Diversity, Equity & Social Justice

The Truth of Being Black in America

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What are some of the ways in which the health and lives of many Americans are in jeopardy simply because they’re Black? And what are some of the things the public can do to help change that? Watch this discussion regarding the truth of being Black in America among USC scholars of psychology and law; an advocate for transgender equality; and a USC pastor who is also a program manager with the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture.

Featuring April Thames, USC Dornsife associate professor of psychology and psychiatry; Jody David Armour, USC Gould Roy P. Crocker Professor of Law; and Blossom Brown, advocate for transgender equality with the Los Angeles LGBT Center and board member of Black LGBTQ+Activists for Change. Moderated by Rev. Najuma Smith-Pollard, program manager for USC Dornsife’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture.

Who Will Benefit

– Those looking to learn how racism and discrimination have a direct effect on physical and mental health
– Educators searching for ways to create diverse and inclusive environments in their workplaces and fields
– Those hoping to understand how to foster discussions of racial, gender, class and justice issues

About Our Featured Faculty

Jody David Armour is the Roy P. Crocker Professor of Law at the USC Gould School of Law. He has been a member of the faculty since 1995, and his expertise ranges from personal injury claims to claims about the relationship between racial justice, criminal justice and the rule of law. Armour studies the intersection of race and legal decision-making as well as torts and tort reform movements. A widely published scholar and popular lecturer, Armour is a Soros Justice Senior Fellow of The Open Society Institute’s Center on Crime, Communities and Culture. Armour earned his AB degree in sociology at Harvard University and his JD degree with honors from Boalt Hall Law School at UC Berkeley. Prior to joining USC, he was an associate at Morrison & Foerster, Kirkpatrick and Lockhart and taught at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall, Indiana University and the University of Pittsburgh.

April Thames is an associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and director of the Social Neuroscience in Health Psychology Lab. Thames received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Alliant International University/CSPP and completed her postdoctoral fellowship in clinical neuropsychology at UCLA. As principal investigator of several grant-supported projects, Thames has developed a translational neuroscience research program that focuses on the impact of chronic disease, substance abuse, socioeconomic disadvantage and lifetime stress/adversity and resiliency on neurological, cognitive and mental health outcomes. Her work has also examined factors that obscure the validity of neuropsychological test performance among ethnic/racial minority groups.

Najuma Smith-Pollard is a program manager with the USC Dornsife’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture. Rev. Smith-Pollard combines her experience as a pastor and expertise as a community leader to run programs that train pastors to take on civic engagement work. She also is a motivational speaker, author, life coach, radio personality and community activist. Smith-Pollard holds a bachelor’s in management from Pepperdine University, a Bachelor of Theology from the Southern California School of Ministry, an MBA from Woodbury University and a doctorate in ministry from United Theological Seminary.