms of how I carried myself, so there was an expectation or standard that they set before me. And back in the day, if you didn't do that, I always say I call it the last bit of the village that got you where we say it takes a village to raise a kid, these were men who would say, I'm gonna tell your mama, you don't need to be hanging out with those boys. You know, and they will hold you to the standard. And I still hold on, you know, 40 years later, I hold on to some of the things that were told to me, and the Goddess. So though their ancestors now and so it's kind of like, you hit him in the back of your head, from things that they told you. So it's almost like, the mentor sets a roadmap of life. And they help you to avoid the booby traps, that that are there, particularly for African American men. But age is not always the thing that establishes a mentor, I have much younger mentors, some of them are close to my age, who helped me professionally, to know how to engage in academia and, and move again through life and how to deal with relationships and, and all this so so I say legacy, because these were, these are great men who have had success living and and they continue their legacy by giving it to other young men. And so some of the relationships I saw that I saw qualities in men that I didn't have, and I wanted to emulate and be more like them. And I asked him to mentor me. And it was a more formal setting where I would go in and I found that I can authentically be who I am. And there's very few places that black men can can take off the mask. Take off that thing that fortifies our strength, even a weakness sometimes we have that strength that we have to carry us for protection is we can't be vulnerable in all spaces. And so I'm not talking about the anger that some people would project on because the angry angry black man aggressive man But oftentimes we have to shield ourselves. And it can be perceived as angry or mad or whatever, but, but we have parts to protect. But this mentor, these mentor relationships, allow us to become vulnerable, and to share our hearts, and even cry if we need to. And that's what we don't do enough. But every mentor, partnership relationship that I've been in, it allowed me to authentically be me and psychologically undress. For those mentors to help redress me in a way that helps me survive and be well. And in my, my endeavors, and so so that's how I see mentors, formally and informally. In their friendships, that go, go go. That's, that's like they go past time. Got it last. And so and I think could have carried me to the grave. And like I said, some of these mentors or elders, or our ancestors that got on, but they still have an impact on me. And their words to matter. And I get to pass that on to other people, other humans. So that's why I use the term legacy. Because it keeps moving to our community.
It sounds like when you when you're when you're talking about mentorship here is it wasn't just an academics where you're receiving this from it's not like, like, it sounds like there was like people from the community who were like saying, hey, you need to hear this, you need to be involved in this. And so what were you think my career was? What What were some of these people's jobs? They did, they were, they were pouring into you?
Oh, some of these people weren't educated, but they had PhDs and life. Yes, they were community, people who had just lived. And they sat and they understood the world, and what it meant to be a black man, and what it was going to take to live in this world. My babysitter was confined to a wheelchair. And, and this was, you know, before the age of five, I remember how we call it, Bob. And he told me, he said, Chris, learn your arithmetic. We don't even use that word anymore. Learn your arithmetic, everything revolves around arithmetic. And I've come to find that to be true in so many ways. Mr. George, you know, he was the one that said, Chris, I'm gonna tell you, Mom, you don't need to hang out with those boys. And every one of those boys he would tell him not to hang out with have been in jail, or they're still stuck back home, you know, some doing well, some not doing so well. Group, I'm the only one that has gone, you know, as far academically as you know, I have. And so these people saw something. And then, you know, they're the ones that were educated. And in they were educators, and they broke all the rules for me to be a relationship with me, and became my father. So they became surrogate fathers in so many ways. So they fill the gaps for me where my own father didn't or couldn't. And, and they, they were bridges over the gaps that I had in my life that could have been detrimental to my success. So they serve as bridges to launch me to help me cross and develop as a man. And so I still have those relationships with those coaches, and those teachers, who again, saw something in me, who guided me. So these people helped to structure, the path that I probably would not have taken from forcing me literally to join student council. And most of the student council members live into their affluent community. I was busting from the projects. And you know, I had nothing in common with them. But my coach, Coach Tom has literally forced me to join student council is the best thing that ever happened to me, because it put me in relationship with kids who look different than I did, and helped me to understand better the effluent life and how they live and again, gave me inspiration. So he taught me responsibility, accountability, being a man of my word, and in those things, you just, you know, it's just that's the village. Yes. Making sure that I made it. I remember when mentor saying, you're going to live leave High Point North Carolina. You can't stay here. You have to go away. And it was the toughest thing because As it was just myself and my mom, and I could not imagine, leaving my mother to go off to school because of that always just been she had I and, and we have been through so much together, you know, I probably just would have tried to go to school somewhere around where I grew up, but to launch out. And to do that, you know, it was scary. But mentors helped me to see the value in it. So, you know, I've had uneducated, educated brothers, I've had some women along the way. Who were you no maternal mentors, who fill the gaps who did for me, and important to me, you know, Mrs. James, a friend of mine has a brother, who, who took me to art school in what he call it, what a country USA, Mrs. Hart, my fifth grade teacher who taught me that I could learn more from a C student to a student in her class, because he had an interest in black boys. So they informally kind of poured into me, and that from a maternal, and these are white women. Who did that who took a vested interest in my website, and I'm still in communication with them. And so, but for the most part, it was black men who, who really have left an impression truth of how to be a man and how to operate as a man that that is really been sustaining and healing in so many ways.
