The Department of Psychology is situated within the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, a Hawaiian place of learning and one of the most ethnically diverse universities in the United States. The uniquely diverse cultural context of Hawaiʻi informs the Department’s priority on representing and understanding the unique ethnic composition in our community.
Our Department is committed to promoting and supporting diversity across all levels. We define diversity broadly to include: race and ethnicity; national origin; indigenous heritage; gender identity; sexual orientation; age; dis/ability, socioeconomic, immigrant, or first language status; body size; religion or spirituality; and other human attributes with significant implications for social identity and historical experience. We seek to have equitable representation and treatment of these groups.
We actively recruit and educate diverse students, faculty, and staff and proactively acknowledge and engage with our location to immerse them in a multi-ethnic/cultural environment. We recognize that an intentionally diverse workforce is essential for serving the needs of our diverse state. Individuals who share these intentions and aspirations are encouraged to join us in our efforts to be a model for inclusive excellence.
Statement on Anti-Black Racism and Violence
The people of the U.S.A. are living in what has aptly been called a “racism pandemic.” Racism has been a persistent and debilitating problem for racial minorities from the founding of this country, and disproportionally affects Black people in all facets of life. Racism is associated with poor outcomes in both physical health and psychological wellbeing. Parents raising Black children must send them into a world that is unsafe, unfair, and unjust. This year, we have seen the deeply horrifying and unjustifiable murders of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, and other victims of police brutality and racist violence. These victims add to the list of countless other innocent Black lives that have been gruesomely taken and willfully ignored by the justice system throughout American history.
On top of this racism pandemic, Americans are now also facing a health pandemic that has predictably, disproportionally affected the health of Black people. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Black communities, particularly Black LGBTQ+ communities, have suffered greater losses than other groups due to underlying healthcare and socioeconomic disparities.
We, the Department of Psychology at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, stand in solidarity with the Black community against all forms of individual, cultural, and systemic racism and discrimination. We add our voices to those who are calling for an end to racism, racial violence and police brutality in the United States and around the world. We acknowledge with heavy hearts the pain that the families and the communities of these victims are experiencing. We recognize the importance of reflecting on and ameliorating our own role in relation to perpetrating these issues, whether by action or inaction, intentional or non-intentional, and the importance of educating ourselves and others to address racism and inequality directly and explicitly. In that spirit, we admit that the late timing of this statement, following months of national attention on the civil rights atrocities perpetrated on Black people, communicates a failure to prioritize this issue on the part of our department. We intend to live up to our words by reflecting on our own apprehensions and slow action—and correcting them in the future.
We know that this statement is not enough on its own and that this problem will continue if not addressed with action. Accordingly, the department is increasing our attention on incorporating anti-racist perspectives and policies. We acknowledge that our current efforts do not focus on addressing anti-Black racism specifically, and pledge to also concentrate future efforts on attending to anti-Black racism and violence, in course curriculum and hiring and admissions processes. In addition, we plan to provide training for those interested in writing anti-racist legislation testimonials, invite diversity speakers to speak on Black Lives Matter and anti-racism, and creating safe spaces for students from historically marginalized groups to share the racism they experience. A few graduate students have also started a live resources document related to structural inequalities (either learning about the topic or resources for coping with racism) to which we invite our community members to contribute. We hope that our organization will be part of a collective voice that engages in sustained action demanding safety, justice, and peace for all Black people and by extension, all of us. We pledge to track and be transparent about our progress in promoting anti-racism in our department, and invite community members to provide feedback at any time.
October 31, 2020
The Department of Psychology at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa