Navigating Privilege and Colorism


Black Latinx Art Therapist
Dominican Republic
Therapeutic Relationship

How to Cite

Napoleon, J. (2021). Navigating Privilege and Colorism. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 21(1).


Discussions about cultural responsiveness for mental health practitioners often perpetuate colonizing frameworks. By centering White therapists’ awareness of power and privilege when working with people of color, dominant paradigms in the field can overlook the experiences of practitioners of color and the relational dynamics of engaging shared racial/cultural backgrounds. Interrogations of Whiteness are necessary to prevent harm in the predominantly White fields of the creative arts therapies, yet this discussion should not overshadow discussions about the experiences of practitioners of color who encounter issues of colorism and citizenship in working with communities of color. This self-reflexive essay describes how a Black Dominican-Haitian woman art therapist, who was raised in the United States (U.S.), recognized a need to explore her own political awareness while working with female participants at a youth organization in the Dominican Republic (D.R.). The author discusses the use of art to critically interrogate issues of colorism, citizenship, and privilege that arise during her time in the D.R. Recommendations are presented to support arts therapists of color to engage their perceptions of citizenship and colorism while providing mental health services to communities of color.

Copyright (c) 2021 Johannil Napoleon

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