Yeah, it's your sounds like you're painting this picture of these individuals who told you maybe told you things you may not want to hear, but things you need to hear. And also, especially we talk about how you need to, you need to need to move, here's right, here's some places you need to get get to. Right. And so that's neat to hit the table to hear that they will almost like visionaries, and a lot of ways for you.
Oh, yeah. And the thing is, I tell my children or other young people, I had sense enough to listen. Because I respected them. And I valued that they would not leave, leave me wrong, although I didn't want to do it. It didn't feel good. It didn't, wasn't what I thought it but at the time, it may not even be cool, what they were trying to get me to do. But I valued who they were. And it was something about the relationship and me valuing who they were, and I'm seeing this and says that I want it what they had. But the issue is it was that I mean, I wanted to do what it was gonna take to get there. But they motivated me to continue and to get there. Gotcha.
So how when did when you think about this mentorship you receive and just in just as a black men in general? How do you feel like they affected that, like, mental health? What was that there was a connection between those two things? Yeah,
um, you know, I mentioned the word nurturing, empowering, it was safety in those relationships, they were not going to allow me to fall. So so it was like, the toddler or the infant who has to stay close to the parent. But as they become more confident, they can venture off a little further, but but I know that they're still there. And anytime I needed to call, yeah, I still have a black professor female, that I still call she's, she's kind of, she's been my mentor. She's been my rock, but she was like my mother. When I was in college. Matter of fact, she was my mother's classmate in high school. What a coincidence. And I didn't learn that until I got to college. And I learned I heard her accent. And I'm like, Are you from Dillon, South Carolina. Yep. And we put two and two together. She was my mother's classmate. She became my my surrogate mother in college. And I still call her to the day. So these are so to know that these people are not going to allow me to fall. And they will be honest with me. And again, that allowed me to address all the stuff and still love me and build me up. So there's, there's safety in knowing them and their security and sharing with them and they give me the next steps. They give me the guidance. And so what that does is it gives you the peace. It gives you understanding for how to track and hostile territories as a black man when I was preparing for my dissertation, or going through that coursework, I was upset with my professors. I was complaining to her about a Dr. Coleman. And she said to me, I was he listened, it was all said and done. She said, not do what they told you to do. I mean, he's supposed to be on my side. So I thought, why not do it intelligently. Don't argue with them, just get it done. This is not the outcome that I wanted to end this conversation. But she pushed me into the space. And so I'm talking about men and women. Because for black men, women are a significant part of our lives. In general, we think about mentoring, milkman demand. But as you hear, I've had both men and women. And I've had black and white, to help me, and to serve in that capacity along the way. And so I'd be remissed, just to say that it was only black men. But all these people created a refuge in the past, for me, and so what I recognize, everywhere I go, I'm looking for the mentor, I'm looking for our eyes. And I think black people in general, particularly black men, we are keenly aware of those people that will be for us, and those who will be against us, any environment, we're going, we're scanning, we're looking, and we're making connection with those people who we can put around us, our entourage of mentors, who can help us navigate any new environment that we go into, I think that's just part of our survival, from our own traumatic experiences, that that has been passed down through the generations, where we know we need and happen to have alliances, and we need protection. And so we foster those relationships, I think intuitively, as a as a way to survive. And particularly in academia,
you got to have those people who you can go to as people to give you a heads up. And this is how you do this. And here's some resources and, and so I've learned how to do that, because it bring helps me to stay sane, in a world that was not designed for me, or world that wasn't ready for me in a world that cannot and does not validate me. And so I need to create those spaces for myself to be sustained and to be vibrant, under distress, or what could be distressing. environment or climates. So so that's what I think psychologically, mentoring does is what could be overwhelming, what could be traumatic. There are barriers that are placed. So it's kind of like, you know, you walk into the, to the buildings like bam, bam, bam, you know, I got this because I got the people around me. And I anticipated these things. And now I know how to navigate. And so there is a building of strength that comes through the mentoring and a safe haven. So So when I think about the brothers, that we sometimes meet with, and you all have heard me talk about, that's the only time I truly feel safe is when I am even over zoom, when I am in the company of like minded brothers, who have very similar struggles. But yeah, I see victory. I see success. I see scholars, I see those who are impacting communities. And it's empowering, and I can share again, my vulnerabilities, but then they start pouring into me even beyond the meeting, I get emails and I can call the brothers or or doing that if I have a need. I can call somebody that somebody is meeting the need that I had. That is enriching. It builds me It encourages me. And again, it's the sustaining factor. So you know, you can't money can't buy this beat these things for us. So, so I think it's healing. I've mentioned healing before where the word Hold would hurt me where it would tear me down. These brothers, even if I've been in battle with some of these entities, I can come into this space and the more I talk with them, after I meet with them, and all that, that advice I've been given, it are plotted, it has worked. So I can contribute. This says to me those relationships.
