Erase the Stigma, or Borrando El Estigma in Spanish, was founded by psychologist, Dr. Sandra Gray, PhD, with the aim at providing education and increasing access to education about mental health through our communities. Dr. Gray is a first generation Xicana. Her parents emigrated from Durango, México to create access to the "American Dream" through education. Born in Los Ángeles, CA, she grew up with extended family, highly influenced by Mexican culture. Her first language is Spanish and she was not exposed to the English language until she was enrolled in school where she participated in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program for several years.
“I recall my first day of pre-k. My mom dropped me off and all I could do was cry, to the point of sobbing, when she left. I struggled with separation and my language barrier didn't allow me to communicate effectively with my peers. Even in kindergarten I recall struggling with separating from my mother at drop off. I remember my teacher asking me in English who would be picking me up. In my broken English I answered, “My tía,” still not fully grasping the language. I explain this to demonstrate how separation anxiety touched me early on in my life. Mental health was not part of our conversations in our culture. I only heard, “That's for crazy people!” However, as I grew into adulthood, I realized my own struggles with mental health. I realized how growing up biculturally impacted me. How traumas I experienced impacted me. I grew up in a low income neighborhood and was exposed to community violence, and I saw how trauma, anxiety, and depression negatively affected communities of color.” -Dr. Sandra Gray
Dr. Gray' experiences as a woman of color and a psychologist have contributed to the development of Borrando El Estigma and Empower LV, a nonprofit organization Dr. Gray founded that focuses on equity and creating access to services including sports programs for youth, academic tutoring, and mental health services. Empower LV strives to ensure that we all have the same access and opportunities at life. Dr. Gray firmly believes in equity, the empowerment of minority and at risk communities, and that emotional healing not only heals us, but our future generations.