Toward Cross-Racial/Ethnic Solidarity: Being An Accomplice

Published by Division 45 on

Kevin Cokley

Last month I was asked to be a panelist for the opening session of the 2021 Asian American Psychological Association (AAPA) Convention. I was specifically asked to speak about my expertise in Black Psychology and where I saw room for liberation through solidarity between Asian Americans and African Americans. During my presentation, I noted how I was impressed by the support of Asian Americans and other racial/ethnic groups in the Black Lives Matter protests in response to the murder of George Floyd. I also indicated the importance of African Americans showing more support for our Asian American brothers and sisters as they were experiencing anti-Asian racism. 

What stood out to me about this outstanding panel was the response of Dr. Kevin Nadal. After I made my comments, Dr. Nadal responded in an effort, I think, to complicate the narrative of Asian support for BLM and Black support for the Asian community. He shared that while there was Asian support of the BLM protests, behind closed doors, questions were being raised by some in the Asian American community about the perceived lack of support of African Americans. Dr. Nadal problematized that narrative by indicating that (1) support of BLM should not be contingent on expected reciprocal support by African Americans, and (2) the perception of African Americans not being vocal about anti-Asian racism was exaggerated and not reflective of those African Americans who in fact were vocal and actively supportive.  

This exchange, and especially the comments by Dr. Nadal, embody what I wrote in my September President-Elect’s Column about taking a principled stand at the risk of personal or professional backlash, and being willing to speak out for all oppressed communities and accept whatever the potential fallout will be. I believe there exists in all racial/ethnic minoritized communities individuals who vocally and actively fight the oppression of other minoritized groups. More attention needs to be placed on the efforts of these individuals, and we must also work to cultivate more of these individuals. Additionally, all of us need to be willing to take personal and professional risks and to speak truth to power in moments when it would be easier to remain silent. 

My 2022 Presidential theme is “Confronting Racism Through Cross-Racial/Ethnic Solidarity: Toward Being an Accomplice.”  This theme is informed by the political philosophy of the activist and chairman of the Black Panther Party, Fred Hampton, who founded a multicultural political organization, the Rainbow Coalition, to fight racism, classism, and to work for social change. I am convinced that minoritized communities are stronger working together and on behalf of each other fighting racism than working in isolation. 

We need psychologists who will advance theory and research on the importance of cross-racial/ethnic solidarity. We need psychologists who will apply knowledge of the benefits of cross-racial/ethnic solidarity in therapy. Finally, we need psychologists who will engage in the activism, broadly defined, that will bring racial and ethnic minoritized communities together.

I am pleased to announce that Dr. Calvin Sims and Dr. Donna Demanarig have agreed to co-chair the Cross-Racial/Ethnic Solidarity Task Force. Professional members of the task force include Dr. Amanda Blume, Dr. Alfonso Mercado, Dr. Stacey Jackson, Dr. Liza Hita, and student members included Hanan Hashem, Amir Maghsoodi, and Pooja Mamidanna. The Task Force will be working on identifying the deliverables related to my Presidential theme. 

I am also very grateful to Dr. Shannon McClain and Dr. Leann Smith for their willingness to serve as Division 45 convention program co-chairs. Their job has been made more challenging as they plan for a 2022 APA summer convention that will likely be a hybrid of both in-person and virtual programming. They are working very hard to ensure that the convention activities will be of the highest quality. 

Finally, I would like to share that the Division 45 EC is currently exploring the possibility of securing administrative support for the important work of our Division. Some APA Divisions have Executive Directors or other administrative support, which is incredibly helpful given that the leadership consists of volunteers who have full-time jobs. We are in preliminary discussions to examine the feasibility and sustainability of securing administrative support. 

I am very excited about the start of my presidency in January 2022. If you have any ideas or want to become involved, please contact me at

Peace and blessings. 

Kevin Cokley, President-Elect