Yeah, and when you know, as, as I'm thinking about just mental health, in general, you use a word multiple times about security and safety and vulnerability. And it is so hard, like you said, fine in those spaces where you can just be you are and, and you don't have to put on airs, you don't have to feel like, okay, I had to say this in the right way, I just got to say what I feel like saying so that there is so much you're right, there's, there's so much healing that come from being able to have those spaces. And when we find the right mentors and the right people to be around, that's just a good place to be able to plug in. And when you desire it, you know, like you said, as we get together on the group of us get together on a monthly basis, I look forward to those things like that's, that's, that's on my calendar, you know, like, I have to be there, whether it's for 15 minutes, or the whole two hours, or whatever. Because I know when I leave, whatever was going on, I can leave a lot that there. But also pull something out, even though I might not say anything, because we're there for we're there for the same reasons that we're trying, we're trying to trying to find a lot, a lot of healing just to get through the next month that comes out.
Right, one of the areas I'm looking at, and research is restorative justice. So what I'm finding with that restorative justice piece, is just that word restorative. And the healing goes along with that. That a lot of us because of all the experiences that we've had to have to get to where we are, it costs us something. And sometimes it costs us to our detriment, our wellness, emotionally, psychologically. And sometimes we lost ourselves a mentor told me this, my writing mentor, said, Chris, you lost your voice, and become an educated. So they become educated, you lost something. And I'm going to help you restore that. And it was so powerful, because that's part of why I went to an HBCU to get my PhD, is because I had been educated by PW eyes all my life. And there was something missing in my education. And I went to loci NC State University in Greensboro, North Carolina, for the PhD, and then people questioned me, why would you go to an HBCU to get this degree, because I've been to every other school prior to this. And I need this education, the highest degree, the be by people who look like me and can speak to the things it's in me that those things might come out. And so that was a part of my restoration. That was a part of my healing, that I have brought into academia, to say, these are the things that I have to talk about, and need to talk about. And in the work that I do, because I'm not seeing it being talked about, or if it is talked about, is not a true depiction of what's really happening. So people collect data, don't misinterpret the culture, and who we are and what and so so for me, the work that I do, brings the healing and the restoration that I need to be hold, I think, and that's part of the mentoring relationship with you and others, and that, that the work itself is restorative is discovering, and it becomes empowering, and even got to fight to do that. Yes, in the system, there still fights on, you can't say that you shouldn't say that. But this is a truth. This is the voice of the people. And yet you refuse to continue to hear and you reject the voice of the people, which means you rejected me too. So I gotta stay in the fire, you know, standard battle, to make sure that a true narrative is communicated and understood, which potentially means we go against all the rest of the sciences been made, created to this point, which creates more distress. Because people don't want to hear if I said for counseling, that your theories were developed by white people for white people. And now you've modified it, but what about creating your whole theory for people of color who have come from a press conditions and have experienced what they have experienced? Is there a theory that can truly address those issues? And do you have the true training because I didn't get trained, and my master's or program to address all these issues of people of color, and the atrocities that we've experienced. And so for me, then every opportunity I'm getting, and getting mentored, is dealing with this content every day. Because, you know, social media has been a blast, because now we can disseminate information, and things are popping up, and we're discovering things that otherwise we probably would never have access to. And so for me, then, you know, connecting with new people. I'm healing every day, literally, there's a transformation, there's a healing process that's happening every time I come in contact with someone else who's interested in these topics. And so, so I'm glad we're able to talk about this in this way, because something is happening worldwide. Yes. For people of color. And we see this, this resurgence of white supremacy and, and their fear of losing themselves and their identity and making this country great again, and all all these kinds of things. That, you know, I look at him like, but you have nothing to lose, but everything to gain.
