Beloved and renowned scholar, author, educator and psychiatrist Dr. Frances Cress Welsing has passed away at 80 years of age this morning.
Known for her 1970 essay The Cress Theory of Color-Confrontation and Racism (White Supremacy and her 1991 novel The Isis Papers; The Keys to the Colors, Dr. Cress-Welsing was an instrumental figure in Afrocentric psychiatry. Her theories on race, racism, law, politics, and sexuality were some of the first of their kind to be studied on an international level.
Dr. Frances Luella Cress was born on March 18, 1935 in Chicago, Illinois to second generation doctor, Henry N. Cress, a physician, and Ida Mae Cress, a teacher. She received her bachelor’s degree at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio in 1957 and her Doctorate in Washington D.C. at Howard University College of Medicine in 1962. In 1967, she opened her own pediatric practice in Washington D.C.
Her first essay, The Cress Theory, was published during her time as an assistant professor of pediatrics at Howard and according to Welsing, it was the reason her tenure at the university was not renewed in 1975.
Her findings and research in the realm of cultural and behavioral science are some of the most ground breaking and controversial to have come out to date. Her theories revolve around the idea that racism is the result of the effects of varying amounts of melanin in one’s skin on their racial perception and development. Her theories, deemed radical, touched on many attributes of society in ways that hadn’t been so thoroughly questioned and debated in the past. Her Unified Field theory Psychiatry was a framework including biology, psychology, and physics as prerequisites to understanding the etiology of a unified field of energy phenomena that underlined racial conflict in America. In layman’s terms, her theories scientifically proposed origins and perpetuated existence of racism. Welsing is quoted saying,
“I put the discussion of melanin on the board in order to [describe how pigmentation] was a factor in what white supremacy behavior was all about”
Along with being an educator, Dr. Cress Welsing spent 25 years working as a staff physician for the Department of Human Services in Washington D.C. and served as a clinical director of two schools there for emotionally troubled youth. Dr. Cress-Welsing’s authority on melanin related research and voice of scientific reason is one that will be missed not only in the black community, but in the psychiatric community as well. She was a model figure of the Afrocentric scientific community and her legacy will never be forgotten.