September 14, 2020
Dear Society of Counseling Psychology Community,
We write to our community to encourage us all to take ongoing and proactive action to address anti-Black racism within ourselves and society. As SCP, we have said it before, and we will say it again: Black Lives Matter! We will continue affirming the inherent dignity of Black individuals and communities everywhere. We continue and will continue to encourage our members to engage in actions to eliminate anti-Black racism, and we have attached numerous resources below. We will continue to affirm Black lives and take action in our communities until the day comes when our justice system, educational system, healthcare system, and political system become anti-racist, and respect and safety is universal for all people.
Just a few weeks ago, we saw the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, WI and the police murder of Daniel Prude, a Black man in Rochester, New York, who was experiencing a mental health crisis. The ongoing suffering caused by the violence of police officers among Black communities goes against the social justice values that we hold and practice as counseling psychologists. That this violence by white people is occurring only three months after the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and in the middle of one of the largest movements for racial justice in U.S. history, makes these deaths all the more shameful. These police-involved shootings and murders of Black people affect all of our members, especially our Black colleagues and our colleagues of color. It affects those we serve as mental health practitioners and educators and affects all Black and Brown people in our country.
As the Society of Counseling Psychology, we are not absolved of anti-Blackness in our association. We recognize that anti-Black racism exists in the Society of Counseling Psychology (SCP). For instance, we acknowledge that our members did not elect any of the five Black candidates who ran for top leadership positions in SCP this year. We are committed to moving forward and strengthening our Society’s work towards decreasing and eradicating Anti-Black Racism within ourselves and our organization and helping our members do the same. We will work on this throughout this year and in the future.
SCP will continue offering racial affinity discussion and consultation groups and all SCP members are welcome to join. Stay tuned for more information about this and other opportunities to engage in the work uprooting anti-Black racism in the year ahead.
SCP presidential initiatives this year include formation of a group to plan additional workshops and opportunities for us to engage with anti-Black racism work that further builds on our previous work. Counseling psychologists who would like to be part of the planning team for this initiative are invited to complete information at https://forms.gle/UWvGtZkCrpWyuPJ19. This group will assist the SCP Executive Board in creating supportive spaces, educational opportunities and racial accountability structures that will help us assess our processes, procedures, and policies, and to create an action plan for SCP to become more actively anti-racist as an organization.
To our Black colleagues, we acknowledge that there is a repeated burden of repeatedly witnessing brutality against Black people and communities. As Dr. Maryam Jernigan-Noesi has so aptly stated, racial trauma is real. Know that as a Society we see you, we stand with you, each and every one of you as Black counseling psychologists matter to us and we aim to ensure we develop ongoing structures and practices that support our commitment.
We encourage our White colleagues to use this time to learn more, reflect more, and move forward in your understanding of systemic racism (https://abc7news.com/systemic-racism-definition-structural-institutionalized-what-is/6292530/), White supremacy culture (https://coco-net.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Coco-WhiteSupCulture-ENG4.pdf) and determine ways that we can take committed action to move toward a more just society.
We encourage all to engage in learning and unlearning that is Black-led, in-depth, and ongoing. Psychologists, including Counseling Psychologists have studied and written about racism and its impact, which is important literature for all of us.
- Helen Neville, Carlton Green, Janet Helms and others have informed our thinking and scholarship on racial trauma:
- Comas-Diaz, Hall, & Neville, 2019: https://psycnet.apa.org/fulltext/2019-01033-001.html,
- Jernigan, Green, Pérez-Gualdrón, Liu , Henze, Chen, Bazelais, Satiani, Mereish, & Helms, 2015) https://www.bc.edu/content/dam/files/schools/lsoe_sites/isprc/pdf/racialtraumaisrealManuscript.pdf
- Comas-Díaz, L. (2016) and Alvarez, Liang, & Neville (2016) https://doi.org/10.1037/14852-012
- Candice Hargons, Anneliese Singh, Bryana French, Della Mosley, and many others have informed our thinking and scholarship on racial healing for all, including clients (French, Lewis, Mosley, Adames, Chaves-Duenas, Chen & Neville, 2020): https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0011000019843506;http://drcandicenicole.com/services/center-for-healing-racial-trauma/;https://www.newharbinger.com/racial-healing-handbook;https://www.aacu.org/trht-campus-centers.
- Dr. Hargons has also developed a podcast series “for people who want to become less “ist:”” http://howtoloveahuman.com/
- Palmer and Hill’s “Naming It” podcast has many excellent conversations related to racial justice and social justice: http://www.namingitpodcast.com/.
