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A Call for Conversation: What is the Global Alliance’s Commitment to Racial Justice?

March 21, 2022

Before I became connected with the Global Alliance, I had long been searching for a group of people who were able to translate their shared interest in and passion for social justice to actionable change. As a graduate student, researcher, and trainee clinician in health psychology, I found it challenging to align myself with those who not only share values of human rights, social justice, and equity, but also advocate for these values by regularly working to develop and implement solutions to the inequities we see in the world. I hoped to find a place where I could join like-minded others in exploring innovative ways to address and eliminate oppression, particularly at a structural level. As soon as I began working with the Alliance, I knew I had found that home.

As I started working as a member of the central office, I found that Global Alliance’s values of human rights and anti-racism were immediately clear. From our policy statements to podcasts, it is explicit that discrimination in any form is a violation of one’s right to live a life free of oppression, while acknowledging the impact that discrimination has on health and well-being. During our board meeting in September, I had the opportunity to learn about the Global Alliance’s extensive and rich history of dedication to fighting for human rights and racial justice, particularly among our former leadership.

Did you know that past president Chester Pierce, PhD was the first to propose the concept of racial microaggressions? Diane J. Willis, PhD, a pediatric psychologist and member of the Kiowa Tribe, has spent her life advocating for Indigenous families and children and providing leadership on multicultural issues, in addition to serving as president of the organization. As president, Vera S. Paster, PhD, combined her deep interest in individuals with compassion, political effectiveness and social consciousness. Overcoming racial and cultural tensions was a key focus of the organization’s 24th annual meeting in 1947. Attending task force meetings and live panels over 70 years later has revealed to me how the Global Alliance has drawn upon its members’ interdisciplinary knowledge to offer different perspectives to enacting and achieving social justice in diverse domains. So many of these conversations and much of this work focuses on racial equity and justice, yet on this day, I believe it is not only important to recognize this work, but also to act on our values and continue to look at our individual and organizational responsibilities to eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms.

We must not only acknowledge that our values are fought for, but also consider how we can continue to fight for what is right. As we approach our 100th year as an organization, it is evident that threats to the rights and freedoms of people based on their race remain a reality we must confront. Reflecting on our longstanding commitment and history of actions to stand against racism, we must challenge ourselves to better this legacy by elucidating our responsibilities as an organization, as individuals, and as communities to ending racism, creating a better world for us all. So how do we do this?

From my perspective, a good place to start is our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion statement. The DEI statement is a working document that encapsulates our organizational values, fully committing to “the needs and rights of people in a society whose voices and identities have been historically marginalized.” Furthermore, it is intended to challenge individuals to think about and engage in anti-racist work, both within and outside of the organization. This statement could inspire continuing conversations and critical thinking, serve as a framework to guide our efforts and obligation to ongoing anti-racist work, as well as provide opportunities for people to share their unique experiences and expertise on how we can address racial injustice. Moving forward, it will be engaging in these discussions that shapes how the Global Alliance approaches our role in the elimination of racial discrimination over the next century, so let’s continue to think and talk about our commitments as individuals, communities, and as an organization.

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