So what are you afraid of losing, that we have not already lost? It's already been taken. But somehow our creativity, the spirit of a people have survived, which was threatened genocide and all kinds of things, I tried cities, were still creative, and we're still will take a bad thing and somehow make it into a wonderful thing. And I had someone to say to me, it was a white colleague, they said, African American people, y'all are cool that everything you do, like y'all make everything look good. Y'all like everything tastes good, everything sounds good. There's something about your culture, your walk your talk, and I'm jealous of what he told me. And, you know, when I sat down, began to think about it, I'm like, but there's a lot of pain in that thing. Yes, a lot of pain. And we have decided to live and not die, is what we've done, essentially, through the generations, we've decided to live and not die, but also to thrive. And so that's what mentor to me, does from one generation to the next, it teaches you how to live. And that's what's been given to me over time,
I like how you say it was given to you because it is definitely a gift. Because you have people who have already know for lack of a better term, it's kind of a minefield out there. And they can tell you don't step here, right? Because if you if you step here, this is what's going to happen. I'm gonna I'm gonna teach you how to sidestep this way and take care of this, right. So like I said, it's because it really is about survival, because we want to get to a place where we can be able to not just receive this mentorship, but also be able to give this out from what we receive. And that's how that's how it gets conveyed to you. So that's how it gets continued on from generation to generation, because we have received it. I've learned from it. And the things I've learned now it's time for me to give that to somebody else just continues.
Yes, yes, I telll my son often. And I said, Man, I'm a counselor, I'm giving you stuff that people pay for. And so, you know, you rejecting this, but I'm advising you, I said, what I'm really trying to get you to do, there's a hard way to learn it. And there's an easier way to learn it. My gift has been my, my, my, the gift that I have is I'm a listener. So when someone gives me good wisdom, good information, I take it. Because if you tell me this is the mistake I made, my goal is not to make the mistake that you made and to have the success without the pain that you had. I know sometimes folks say you just gotta go through to learn sometimes, but not always. It doesn't have you don't have to learn the hard way all the time. And so I'm all about listening and figuring it out through your help, not to have to do it the hard way.
And we can we can also learn from other people's pain without me having to go through that
I'm all for that. Yeah,
that's, to me, that's the best route to go. So that so as we can this kind of unpacking this topic a little bit, what do you feel like for black me like didn't include? I know, we were talking about mental mentorship, but what are some other protective factors that we're looking at winning like when it comes to our mental health that we didn't need to focus on now?
