Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Coexist: Working Towards Inclusion & Mutual Respect

“Motivational Poster”  

Inclusion, as the act of taking in as part of a whole, was first coined with the goals of providing advocacy, awareness, and support for individuals with disabilities who have been socially excluded merely based on their impairments. Inclusion, however, does not stop with the social injustices within people with disabilities. According to community psychologists Nelson and Prilleltensky (2010), “Inclusion is becoming an organizing principle that applies broadly to people who have been discriminated against and oppressed by virtue of gender, sexual orientation, ethnoracial background, abilities, age, or some other characteristics” (p. 137). The authors of Community Psychology: In Pursuit of Liberation and Well-Being, claim that inclusion can be conceptualized in three levels, individual, relational, and societal level. At the individual level, Nelson and Prilleltensky (2010) state that inclusion demands regaining control of a positive personal and political identity; while, at the relational level, inclusion means welcoming and supporting communities and building relationships within the same. In the same way, at the societal level, inclusion is advocates for the promotion of equity and access to social resources that are known for being denied to minorities or oppressed people.

Why inclusion is important? When we do not promote inclusion, whether it is in our community, school or work setting, and at a personal level, we are allowing oppression to take place instead -especially, psychological oppression. Psychological oppression affects individuals’ self-esteem by creating this false idea that they are undeserving of social and community resources, and to have low expectations on themselves (Nelson and Prilleltensky, 2010). How can we implement inclusion? The authors claim that one way of building community and inclusion is emphasizing similarity rather than difference, but having in consideration that these differences can be constructed. Either way, Nelson and Prilleltensky (2010) encourage community psychologists to not only work with organizations that fight for inclusion but also to work with underprivileged and diverse groups to find some balance between the wide-ranging methods towards the goal of inclusion; in brief, to coexist.

Your values, Our values

At the University of Massachusetts Lowell, we embrace inclusion and equity. As UML mission statement states,
“Diversity makes us stronger, and a community that values equity and inclusion enhance the educational experience…We are committed to cultivating a just community and sustaining an inclusive campus culture. We embrace diversity in its broadest forms and believe academic excellence and diversity are inseparable.”

I’m a proud UML alumna, now working towards my goals of becoming a double River Hawk. I also work for the university as a Graduate Assistant at the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA). This was the first year that they took the initiative to hire graduate students from the Community Social Psychology Master Program instead of taking the same path of hiring someone from Higher Ed… and I can’t complain about it! At OMA, I have a variety of duties, from advising and advocating for cultural or spiritual clubs, helping them with event planning and implementation, to unifying and leading or hosting OMA’s annual series, “Invisible Identity Series,” focused on hidden identities that exist in the UMass Lowell community.

The first of this year’s series, “Coexist: Mutual respect and understanding across different ideologies,” was hosted in October. We invited students from all the different religious or spiritual communities within our student body. Students who consider themselves as Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, and Catholic, joined us to talk about their experiences about discrimination and oppression based on their identity. Hate had No Home there.The room was filled with respect, love and understanding and, most importantly, with empathy. I love this job because it allows me to employ what I have been learning through my personal and academic experiences, and it promotes and supports the principles that we value the most, our values.

University Resources:

Have you been the victim or witness to an incident? You can anonymously report here:

UML Diversity Portal:


Geoffrey Nelson, Isaac Prilleltensky. (2010). Community Pasychology: In Pursuit of Liberation and Well-Being (2nd ed.). New York: Palgrave MacMillian.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Coming Out… in the name of God


Coming Out… in the name of God

Throughout history, many individuals who identify themselves as part of the LGBTQ+ community have been facing discrimination, hatred, and bigotry. In the 1950-60s, as an example, some therapists focused on malicious practices to “cure” male homosexuality, such as forcing patients to see pictures of naked men while giving them electric shocks or drugs until they vomit, to then making them go on a date with a young female nurse. In the same way in 1968, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) listed homosexuality as a mental disorder, and it was not until 1987 that this concept was removed from APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Being part of the LGBTQ+ community is ‘one thing,’ but being a religious person and ‘gay’ would bring even more disapprovals and hate to the table. Some people not only have an ‘issue’ with these community but also with the [heterosexual] religious leaders who preach love regardless sexual orientation. Although our first amendment states that we all have the right to freedom of religion and speech, it seems like this not necessarily applies to gays or any other gender aside from heterosexual. But, what are the values of a person who chooses to come out in the name of God?

