We Value Black Lives:
UNF Department of Psychology Addressing Racism & Promoting Diversity and Inclusion Committee Statement on Anti-Black Racism
Partially adapted from the Minnesota Psychological Association Diversity Committee
Statement Regarding the Loss of George Floyd
The UNF Department of Psychology Addressing Racism & Promoting Diversity and Inclusion Committee grieves the loss of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, as well as local victims of police-involved shootings like Jamee Johnston, Reginald Boston, DJ Broadus II, Deira Alston, Leah Baker, Kwame Jones, Brittany Williams and countless others lost to police violence and anti-Black racism. We stand with our Black as well as Indigenous and other People of Color (BIPOC) students, colleagues, and community members in solidarity. We recognize years of minoritization, systemic oppression, and discrimination perpetuated by anti-Black racism that has infiltrated all bastions of our society, including higher education. Hate plagues our society - hate crimes are the highest they have been in 20 years, with hate groups increasing by 30% in the last four years. We see these trends play out in cities across the U.S., including Jacksonville, and on college campuses across the country including UNF. While UNF has made a commitment to diversity and inclusion, like other institutions of higher education UNF has not been immune to anti-Black racism. Recent events on campus include flyers advocating for genocide appearing on campus and a white supremacist used a weapon to threaten Black students organizing a Black Lives Matter rally., This unacceptable hate is disproportionately directed at Black members of our community who are most likely to be targeted with hate crimes and discrimination. Furthermore, constant dehumanization, historical trauma, vicarious trauma, microaggressions, intersectional oppression, and invisibility combine to create a level of racial trauma that can be life threatening.
We are deeply concerned for our Black students and colleagues. The images on the media of murder and violence are extremely disturbing. Students, faculty, and staff have reported increased distress, sleep problems, and concentration difficulties that are impairing their ability to focus on their academic work. Students, if you find current events impacting your academic performance please let your professors know. Your professors may be able to increase the flexibility of due dates, offer additional assistance, or discuss options for an Incomplete so that you can successfully complete your course work. During this trying time, your professors want to help you to continue with your academic career. Additionally, the UNF Counseling Center remains available and ready to speak with you about the emotions you might be processing right now.
Although demonstrating support for our Black colleagues and students through words is important, strong actions to eradicate racial inequality are needed and we are committed to taking action. To start, our Department has created the "Addressing Racism & Promoting Diversity and Inclusion Committee," which has begun to meet this summer and will continue to meet throughout the academic year. The committee's goal is toimplement actions within the department to dismantle racism (actions thus far are listed at the bottom of this statement). However, we recognize that we do not have all the answers. We welcome all feedback from you about your experiences in our classes, our department, and our campus. You can provide us this feedback anonymously through this Qualtrics link.
Finally, we call on our White students to engage in a recursive process of critical reflection to better act as accomplices in dismantling systemic and structural racism. You might find yourselves in various stages of understanding your role in racism in terms of white identity. Here is a resource for better understanding those stages and here are resources for beginning or continuing your anti-racist journey based on these stages of White identity:
- Contact - "I don't see color," "We have racism in the world because everyone keeps pointing it out," "I don't have privilege. I had a hard life and I earned everything I have," believing that you can't be racist unless you intentionally mean to be racist.
- Disintegration - "I feel guilty that Black people have experienced discrimination," "What if I speak out and say the wrong thing?," potentially feeling paralyzed by shame, unsure
- Reintegration - "Black people resist arrest and, therefore, face police brutality more," "Well I have a Black friend," "If Black people worked harder, they could overcome racism," may feel defensive or superiority.
- Pseudo-Independence - non-racist; "I recognize I have privilege because I am White," "I see discrimination," acknowledging anti-Black racism exists, but not actively confronting racism; often relying on or expecting BIPOC community members to validate their desire to not be seen as racist or their attempts to acknowledge racism.
- Immersion/Emersion - genuinely attempting to act in anti-racist ways; "I will confront family, friends, colleagues, and community members who act in racist ways," "I will intervene and advocate to change racist policies and systems," feeling deeply concerned about racism and attempting to connect with other White people who feel similarly.
- Autonomy - having a clear understanding of and positive connection to your White identity; actively working for racial and social justice.
Actions of the Committee Thus Far:
These are actions our committee has committed to taking right now:
- We, as faculty, will work to address our own racism. This committee welcomes our faculty to join us this summer in reflective activities and conversation to address our role in addressing anti-Black racism. This will be the start of an ongoing, recursive process.
- This process includes understanding and publicly acknowledging the role the field of psychology has played and continues to play in holding up anti-Black racism.
- We will be examining the operations, procedures, and practices within our department to ensure we are working to dismantle racism within our own actions with intentionality including working actively to recruit and support BIPOC faculty through creating a culture that values racial and social justice.
- We plan to critically evaluate our curriculum and be intentional about including activities within courses that will target dismantling racism.
- This will include discussing the history of structural and systemic anti-Black racism in psychological science as well as the ways in which racism continues in our field today.
- Recommend courses that currently address relevant topics
- Recommend that students contact faculty that are interested in doing research on these topics
- Including activities across classes that will help students to engage in their own critical thinking about their own racism
- We commit to support our BIPOC and other minoritized students and faculty not only by listening, but by naming, confronting, and disrupting institutional and systemic anti-Black racism in our classrooms.
- We will also commit to using our science to be part of dismantling anti-Black racism of all forms and we will be intentional in mentoring BIPOC in our labs to continue to advance this science.
- At a university level:
- We will advocate for changes to our student code of conduct to specifically address hate speech on campus.
- We will advocate for greater and more frequent acknowledgement of the underrepresentation of BIPOC faculty and students in our UNF community.
- We will advocate to break down institutional barriers to address that underrepresentation including scholarships for students, serving as mentors, and addressing compensation.
More On-Campus Resources:
Southern Poverty Law Center. (2019). The Year in Hate: Rage Against Change.
The Chronicle of Higher Education. (2018). After 2016 Election, Hate Crimes Seem to Jump. Here's What the Data Tell Us.
First Coast News. (2019). Neo-Nazi Promoting Genocide Reportedly Found on UNF Campus.
Action News Jax. (2017). White Supremacist Protest Planned at UNF to Support Suspended Nazi Student.
Chou, T., Asnaani, A., & Hofmann, S. G. (2012). Perception of racial discrimination and psychopathology across three U.S. ethnic minority groups. Cultural diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology, 18(1), 74-81.
Carter, R. T., Lau, M. Y., Johnson, V., & Kirkinis, K. (2017). Racial discrimination and health outcomes among racial/ethnic minorities: A meta‐analytic review. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 45(4), 232-259. https://doi.org/10.1002/jmcd.12076
Comas-Diaz, L., Nagaytama Hall, G., Neville, H. A., & Kazak, A. E. (Eds.). (2019). Racial trauma: Theory, research, and healing [Special Issue]. American Psychologist, 74(1).
Helms, J. E. (1995). An update of Helms' White and people of color racial identity models. In J. G. Ponterotto, J. M. Casas, L. A. Suzuki, & C. M. Alexander (Eds.), Handbook of multicultural counseling (pp. 181-191). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.