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An Apology From the American Psychological Association After 129 Years of Committing Crimes Against Humanity is Simply Elevator Music

Acknowledging their mistakes, the American Psychiatric Association wants to make amends.

Because of historical inequities in clinical treatment, people of color have had a difficult time accessing high-quality psychiatric care. Race-based discrimination and other forms of racial injustice have contributed to the spread of poverty and other negative outcomes as a result of these actions, which is tragic. 

People of African descent and Indigenous people with mental illnesses have been subjected to abusive treatment, experimentation, and victimization in the name of “scientific evidence,” as well as racialized theories that attempted to confirm their deficit status ever since the APA was founded.

The APA is a long-standing organization that has been around since late 1800s. It issued a lengthy statement on Friday apologizing for the APA’s role in perpetuating systemic racism and psychology’s role in harming people of color for decades.

American Psychological Association Issues Apology
American Psychological Association Issues Apology

Dismantling racism in psychology, the American Psychological Association, and society has been the APA’s alleged focus since 2020. 

A historical review of how psychology and the American Psychological Association have harmed people of color since the formal establishment of U.S. psychology in the late 1800s was part of this effort. As APA’s work on an apology progressed, the review sought to document the long history of harm inflicted on these communities.

The Surgeon General’s report on mental health in 2001: Culture, Race and Ethnicity — A Supplement to Mental Health showed evidence and raised concerns that the gap between research and practice is vast for minorities. 

So just recently, as a yesterday still to come, the APA wanted to say how sorry they are for practices they knew were flawed from day one. Adopting a resolution that includes an apology for engaging in “racism, racial discrimination and denigration,” the organization’s Council of Representatives unanimously voted to do so. They acknowledged that their efforts to improve people’s lives had been hindered because of this.

As a pioneer in the study of individual differences and psychometrics in both European and American psychology, Francis Galton published his seminal work Hereditary Genius in 1869. “The average intellectual standard of the negro race is some two grades below our own” (Galton, 1869, pp. 336–338) was his conclusion in this work.

When Galton came up with the term “eugenics,” he described it as a “racial stock” improvement science. The first generation of psychologists who founded the American Psychological Association, the first recognized psychology journals, and the most influential research programs relied heavily on this work.

According to the resolution, the lame apology reads, “APA is deeply sorry, accepts responsibility for, and owns the actions and inactions of APA itself, the discipline of psychology, and individual psychologists who stood as leaders for the organization and field.”The question becomes: How does the American Psychological Association plan to remedy over 200 years of screwing people’s heads and livelihood up?

(1895), Psychological Review published an early example of scientific racism, defined as the use of scientific concepts and data to create and justify ideas of an enduring biologically based hierarchy (Bache, 1895). White participants were found to have slower reaction times than participants from the First People and Black communities. According to the author, as a result of their superior, more evolved intellect, white participants were found to have slower reaction times.

The American Psychological Association also admitted that it should have come sooner but stated that many in the field have failed to take responsibility, even during ongoing discussions about the problem. Since many in the area haven’t taken responsibility, it would appear that the directors initiated no directives, and they have all been complicit.

For the past half a century, critics have argued that American psychology has failed to adequately represent the experiences and perspectives of people of color and other marginalized groups. There have been ongoing concerns about the use of instruments and practices that discriminate against people of color, which this study has not addressed.

There will be many other measures taken, including an apology.

As part of an effort to write an informed apology, the American Psychological Association (APA) launched a series of projects last year to investigate how systemic racism has affected psychology over time. The history of racism in psychology has been made available online in chronological order. “Listening sessions” have also been held earlier this year to hear directly from people of color and better understand how psychology has harmed these communities in the past.

It appears that Friday’s resolution is just one of many steps the organization intends to take in the near future.

The resolution reads, “APA acknowledges that recognition and apology only ring true when accompanied by action; by not only bringing awareness of the past into the present but in acting to ensure reconciliation, repair, and renewal.” It’s our goal to ensure that the APA, psychology, and individual psychologists are all leaders in both improving the lives of people and making a positive impact on society.

The APA also passed two other resolutions on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, one describing the APA and the psychology field’s work to dismantle racism in society and the other announcing their commitment to reducing health disparities.

APA President Jennifer F. Kelly, PhD, acknowledged in a statement included in a press release issued on Friday that more work remains to be done despite the steps taken.

When it comes to dealing with racism, “for the first time, APA and American psychology are taking the necessary steps to examine, acknowledge, and map out a course of action to do so,” Kelly said. “A long process of reconciliation and healing will begin with these resolutions. In order to make real change and guide the association and psychology in the future, this work is critical.”

An apology for Mental Tyranny since its formation in 1892 shows the ongoing level of insensitivity this association has. They also know that many people affected by their actions and inactions will never see or hear of this weak apology.

While many would like to view the effort as a noble cause, these initiatives don’t begin to scratch the surface of rectifying anything. Sure, they are noble in literary efforts of pointing out flaws but there is no clear direction of how anything will be implemented in a way that will make a structural change.

The current COVID situation is mentioned in their apology. Since the problems that they were instrumental in creating is something far more severe and deadly than COVID, it appears to me that the apology is only a tactic to get more shots in arms.

Some people like elevator music. I get it. Usually, for me, it’s just some more shit that I don’t want to hear.