Tag Archives: diversity

How Much Do Black Lives Matter to the APA?

protestAs a student member of the APA and a psychologist in training, I’ve been disappointed in the American Psychological Association’s (APA) public response to the deaths of African American’s at the hands of police officers as well as mass shooters. While I’ve appreciated APA’s vigorous response to the Orlando tragedy, I couldn’t help but compare it to the APA’s response to the Charleston shootings. When I looked back to see if the APA offered services to the families of the victims of the Charleston shootings, or any other resources, I couldn’t find anything, not even a public statement condemning the shootings. Granted, the Charleston shooting occurred only a few weeks before the release of the Hoffman Report.  Yet preoccupation with the Hoffman Report does not explain APA’s silence, as it issued four press releases between the day of the Charleston shooting and the release of the Hoffman Report.

Moreover, the APA’s virtual silence in response to the numerous police shootings of unarmed African American men, women, and children is dumbfounding.  In an op-ed in response to Ferguson, written by former APA President Nadine Kaslow and former APA CEO Norman Anderson, the authors fall short of condemning the shooting of an unarmed black teenager and state, “[t]he judicial system will determine exactly what transpired between Michael Brown and the police officer.” Considering the historical treatment of African Americans by the judicial system, and the continued shocking disparities, their faith in the ability of the system to determine what transpired and provide a just outcome was questionable at best.  Perhaps Kaslow and Anderson’s questionable faith is representative of the APA’s position overall, and explains the silence.

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APAGS Convention Tracks – Diversity

APA 2016 bannerThis year, the APAGS Convention Committee has put graduate student programming at Convention into tracks: Diversity, Professional Development, Science, and Internship. We’ve done so with an eye for how certain programs and talks might go together, so that students can set their goals for convention (e.g., get the skinny on how to research efficiently) and feel assured that they hit all the talks.

Get more information on the Professional Development track or the Science track.

My self-care activity throughout grad school has been hiking. For that reason, my mind is making connections between our APAGS tracks and hiking routes. Imagine each track as a particular hiking path. Sometimes they intersect with other paths, and sometimes you can hop between paths based on your needs. In fact, the hiking analogy can be extended further! Hydrate during convention, pack good footwear (lots of walking), and tie up your food at night so that grizzly bears hungry grad students cranky advisers student loan collectors don’t get into it.

Third track: Diversity

Length: Really, this path is (and should be) never-ending. Think of the sessions below as highlights along the way.                                                                           Preparation: Peruse APAGS Guide for LGBT Grad Students, read through the Living at the Intersection posts to get yourself thinking.

  1. Conducting Research within a Social Justice Framework: From Research Question to Publication (also in Science)
  2. Conducting Research on Marginalized Identities: When Research is “Me-Search” (also in Science)
  3. Syrian Refugee Crisis: Psychologists’ Responsibility for Human Rights and Mental Health
  4. Connecting with Our Queerness: Being an LGBTQ(A) Psychologist (also in Professional Development)
  5. Two P’s in a Pod: Balancing Parenthood with Psychology Training and Careers (also in Professional Development)
  6. Exploring the Intersectionalities of Advisor-Advisee Relationships in Psychology Doctoral Programs (also in Professional Development)

Happy trails!

Editor’s Note: Each day this week we will highlight a different APAGS Program Track. Find out which track is right for you! Also, check out the full schedule of APAGS programming.

Take the ally challenge!

I am sick of writing posts in the wake of tragedies, and sickened to know that unless something drastically changes, they will continue to happen as they have for so many years. But I also know we can do better; I can do better. Specifically, allies need to do more in the times when there is no system-based tragedy making headlines. Therefore I am taking a 30-day ally challenge and I would love you to join me!

Sometimes trying to be an ally can feel overwhelming because there are so many social justice issues around the world to care about. Sometimes I end up doing nothing because I do not know where to begin, or how to begin. Sometimes I get stuck because I know there are people who dedicate their lives to social justice, whether on a global scale by people like Paul Farmer, or on a local scale, like the founders of the Wisconsin youth organization Proud Theater, and that as much as I would like to be, I am not one of them. It is too easy for daily life to get in the way when there is no crisis to respond to. I realize, of course, that the ability to not engage fully in a topic if it doesn’t fit in my schedule is the result of the many privileged identities I hold, but that does not change the fact that I often end up analyzing data or checking Facebook, rather than really engaging as an ally.

If you are like me, and want to do more to make the world better but are feeling stuck, let’s try this month-long experiment together. I would contend, as others have, that being an ally is a verb rather than an identity label. It is not something someone is, but something someone does, and therefore something we can practice daily in order to improve.

This is my plan of attack to practice becoming a better ally.

Step 1: Choose a topic.

We know that in order to make behavior changes, the goals have to be manageable. There are countless areas of disparity and oppression in the world, but in order to prevent inertia, I will pick one topic to focus on for two weeks – just one! (With the sad exception of responding to crises, like the recent shootings)

Step 2: Pick a time.

Behavior change works best if we can incorporate it into our daily routine. What time works best for you to do your allying? It might take some scheduling trial and error, but I think I’ll try lunchtime…

Step 3: Become an informed ally.

Without knowing about an issue, it is difficult to effectively work for change. Every day I will spend 10 minutes learning about the topic I have chosen. Is this enough time to spend allying? No. It is not even close to enough time to do justice to learning deeply about a topic. However, it is ten minutes more than I am currently spending and therefore a step in the right direction. Specifically, I will seek out perspectives of members of communities affected by the issue, as well as the perspectives of those whose beliefs run counter to my own. It is difficult to create change without dialogue, and difficult to create dialogue without understanding perspectives across the aisle.

