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Black Lives Matter! In Solidarity with Black Scholars

diversity love people illustration
by The 2020 SPSP Student Committee


Recent events against Black people, including the unjust and tragic killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Elijah McClain, and too many others have magnified centuries of unjust treatment and racial injustice towards Black and African American communities.

In light of pernicious anti-Blackness in our country, several groups and organizations have put forth support statements to stand in solidarity with fellow Black and African American colleagues. In particular, here we highlight and echo the messages of solidarity that were previously put forth by the newly formed South Asian Network of Social and Personality Psychologists (SANSAPP) and by the South East Asian Social and Personality Psychologists (SEASAPP). Please see below for a copy of the full messages that were previously disseminated through SPSP Open Forum. In addition to acknowledging systemic racism and showing support and solidarity, we believe that a commitment to action and continued solidarity is crucial in dismantling systemic inequities that ultimately become perpetuated in academia.

In an action-oriented mindset, the SPSP student committee is currently collecting messages of support to share with fellow students who identify as Black and African American. These messages of support are meant to demonstrate solidarity and commitment against anti-Blackness within the SPSP community, and to promote further discussion and accountability on what we as scholars are committing to do individually and collectively in this critical effort.

As members of academia, perhaps one of the most esteemed institutions there is, we feel a particular responsibility to encourage our members and ourselves to reflect on and process our own experiences with inequitable and racist systems and how we can work towards dismantling them with one another and the SPSP community, in our research, practice, teaching, and service. In doing so, we encourage people to share constructive actions they have been engaging in thus far, or will engage in, to combat against systemic racism (e.g., educating oneself about anti-Black racism from books/shows/podcasts, collaborating on grants with BIPOC scholars, and creating welcoming lab and research spaces for more BIPOC graduate trainees) at a more proximal level (e.g., homes, social groups, academic institutions, social media). We hope that concretizing and sharing these ideas and thoughts might instill a sense of accountability, while also encouraging others to integrate these actions into their own lives and social circles.

Please click here to write your message. We hope to feature these messages in an upcoming newsletter. Of note, if you would like to remain anonymous in your message, please refrain from including any identifying information. Any identifying information included in the messages may not be anonymized prior to making them publicly available.

MESSAGE BY SANSAPP

Dear SPSP members,

The members of the newly formed South Asian Network of Social and Personality Psychologists (SANSAPP) stand alongside our colleagues in SEASAPP (South East Asian Social and Personality Psychologists) to say, unequivocally, that Black Lives Matter. The murders of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Javier Ambler II, and Rayshard Brooks are the most recent reminders of the widespread, state-sanctioned violence that has terrorized Black communities for generations. These tragic events have also brought into sharp focus the pervasive anti-Black racism and racial inequality that exists across all levels of American society. The police brutality committed against people protesting racial injustice has further reinforced the need for systemic change.

Within our own discipline of social and personality psychology, racial disparities are staggering. Black scholars are extremely underrepresented at all ranks, but particularly among early career researchers and full professors. Importantly, existing data lack an intersectional lens and therefore do not capture the true extent of underrepresentation in our discipline (e.g., by not accounting for Black scholars who also belong to the LGBTQIA+ community). Many Black colleagues have courageously shared their stories of victimization in the academy (see #BlackintheIvory and #BeingAPsychologistWhileBlack). These stories reveal the severity of systemic racism beyond the statistics reported by academic societies.

We stand in solidarity with our Black colleagues, who have elevated so many of us, and whose scholarship and activism continue to enrich our discipline. We echo SEASAPP's call for SPSP members to take concrete and immediate action to address systemic racism at local, institutional, and national levels. We affirm our collective commitment to respond to this call, by asking our members to take the following steps to show up for Black lives:

  1. Engage in activism to support Black Lives Matter by using the resources provided here: blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/#
  2. Reflect critically on our own community's privileges and role in perpetuating anti-Black racism
  3. Disrupt everyday racism in professional and private settings by speaking up against racist practices and behavior within our own communities and institutions
  4. Create and facilitate ongoing dialogue with non-Black peers, trainees and colleagues in educational and professional settings on how to do the work of disrupting racism
  5. Stand up for Black voices and be vocal allies in the face of anti-Black racism
  6. For those of us who publish, critically reflect on racial biases present in the research we cite and the theories that guide our research
  7. For those of us who teach, critically analyze our syllabi and course readings to ensure the equitable representation of work by Black scholars
  8. Use the status conferred by our varying ranks to advocate for the recruitment, retention and hiring of Black scholars
  9. Reflect on how we can change our scientific practices to decolonize the psychological sciences.

