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Psychology's Biennal Summit Honed In On How the Field Can Better Serve Diverse Americans

Part scholarly meeting, part town hall forum and part family reunion, the 4th National Multicultural Conference and Summit brought 700 attendees to Hollywood, Calif., Jan. 27-28.

In the summit's first keynote address, Derald Wing Sue, PhD, discussed his experiences and those of other people of color living in what he describes as "primarily a monocultural and racially biased society." He outlined a number of ways that adversities have made minority individuals and communities stronger and the lessons that majority Americans could learn from members of minority groups. The dilemma, according to Sue, is how to educate majority people that their actions are discriminatory when they deny committing such discrimination.

Sue, a professor in the psychology department at Teachers College of Columbia University and the author of "Overcoming Racism: The Journey to Liberation" (John Wiley & Sons, 2003), stated that his message of strengths grown out of adversities is important for both white America and for people of color. While racism is a "constant reality, a constant toxicity" in the lives of people of color, minority groups have survived because of their unique cultural values and strengths, Sue said.

"We have survived through our cultural values that have immunized us against the toxic forces of racism," he explained. "Our perseverance in battling the forces of racism comes from understanding the strengths and assets developed by our ancestors as they fought oppression and from our cultural values, mores and traditions." Sue added that the life experiences of minority Americans have required them to "sharpen their survival skills to such a degree that they have become assets."

This article, written by Rhea K. Farberman, appeared in the March 10th, 2005 publication of Monitor of Psychology.

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