Calls on nation to remain ‘maladjusted’ to racism
WASHINGTON–Following is a statement by Thema Bryant, PhD, president of the American Psychological Association, marking Martin Luther King Jr. Day:
“Today, we celebrate the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who worked across racial, religious and economic lines to promote justice and equity. Dr. King delivered a historic address to APA’s Annual Convention in 1967, where he named the importance of never adjusting to certain societal issues, such as racial discrimination, violence, war and massive economic disparities. So, for this King holiday, let us commit to heeding Dr. King’s call for us to remain maladjusted to racism.
“To be maladjusted to racism means to reject the idea that racism is as an unmovable aspect of life. When people adjust to racism, they accept, internalize, justify and even excuse it. To be maladjusted to racism is to embrace achieving racial equity, professionally and personally.
“We must be intentional about eliminating racism in our practice, education, research and application of psychology. This means moving from denial and avoidance to awareness, and then moving from awareness to active and consistent engagement in the dismantling of racism. Racism is larger than individual bias; racism, similar to other forms of oppression, is structural and requires intentional labor to disrupt and to promote liberation.
“The American Psychological Association is dedicated to racial equity. We continue our advocacy and research while adding other necessary action to disrupt systemic racism, including launching a Racial Equity Fund. Our implementation efforts will focus on employing the full breadth of psychology to promote, contribute and advance health equity in communities of color. These efforts will encompass increased research funding, training to improve awareness and responsiveness to structural racism among health care professionals and developing partnerships with community-based organizations to address health inequities.
“We apply our psychological science to advocacy to promote racial justice within our field and in the larger society. Our aim is not only to dismantle but also to join interdisciplinary efforts to build societies where we are all safe to thrive.”