A Dark Spot on a White Canvas: Thoughts on Being a Black Academic Psychiatrist

  • Lia A. ThomasEmail author
Feature: Perspective

I am often very quiet in meetings. I want to speak, but there is a nagging thought in the back of my head. The thought is that my opinion does not matter, that I am only there to add some “color” to the room. I am a mid-career psychiatrist and probably one of the more visible Black women in my department. My journey has been filled with feelings that at times are lonely or bitter or both. I do not presume to have the answers, nor do I presume that my experience is universal for all Black women in academia. Other Black female academics in psychiatry have spoken about their experiences [1], and I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on my own.

I stopped avoiding thinking about race and academia in the fall of 2016. At the local coffee house, I ran into a young Black female medical student I had interviewed for medical school. In the prior months, every time I saw her, she would smile at me brightly, but we had not spoken. She took this opportunity to say she had been waiting for...



The author wishes to thank Dr. Abigail Kay, Dr. Adam Brenner, and Mr. David Levesque for their thoughtful reviews of this manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


The author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Academic Psychiatry 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UT Southwestern Medical CenterDallasUSA

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