On October 29, the American Psychological Association (APA) Council of Representatives adopted three resolutions apologizing for its part in systemic racism and pledging to participate in remedies and change
The first resolution was “Apology to People of Color for APA’s Role in Promoting, Perpetuating, and Failing to Challenge Racism, Racial Discrimination, and Human Hierarchy in U.S.” The second, over 12,000 words, was “Role of Psychology and APA in Dismantling Systemic Racism Against People of Color in U.S.” And the third resolution was “Advancing Health Equity in Psychology.”
The first resolution noted that APA “failed in its role leading the discipline of psychology, was complicit in contributing to systemic inequities, and hurt many through racism, racial discrimination, and denigration of communities of color, thereby falling short on its mission to benefit society and improve lives.”
According to the resolution, APA had commissioned a series of listening sessions and surveys, by Jernigan & Associates Consulting. “The narrative that emerged from the listening sessions, surveys, and historical findings put into stark amplification the impact of well-known and lesser-known actions. It leaves us, as APA leaders, with profound regret and deep remorse for the long-term impact of our failures as an association, a discipline, and as individual psychologists.”
Officials said the work was spearheaded by the APA Task Force on Strategies to Eradicate Racism, Discrimination, and Hate and its five-member Apology Advisory Subcommittee, composed of psychologists who were chosen for their knowledge and expertise.
The second resolution outlines APA’s and psychology’s role in dismantling systemic racism in the United States. Areas of focus include education, science, healthcare, work and economic opportunities, criminal and juvenile justice, early childhood development, and government and public policy.
Examples of action items include the following:
“APA will encourage higher education admissions policies that require a comprehensive, holistic review of each applicant, including an assessment of applicants’ attributes that support the mission of the institution, and balance quantitative data with these qualitative characteristics.
“APA will encourage programs to consider interview processes that are not cost-prohibitive to applicants of color and do not disadvantage applicants who cannot travel;
“APA will invest in the training of scientists to ensure all can identify, understand, and address the historical and contemporary rootedness of much psychological science in White sociocultural norms;
“APA affirms that scholars strive for samples that take a more careful approach to representative sampling in quantitative research, so that research results are applicable beyond merely White, middle class, college-educated populations, and that genuinely and thoroughly integrates intersectionality;
“APA will partner in inter-professional and interdisciplinary program development, consultation, and advocacy efforts in support of culturally derived, informed, and adapted evidence-based and practice-based evidence, assessments, and interventions that reflect the knowledge, experience, and inclusion of intersectional communities of color;
“APA will encourage employers to use reliable, valid, and fair employment testing and personnel selection practices that minimize bias, reduce adverse impact, and comply with professional standards, legal requirements, and ethical guidelines;
“APA will advocate for the development of empirically rooted, culturally informed policies, programs, and practices that seek to eliminate the disproportionate criminalization and punishment of people of color by reducing opportunities for discriminatory outcomes.”
The final resolution pledges that APA will work to advance health equity in psychology. Included are action items for education and training, science and research, professional practice, and advocacy.
Examples are: “APA will leverage its influence to promote the use of resources for the inclusion of health equity in psychology curricula;” and “APA will support practice innovations that deliver competent and financially viable clinical assessment, intervention, and prevention services to diverse populations and communities.”
The full text of the three resolutions can be found online at the APA website.