Yeah, yeah. You know, I think about that a lot in terms of when black men walk into counseling, when, you know, you see black men in the barber shop, the other therapies, but you know, what are the things that will make us whole what's going to make us I'll put us in a position for healing and restoration. Our homes are key, I think. Having, you know, a home, Luther said, at best, a house is not a home, you know, Luther Vandross. And I've found that to be so true that, you know, after going in Tibet, all that the workplace and in the communities, to be able to come back to a place where there's peace, and a partner that you can trust in and be with who will support you and, and, and be there for you, I think that place of rest refuge is necessary. Nothing for us, you know, sometimes when we talk about what African American people face, you know, there's financial literacy, and being able to know how to make your money and keep your money and, and plan for the future. But so many of us are living paycheck to paycheck. And we haven't had access to some things. And so there are many fathers who want to do more, but just in low paying jobs, and, you know, didn't have the education. And I know, there will be some people say, just gotta pull yourself up by the bootstraps, man, give me the boots, first, let me get some boots, you know, I don't have any laces. You know, and I use that oftentimes, and life happens to people. And so if you don't have education, if you don't have financial literacy to know, then the you don't get access. And you don't give your children the Jumpstart that they will need. Because you may not have the computer in the home. You don't you don't get to have some of the advantages to go to some of the summer programs, you know, to go to the better YMCA, where they have more resources and more more programming. And in, you know, I learned that early with my children because they went to what we call the white why, the more privileged why. And then I decided to prepare them for middle school. I didn't take them to the other way. So I dropped them off in the hood for childcare, because I needed my culture, to teach them to fortify them to strengthen them in their inner miss their blackness really, yeah. Because I knew the school that they were going to go to wasn't going to allow them to be anything else. But African American. And I needed them to be able to cold switch. Because otherwise what we call the white why? There was a lot of cultural things that would speak to mainstream society. But they weren't learning what we need to learn how the rites of passage I said that way. They needed a rites of passage that they hadn't had yet. And so, so so these are the things when we talk about, you know, the things that help us to be sustained, you know, I was able to afford to do that for them. And to help them to get to that point. Spirituality is still a very significant part, yes, of our heritage and our history. Being able to recognize that strength but when you begin to understand and I know there's a group of people particularly, you know, I think most people in the United States black people are Christian, and we get the ridicule of, you know, white man's religion. But what they fail to read denies that there are black people in the Bible, people of color. And if you read it close enough, we're there. And I reminded my children during Christmas when we're reading the story of Jesus, when he was born, And God called the Son out of Egypt, I said, Where did Jesus have to go at it? It was an African. They took Jesus to Africa, he was a people of color. You know, and I'll say, we have always been there. And somehow we've lost the idea that we weren't there we weren't, no, we've always been there, we've always played a significant role, the men and the women, and so, so you got to know that you've always been significant. So that becomes a
strength, a place of refuge, a strength for us to know how to access that. And to utilize that as a part of have been a strong people as a protective factor has been a protective factor for me to be able to come in and go into prayer, and to call on the saints, the elders and, and back in the day, when my grandma was gone, Grandma, I need your prayers. This was happening. This was going on, you know, in other cultures, they might say column, the ancestors, you know, in African culture, and have them come battle and be president. And so these are all things again, it speaks to your identity. Yes. And so as we're fighting assimilation, as we fight acculturation, and I tell folks, I love being black. Man, I don't love all the struggle, we have to go through college folk envy, this thing, but, but I love the culture, and who we are. And if we weren't significant, then why would so many people fight us? Yes. If we didn't have something, if we weren't significant or important, wow, how these forces coming in the way that they come. So you got to know who you are. And so these protective factors is a part of our culture. If, if we don't let go of it. So we're selling, or throwing away the things that we already have that sir protection, which is our community, we are a collective people by heritage. But as soon as you become trying to become an individual, you laying down those, those protective factors. When you become more your center to be quite honest, you give up protective factors. So everything we need, I think, is within our culture already. The way that we fellowship around food, we've given up evening dinners, we've given up the whole family coming around the table on Sundays. We've left those states that those are the protectors of our family, our community. Those are the factors that we have laid down those mantle's and now we're distress and, and grandmothers were the counselors, our elders were the counselors that we leaned on and I still use those. When and when my grandmother was alive. She didn't understand education. She didn't have that kind of, you know, education, PhD in life. But I thought I'd call my grandma and tell her what was going on. And she said, Baby, it's gonna be alright. That's all I needed to hear. Was baby is all good. You're gonna be alright. So again, that those are factors that we have in our acculturation and assimilation. We've lost pa him, Thomas Potterhead talked about he in his book, The African American struggle for identity he talks about he equates identity development as high and low pressure and being Eurocentric than African and nature. And when those things hit, it's like a hurricane, a great storm in terms of identity crisis. And he said that we will never feel or be a part of Phillip part, because genetically, we, the culture doesn't hit us, right? It doesn't fit as it doesn't nurture as it doesn't affirm us and the The way that our, our natural African heritage does. And if you ever get a chance, if you haven't been to Africa, every African American that I know that has gone wept.
