Black Men On The Couch

When one of the greatest musicians of his generation requests your presence  on stage  in front of fifty thousand people the answer you give is “Yes”.  But I was already booked  at in Stratford called Black Men on The Couch.  It’s where a  black  psychotherapist  interviews a black male personality  on stage in front of a live audience. No subject  was off limits.

The temptation to cancel and accept the other offer was too big to ignore but  impossible to accept.  Black Men On The Couch was the first event of its kind in the UK and  sold out. It was revealing, kinda scarey but unique and fascinating. It lasted an hour followed by questions from the audience.  Then came neither question nor statement  but  a monologue, a rant. He stated his  name and his position before his rant began. The audience was stunned.

I wondered how his outburst might affect a vulnerable young black men who may have attended the event thinking of seeking help.   For days I received emails from audience members  to “apologise for the attack” made all the worse by the nature of the event.  The gentleman who forced the outburst was  chair of UKCP who funded Black Men on the Couch to encourage the black community into considering  therapy if needed.   Go Figure.

7 thoughts on “Black Men On The Couch

  1. Riva, many thanks, I appreciate your comment. I really do – thanks. And I believe you, you are not all like that. Not at all. You’ll notice I didn’t blog about it straight away.

    Considering the depth of the onstage discussion his comment felt violent or violating and it attempted to ruin what was a beautiful inaugral event. I believe it should be recorded somewhere, that it happened, and that is why I have blogged about it – for the record.

  2. So sad to read this – and very concerned about the broader implications too.

    I have to ask the name of the individual concerned and the nature of his ‘displeasure’. Given it was a public event, it seems reasonable to name him.

    I attended the second event with David Lammy and Benjamin Zephaniah, which was excellent.

  3. I’m shocked by the outburst. I attended the second on 1/12/11 in Tottenham and the CEO opened proceedings and seemed very much in favour of the event. Very good and very revealing re Benjamin Zephaniah, less so David Lammy MP (protecting his position – so no problem with that). Good evening.

    What was the gig you turned down Lemn?

    • Hi Mike

      I guess it’s important to say I mentioned the artist by name on the night. I wanted the audience and interviewer to know how much BMOTC and UKCP meant to me. Onto the other matter. There will be a transcript of his outburst as the event was filmed. I saw an edited version in which his comments were cut to save him and UKCP the embarrassment. I agreed to the edit in support of BMOTC and UKCP.

      After the event I wrote to two highly respected black therapists who were present and who are in UKCP. Both were reticent to challenge the protagonist or reply at all to my specific comments. As he was chair of UKCP it seemed they feared him. His confrontation was a part of his style but it wasn’t his style it was the content which was shocking.

      So an institution (UKCP) would not discuss the behavior of one of its leading members with a person whom he had threatened. This lack of response is of concern in itself particularly on the subject of black males. It was the content of his comments that worried me most. Only through a transcript would you understand the violence of his outburst.

      it gets worse. A private email correspondance of mine and my email address were given to him by an event organiser so that he could continue his outburst. This institutionalized conditioning – passing on my private emails – was intrusive and crossed a line that I thought UKCP and BMOTC should know about.

      His comments and the ensuing events deserve internal investigation not to prove me (and others) right but to prove us wrong. The worst thing they, UKCP, coud do is what they did. They seem to have swept it under their carpet and treated me, against all the evidence, as over sensitive, indeed crazy. There is an irony.

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