- Cadenas and Minero recently appeared on the “Undocumented Black Girl” podcast to discuss cultural competence in mental health at the intersection of race and immigration.
- Helms’ research has informed our work inracial identity development, and our work with clients and all in society. Her talks and writing are resources for us all:
- Winter Roundtable, Police Violence and Black Women, (2017) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAtIN_N7-HE
- What is Whiteness (2020) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_L86VCxsno
- A Race is a Nice Thing to Have (2020) https://titles.cognella.com/a-race-is-a-nice-thing-to-have-9781516583263
- The work of Academics 4 Black Survival and Wellness led by Pearis Bellamy and Dr. Della Mosley is a strong and current step forward and includes many resources https://www.academics4blacklives.com/. Consider contributing to this organization to support their further work to reach academics across disciplines/professions.
- Black queer and trans-led organizations can help us educate ourselves on the experiences they have related to interlocking oppressions, but also of resilience, and liberation. There are community organizations our SCP communities have supported as part of in our 75th Anniversary Series – Snap4Freedomand House of Tulip. Watch the webinar titled “When We Fight We Win: Implications for Counseling Psychology from Black Trans Intersectional Liberation Movements” with Toni-Michelle Williams, Mariah Moore, and Jai’ Celestial Shavers at this Link.
- Milo Dodson was recently featured on the APA website for his work: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/04/working-against-racism
- Helen Neville, Lisa Spanierman and Jioni Lewis provide a model for understanding a disrupting racism and white supremacy (Neville, Spanierman & Lewis, 2012): https://experts.illinois.edu/en/publications/the-expanded-psychosocial-model-of-racism-a-new-model-for-underst
Here are some additional resources beyond SCP for how we can learn from others, build coalitions, and take action to uproot anti-Blackness, and take steps towards becoming anti-racist:
- Understand that there is a difference between being “not racist” and actively pursuing “anti-racism.” Renowned author Ibram X. Kendi explains this in a recent TED Talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/ibram_x_kendi_the_difference_between_being_not_racist_and_antiracist?language=en
- Non-Black people of color (Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous), recognize that anti-Blackness and colorism also exist within racial and ethnic groups that are minoritized in the United States, and within groups that have experienced historical oppression. The following resources and toolkits may serve to challenge anti-Blackness within these communities:
- Hector Adames, Nayeli Chavez and their research team’s Toolkit for Non-Black Latinxs https://twitter.com/NYChavez/status/1298976695228289025/photo/1
- Marissa Floro and Stephanie N. Wong’s Fighting Anti-Blackness In AAPI Communities https://www.div17.org/wp-content/uploads/Fighting-Anti-Blackness-in-AAPI-Communities.pdf
- UC Boulder’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism in POC, Indigenous, and Marginalized Communities https://www.colorado.edu/wgst/confronting-anti-black-racism
- As non-Black POC, we need to address anti-Blackness: https://www.indianz.com/News/2020/08/03/ana-cecilia-perez-as-nonblack-poc-we-nee.asp
- Become conscious of the link between anti-Blackness and anti-immigrant sentiment, and of the ways that the immigration system is racialized against people of color. The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) shows how Black lives are under attack through the immigration system: https://www.raicestexas.org/2020/07/22/black-immigrant-lives-are-under-attack/
- Support the Movement for Black Lives and join these efforts in any way that is possible for you. This movement is led by those who are most impacted, and as counseling psychologists we recognize the need to follow those at the forefront of this struggle: https://m4bl.org/
- Understand what defunding the police means as a reparative action to limit support for policing practices that disproportionately target and negatively impact Black and Brown communities: https://www.aclu.org/news/criminal-law-reform/defunding-the-police-will-actually-make-us-safer/;https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2020/06/19/what-does-defund-the-police-mean-and-does-it-have-merit/
- Watch powerful performances by Black artists: Here’s one poet’s performance that was especially meaningful: https://youtu.be/WuwwSYZyu2w
Last but not least, VOTE this November! As counseling psychologists, we recognize the role of policy and policymakers in sustaining or transforming systems that perpetuate violence in Black communities. Although while SCP as a 503-c tax exempted organization cannot suggest who to vote for in the upcoming election, we strongly encourage our members to vote if this right is available to them, and to become informed on the candidates’ stances on issues of race and police violence. Please remember that all elections matter, including elections at the local level (city, town, municipality, state) where most decisions about policing are made:
Society of Counseling Psychology Executive Board
Mary O’Leary Wiley, PhD, ABPP
Board Certified Counseling Psychologist
President, Society of Counseling Psychology
(Division 17 of the American Psychological Association)
Fellow, American Psychological Association, Divisions 17 and 42