FEATURE

President's Message

A message from the new Division 32 President

By Maureen O'Hara

Well, what about that election!!!! It is almost forty years since I taught the first class at Oberlin College on white racism and black-white relations. It was part of a program in humanistic studies--the Human Development Program that I created and was team taught by several faculty committed to social change. Our unofficial theme music was the Beatles, "Revolution" --"you say you want to change the world..." The great American sprinter, Tommy Smith, whose raised fist in the Mexico City Olympics put a nation on warning that things were to change, led a section of the class and I remember conversations about how long it would be before a black President or a woman was elected in the USA.  The consensus among students and teachers was that if it happened in our life-time all the hope-filled work and the outrage and protest that had come before us,  and our intensive encounters with our own prejudices in that class would be vindicated and perhaps even sanctified.  It is important to recall that the psychology department tried to stop our humanistic program, with its classes in human sexuality, death and dying, religious experience, sex roles and consciousness, and racism, calling them, "anti- intellectual" not "science based" and "something that should go on in the dorms but not the classroom".

I have never taken such opposition seriously and I have never believed that positivist science based psychology would solve the problems of the heart. I am a member of this division because I am a humanistic activist.  As I gaze on the full page picture of our first black president, who ran on hope not fear, my heart is full of gratitude for all those co-creators who didn't wait for empirical evidence to make their case for justice, but who know from lived experience that it is faith and actions that change the world.