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The Broken Heart of America: Challenging Our Assumptions in Practice

  • Saturday, March 06, 2021
  • 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
  • Zoom


Registration is closed

(CSREC ) Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Culture

The Broken Heart of America:

Challenging Our Assumptions in Practice

Walter Johnson, PhD


Ron Hopson, PhD


What narratives about ourselves, our patients, our histories and our country do we bring into our work as psychotherapists?

Dr. Walter Johnson, a native of Missouri and author of the book, "Broken Heart of America: St. Louis and the Violent History of United States", will share his compelling research on how St. Louis, Missouri, developed and sustained a culture of whiteness and privilege. He demonstrates how structural racism, capitalism, imperialism and violence also created the growth of the under privileged “other”. Moving from Lewis and Clark’s expedition in 1804 to the 2014 death of Michael Brown in Ferguson and current day redlining, St Louis’s story includes a history of Indian removal and extinction and exploitation of Black Americans.

Dr. Ron Hopson’s insights will bridge the findings of Dr. Johnson to our work. He will explore questions related to pervasive disparities and how “othering” lives on in ourselves, our patients and our practice. Hopson’s immediate reaction to reading the book, “Who knew?”


  • Describe the historical imperialism that has created the United States with the eyes of a white man;
  • Explain the structural racism that continues to define St Louis and  the United States;
  • Analyze disparities in ways Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) citizens continue to be targeted;

  • Discuss the impact of the “othering” attitudes and the possible  damaging effect of peoples psyche;
  • Apply the historical knowledge to present context in one’s own and client’s life experiences


4.5 Diversity/Cultural Competence CEs

About the Presenter: Dr. Walter Johnson, PhD

Dr. Walter Johnson’s work focuses on slavery, capitalism, and, increasingly, imperialism in the nineteenth century. He is the Winthrop Professor of History and Professor of African and African American Studies, Harvard University. He also serves as the director of the Charles Warren Center for the Study of American History. Johnson is a founding member of the Commonwealth Project, which brings together academics, artists and activists in an effort to imagine, foster, and support revolutionary social change, beginning in St. Louis. Though Johnson has many inspirations for his work, it was the 2014 uprising in Ferguson, Missouri that sparked many of his teaching interests and motivated him to become involved with organizations in St. Louis that support black cultural institutions and talented youth. In addition to the classroom learning experiences that Johnson gives his students, he provides fellowship opportunities at these organizations in St. Louis, which he finds to be the most gratifying part of his job.

About the Discussant: Dr. Ron Hopson, PhD

Dr. Ronald E. Hopson holds a joint appointment at Howard University in the department of Psychology, and in the School of Divinity. He teaches courses on Psychopathology, the Philosophy of Science, Psychotherapy, the Psychology of Religion, and Pastoral Care. He is an ordained clergy in the United Church of Christ, and a licensed clinical psychologist in the District of Columbia. He has done community building work in England, South Africa and the U.S. through his affiliation with M. Scott Peck and the Foundation for Community Encouragement. He has published in the areas of Psychotherapy, Substance Abuse and Drug Addiction, Christian Fundamentalism in the U.S., and Pastoral Care. His most current work is in the area of Sexuality and the Black Church and the psychological implications of Christian atonement theology.   

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