APsaA Statement on Racism

Submitted by [email protected] on Fri, 07/10/2020 – 09:39

APsaA Statement on Racism

The American Psychoanalytic Association affirms its support of Black Lives Matter and will strive to become an antiracist organization. In the words of Ibram X. Kendi, “The only way to undo racism is to constantly identify it and describe it—and then dismantle it.” We are committed to this effort.

Looking back, we recognize our previous efforts have been inadequate. The Position Statement of Race-Based Violence and Racial Profiling adopted in 2014 following the killing of Trayvon Martin was important, but not followed by a systemic and intentional antiracist strategy. Here we are in 2020 reeling yet again from multiple instances of racial violence. While we have taken some steps nationally and locally to address racism, the current national uprisings are a call for us to renew and intensify our efforts in order to really make a difference.

We strongly support and join with our constituent psychoanalytic institutes, societies and centers that have declared their intentions to be antiracist. This is hard work, and requires unvarnished honesty, difficult and sensitive conversations, at-times painful introspection into our own conscious and unconscious racial biases, a willingness not only to change behavior but policies and procedures that have racist aspects, and the awareness that overcoming internalized and institutionalized racism requires constant vigilance and openness to discovery–of self and of other–through dialogue.

As psychoanalysts, our values, theories, and clinical practice are based on respect for and deep curiosity about individual differences. We seek emotional truth and self-awareness, empathy and listening, we strive to understand the role of individual and collective trauma, we value diversities, and we affirm fundamental human equality. While these shared values are never fully realized, they are always worth striving for, both in our work as analysts and in our lives as citizens.

In addition to looking inward – at ourselves as individual members and collectively as a professional organization of psychoanalysts – we also commit to encouraging our training programs to address these issues, and applying our training, experience and values to addressing racism in society. While APsaA is not a civil or human rights organization per se, we share many values common to such organizations. In partnership with other disciplines, our particular expertise may prove helpful in addressing the unconscious determinants of racism in individuals and in society at large, especially if we couple these efforts with ongoing self-inquiry. At their best, psychoanalytic perspectives applied to racism can help unlock an understanding of racism’s persistence and resistance to change, despite the efforts of so many to combat it over the years. We stand in solidarity with those who pursue antiracism as we embark on this journey towards a more just society.