Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

In Memoriam: Joseph L. White

Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

In Memoriam: Joseph L. White

Article excerpt

Joseph L. White (December 19, 1932-November 21, 2017), affectionately referred to as the "Godfather" of Black psychology by his students, mentees, and younger colleagues, was a professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of California at Irvine where he spent most of his career as a teacher in the field of psychology and mental health as a mentor, administrator, clinical supervisor, writer, consultant, and practicing/supervising psychologist.

He earned a B.A. and master's degrees from San Francisco State University, and in 1962, he was awarded a doctorate in clinical psychology at the Michigan State University (he was one of only five African Americans who held a Ph.D. in the field). In 1962 he joined the faculty at California State University, Long Beach and taught there for six years and helped in establishing the Educational Opportunities Program which became a program implemented across the California State University system. In 1968, he helped to found the Association of Black Psychologists with other Black psychologist during a meeting at the American Psychological Association; and helped to establish the first Black Studies program in the U.S. during the 1968 strike at San Francisco State University, and in 1969 he joined the faculty at the University of California, Irvine

Dr. White's 1970 article "Toward a Black Psychology" published in Ebony magazine, was a seminal document in the formation of African-American Psychology as a professional field and gave rise to a greater appreciation of ethnic and cultural psychology. The 1970 article argued that whatever the future of race relations and the destiny of Black people, the creation of a Black Psychology was necessary because the psychology created by white people could never adequately apply to African-Americans. Dr. White went further to point out that the application of mainstream white psychology to Black people resulted in weakness-oriented deficit finding, rather than an accurate appraisal of the situation of people of African descent

In 1984, White authored The Psychology of Blacks, now titled The Psychology of Blacks: An African-centered Perspective with co-authors Thomas A. Parham and Adisa Ajamu which highlights the limitations of traditional psychological theories and approaches when applied to African descent people and provides information on how the African centered perspective is defined, as well as how it operates in the context of the African American family with regard to identity development, education, mental health, research, and managing contemporary issues. …

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