Community Psychologists and LGBTQ+

Psychologists Nelson and Prilleltensky (2010) claim that the three ‘core values’ for community psychologists are: values for personal, relational, and collective well-being. The authors of Community Psychology: In Pursuit of Liberation and Well-Being promote a series of values such as caring and compassion, respect for diversity, and social justice, as well as questions that community psychologists should ask to themselves to better aid communities, including the LGBTQ+ one. Nelson and Prilleltensky (2010) state that, “When collective factors such as social justice and access to valued resources combine with a sense of community and personal empowerment, chances are that psychological and political well-being will ensure” (2010, p. 65). In the “Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force: Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation,” the APA reports that although some religious values, beliefs and practices have changed over time, “reflecting evolving scientific and civil rights perspectives on homosexuality and sexual orientation… [some other religious groups including some religious-based colleges] perceive their religion and their sexual orientation as incompatible, because in some faiths homosexuality is perceived as sinful and immoral” (American Psychological Association 2009, p. 20).

As community psychologists, it is our responsibility to continue aiding and defending disadvantaged people and promoting social justice. It is equally important to recognize that the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Transsexual, Questioning/Queer, Intersex, and so forth also form part of these groups who have been so marginalized and oppressed throughout history and across the world. Working towards inclusion and providing a sense of community, are some of the values and principles that community psychologist should keep on mind to address the LGBTQ+ community; particularly, to keep on deconstructing the idea that a person cannot describe him/herself as gay and religious because it is widely considerate as a contradiction to many religious people’s beliefs. Why is so difficult to show respect and being ethical towards a person whose chose to follow God’s amendment of loving our neighbors like ourselves (Mark 12:31)?


Geoffrey Nelson, Isaac Prilleltensky. (2010). Community Pasychology: In Pursuit of Liberation and Well-Being (2nd ed.). New York: Palgrave MacMillian.

American Psychological Association. (2009). Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force: Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation. Washington, DC.

#UML #CommPsych

Monday, October 23, 2017

#YoTambien; #MeToo

Via HelloGiggles

#YoTambién… #MeToo

Entre tantas noticias sobre feminicidios, acoso y/o abuso sexual, violencia de género, y la lista sin fin que los medios recalcan, es casi imposible el no detenerme a cuestionarme, qué yo haría si algo tan enfermizo le pasara a uno de mis hijos? En especial, Amber Sophia, ya que según los estudios indican, cerca de 1 de cada 5 (18.3%) mujeres y 1 de cada 71 hombres (1.4%) son víctimas de violación en algún momento de sus vidas (The Testimony Project). Pero, según las tradicionales opiniones que circulan por nuestra querida isla, República Dominicana, ¿a quién realmente le ‘echamos’ la culpa?

He aquí tres de los tantos casos, de esos muchos que he pasado por alto, y de unos pocos que aún no he podido suprimir. Yo solía usar frenillos -me los colocó una muy buena ortodontista quien viajaba cada miércoles (o jueves) desde la ciudad vecina hacia Puerto Plata. Para la cita de limpieza clínica de los mismos ella, estratégicamente, recomendaba a sus pacientes que se atendieran con el dentista que compartía el local (cuyo quedaba a solo unos pasos desde mi hogar). Varias citas venían e iban; todo en orden… hasta ese día que este “dentista,” en medio de limpiar el agua que su máquina dejaba en mi boca, acercó su rostro junto al mío y me dio un beso en los labios. Ahora, imaginen el tan incomodo momento de mis labios sedados y yo, entre el medio de rabia e impotencia, solo se me ocurrió decirle, “¿usted está loco?”  …no volví más (ahora necesito colocarme frenillos nuevamente).

Como segundo ejemplo, cuando estaba empezando el bachillerato, acorde el juntarme con una amiga en la biblioteca de la misma para hacer tareas. Cuando terminamos, la acompañé hasta dos esquinas hacia ‘arriba’ para que ella tomara el autobús público de regreso a su destino. Una vez ella abordo el vehículo yo, a punto de voltearme para iniciar mi caminata hacia el mío, cuatro jóvenes con uniforme de escuela pública y visualmente/físicamente mayores que yo me empezaron a agarrar mis nalgas -mientras me decían lo “rica” y “buena” que estaba… Empujé a uno de ellos; salí corriendo a casa… avergonzada por el qué dirán mis padres si les dijera que solo pude defenderme de uno solo.