We acknowledge BlaSPR (Black Social and Personality Retreat) as a founding community for scholars of color within SPSP and thank the organizers for inspiration. We aim to use our network to advocate on behalf of our shared principles of social justice and equality.

In solidarity,
Members of SANSAPP (in alphabetical order):

Aarti Iyer, Adira Daniel, Alexandria West, Ali Javeed, Anika Javaid, Anoushka Shahane, Ashwini Ashokkumar, Bhumi Patel, Buju Dasgupta, Chris Martin, Dolly Chugh, Esha Naidu, Fahima Mohideen, Hasagani Tissera, Hema Preya Selvanathan, Jessica Remedios, Julian Scheffer, Layla Dang, Maily Steers, Maya Godbole, Nikhil Sengupta, Nikhila Mahadevan, Phanikiran Radhakrishnan, Prachi Pathak, Pragya Arya, Prasad Chandrashekar, Rabia Kodapanakkal, Rahul Ladhania, Ramya M, Saera Khan, Sakshi Ghai, Sanjay Srivastava, Sapna Cheryan, Sonia Kang, Sugandha Gupta, Suraiya Allidina, Vinita Vader, Waleed Jami, Yuthika Girme, Zunaira Jilani

MESSAGE BY SEASAPP

Dear fellow SPSP members,

We, the South East Asian Social and Personality Psychologists (SEASAPP), stand in solidarity with our Black colleagues. We condemn the persistent and systemic racism that fuels injustice and violence toward the Black community. Black Lives Matter. In addition to the appalling murders of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery (and too many more), American law enforcement has openly and brutally attacked the press and protestors (Dessem, 2020). Originating from slave patrols, the modern American police force has also been infiltrated by White Supremacists according to the FBI (Down, 2016; Hassett-Walker, 2020; Trawalter, Bart-Plange, & Hoffman, 2020). One in every 1000 Black men face the risk of being killed by the police, a risk considerably higher than any other racial groups (Edwards, Lee, & Esposito, 2019). In light of all these, we urge our fellow social-personality psychologists to look to our colleagues who have long been at the forefront of these issues and stand up for change. Now more than ever, our everyday actions must speak louder than our words. We encourage our colleagues to support collective actions around the country. A list of resources can be found here: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/#

We also urge our colleagues to consider concrete ways to support Black scholars in our community. In SPSP, only 4% of 7690 members identify as Black (as of December 2019) and only a handful have received prestigious awards in our field (listed here: http://spsp.org/awards). This underrepresentation is unfortunately not limited to SPSP. Consider our syllabi, reference sections, bookshelves, colloquium speakers, faculty, job candidates, and undergraduate and graduate students. Underrepresentation of Black scholars and their scholarship is undeniable. Yet, they have paved the way for many of us. We must ask ourselves why there is so little representation in our own labs, classrooms, departments, and organizations. The structure of racism is pervasive and often invisible to us who are too privileged to see it (Salter, Adams, Perez, 2018). To strive for true diversity and inclusion in our institutions, we must be more purposeful in our actions, commitments, and demands.

BlaSPR (Black Social and Personality Psychologists Retreat) inspired and helped us form SEASAPP. We are thankful for Black social-personality psychologists whose scholarship, activism, and presence in the field have fundamentally shaped SPSP and beyond.

In solidarity,
SEASAPP

MESSAGE BY the SPSP Student Committee

In addition to the grief and hardship brought by COVID-19, the horrific killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor have brought attention to the systemic racism, intolerance and unjust treatment of Black and African Americans. The Student Committee of SPSP condemns these acts of violence and those who are justifying the violence. We are especially thoughtful of our student members who identify as Black and African American. We support you and stand by you. We want to be a resource for you and amplify your perspectives and experiences so we can all hear them.

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