APA Division 45 Statement on Racism

division 45 logo

Unanimously adopted by the Division 45 Executive Committee on June 12, 2020

Vetted and approved by the American Psychological Association for official posting June 22, 2020

The Executive Committee of Division 45 condemns in the strongest terms the racist acts that continue to harm Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) today. We are acutely aware of the harm that has come to our people through biased social systems that dehumanize BIPOC, and in particular the brute physical force and profiling that continue to be used against our Black siblings. Although the names of those who have been victimized have changed over the years, the methods of injustice have remained oppressively constant and deadly. Today, we stand shoulder to shoulder with loved ones of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many other Black Americans in recent years and over the centuries who have been terrorized and murdered by the US policing and criminal justice system. We condemn these egregious acts of racial violence, grieve for the countless number of lives that have been devastated by generations of state-sponsored violence against Black Americans, and call for justice and a dismantling of the systems that perpetuate oppression. We note that the criminal justice system has been consistently used to disempower racial and ethnic minoritized groups in the US and must be radically transformed to promote the psychological healing of society.

We are deeply appreciative of the Black Lives Matter movement that has organized thousands of people in the US and around the world to protest against anti-Black racism. These efforts have led to removal of confederate monuments, the arrests of law enforcement officers who have wrongly murdered Black residents, and the redirection of economic resources in states, counties and cities away from law enforcement and toward community initiatives. We fully embrace and support the movement’s efforts to expose and oppose systemic racism. 

We also remember that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the history of racial injustices in the United States and globally. In this country, BIPOC are placed at extreme risk for disease and illness due to insidious poverty, un- and underemployment, criminalization, and disparities in education, income, wealth, and health. The COVID-19 pandemic has also highlighted the xenophobia and hatred that is still pervasive in this country. The Asian and Asian American community has been particularly subjected to COVID-19 related harassment and discrimination due to stereotypes and misinformation which have persisted since the earliest days of US society. Overall, BIPOC are being systematically harmed by the abuses and neglect of a system that has never fully treated all of its citizens with equity and justice.

As an organization, we deplore the systematic oppression of BIPOC that has contributed to mass death and widespread health and mental health challenges. We insist that the national and community leaders finally and sincerely address the educational, health, income, and wealth disparities that our people face. We demand that the remaining vestiges of colonial systems and values that allow for unjust hierarchical structures in society and incomprehensible inequity to persist be retired permanently, and that BIPOC finally be welcomed as equal partners in the re-creation and transformation of US society from a psychologically dysfunctional society to a model of psychological wellness for all people.

This is the time to say “Enough!” to over valuation of whiteness as inherently right and preferred and to actively oppose the racist ideals that pervade our country by committing to being anti-racist. As psychologists and students, we have the power of words and the ability to intervene and interrupt anti-Black racism. We call on psychologists and students to take action to:

  1. Throw off the illusory protections of politeness and initiate frank discussion about anti-Black racism both within our personal circles as well as in our profession.
  2. Examine how the culture of White supremacy has subtly and overtly invaded every aspect of our society, and address how you individually and collectively benefit from and perpetuate anti-Blackness.
  3. Explore what it means to have racial privilege in our society which allows you to turn away from the racial injustice and suffering and to give some entities a “pass” on violence and murder because of other positive actions they may have engaged in.
  4. Take inventory of strengths and barriers that impact your willingness and ability to combat and work to eradicate anti-Black perspectives you hold and to attain the skills and knowledge needed to confront and demand an end to anti-Blackness in your family, community and social areas that you inhabit.
  5. Investigate and cease to invest in white fragility, colorism, and racial privilege as a method of self-protection and maintenance of the power imbalance.
  6. Do your own personal self-reflection to address your biases and racist ideologies. Do not depend on Black people to educate you or take care of your feelings of guilt or remorse.
  7. Share information and resources with others to counter anti-Black racism, such as these materials suggested by anti-racist scholar Dian Squire, PhD and others:
  1. How to be an Anti-Racist and Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram Kendi (additional book recommendations by Kendi here)
  2. A Race is a Nice Thing to Have by Janet Helms
  3. Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria by Beverly Tatum
  4. Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
  5. Racial Formation in the United States by Michael Omi and Howard Winant
  6. Racism without Racists by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
  7. The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein
  8. Overcoming our Racism: The Journey to Liberation and Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence: Understanding and Facilitating Difficult Dialogues on Race by Derald Wing Sue

As part of our commitment to retiring colonial racism, Division 45 will strive to throw off its own colonial yokes as an entity of the American Psychological Association by becoming more deliberate in the use of egalitarian processes and methods and by confronting colonial hierarchies that persist and contribute to imbalances of power and privilege.