Black History Month: Q&A with Dr. Veola Vazquez
Riverside, Calif. (Feb. 14, 2023) – In honor of Black History Month, we are excited to highlight our staff and faculty members who are a pivotal part of the Lancer Nation and embody what it means to Live Your Purpose every day.
To kick off our series, we chatted with Dr. Veola Vazquez, licensed psychologist and diversity coordinator for the Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology program at California Baptist University.
- You have done research on race/mixed race. Please share some of your research with us and what impact you hope it will have.
Some of my research has focused on the race-related experiences of multiracial people. Multiracial people experience a unique form of discrimination because they face discrimination from people within their own racial groups. For example, a biracial Black-white person might face discrimination from both Black and white people. More than that, they often experience discrimination from their family members. My research aims to understand how biracial Christians use their spiritual resources to respond to these struggles. I’ve found that church support might be helpful but likely only when biracial people feel they can be their authentic selves in that context. On the other hand, if they don’t feel like they can be authentic by showing all sides of their culture, church support might worsen their struggle.
Also, I’ve seen that discrimination from family members tends to have a more negative impact than discrimination from people in the community. For many biracial Christians, this leads to struggles in their spiritual lives, such as questioning God’s presence and goodness, and symptoms of depression and anxiety. I hope to increase awareness of the need for added support for biracial Christians from church leaders and mental health professionals.
- Where does your passion come from to learn more about these topics?
As a biracial individual myself with mixed-race children, I want to better understand the mental health needs of the multiracial community. The current research on these topics is limited, so I hope to add to our current knowledge.
- What does Black History Month mean to you?
To me, Black History Month means many things, which include lamenting over the past and present struggles of the Black community while also being a powerful reminder of freedom. I am thankful for the opportunity to celebrate an important part of who I am with my community.
- Who inspires you?
My colleagues inspire me. Although I have many names I can mention, I want to highlight a talented and successful Black female — Dr. Krystal Hays, director of the Doctor of Social Work program. Check out her work here: www.krystalhays.com.
Vazquez is a co-author on a recently released book “Healing Conversations on Race: Four Key Practices from Scripture and Psychology.” To learn more about the book, visit www.healingconversationsonrace.com