"Black Women and the Practice of Self-Censorship"

“Black Women and the Practice of Self-Censorship”

Black women have a long-standing history of being objectified in society. Objectification places value on physical characteristics rather than on personal skills or intellectual abilities. Much has been written about objectification theory, but what do we know about the ways in which Black women self-censor, or adjust their behavior due to societal or environmental expectations in order to fit in?  Self-censoring is not seen as a pathology, but as a behavioral adjustment strategy designed to manage society’s impressions of how one is viewed (e.g., use of silence, tone of voice, attire, language, accent, attitude, hair, code-switching).  This presentation represents the scholarship of an all-female ten-member research team, and highlights findings of a qualitative study that explored the ways in which Black women (1) self-censor in work and academic spaces; (2) experience the emotional and physical impact of self-censorship; and (3) cope in the process of self-censorship.  

Meet the Presenters

Angela D. Coker, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, is an Associate Professor of Counseling and Family Therapy and a Faculty Affiliate in the Gender Studies Program at the University of Missouri - St. Louis (UMSL). Her areas of scholarship include women’s issues, group work, and the internationalization of counseling. She is the author of over 30 published works and has conducted over 100 professional presentations. 

Zori Paul is a doctoral Counselor Education and Supervision student at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She received her MA in Counseling at Northwestern University and her BA in Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago. Her research interests include studying the intersection of multiple minority identities and is currently doing several research projects including studying sexual minority women of color and their body image and potential mental health related implications.

Claire Martin is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Missouri and a Ph.D. student in the Counselor Education & Supervision Program at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has extensive experience serving clients from marginalized communities. Her primary research focus has been on Black women and Leadership in Higher Education, Acculturation, Trauma, and Multicultural Issues. Claire’s passion is to help educate mental health service providers and educators on multicultural issues, trauma, women empowerment, self-efficacy, and more. She is also interested in becoming a major contributor to the internationalization of the counseling field.

Ericka Cables is a doctoral student at the University of Missouri – St. Louis and a Licensed Professional Counselor in Missouri.  As a future counselor educator, she desires to develop future counselors into strong educational leaders of their communities. Beyond educating others, she wishes to extend her advocacy reach in marginalized communities through community-based research. As a counselor, she provides impactful mental well-being and education services in her private practice, Thoughts Out Loud Counseling, LLC, currently located in Bridgeton.

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