Upon entering and stepping on the ground, they wept uncontrollably and didn't know why it happened to me. And it's something about just being there that your soul knows that you are home is something about that land. And so, so these are, we talked about factors, beyond mentorship, mentorship, can push you into those areas. And so that's when I say when I'm with you, all I can imagine is like, been in Africa, in the tribe. Yes. And we're preparing our warriors, we're going through a rites of passage. So when I'm in that space, I feel like you all are training me for the for the warrior status, to be elevated. And when I leave, I feel better equipped to fight, and to hold on and to recognize who I'm representing. So that's a protective factor. But all those other entities that I've talked about, just adds to that. And it makes me very powerful man. So when I go out, you can't rock me, you can't shake me, because of everybody who's standing with me. I'll give you an example. In probably closing this, maybe I was working for an organization. And I was wrongly accused of some things. In order to stay a trainer, I was accused actually by two white females of not training very well. And so they made me meet these same two white females months later to so they could observe me during the training. And I wanted to flip out, because I knew they were lying on me. And I began to pray. And I began to ask God for guidance, and I was led to a scripture. I was made to go to dinner with him the night before. Now, if you met with somebody, you weren't gonna have dinner with him.
But I spirit, I had a spiritual encounter, where I had to love and show myself kind. So one young lady didn't know me in that way that I was projected, as portrayed as it was one culprit. And so what I did was in being kind of nice, I went over the newest cover. So the next day, I had to go through the whole hour, the 15 minute presentation. When I was done. They said, Oh, my God, you present it. Like there was a whole room full of people. I said, there were you just couldn't said. They had to go back to their leadership, and Illinois, and tell them what a wonderful presentation it was the same presentation I supposedly didn't do well. And their supervisor then questioned them to say, if he trains a well today, how was it? They didn't train? Well, last week, two weeks ago. So now they became in question about the lie, which then led to a national conference. And I was talking about using spirituality in cognitive behavioral therapy, that we should allow spirituality to be a part of our work, because it's spirituality that that manifests behaviors or change behavior. So we shouldn't be using that as a resource. And actually, I know they were begging me to publish this stuff. So it went from Chris, you're not adequate enough. To Pete, please publish. Catchy, you know, and all that I used with those protective factors. I call some people, I pray, everything I've talked about, I use all those factors as a way to combat that assault against you. And that's what I think we got to recognize we got to go back to those places, those things that we naturally have. And then if we don't have that we can create it based on our history.
I got one last question. I just went down I asked and, and, and that we can wrap up at the VA. So you've been talking a lot about identity, you know, today and understanding our identity. But didn't you a few minutes ago use that word? code switching. And I think sometimes, and I don't think a lot of people always understand what that feels like to try to hold on to your identity when we're having a code switch. Talk to us just a little bit about that on how do we go about doing that. Being able to hold hold on to identity as when we feel like it, and we're having to be something else to meet someone else's standards so that we're acceptable. Yeah, it makes sense.
Yeah, yeah. W. E. B. Dubois talks about that door consciousness, he talks about the consciousness and awareness of two minutes, that just becomes dogmatic. And if he didn't say it this way, but just cancer, it's, it tears you apart. Because similar to what Thomas Brian talked about, those two things have a hard time resisting together. Because there when we talk about assimilating into, you know, European culture, and versus African culture, there's just polarities. But the code switching causes one, to have to put on the mask a bit more like the other, to make them feel more comfortable. Because to be different, can be scary for them. And so if you want access, you have to be more like, there you go. And so it's that constant battle of how much of myself do I sell? How much of myself do I deny to become a part and in over time, you can lose yourself, totally lose your African self, and becoming Caucasian. And a big separate into that mainstream thing. So the older I get, the more I'm learning how to authentically be me, the ego and being happy in that? Yes. And, and learning how to build relationship and make you deal with me. So you better understand me? And so not does it become so scary. So I'm finding the more more I live with that I don't have to deny me. And, and if I have to, is too great of a call psychologically, and dealing with me if I've sold myself short. And I'm not helping anybody. By continuously code switching. I just did a piece with a speech pathologist a publication on code switching in the dangers and the disrespect that we allow, by not, by by allowing people to, to make us speak grammatically correct. You don't even speak grammatically