Exploring race and identity

Janet Helms is the Augustus Long Professor of Measurement in the Department of Counseling, Developmental, and Educational Psychology and founding director of the Institute for the Study and Promotion of Race and Culture at Boston College.

Visiting scholar to share racial identity development in the post-racism era

After Barack Obama was first elected president, politicians and scholars announced that the country had entered a post-racism era. Yet during President Obama’s eight years in office, high levels of violence against people of color — especially black people — continued.

Janet Helms, a nationally-renowned scholar on the topic of race, will present “Racial Identity Development in the Post-Racism Era” from 7-9 p.m. Thursday, Feb 22, in 1309 Centennial Hall, at UWL. The lecture is free and open to all. The event is funded by UWL’s Visiting Scholar/Artist of Color Program.

Helms will explain racial identity development using her white and people of color racial identity development models. Then, she will use the models to address anti-violence protests and crackdowns in the current post-racism climate. Finally, she will discuss the implications of neglecting racial identity development issues in neglected communities and society.

During her visit, she will also conduct workshops for administrators and faculty, and be the keynote speaker at UWL’s Hate/Bias Response Symposium on Friday, Feb. 23. The symposium brings together people working on hate-bias response efforts on other college campuses and in the community to create networks, explore trends and best practices, and discuss current issues.

“We will talk about hate and bias and how our organizations and businesses can work to try to create environments where people feel safer,” says Willem Vanroosenbeek, UWL director of LGBTQA Services and member of UWL’s Hate Response Team.

Vanroosenbeek says Helms area of research is a perfect fit with the goals of the symposium. “In today’s world there is a lot of hate and bias incidents happening against people of color. We thought this would be a great collaboration.”

Suthakaran Veerasamy, UWL assistant professor of psychology, invited Helms to campus. She was a faculty mentor to him while earning his doctoral degree in the late 1990s. She opened his eyes to a new area of study.

“Just because you are a racial minority doesn’t mean you understand this stuff — I was clueless,” he says. “She had a profound impact on my life because of her work in racial identity development. As a result of her, I started my own work in this field … I look at religious identity, but my work is closely tied to her work.”

About Janet Helms

Janet E. Helms is the Augustus Long Professor of Measurement in the Department of Counseling, Developmental, and Educational Psychology and founding director of the Institute for the Study and Promotion of Race and Culture at Boston College. She is past president and a Fellow of Division 17 (Counseling Psychology), and a Fellow in Division 35 (Psychology of Women) and Division 45 (Ethnic Diversity) of the American Psychological Association (APA). Helms received many distinguished researcher awards from many places between 2002 and 2009. She was a recipient of the 2012 Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award for mentoring. She has written more than 80 empirical and theoretical articles and four books on the topics of racial identity and cultural influences on assessment and counseling practice. Her books include “A Race Is a Nice Thing to Have” (Microtraining Associates) and “Using Race and Culture in Counseling and Psychotherapy: Theory and Process with Donelda Cook” (MA: Allyn & Bacon).

If you go —

Who: Janet Helms
What: Public lecture, “Racial Identity Development in the Post-Racism Era”
When: 7-9 p.m., Thursday, Feb 22
Where: Room 1309, UWL’s Centennial Hall

Learn more about Janet Helms.