Are African-Americans always so religious?

I am writing this in response to a training session sponsored by Milwaukee County in which Mark Sanders gave a very religious flavored presentation on recovery. The main focus was on developing cultural competence to work with African-Americans. He incorporated a lot of small group discussions and solicited a lot of feedback. I would even agree with some of what he said. There are consumers who are deeply spiritual or religious. I have several of them but as a secularist I don’t engage with them about something that I consider out of my realm of practice.

As for my agreements with Sanders, I have always focused on the strengths people present which may have been overlooked as they headed toward the cycle of diagnosis and disability. What do people do in their spare time for fun? I mention my hobbies or movies that I might have seen if the situation seems appropriate. I enjoy music which is one of my favorite protective factors. With music on my new computer I seek out you tube. On the way home I heard about an album by Thad Jones and Mel Lewis. I also seek out Cassandra Wilson, Aretha Franklin and Judy Collins. I can spend hours in the music room. Resilience, empathy and being able to identify with others help to keep me going. And although I joke about him, our cat helps to calm me down.

Overall I have learned to filter out a lot that I disagree with in these training sessions. It helped that I mentioned I did not like the presentation on my evaluation. One county worker asked me my opinion and I told her we need to find more secular oriented speakers to talk about African-American culture. Because not all of us are in the Amen corner.

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