Psychology and Racism

UN World Conference Against Racism (WCAR)

Description of OEMA's National Conversation on Psychology and Racism

The National Conversation on Psychology and Racism was initiated in 1997 as part of APA Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs' (OEMA) Psychology and Racism Miniconvention and National Conversation initiative, which was developed "...in recognition of the nation's rapidily changing demographics, the growing friction among and within the nation's various racial/ethnic groups, and the related challenges confronting our nation's social and economic institutions including its scientific and human services sectors" (OEMA Communique, July, 1997, p. 1-insert.). This initiative seeks to distill, build and broadly disseminate information about the dynamics and costs of racism and anti-racism, their effects upon science and society and the mechanisms for their perpetuation. The Psychology and Racism Miniconvention was part of the 1997 APA Convention in Chicago and consisted of over 140 hours of programs and 250 speakers.

The National Conversation on Psychology and Racism continues to the present. The National Conversation involves a series of events linked by a common set of concerns related to the psychology of racism, racism in psychology, and the psychology of anti-racism. These events are typically organized by psychologists in their local communities. National Conversation events occur in a variety of forums throughout the nation (e.g., academic departments and research centers, meetings of state and regional psychological associations, collaboratively sponsored lecture series, community organization meetings, etc). These forums, while reflecting the purposes of the overall APA Psychology and Racism initiative, are independently planned by their sponsors to ensure that they are responsive to local and regional issues and audiences.

An evaluation was conducted of the first 30 events by Rashad K. Saafir, PhD and his students at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. The evaluation revealed that on average, a National Conversation event was 3.3 hours in duration, and attended by 29 persons of whom 45% were European Americans. Also, 60% of the attendees were mental health workers, and 33% were academic faculty, students, and staff. The most frequent type of event formats were workshops (27%), lectures(20%), and group discussions (13%). The majority of events (53%) were sponsored by some type of psychological association while 33% were sponsored by academic institutions. When asked the main outcomes or accomplishment of the event, 49% of sponsors indicated "frank discussions of race" and 13% said "encouraged networking amount colleagues/departments". In general events were viewed as "raising consciousness" and "providing information".

The APA Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs actively seeks collaboration with individuals, corporations, foundations, universities, APA Divisions and affiliates, community organizations, and others in sponsoring a Conversation on Psychology and Racism. OEMA has developed an Annotated Bibliography on Psychology and Racism.