As a lab, we have a shared commitment to culturally-informed and fair clinical practices and justice system policies. We are deeply saddened and disturbed by the long list of Black people killed by police or in correctional facilities over many decades - names and lives we try to hold in our hearts including Ahmaud Arbery, Sandra Bland, Rayshard Brooks, Michael Brown, Philado Castile, Layleen Xtravaganza Cubilette-Polanco, Amadou Diallo, George Floyd, Eric Garner, Oscar Grant, Freddie Gray, Laquan McDonald, Tamar Rice, Alton Sterling, Breonna Taylor, and Mario Woods (to name only a few; see here, here, and here). We also recognize that disproportionate policing, prosecution, charging, and confinement cause deep harms to Black lives that get fewer headlines but impact more Americans daily (recognizing that there are variable results across studies, we provide a few examples here: Leiber & Fix, 2019; Johnson & DiPietro, 2012; Peck & Jennings, 2016; Peterson & Omori, 2020). The disproportionate incarceration of Black individuals impacts not only the incarcerated individuals, but their families and communities (e.g., Foster & Hagan, 2015; Gifford, 2019; Hatzenbuehler et al., 2015). Police brutality and disproportionality in criminal justice system processing are part of the broader problem of systemic racism (“structuring opportunity and assigning value based on the social interpretation of how one looks (which is what we call “race”), that unfairly disadvantages some individuals and communities, unfairly advantages other individuals and communities, and saps the strength of the whole society through the waste of human resources” Jones, 2018, p. 231), which also contributes to health and wealth disparities in the United States. Our focus as a group is on the justice system; we acknowledge that the broader systemic context contributes to the disparities observed in the contexts in which we work.
We also are a lab led by a White woman and currently the majority of our members are White. Therefore, we will devote time and energy to developing our understanding of the historical underpinnings and current pervasiveness of racism, acknowledging the role of implicit biases and the ways we have benefited from racism, and taking active steps toward dismantling white supremacy and facilitating Black wellness.
We will listen to and amplify the voices of our Black colleagues. Given that we are working in an academic context, we will seek to support Black students, staff, and faculty to facilitate the goal of not only a more diverse university, but greater representation of Black psychologists in the workforce. We will cite Black academics and will include readings authored by Black academics in our syllabi, as well as academics with other minoritized identities. We will add our colleagues’ work to the growing list of BIPOC-authored psychology papers to increase their visibility.
Before at least two lab meetings per quarter, one member will circulate an article about racial justice or research centering the experiences of people with non-race-based minoritized identities. That member will provide a brief overview and lead discussion.
At least once a quarter we will all read and then discuss in lab a non-academic book or watch a documentary to connect with the lived experiences of individuals subject to oppression and discrimination.
At least every other month we will create a blog post that provides a short, accessible summary of recent research on empirically-supported policies and practices as well as relevant research on how race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identities, and other marginalized identities impact justice system processing and outcomes.
We reaffirm our commitment to conducting research that addresses systemic bias in the criminal justice system and ways to appropriately incorporate cultural factors into forensic assessment. Several student dissertations recently completed or about to begin focus on cultural considerations, including the dissertations of Leah Anderson, Florencia Iturri, Ayanna Payne, and Taylor York.There are clear problems with bias in our justice system; we stand by evidence-based solutions to these problems and commit to amplifying research on such solutions. We are also well aware that these steps cannot un-do 400 years of oppression and discrimination and violence, but we hope to be part of a movement in the right direction.
We have compiled the following set of admittedly imperfect and incomplete resources to share with anyone who is interested in learning more.
Academics for Black Survival and Wellness
“Academics for Black Survival and Wellness was organized by a group of Black counseling psychologists and their colleagues who practice balck allyship. Guided by a Black feminist frame, we hope to foster accountability and growth for non-Black people and enhance healing and wellness for Black people.”
Ober, K. (2016). Tools for Well-Meaning Whites.
This work, written by a White woman for White people, takes you through the author’s personal, and relatable, journey through her levels of racism, and instructs the reader to examine how their implicit biases show up for the BIPOC in their lives.
Ariel, C. (2017). For our White friends desiring to be allies.
Author's Note: I'm writing this in hopes that it can be used to lighten the load of marginalized folks, keeping in mind that not all marginalized people want to engage in the ally conversation, and that is perfect as well. For those who do, my prayer is that when someone asks you the question, “how can I be a stronger ally?” you might choose to save your breath/energy and send this in its place.
“This document is intended to serve as a resource to white people and parents to deepen our anti-racism work. If you haven’t engaged in anti-racism work in the past, start now. Feel free to circulate this document on social media and with your friends, family, and colleagues.”
Academic Centers focused on Racial Justice
BU Center for Antiracist Research
“The mission of the BU Center for Antiracist Research is to convene varied researchers and practitioners to figure out novel and practical ways to understand, explain, and solve seemingly intractable problems of racial inequity and injustice. We foster exhaustive racial research, research-based policy innovation, data-driven educational and advocacy campaigns, and narrative-change initiatives. We are working toward building an antiracist society that ensures equity and justice for all.”
Jernigan, M. M., Green, C. E., Perez-Gualdron, Liu, M. M, Henze, K. T., Chen, C….Helms, J. E. (2015).#racialtraumaisreal. Institute for the Study and Promotion of Race and Culture, Chestnut Hill, MA. Retrieved from: www.bc.edu/content/dam/files/schools/Lynch School_sites/isprc/pdf/racialtraumaisrealManuscript.pdf
“This toolkit has been created by Boston College - Institute for the Study and Promotion of Race and Culture and is licensed for use under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International document.”
Social and Racial Justice Non-Profit Organizations:
”Impact Justice is committed to fostering a more humane, responsive, and restorative system of justice in our nation. We confront mass incarceration, cruel and inhumane conditions, barriers to re-entry, and the failure to meet crime survivors’ needs; we understand that our struggle for justice takes place in a context of historic, systemic, and pervasive racism. We are committed to changing hearts and minds, behaviors, and structures.”
Ella Baker Center
“Named after civil rights hero Ella Baker, we organize with Black, Brown, and low-income people to build power and prosperity in our communities.”
Equal Justice Initiative
“EJI works to end mass incarceration, excessive punishment, and racial inequality.”
American Civil Liberties Union
Black people are being murdered and brutalized by police with near impunity. Act with us to end police brutality, demand racial justice, and defend our right to protest. Your donation will fuel our legal battles and urgent advocacy efforts.
Black Lives Matter
We are a collective of liberators who believe in an inclusive and spacious movement. We also believe that in order to win and bring as many people with us along the way, we must move beyond the narrow nationalism that is all too prevalent in Black communities. We must ensure we are building a movement that brings all of us to the front
Black Visions Collective
Black Visions Collective (BLVC) believes in a future where all Black people have autonomy, safety is community-led, and we are in right relationship within our ecosystems.
We promote fair elections in Georgia and around the country, encourage voter participation in elections, and educate voters about elections and their voting rights. Fair Fight brings awareness to the public on election reform, advocates for election reform at all levels, and engages in other voter education programs and communications.
“We work to help leaders change their world—and the world needs changing. The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the loss of far too many Black lives to list, have left our nation anguished and outraged. While now is a time for grief and anger, it is also a time for resolve. Find resources below to learn what you can do to create a more just and equitable world.”
Showing up for Racial Justice
A national network of groups and individuals working toward racial justice.