correct. You don't even use the king's language appropriately, but yet you impose that on me. Yes. And so what we have done, every culture has taken language and have made its own unique language nuances. Research has shown Ebonics that we call it a black Standard English is a language. It has all the phonics and all all the components that any other language have. But yet, our children go to school. And they're told you're not speaking. grammatically correct. You're speaking wrong, you're speaking. Now that's our heritage. That's how we speak in our home. So how about you learn what I'm talking about? So that's what that article gets that in saying that, yes, let's learn Standard English. But it should not substitute or replace, shall I say, the language I use in my home? Because that is my language I use in my home because you telling me that that's wrong, says all my people are wrong. Or something else is wrong with us? No, it's our language is how we speak. So when I come into the classroom, allow me allow everybody to speak their language. There's a time where yes, we need to speak standard English, we can use that. But that teacher also needs to be able to understand the nuances that's in the class, it becomes creative, it becomes empowering to everyone. So that's what happened to me is I lost my voice because I kept trying to speak standard English along the way, and allow them to begin to stripped me of the essence of who I am trying to become something that I didn't even really want to be. And so so my gone to HBCU to get educated was part of that journey of reclaiming myself Reclaiming my voice, and being comfortable being me walking into that building every day
as Dr. Christopher Townsend, but I carry my whole child with me and trying to be authentic. Now, do I relapsed? Yes, I do. But I'm trying to undo some of that, just to be me. I don't want to wear after wear the mask, this is who I am. Every day this is this is me. And I say that a president's when Florida got killed, I said to them, the president environment tour, town hall meeting. And I said, I love my broom, beautiful brown skin. This is me. And this is what you're going to get. So I'm unapologetic about who I am. And where I come from everything that you see is what you brought to this campus. And so my research is who I am, is a part in the fact that I gotta fight. Even do the things that are important to me, because it makes other people uncomfortable, says that we got why we got to do the work and why I don't need to continue to simulate a cultural rate. But I need to expose you to who I am. To my people. So so cold switching in my opinion is not good. Yeah, it's a detriment to us. And I would say we got to stop doing it just being who we are. And because we are multicultural, we do make some concessions. But it should not be to the degree that you deny your whole self.
And then, in the end, there's such a freedom. And I experienced them like man to be able to be me and be authentically me in front of other people, and not have to make an excuse forward or not have to or not even have to, like say, Well, no, I'm just kidding, whatever. That's just who I am. So when we had a freedom, we can show up in the spades in the room, we can be our best selves, and Excel, but we're doing it on our own, on our own accord, and I'm not having to do something and have to make sure it's okay with you. right for me to be me an adult. And to me, that shouldn't even be an issue for anyone that for me to have had to ask permission. Can I be me today? Or do I have to be what do I have to do? I need to be the version of me that this makes you comfortable? Right. And so yeah, so. So you wrote a post, which is I got to ask him about that. Before we get off of here. Yeah. I appreciate that. Man, this has been just has been wonderful. Just just just to have this time to just to spend with you. And like I said, I had no question in my mind who the first person was always will be talking to. Because that is like, you have to so much, just just so much great wisdom, to impart to all of us to help us to see the sea life and it just in from a different perspective. But once again, just like as you talked about earlier today, I know that isn't just you. It's those elders to help forward into you. And and the grandmothers and the surrogate mothers and they poured all that into you and then because what I love what they've done, we get to benefit from that. So I just want to I want to thank not just you but thank you thank to all your mentors you had that have put that into you. So we get to benefit from that. So just this thank you for being on today, man. It's my pleasure. All right, so I'm just definitely got to do this again for sure. Let's do it. All right. I appreciate you.
All right, thank you.
The Thoughtful Counselor is, Désa Daniel, Raissa Miller, Aaron Smith, Jessica Tyler, Stacey Diane Arañez Litam, and me, Megan Speciale. Find us online at concept.paloaltou.edu. Our funding is provided by Palo Alto University’s Division of Continuing and Professional Studies. Learn more about them at concept.paloaltou.edu. The views and opinions expressed on The Thoughtful Counselor are those of the individual authors and contributors and don’t necessarily represent the views of other authors and contributors or of our sponsor Palo Alto University. So, if you have an idea for an episode, general feedback about the podcast, or just want to reach out to us, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for tuning in and we hope to hear from you soon.