Student Advocates for Change: A Three-Part Interview Series (Natalie Malone)

Part III: Natalie Malone

Activism is a core way in which SCP members and students show their support for the communities and causes that mean the most to them. Many of these causes are steeped in SCP’s core values of social justice and multiculturalism and are aimed at improving the lives of those with marginalized identities through systemic change. To ensure their ability to thrive, these societal changes are essential in eradicating the multiplicative forms of oppression BIPOC communities endure. The 2020-21 academic year in the U.S. continues to be filled with an array of traumatizing experiences, especially for BIPOC communities, including:

Amid this turmoil, many CP students have stepped up to stand up for BIPOC communities by utilizing their training, passion, and dedication to uplift these groups. Their efforts embody SCP’s core values and provide examples of how we can continue to make a difference. In the third interview of this three-part series, I will highlight an interview with Natalie Malone, a third-year counseling psychology doctoral student.

What does activism mean to you? 

Activism is an intentional practice to influence social change as an individual and in community with others. My activism starts when I get out of bed in the morning and choose love and wellness in a world determined for me to choose otherwise as a Black woman. My activism continues through my work with others focused on actionable steps to eradicate social justice issues.

Which of your activist events/activities have been most impactful to you and why?

This is a hard question! I think the events/activities I participated in that had the least protection were the most impactful. Some forms of activism are innately less risky (and still equally valuable) because the activist has some protections. I have been in situations where I used my voice in large forums with cameras or toward people/systems who pay me and keep my lights on. These events were most impactful to me because I let go of any fear of judgment or mistreatment internally. Participating meant I accepted my total self and the causes I care deeply about – and, respectfully, gave no fucks what anybody thought about it!

How do your intersecting identities impact your activism?

My familial, academic, and community lineage features many Black women activists who made/make significant contributions to social change. I believe Black women have all the “fixens” to do some of the best activism because we are not afraid to confront problems and facilitate ease, understanding, and change through a whole lot of loving accountability.

As a counseling psychologist in training, what role does activism play in your work (research, clinical work, service, etc.)? 

I think of activism as a bubble encompassing my research, clinical work, and service. Ultimately, all of my work should serve a higher purpose than, for example, publication or selecting and administering an intervention or assessment. Through all of my work, I intentionally consider whom I am potentially impacting and how I can make sure I plant a seed or meet a need.

Anything else you think would be important for me to know about you/your activism?

I think a lesser-discussed component of activism is that it starts with self. I want more people to get free within themselves: dive into deep self-work… learn how to protect yourself from burnout. It can only improve your activist identity.

Natalie Malone, M.S. (she/her) is a third-year counseling psychology doctoral student at the University of Kentucky. As a Black sexualities researcher- and therapist-in-training, she aims to address systemic-level barriers to mental health affecting Black folx, promote sex-positivity, and celebrate all expressions of love throughout the African diaspora.

IG: @futuredr.nat Twitter: @futuredr_nat Email: njma232@g.uky.edu

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Bio: Nelson O. O. Zounlome (he/him/his), M.S.Ed. is a first-generation college student, child of immigrants, and native of South Bend, IN. He is also a McNair Scholar, Ford Foundation Fellow, Herman B. Wells Graduate Fellow, and counseling psychology Ph.D. candidate at Indiana University (IU). He studies academic persistence and mental wellness to promote holistic healing among Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Nelson is dedicated to helping BIPOC Communities liberate themselves and achieve their wildest dreams. https://www.nelsonzounlome.com/

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