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Countway Library's Frantz Fanon Collection: Home

A guide to understanding a collection based on mental health for people of color, with complementary resources.

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Background

In 1970, the Countway Library - in collaboration with donors and well-known Harvard Medical School psychiatry professor Alvin F. Poussaint, M.D. - started collecting materials dealing with black psychology, and named the collection for Frantz Fanon. Fanon, a West Indian psychiatrist and philsopher, believed that racism and colonialism were responsible for psychological complexes experienced by black people (and other oppressed and/or marginalized communities).


The library has acquired more than 300 books--mostly nonfiction or medical resources--that are particularly relevant in a historical context, when racism included excessive, often state-sponsored violence. This guide attempts to bridge those resources to contemporary issues of mental health symptoms and treatment, access to services, and extant racism that could potentially contribute to mental health problems within underserved minority communities.

Microaggression

Although microaggression has always been around as a more subtle, but similarly insidious form of racism, more academic scholarship has been devoted to analyzing its effects on particular communities and the ways in which they might affect mental health. Understanding microaggression is critical to understanding issues of racism and mental health, as it generally appears to be nonobvious and is as unconfrontational as for instance, a burning cross or verbal and physical abuse or harassment. The following are several resources - from journals to blog posts - that illuminate the issues of microaggression as a contemporary form of racism.

Print Media

The following titles provide a contemporary view of mental illness in the black community through the prism of racism. Many are available at Harvard University Libraries, those that are not can be ordered through Interlibrary Loan.

The Siwe Project

The Siwe Project is a non-profit organization concerned with addressing mental health issues among the global black population and widening awareness of its existence within that community. Bassey Ikpi, a Nigerian poet and mental health advocate, began the project in memory of a family member who struggled with mental illness and its stigma in the black community.

Research Suggestions

When using PubMed to conduct research into mental health care and African Americans, certain subject headings or terms may be helpful in narrowing your results. The following attachment includes relevant subject headings from the Library of Congress and MeSH terms (with tree numbers) that may help you find what you're looking for.

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