As you may have heard, on September 8-9, 2020, a Scholar Strike has been called to protest continued police brutality against Black civilians. Scholar Strike follows the lead set by players of the WNBA and NBA following the shooting of Jacob Blake-- in the back, seven times, while his children watched. In a quarter century of research on stigma, the words of Doc Rivers (an NBA coach) following the players’ strike stand out to me personally as some of the most heartfelt, stark reminders of the scars that these unabating horrors leave on the psyches of individuals and communities.
It is not enough for us to denounce these events and express our solidarity for Black Lives Matter. We have done this already. Indeed, we join millions of people and thousands of companies that have done so. As SPSP member Malik Boykin and colleagues remind us in this recent paper, the measure of our legacy rests not in our pronouncements, but in our actions.
I am heartened, and frankly proud, of the work that so many of our members are doing to advance the cause of anti-racism and equity. Many of our members, including Adrienne Carter-Sowell, Kristin Dukes, Cynthia Pickett, and Robert Sellers (to name only a few), bring their psychological expertise to bear in administrative roles that focus on equity within their organizations. Others share their pedagogical material freely, as Jordan Axt recently did in an SPSP Connect post where they shared a series of videos on Intergroup Relations (which in turn lifts up the work of other scholars in this arena). Others still give their time by organizing needed scholar networks within SPSP. These efforts are all in addition to the exceptional science that you publish in our society’s journals, on topics such as Black Lives Matter (e.g., Sawyer & Gampa, 2018), policing (Kahn, Goff, Lee, & Motamed, 2016), voting (Otjes, Stroebe, & Postmes, 2020), perceptions of racial progress (Onyeador, Daumeyer, Rucker, Duker, Kraus, & Richeson, 2020), and health (Gordon, Prather, Dover, Espino-Pérez, Small, & Major, 2020).
I highlight above only a tiny fraction of the long- and short-term efforts that SPSP members are making towards building a legacy of equity.
As an organization, however, we have to do better. Although we have launched several new and enhanced resources and events and continue an active community catalyst grants program, we need to now look deep within our organization with an honest eye towards our practices, our policies, and our values. We are certain to uncover uncomfortable truths, but truths that nevertheless must be addressed.
This process will be long term, and engage many stakeholders in the organization. More information on this initiative will follow. For the moment, this letter serves as a public commitment to you, our membership, to address systemic racism and inequity within SPSP.
Let us create a legacy of equity through our actions, and not only our words, as so many of you already do.
SPSP President 2020