IAPP Statement on Systemic Racism
Racism towards African Americans in the United States is a scourge that began over 400 years ago when Africans were dragged, in chains, from their homes, and shipped to the Americas as cargo. Starvation, death, familial separation, disease, physical and emotional abuse, and severe trauma were pervasive in those vessels. Once here, enslaved Africans were forced to separate themselves from every component of their culture and heritage. Although slavery may have ended, the enduring legacy of racism, in the form of systemic oppression has led to issues such as red lining, inequity in accessing health resources, underfunded schools, police brutality, etc. Consider this:
- Slavery was theoretically abolished with the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, though slaves in Galveston, Texas, weren’t informed of their freedom until June 19, 1865. To
this day, June 19 th , or Juneteenth, is celebrated by African Americans as their Independence Day; and,
- the 13 th , 14 th , and 15 th Constitutional Amendments codified the rights of “all people” to be given
“equal treatment” under United States law, following the end of the Civil War. This removed the classification of African Americans as only being 3/5ths of a person; and,
- Brown v. Board of Education, in 1954, guaranteed equal access to all educational opportunities for all Americans, though significant disparities in education still plague Black neighborhoods; and
- the Voting Rights Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 sought to ensure the implementation of the Reconstruction-era Constitutional amendments, though gerrymandering
and access to voting polling stations, in Black communities, remains a challenge; and,
- the United States elected its first Black president, both in 2008 and, again, in 2012. President Barack Obama stood up to those who questioned his very right to be in the highest office in our land and served as inspiration for millions of Black children, who could, at last, identify with the most powerful leader of the Free World. The mistreatment of Black citizens in the United States continues, in 2020, as systemic oppression, persecution, marginalization, victimization. White people, solely because of their “whiteness,” have a power and a privilege, that some abuse to oppress nonwhite people and allies of nonwhite people, maintaining a vision that is entirely devoid of empathy, compassion, and a sense of humanity. This vision often results in horrific violence toward members of the Black community, at the hands of police officers, as most recently evidenced by the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Rayshaud Brooks, and an appalling number of too many other Black men, Black women, and Black
children. The Illinois Association of Prescribing Psychologists abhors all forms of violence, discrimination, and bias, against all men, women, and children, and especially against Black men, women, and children; all people
of color; LBGTQI+ individuals; people who do not identify as cisgender; those whose religious affiliation becomes a reason for harassment and violence; and those who ally with the oppressed.
BLACK LIVES MATTER!
Our communities are in pain, as we are victims of, and stand witness to, these egregious acts of violence. The Illinois Association of Prescribing Psychologists stands with most Americans as we continue to advocate for sweeping policy changes in the law that would prohibit such violence. We are available to work with our communities who are seeking comprehensive psychological and pharmacotherapeutic treatment and who are seeking complementary community resources to cope
with the experience of trauma. Please see the wide array of resources (listed below) that are available in our community.
The Illinois Association of Prescribing Psychologists has a long history of working closely with law enforcement to expand access to high quality, culturally-competent, comprehensive, and integrated mental health care. We value this partnership and expect to see our relationship with law enforcement
grow, as we continue to work, together, to root out the racism that destroys lives, and to support the invaluable, positive police-community connections and alliances.
Of paramount importance is that The Illinois Association of Prescribing Psychologists is committed to working with all in our global community who are creating a truly egalitarian, humanitarian society based on respect, trust, empathy, equity, and compassion.
Things Professionals Can Do
Do the work to learn how to talk to all clients about what is going on in the world. It has a huge impact on us all in a number of ways. All feelings and experiences are valid; and accountability for belief systems that are disparaging is vital.
2. Seek supervision and consultation:
Regardless of your social location, you may need support. Reach out to people committed to doing this work to guide you effectively and competently. Bring this up with your supervisors, ask them how they are educating themselves to provide you with the best support. Ask them about their training and experience with this topic.
3. Amplify the voices/resources of Black psychotherapists with clients:
This is especially important if you have Black clients or clients of color. Share with them resources/voices from their communities. The organization can also address this as a whole.
Here are some websites:
Black Mental Health Matters
Guided Meditation for Activists
For clinicians needing a hand in thinking about racial trauma and healing:
French, B. H., Jioni, A. L., Mosley, D. V., Adames, H. Y., Chanvez- Dueñas, N. Y., Chen, G. A., and Neville, H. A. (2020). Toward a Psychological Framework of Radical Healing in Communities of Color. The Counseling Psychologist, 48 (1), 14-46.
Hemmings, C. & Evans, A. M. (2018). Identifying and Treating Race-Based Trauma in Counseling. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 46, 20-39.
Toporek, R, L. (2018). Strength, Solidarity, Strategy and Sustainability: A Counseling Psychologist’s Guide to Social Action. The European Journal of Counselling Psychology, 7(1), 90–110. doi:10.5964/ejcop.v7i1.153
For White people wanting to learn more about co-conspiratorial work:
· Antiracism resources, including organizations to follow
To learn more about systemic racism:
· The 1619 Project marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship carrying enslaved African to the Virginia colony. It contains a review of history, and there is an accompanying podcast series.
· Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves on Race and Racism–from Ferguson to Charleston as a more in-depth primer explicitly written for White people with links to an ever-expanding collection of resources.
· The Racial Healing Workbook by Anneliese A. Singh offers practical tools to help you navigate daily and past experiences of racism, challenge internalized negative messages and privileges, and handle feelings of stress and shame.