incredible hulkI could not help but write having come to understand, I, Bruce Wheatley have been labeled as an Angry Black Man. While, I might be green in character, I realize this stereo type was headed my way due to the nature of my work to speak truth to power.  It’s not as if we have not heard this label used before. It appears typical coming from those intimated by intelligence, passion, courage, and god fearing Black Men.

I received an athletic scholarship from both the University of Arizona and Texas at San Antonio; I have traveled the world an ambassador of USA Basketball; I am the son of one of California’s most respected Prison Facility Captains (May The Captain rest in Peace) I have worked with hundreds of children, youth and young adults over 16 years here in LA County. Among all those individuals that have spent any significant amount of time with me, refer to me as a soft-spoken Gentle Giant.

So the notion, I Bruce Wheatley am all of a sudden an angry Black Man because I speak truth regarding the Department of Mental Health Executive’s biased and discrimination decision-making that adversely affects the health and well-being of African-Americans, confirms DMH Executives are up to no good and have something to hide in their attempt to discredit me.  Keep in mind…This is system executives speaking.

As the former Co-Chair of the DMH Cultural Competence Committee, this does not come as a surprise. DMH Executives assumed having me as the co-chair was being Culturally Competent. Among my population, we call it being a token.  In fact, DMH Executive William Arroyo contributed to a monograph: Toward a Culturally Competent System of Care which revealed tokenism as a process in which individuals are selected to essentially appear as change agents yet, given no authority to make any changes.

Now, I have every reason to be angry as a Black Man.  As does every Black man witnessing the challenges facing our population. However, I see this more as a teaching moment in how to destroy the labels that people put on you.  The kids benefiting from social emotional learning in ICI’s Peer Empowerment Program is taught how to respond appropriately or not based on the situation.

imagesMy kids understand, it’s not what’s on the outside and other people’s negative perception of you; it is how you on the inside perceive yourself and respond to negative stereotypes. My kids understand we use our Defense Mechanism to make either negative or positive decisions.  Will you validate a negative label given to you by another person envious of you?  Dumb, Looser, Lazy, Angry Black Man are simply a reflection of those that are unhappy with themselves and intimated by your good-natured character. The individuals attempt to provoke your character is to throw you off your game, to make their point. Not here, not today, not ever and certainly not with my kids!

To my staff, use real life situations to instruct our kids to make positive decisions. If people were perfect, there would be no reason for social emotional learning. As we continue to positively affect the behavior of future generations, those that attempt to belittle us for selfish gain will diminish.  I could on one and one but I’m busy today. You get my point. Peace.

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