Covid lockdowns did no favors to Americans’ mental health, but many psychologists are occupied by other matters. Consider the transformation of the American Psychological Association, which, over the past two years, has committed itself—and the field of psychology along with it—to identity politics.
The association’s recently released Racial Equity Action Plan is just the latest installment. The APA’s makeover appears to have accelerated during the riots in the summer of 2020. That June, the APA asked for feedback from its members as to how it might use “the power of psychology” to address the “pandemic of racism.” In April 2021, the APA released its Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Framework, a document laden with concepts from critical race theory and enjoining members to “embed [equity, diversity, and inclusion] throughout all aspects of our work.”
The trend continued throughout last year. In October 2021, the APA passed a resolution on “Advancing Health Equity” that “centered on race / ethnicity as the key driver of health inequities.” The association now appears resolute on using the term “people of the global majority”—explained as “an alternative collective term for people of color that does not center Whiteness”—and avers that “health inequities compound the risks to people of color because of climate change.” It paired this resolution with an official apology to nonwhite people.
The Racial Equity Action Plan deepens the organization’s political commitments. It begins with a section on “knowledge production,” stating that the APA intends to “influence the profession to center racially-conscious community engaged scholarship and promote research that utilizes innovative, culturally-informed methodologies.” The plan provides some examples, such as “indigenous healing, eastern medicine, and faith-based practices.”
In another section, simply titled “Health,” the APA states that it intends to “influence curriculum development to incorporate qualitative, participatory, and socially engaged research, concepts of liberation psychology, systemic racism, and population health into the psychology curriculum across all levels of training.” This will affect not only psychology curriculum and training but research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and others.
A later section of the plan returns to the subject of training future psychologists. The association seeks to “improve psychology graduate education and training [by including] diverse, non-Western cultural perspectives” and impose “racial equity practices for entry and completion of training requirements.” These training requirements include admissions, degree requirements, and continuing education. The APA also intends to “promote epistemological justice by centering . . . non-Western cultural perspectives.”
The APA’s influence does not end with the universities. The organization also plans to prepare all “preschool to higher education students to think critically about identity, community, and civics.” Schools will be given “resources and policies designed to raise awareness about all aspects of privilege.” One wonders how any of this “applies the best available psychological science to benefit society and improve lives,” as stated on the association’s DEI initiatives website.
It will cause great mental harm to teach children that some people are privileged, while others are not, that some are oppressed, while others are the oppressors—and that these categories are defined by the color of one’s skin.
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