BLKHSTLR OF THE MONTH- SYDNEY WING

BLKHSTL: What is your hustle?

Sydney Wing: Currently, my "full-time" hustle (that will hustle me right into my career!) is being a doctoral student in Tulane's School Psychology PhD program. Outside of it, I actually have several other side hustles that I love and enjoy  -- I bartend at The Revolution NOLA, and am a contributor to a lifestyle instagram (@2creolechicks) dedicated to all things travel, good food and curls.

BH: What gets you up every day to work in your purpose?

SW: My alarm clock and a vision of what I can be in 3-4 years. 

BH: Why do you hustle?

SW: I chose this particular field because when it comes to psychological well-being, there is a wealth of evidence that demonstrates that we all have mental health problems -- it's just people of color (specifically children) are suffering in silence. Communities of color are hit from all sides when it comes to mental health: there is a stigma around mental health services, and our communities often lack appropriate mental health resources.

Even when there is a mental health clinic in the neighborhood, there's a whole host of issues: poor service, lack of competent providers, doesn't take medicaid, and overwhelmed. So, this is about access: who is privy to getting help, and who isn't? I work hard to ensure that children of color are receiving the services they deserve, in the setting that is easiest for them to access: schools. I do this because I want future generations of young black boys and girls to be able to appropriately address the intergenerational, community and family trauma they often experience, make sense of their own interpersonal feelings and be the healthiest they can be.

BH: What barriers have you overcome on your journey to success?

SW: Implicit biases and racism will always be the number one and two that attempt to trip me up on my journey. Let's put this into perspective: of all PhD degree holders in the USA, only 0.5% are black women. While the numbers are a little higher in field (almost 4%) and I am lucky to know many Black women in my field, psychology is still an old boy's club that has transitioned into an old girl's club. 

My field is dominated by "well-meaning" white women who "voted for Obama", conduct research with black populations and can tell you all about multicultural, ecological systems theories. But then, they're the first to insinuate that graduate level work must be *so* difficult for you; they're the first to paint you as lazy, unprofessional and not deserving to be where you stand. This past year was especially difficult, as I made a transition out of a lab with an advisor who was fairly unsupportive, and actually said some of these things. I think part of it was knowing that I was none of those things -- in fact, I was the opposite and worked hard to be where I was, and no one was going to steal that from me.

BH: What advice would you give to a fellow BLKHSTLR?

SW: Continue to control your narrative and journey. Everyone is counting on writing your story for you; they'll want to be able to say you came, you tried and you failed. They'll intentionally make it difficult for you to thrive, and when you give up, they'll use that as evidence that you were never cut out for it. Don't give them that satisfaction, don't let them control your story.


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