In the midst of America’s racial reckoning, psychologists are playing a key role in rethinking bias, policing, and other issues. But psychologists say the field itself has its own systemic injustices to dismantle.
Steven O. Roberts, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at Stanford University, and colleagues, for instance, reviewed nearly five decades of psychological research and found substantial racial inequality in publishing, research he hopes gains more traction as the field takes a closer look. Others in the field are shedding light on unfair practices in the hiring, training, and retention of faculty and practitioners of color. In some cases, racial inequities are even being addressed more broadly at the systemic level.
“Many disciplines are looking inward right now, and we are no exception,” says Roberts. “The idea is to review psychology, but not for the sake of tearing it down—for the sake of making it more equitable and inclusive.”
Racial- and ethnic-minority psychologists say these efforts are promising but that there’s a long way to go—and the discipline will need to face its shortcomings head-on, including governance and policies of organizations such as APA.
“Psychologists are human beings. We have implicit biases that operate outside of our awareness,” says Art Blume, PhD, a professor of psychology at Washington State University and president of APA’s Div. 45 (Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity, and Race). “An honest approach to anti-racism involves embracing the limits of our objectivity—in our science, practice, and pedagogy.”