American Psychiatry Association Condemns the 'Structural Racism' Murder of George Floyd

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Is “antiracism” foundational to mental health?

It seems it should be, as we observe the anniversary of George Floyd’s tragic death.

On Tuesday, the American Psychiatric Association issued an “APA Statement on the Anniversary of George Floyd’s Killing.”

The release affirms the existence of structural racism:

His murder forced overdue conversations about the structural racism in the very roots of our nation.

“It also caused many to examine,” the letter states, “what was once considered business as usual.”

Apparently, the viral video that shook the world forced the APA “to confront [its] own past, and to examine how racism had entwined itself into [its] current operations, and how racism was impacting [its] patients on a daily basis.”

If I understand that correctly, the APA is admitting it’s racist.

Nonetheless, it’s begun “important conversations and [taken] actions to reform [the] organization and to help [its] member psychiatrists better serve Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) patients.”

The article goes on to announce that George, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery were all killed due to systemic racism:

Today we mourn the loss of Mr. Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and the many others who have died as a result of structural racism.

And the APA’s recommitting — as “a field” — to stay “vigilant to injustices that impact [its] patients.”

Furthermore, it will “take action to achieve mental health equity for all.”

So where do the two meet — mental health and systemic racism?

Preceding the statement by a day — the APA published a “Community” piece on “How to Incorporate Anti-Racism Into Psychiatry Practice.”

But firstly, what exactly is antiracism?

According to UCLA law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, it’s this:

“Anti-racism is the active dismantling of systems, privileges, and everyday practices that reinforce and normalize the contemporary dimensions of white dominance. This…also involves a critical understanding of the history of whiteness in America.”

Per CNN, antiracism means eliminating the following microaggressions:

  • “Don’t blame me. I never owned slaves.”
  • “All lives matter.”
  • “I’m colorblind; I don’t care if you’re white, black, yellow, green or purple.”

As for “structural racism,” it seems that voices from every societal sector are currently calling it out.

The idea that there are gears purposely placed into America’s systems to damage people solely due to their skin is quite the allegation, and if true, we must — of course — remove them at once.

Oddly, there appears no attempt to do that, anywhere, by anyone.

Even more curious: The vile mechanisms would, of necessity, have been installed by those in power; those in power are the ones saying they exist; those in power are not specifying what they are; those in power are not removing them; yet those in power are remaining in power.

Concerning the APA’s advice on incorporating antiracism, Dr. Michael Mensah proposes, “Patients who have mental illness who are Black or Brown end up being even more marginalized than they may otherwise be. … A lot of patients are suffering, and if we want to be the psychiatrists we say we are, we need to center racial equity.”

And Rahn Bailey, M.D., believes the bar should be high:

It is not possible to be a passive observer within a racist system, or to simply declare oneself “not racist”…

“To eradicate racism, in all its forms,” the piece says, “everyone must embrace the concept of anti-racism.”

Referencing a January 12th Psychiatric Services report:

[S]ome of the steps necessary for mental health professionals to center racial equity: increase awareness and acknowledge that racism exists everywhere, take an honest individual and institutional inventory, and apply a racial equity lens to mental health advocacy.

The key is to no longer be blind:

“If you look for racism, you’ll find it everywhere. It’s like looking at the world through a new pair of glasses and realizing how impaired your vision has been all along,” said Jessica Isom, M.D., M.P.H., a psychiatrist at Codman Square Health Center and a voluntary faculty member at Yale School of Medicine. Isom emphasized that building awareness of racism is a skill that individuals must hone over time by committing themselves to doing so. “You have to make it a habit to see the world through this lens and learn to address it, especially when you’re working with patients.”

Once we see it, what does anyone do?

Maybe it’ll help to give patients the proper “lens,” too:

APA’s Council on Children, Adolescents, and Their Families, for example, released a resource document that includes advice and instruction on discussing race and racism with patients and their families. It includes questions psychiatrists can ask to start conversations, such as if the patient has ever felt targeted or negatively treated due to his or her race or if the patient has ever treated someone else unkindly due to race.

As for other steps, they remain unclear.

But know this: According to Dr. Jessica (and, presumably, the APA), we’re living in a wickedly wet world:

“It’s hugely important to address structural racism, but organizations are made up of individuals. We are all soaked in racism.”

Soaked and sinking, it would seem.

How do we fix it, beyond saying it exists?

Hopefully, that’ll all be revealed very soon.

-ALEX

 

See more pieces from me:

Leader of the PACs? New ‘1776 Project’ Intends to Expel the 1619 Project From Schools

School Edits Female Students’ Photos for Showing Too Much Chest, and Moms Are up in Arms

John Lennon’s Son Praises MLK, Takes Aim at America’s Self-Segregation

Find all my RedState work here.

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