We are writing to you while still reeling from the tragic murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and the ongoing protests, which are reverberating in a shockwave throughout our nation and around the world.
These recent events present us with an urgent challenge—as an association, discipline and profession, and individual psychologists—to bring our expertise to bear to address the range of underlying problems these events represent from discrimination to racism, which have resulted in long-standing social, economic, and political inequalities, from police brutality, to the disproportionate spread of the coronavirus among black and brown people, to the soaring unemployment rates among communities of color.
APA is urging psychologists to share their thoughts and recommendations for using the power of psychology to address the “pandemic of racism,” both in the short and long term. As part of that process, we must also exam our role as a field and as an association in perpetuating these ills.
The association’s vision is to address this issue on three levels. Across all three, APA’s ability to form partnerships with other organizations and stakeholders, as well as tap into the broad expertise of our members, will be critical.
- Communicating broadly. APA will make psychological science and its applications to real-world bias, discrimination, and trauma highly visible, communicating the association’s position regarding the specific incident involving George Floyd, as well as the science on racial bias more broadly. This will include such things as articles in public-facing publications, blogs, podcasts, and media interviews, as well as opportunities to solicit input and feedback around our approach.
- Reducing police violence against African Americans. We plan to appoint an APA Presidential Task Force to develop science-based recommendations aimed at reducing the incidence of police killings, particularly of unarmed black men and women. To be both relevant and timely in its recommendations, the task force would work under an expedited timeline. APA would then work with the appropriate partner organizations to implement the proposed recommendations.
- Addressing systemic and institutional racism. With the understanding that racism dates back hundreds of years in this country, APA is making a long-term commitment to use psychological science and expertise to reduce racism and discrimination. Because of the immense nature of these issues, we are giving careful thought to the aspects on which APA can have the greatest unique and positive impact. For instance, one of the key roles that we see APA playing is to change the nation’s narrative about race so that we can have more productive dialogues.
Acting with thoughtful urgency, APA is committed to taking actions that not only garner attention now, but also have sustainable and long-lasting effects. It will take all of us committing to addressing this critical issue in order to help move our nation forward.
If you have thoughts and recommendations on how psychology can help ameliorate this crisis, submit them to us online.Sandy and A.C.E.