When Opportunity Knocks: In the Bronx, a Little Bit of Therapy Can Go a Long Way

By Black, Lascelles W. | Family Therapy Networker, November/December 1997 | Go to article overview

When Opportunity Knocks: In the Bronx, a Little Bit of Therapy Can Go a Long Way


Black, Lascelles W., Family Therapy Networker


Monday, 8:20 a.m. It is a cool, sunny, early-October morning. I park on a side street and walk a block to Montefiore Family Health Center at 193nd Street and Decatur Avenue in the Bronx. At my back is the roar of Fordham Road, one of the Bronx's major commercial arteries--several miles of department stores, drugstores, supermarkets and bodegas, offices, record shops, restaurants and sidewalk vendors facing one another across four lanes of constant traffic. Down the block, the lofty spire of an old brick church rises, its soaring architecture bearing testimony to the grand dreams of the immigrant parishioners who built it.

As I glance back in the early-morning sunlight, Fordham Road looks as prosperous as the Bronx's new slogan--"The Bronx Is Bouncing Back." People of different ethnicities and races are still working here to make their dreams come true for themselves and their children. Many of the abandoned buildings that dotted the landscape when I first came to work in the Bronx 10 years ago have been rehabilitated. But businesses still struggle to survive and they cannot provide jobs for the thousands of people--including many of my clients--who need them.

My walk to work takes me past large brick apartment buildings, built during the boom after World War II. Vietnamese, Latino and African American children straggle out the door to school, and adults rush by me on their way to work. I pass the trimmed hedges and well-raked lawns of older, proudly maintained, single-family homes that openly speak of families working hard to keep the standards of the neighborhood high.

This is what I focus on. Not the abandoned buildings up the block that have yet to be rehabilitated--the places with gaping holes that once were windows, where boards and concrete blocks seal doorways. Not the places where the homeless and the addicts creep through crevices at night to use inner rooms. Not the spent cartridges I see on the sidewalk in front of the health center every month or so or the empty crack vials in the doorway that our janitorial staff washes away nearly every week. Denial--or rather conscious, selective hope--is part of what keeps me going.

For the last five years, I've worked at Montefiore Family Health Center--a nondescript, three-story, brick office building housing 36 doctors, 5 nurse-practitioners, 4 social workers and other staff. We serve about 20,000 people a year here in the Bronx, a place as poor as, and far more devastated than, the neighborhood in Kingston, Jamaica, where I grew up. My official title is AIDS social work supervisor. Each day, I see about 10 clients, 3 to 5 of whom are people who are about to get HIV tests or who have returned for the results. Before the day ends, I may tell a young, gay, college student that he is HIV positive; work with a woman who struggles to tell her AIDS secret to her sexual partner; and get frustrated by someone who plans to continue having unprotected sex without telling his numerous partners that he is HIV positive.

This is not where my responsibilities end: I am also the only male therapist at the health center, the only social worker of African descent and the only family therapist. I see the families of single mothers who are struggling to protect and raise their children and get off public assistance, along with teenage fathers working to stay alive and connected to their children. I am sometimes one of the few black men they know who grew up in a poor neighborhood and did not succumb to its numerous risks: gunfire, alcoholism, unemployment, despair.

This sort of work is supposed to burn people out. It's the kind of work people are supposed to do for a year or two before they can get off the front lines and work with clients who make more money, have more options and face fewer life risks. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

When Opportunity Knocks: In the Bronx, a Little Bit of Therapy Can Go a Long Way
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.