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ABPsi Calls for Revival of Passion and Pride

By Brett Wilson | February 20, 2013

Steve Gaskin performed a spoken word piece about his family lineage and black history.

Tuesday Feb. 19, Regent University's Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi) hosted "Black America: a Revival of Passion and Pride." This was ABPsi's third year hosting this celebration in honor of Black History Month, and posed important questions of what it means to have pride in America today.

Regent School of Psychology & Counseling faculty member and advisor for ABPsi, Dr. Jennine McNeill participated in a panel discussion exploring the questions of black identity left behind in a post-Civil Rights Movement society.

"What does it mean to have black pride?" asked McNeill. "Does it mean having a fist in the air? Or does it mean having Kanye's back no matter what?"

McNeill affirmed that pride and what it means to be "black" is something that may only be defined by an individual's experience and choice.

"In psychology, we say that everything is subjective, and this is no different. The values and attitudes someone has about race can't be about what the community says about it," said McNeill.

Roger Cheeks, Regent's director of Student Activities and Leadership explained that though they have been met with discrimination in their history, being black in America today can mean offering something special and unique to a community. "Now it can mean having grace, opportunities and intelligence," said Cheeks. "We don't have to assimilate; we can impact our own culture with our own brand."

In addition to the panel discussion, the event also featured various musical, dance and spoken word performances. One such artist was Karega Bailey, dean of the Maya Angelou Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., who reflected on his passion for pushing his students to be the best that they can be.

"The highest standard of our students' achievements should be their definition of 'black,'" said Bailey.

As a result of this, Bailey said his students hold him accountable to hold steadfast to the standards and goals he has set for himself as a poet and motivational speaker.

Steve Gaskin, a national recording artist with Cross Movement Records, performed his poem, "Black History." Gaskin's rhythmic and genuine reflection of his family's lineage also weaved in a timeline of black history in America, beginning with the slave trade.

"It seems that this journey is not about me at all," said Gaskin at the conclusion of his poem. "I just have to play my part and pass the baton properly."

Claiming pride and passing it on is the key to what McNeill believes will give a true and healthy sense of identity for black Americans struggling with the vagueness of pride.

"We can't move mountains individually, we have to do this collectively," said McNeill. "Instill this pride in someone else, and hopefully this will begin a pay-it-forward process for our community."

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