Public Policy Center, University of Nebraska


Date of this Version



There is no doubt that the devastation levied by hurricane Katrina is unprecedented in the lifetime of a vast majority of Americans’. The loss and damage to property is no comparison to the loss of human life and the damage to the human spirit experienced by the victims of hurricane Katrina Many mental health practitioners will heed the call to volunteer their expertise and time to assist victims and evacuees through the Red Cross and other organizations. The purpose of this abbreviated guide is to assist those practitioners with limited experiences with African American and economically disadvantaged clients and consumers to provide effective culturally responsive services. This guide is not intended to replace multicultural classes, training, supervision or experiences nor to suggest that after reading it you will become or be culturally competent. This is simply a resource to assist your delivery of effective services to African American victims and those who support them. While there are a number cultural commonalities (i.e., ancestry, worldview, family structure) among African Americans, practitioners should keep in mind that African Americans are a very diverse group of Americans and immigrant communities with varied experiences in America. Often, there are several intra group differences (like all other ethnic groups) along, for example, education levels, social economic status, racial identity, acculturation, religious and spiritual beliefs, geographic location and linguistics (e.g., accents, slang terminology).