Step 4: Take action.

Knowing about the ways in which our system is broken is a start, but allying also requires doing something about it. Each week I will therefore also do some sort of action outside my comfort zone. There are a lot of ways to be an ally in daily life, some of which might not be entirely within my control. For example, it is important to speak up about microaggressions when we see them. We can do things to increase our efficacy speaking up, like learning about how to recognize microaggressions and how to communicate effectively about them. But what if I spend the day doing research in my office and legitimately do not encounter any microaggressions to challenge? The action I take each week has to be something I can initiate that I would not have done otherwise, whether that means attending a solidarity event, volunteering, donating, starting a dialogue, or calling a legislator.

Step 5: Tell your friends.

Behaviors changes are more likely to be maintained when people have social support for making the change. Share what you’re doing and what you’ve learned with your friends and family. Spread the word. Create a network of people practicing allying.

Step 6: Do it again the next month!

In this way at the end of one month I will know more about two topics and have taken four small actions related to them. If I keep it up over a year, that will lead to knowing more about 24 topics with 48 small actions. If I get my friends to join me, who knows how big the ripples may go.

I may not ever be an ally rock star, but I sure can work at becoming a better one than I currently am.  If those of us who hold privileged identities make an effort to be more intentional allies when there is not a national tragedy, not only might that make us better at responding to tragedies when they do happen, but it might also help us start using our power more effectively to prevent them in the first place. We might not be able to solve all broken things all at once, but that shouldn’t stop us from practicing the actions needed to learn about what is broken and be part of the solution. I hope you join me in this allying challenge!

#WeAreOrlando

By Julia Benjamin, Chair of the APAGS Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity (CSOGD)

And James J. García, Chair of the APAGS Committee for the Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Diversity (CARED)

Early Sunday morning, the deadliest mass shooting in United States history took the lives of 50 people. The community and countless individuals will bear scars from this attack for the rest of their lives. It occurred on “Latin Night” at an LGBT+-affirming nightclub during Pride month.

We are devastated. We are furious. We are scared. We are heartsick.

Orlando ribbonWe each attended vigils yesterday in remembrance of the victims and survivors, one in Tucson and one in Madison. They were separated by hundreds of miles but at each, we heard our feelings echoed by other voices. It was easy to feel overwhelmed as they spoke of the stark realities LGBT+ individuals face daily and the complex intersecting evils that contributed to this tragedy: fear for our safety, racism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, and the now real fear of guns. Yet through it all, the other themes that rang loud and clear were those of peace, solidarity, hope, and love.

As graduate students in psychology we are called on to use our knowledge and skills to fight oppression and provide support in times of trial. When the world feels complicated and broken, how can we take steps on our own campuses and in our own lives to hold onto hope and move toward healing systems and souls? Here are some practical things you can do, whether you identify as LGBT+ or as an ally:

  1. Show up
  • Attend the candlelight vigils that are being coordinated nationwide.
  • Get informed – learn about what’s going on, read here and here.
  • Stop by your campus or local city LGBT+ center to meet folks and offer solidarity; click here for the Campus Pride website.
  • Reach out to friends and loved ones, to provide and receive the social support that we know helps confer resilience in times of distress.
  • Show up for yourself – be sure to keep taking care of your own basic needs like sleep, a balanced diet, and exercise.
  1. Speak up
  • Write to your elected officials, U.S senators and representatives.
  • Share your feelings and thoughts and engage in dialogue through blogs, psychology-related listservs, and/or social media.
  • In the upcoming presidential elections, vote with your ballot.
  1. Step up

As more details of this event emerge in the coming days, let us remember that there are layers of complexity to this massacre. Also, let us remember the intersecting identities of those who were affected, as this shooting disproportionately affected people of color and our Latina/o LGBT+ family. Let us stand together with our allies in our mourning, fear, anger, and devastation, but also in our solidarity and hope for a more peaceful, accepting, and just society for all.

Florida

Florida

A Note from your Chair: Orlando Strong

FloridaFriends and colleagues,

I sit with tears in my eyes as I write this. Just over 24 hours after hearing the news of the horrific tragedy in Orlando, I am still in shock, not sure what to say, and unsure of where I can feel safe in our increasingly violent, unpredictable world.

As a woman, an American, a psychologist, and as a lesbian, my heart is completely broken.To the other members of our LGBTQ community I send you love. Let us be strong, yet honest. Let us find joy in the beauty that does live all around us, yet may we always remember. Let us cry and laugh. Let us continue to embrace our differences, and lean into our enemies with love.

To our Muslim brothers and sisters. I am equally sickened by the hate directed toward you following this, and every crime used to vilify you as a people. It is wrong and unfair. You are beautiful, peaceful, and welcome. I send you love and I stand with you.

To our allies. Thank you.

To our psychology community as a whole. Let us stand up. Let us speak out. Let us serve. Let us help. I am reminded of a quote by Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” As psychologists we have much to offer this world in terms of healing, social change, and leading by example. Let us be this change together, using each of our unique strengths and psychological knowledge to influence the much needed change in our country and in our world.

To being the change and leading with love,

Christine
APAGS Chair

A few resources:

From CNN: How to help Orlando shooting victims

From APA: Managing Your Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting

Recovering Emotionally from a Disaster