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Ask the Rock Doc
Sound Advice for a Song
By psychologist, Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, aka, Dr. B.L.T., The Rock Doc

The following correspondence has been altered to protect the confidentiality of the inquiring party:

Dear Dr. B.L.T.:

I am 17 years of age, and I can’t wait to turn 18 and get my own place.  My mom made me read your article on Nat King Cole.  I really don’t enjoy reading of any kind, but I did enjoy your Black Santa song, (even though I hate rap).  I can kind of stomach what you call your “shrink rap.” Even though I am a black kid, I honestly don’t care much for black history, or anything my mom tries to shove down my throat.  My mom always lectures me about leaving behind my black heritage.  She says I should be playing jazz and listening to R&B.  Instead, I am in a Christian rock band, and I listen to only punk, emo, Christian rock, and classic rock.   My mom even forces me to go to a black church just so I can be exposed to her kind of music.  I honestly can’t get into it.  I am a Christian, and going to church doesn’t bother me, but I want to go to a normal, white church.  Even black kids in my High School, who call me “Whitewash,” (everyone calls me that), wonder why I’m not into Tupac, Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, or any of the rap music that they like.  Honestly, rap makes me sick to my stomach.  I don’t really consider them my true friends, so I don’t really care what they think.  I don’t care about my dad either, because I have never met him.  But I do care about moms.  Based on the picture that goes with your column, you look like a white guy, so I’m not even sure you can help me, but how can I convince my mom that I am my own person?


Dear “Whitewash”:

Whitewash has kind of a judgmental image connected with it, so I hesitate to use the nickname that others have assigned to you.  Yet, there seems to be some truth to their simplistic label.  Since you don’t seem to like reading, I’ll try to keep this short and to the point.  Your mom, in particular, seems to understand the importance of a person’s cultural roots as it applies to the formation of identity.  As a Dutch Canadian, I can’t really speak for your culture, but I will try to draw from universal principles to address your issue.  One of those universal principles is that if we stray too far from our cultural roots, we lose the sense of who we are.  That can cause all sorts of problems in life.  It can lead to depression, unresolved anger, and anxiety.  Overwhelming feelings of doubt, depression, and rage stemming from a loss of identity can lead a person to self-medicate through drugs and alcohol.   Loss of identity can cause problems in relationships and can lead to marital discord and divorce in adults.   Some folks with identity issues even become suicidal or homicidal, although you seem to be quite far from opting for such an extreme, destructive course.  

Being your own person is important too, but you don’t have to leave behind the things that make your culture special, to be your own person.  Jesus, for example, who was born a Jew, spoke his mind on a variety of issues in a way that angered many a Jewish scholar.  Yet he followed many of the Jewish customs of his time and seemed to embrace his Jewish heritage.  

In terms of modern-day African-American figures, nobody could say that Martin Luther King, Jr. was not his own person.  You do know that we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day this month, don’t you?  You do know that this is Black History month, don’t you?  (I have a feeling that your mother has already reminded you of these facts.)  Well, I can’t think of anyone more true to his cultural roots, and yet so much his own person, as Martin Luther King Jr.  Now, there are other rumors, true or untrue, that have gone around about him to suggest that he may not have been the perfect husband, or father, for that matter.  However, I wish that you had a strong black role model in your life who could teach you how to master what he clearly mastered: the ability to embrace his African-American roots without sacrificing the need to be his own person.  I applaud your efforts to explore music and other aspects of culture that are not specific to African-Americans, but I would also encourage you to at least be informed about your culture in general, and about great African-American leaders like Martin Luther King and great African-American artists (who were also leaders in their own right) like Nat King Cole, Andrae Crouch, Mahaila Jackson, and so many others.   There are many good reasons for rejecting a lot of the rap that’s out there, but I’d encourage you to explore some of the Christian rap artists.  

Now that you have read my article on Nat King Cole and listened to my “shrink rap” song, Black Santa, I will dig a little further into my rock doctor’s bag to find you the most suitable musical prescription.  I will introduce you to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in an emotionally compelling way that may encourage you to explore your roots even further.  This prescription is offered a genre that you can presently relate too­rock music.  Help yourself to It Only Hurts When I Cry, my tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. You can find the song, and download it for free via the following link:

Let me know what you think about the song, and when you have taken in this musical prescription, let’s talk some more.  Feel free to e-mail me at:


Dr. B.L.T.   

If you are among the musically-minded in distress, write Dr. B.L.T., the Rock Doc at 

Dr. BLT, aka Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, is a Christ-centered licensed clinical psychologist and university instructor who specializes in the psychology of modern music.  He uses his original songs as well as those of other artists to address the problems of his patients, including his biggest, sickest, most challenging patient--society.

His face and name recognition, particularly with teens, comes from his short part on a long Cake music video--the Cake video for “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” that earned the band a nomination for Ground Breaking Music Video of the Year on the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards. 



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