After years of researching the legacy and impact of violence on marginalized populations—and on black males in particular—Assistant Professor of Counseling Psychology Andraé L. Brown readily accepted rapper David Banner’s invitation to join his USO tour of Iraq and Kuwait last month.
As roommates in graduate school, Brown and Banner became friends upon discovering that they had a similar mission in life: to assist marginalized communities in accessing resources to address poverty, domestic and community trauma, substance abuse, and dismantled families.
“This USO tour was an opportunity to use entertainment to provide stress relief and a taste of home for soldiers,” Brown said. “It was an absolute honor to be a part of a great legacy of entertainers who have served our soldiers. We toured bases in Kuwait and Iraq, visited with troops and support staff, listened to their stories, and saw the health and wellness resources and needs.”
As a contributing author of The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life (Simon & Schuster, 2008), Brown recounts the effects of the Vietnam War on his father, who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
“Watching my father, as a Pentecostal preacher, navigate the world, tasting all of its joys and disappointments, battling his personal demons while providing spiritual and earthly guidance to our family, church, and community, influenced my personal and career choices,” Brown wrote. “The experiences with my father’s health helped me recognize there is a direct correlation between mental health, physical health, and oppression.”
Unlike his father, Brown was not “called” to be a preacher. Instead, he said his ministry is to serve as a professor, psychologist, family therapist, school counselor, and social justice advocate. In his counseling practice, Brown has worked with countless men in the Black community who suffer from depression and PTSD.
“The USO tour reminded me that whether you serve in the military or are in jail, you suffer the stress of being away from home, waiting for the term to end, and making sense of the trauma of their situation,” Brown said. “As the war in Iraq persists, and more soldiers return to civilian life after serving multiple tours of duty, it will be imperative for our communities—be it in the churches or through grass-roots organizations—to establish safety mechanisms to ensure they have a healthy transition back into society.”
In an upcoming workshop, Brown will discuss his essay from The Black Male Handbook, titled “Moving Toward Mental Wellness.” The workshop will explore Black males and therapy, relationships, homophobia, recognizing everyday trauma, as well as the legacy and impact of violence.
Organized by Lewis & Clark’s Center for Community Engagement and Professional Studies at the Graduate School of Education and Counseling, the workshop will be held on Friday, February 13, from 6 to 8 p.m., at Talking Drum Bookstore in NE Portland. The talk is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the event website or call 503-768-6040.