Tres… ¿Qué edad tenía en la siguiente situación? Unos once… De camino a uno de los tantos indeseados mandados para el mercado local (cerca de donde vivo), un ‘hombre,’ manejando un carro maltratado y blanco, me seguía desde la esquina de la Cardenal Sancha (ya que con frecuencia evadía pasar por la ‘esquina de Martha’ [Calle El Morro] en donde los acosos estaban a flor de piel). Me percaté de la lenta velocidad que este hombre iba al notar que no era diferente a la mía, mientras llevaba una mirada perdida, emitía gemidos y, simultáneamente, intercambiaba sus manos… con una manejaba el auto; con la otra, su erección. No miré lo que él quería enseñarme, cuando insistía que me acercara a su carro para enseñarme ‘una cosa que te va a gustar.’ Detuvo su vehículo, yo asustada buscando con la mirada los lugares que podía correr, me preguntó ¿Cuál es tu nombre?


“Que buena estas, María…”

Se levanta de su asiento, sin salir del vehículo, justo para mostrarme su miembro lleno de una sustancia blanca que yo desconocía.

Terminé mi mandado. Me fui a casa… avergonzada… con miedo… y muchas preguntas que asumía que no iban a ser respondidas y que nunca sabré si así lo seria.

Más de un millón de niñas y adolescentes son víctimas de violencia sexual en América Latina, y 25% de las niñas de entre 13 y 15 años reporta haber considerado seriamente suicidarse (El Comercio). En nuestra isla, el acoso sexual, la violencia de género, y al abuso sexual son comúnmente visto como algo que es ‘parte de nuestra cultura,’ así como recientemente lo dijo el procurador general de la República, Jean Rodríguez, quien también destacó el famoso refrán y la mala práctica de que, “en pleito de marido y mujer nadie se debe meter”(CDN).

“Pero es que ya no se puede decir un piropo…” o, “Solo te re-victimizas, debiste defenderte…” son solo dos de “Las 5 idioteces que debe oír una mujer acosada” (Metro RD).



No nos podemos quedar calladas.

Nunca, pero nunca es demasiado tarde; hasta que lo es.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Cuando Éramos Tres

Solía ser débil pretendiendo ser fuerte
Solía ser víctima, mil veces masoquista.
Solía colocar un selfie por cada lágrima
Solía así gritar ¡Ayuda! sin ser escuchada.

Solía llorar, callar y añorar.
Solía temblar; oír sin escuchar.
Solía sufrir en silencio mientras era el sustento;
Solía saber todo ésto, pero continúe con mi reto.

Que quizás mañana todo cambiaría
Que con mi amor propio no bastaría.
Que un día estamos y que al otro nos vamos,
Que un día cambiamos y, quizás, mejoramos.

Cuando éramos tres
Deseaba el cuarto
Suspiraba por uno
...Mas soñaba con cero.

Cuando éramos tres
Pensaba por seis
Lloraba por uno
...Mas soñaba con cero.

Hoy somos cuatro
Tres más uno; ahora
Uno más dos, ya luego
Mas hoy -al fin hoy, tuve un sueño.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Cuantos Mas? #PrayForHumanity

Image via Fionna Writes
Cuantas muertes mas tienen que pasar a causa del Odio? Este año ha estado lleno de odio y de personas que se ofenden por nada. No saben coexistir ni respetar: no hay tolerancia hacia los individuos sin importar su idiologia y/o creencia religiosa.
Por ejemplo, si tanto usted como yo creemos en Dios, esto no indica que vamos a juzgar (y hasta matar) a todos los que no creen en El, en otra o ninguna creencia. A cada quien que crea lo que quiera, pero que respeten, y den paz y amor en vez de odio y muertes.
En cuanto a los que llaman "lambones" a quienes estan utilizando la bandera de ‪#‎Francia‬ en sus perfiles, por que en vez de estar criticando, no optan mejor por transformar esa critica en algo constructivo: educar a los que SI estan subiendo esta imagen por "moda," y a los que no saben u obvian el hecho de que estas situaciones pasan a diario en diferentes partes del mundo.