A Black female therapist who was popular on TikTok claims she was fired after stirring up some heated discourse across social media when she took to the short video platform pleading with Black men to expand their “emotional vocabulary” through therapy.
In the two-minute-long clip, Shabree Rawls broke down a few reasons why she said men of color should seek therapy.
“It’s so your life can be easier. Don’t you want to be able to communicate with your b*tch?!” the passionate Cleveland-based mental health expert explained. “Long gone are the days where you can just shut down. B*tches is not tolerating that… Y’all think b***hes just wanna argue with y’all because y’all refuse to expand your emotional vocabulary; we don’t. It’s to provide clarity for both us and y’all dusty b***hes.”
Standing firm with her tough love approach, the mental health advocate went on to note that 90% of her clients are Black men, who she said struggle to find the emotional vocabulary to communicate their feelings. Rawls urged men of color to use therapy as a tool to understand and empower themselves.
“When you expand your emotional vocabulary, you expand your awareness of yourself. When you expand your emotional vocabulary, you understand how you can navigate in this b*tch,” the TikTok star continued, before urging Black men to “go to therapy.”
“This f***ing weird a** world that is so hard on y’all, like let’s acknowledge that the world is very difficult for y’all, but y’all are not making it any easier bruh…Talk about that sh** that’s on your chest… y’all are doing a disservice to y’all self,” she added.
Rawls’ message may have come off harsh, but her stance is grounded in truth. Black men and women are less likely to seek therapy for mental health issues. According to NAMI, only one in three Black adults receive treatment for mental illness, despite depressive disorders soaring during the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that anxiety and depression skyrocketed by 25 percent during the global crisis among young Americans. But even before the pandemic, Black adults between the age of 18 and 25 were struggling to cope with mental health disorders. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, mental health conditions among young adults of color jumped by 3% between 2015 and 2018. Some health experts believe the surge could have been exacerbated due to ongoing exposure to institutional racism and discrimination in the community.
“The combination of physical distancing, economic anxiety, and — for people of color — the very real stress from racism since the pandemic means that we will have a lot of unmet mental health needs unless we can dramatically shore up the mental health infrastructure and address workforce shortages,” Brian Smedley, Ph.D., a chief psychologist at the American Psychological Association, told Forbes.
Social media users react to therapist’s video
Social media users shared a tone of mixed reactions after the therapist’s video took the internet by storm. One Twitter user accused Rawls of “shaming” and embarrassing Black men into therapy.
“This is such a dangerous pop culture articulation of Black male mental health issue. Pathologizing & speaking down to patients struggling to find words for trauma is not best practice in any literature I have read. This shaming tactic is why many BM don’t pursue therapy.”
Another Twitter goer argued that Rawls’ tough delivery could make it more difficult to build trust in the healthcare system, as racial bias and culturally irrelevant treatment plans often hinder Black men and women from seeking medical and mental health care.
“Clients & society needs to trust healthcare systems; how therapist & medical professional conduct themselves. Where a history & current position of medical discrimination exists – we must be especially careful to not further marginalize those communities (i.e. black men & boys),” the user commented.
On the other hand, a ton of social media users rushed in to defend Rawls’ stance.
“You might not have liked her delivery. & she ain’t gotta call women bitches. But idk how y’all skewed this to say “she’s complaining about Black male clients,” a Twitter user named @keatingssixth wrote in response to the video. “She’s clearly telling Black men to go tf to therapy & stop holding shit in when the world is already so hard on you.”
Another Twitter user slammed detractors for being “unnecessarily dramatic.”
“2 things can be true, she can still be an effective therapist & call out when BM isn’t doing the work. I’m sure she’s compassionate during her sessions, she is venting right now. I’m sure she isn’t a misandrist, she clearly wants BM to do better,” they added.
The mental health care advocate gets fired
Rawls’ message was overshadowed by backlash and hate; so much so that she said she was doxxed and fired from her place of employment. The TikTok star took to social media to share the news with her followers. According to her video, Rawls said a Black female journalist identified and referenced her “full government” name and place of employment in a Moguldom story about the viral post. Internet trolls also threatened to get the zealous mental healthcare advocate fired and blackballed from the industry.
“Ya’ll scream that ya’ll want to protect Black women, specifically, but have done nothing to protect this Black woman who has been serving the communities,” the therapist said in the emotional video post as she pointed toward herself. “Being doxxed by a black woman kinda freaking hurts and she never reached out to me so that I could spin my side of the story.”
A few social media goers called out internet haters for getting Rawls fired.
“That black lady therapist told black men they would benefit from therapy. Gave valid reasons, in return black women found her address & reported her! that’s the problem now. Black women too busy coddling & “protecting”. Babe, they needed to hear that. She’s right… as hell!” wrote @DomVHarris in response to the backlash.
Another user commented:
“So these men pay some dude to tell them the same thing (#highvalueblackmen crap) but get offended when it comes from a woman. I guess delivery would have been better if it was done through a Tyler Perry movie.”
Watch the second half of Rawls’ response below.