Anti-racism statement from Div. 28
Div. 28 (Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse), values the lives of Black people and their contributions to science and society. We are committed to working with other divisions, as well as with researchers, health professionals, and policy makers at other organizations to eliminate inequities, oppression, and discrimination, such as those based on race, and elevate Black voices and promote equality. The Drug War, which stems from the view of addiction as a moral failing, has disproportionately impacted Black Americans who, despite using drugs at similar, if not lower rates than white Americans, have markedly higher arrest and incarceration rates. There are also racial inequities with regard to effective treatments for substance use disorder, and Black Americans are particularly at risk for poor treatment outcomes. Black lives matter, and it is time to remedy the negative impact that systemic racism has had on substance use and addiction policies in our country and on the field of psychopharmacology and substance abuse in general.
Div. 28 values diversity in its membership and we are now bolstering our commitment to encouraging and promoting diversity and inclusiveness. In particular, we are currently developing campaigns to increase the representation of Black people at all levels of division membership, from senior leadership to trainees. We are developing actionable items to make these goals a reality, including fundraising plans to establish a diversity award and plans to create a diversity column for our newsletter to promote and support our underrepresented members and to highlight research on health disparities. We recognize that diversity of experiences and identities bring diversity of perspectives, ideas, and approaches, which improves science, scholarship, and public health. We believe that increasing diversity at Div. 28 is not simply about getting greater representation of minority voices over the next couple of years – it is a crucial investment in the scholarship and careers of current and future scientists who do work in psychopharmacology and substance abuse.
About the diversity column
As this column evolves, we envision a place where we promote and support our underrepresented members and to highlight research on health disparities, among other topics of relevance. For this issue, we begin by highlighting resources for educating ourselves, advocacy, and actionable items to help affect social change, and we encourage all Div. 28 members to engage. Div. 28 also encourages folks to do research into organizations and causes that might make sense for them to donate to and support. For further reading to help educate ourselves, see resources listed in the Student Representative column of this issue .
By all accounts, Breonna Taylor was a successful emergency medical technician. She had wanted to go back to school for a nursing degree and was bubbly and outgoing. Elijah McClain was a massage therapist and animal lover, who played the violin for shelter kittens on his lunch breaks. Muhammad Muhaymin cared deeply for his dog, Chiquita, and brought Chiquita everywhere. Muhammad’s sister noted, “when my brother loved, he really loved”, describing his deeply loving nature. To inquire about the current employment, investigations into, and prosecution statuses of several police officers involved in the murders of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Muhammad Muhaymin, and countless others, call the local police departments responsible and DA offices. Send letters and emails. Let them know you are paying attention and you want justice. To learn more about the killing of Muhammad Muhaymin by police officers, please review this CNN article. As of the time of writing this column, all police officers connected to the murder of Muhammad Muhaymin still worked for the Phoenix PD and have not been charged, despite the Phoenix Medical Examiner’s office ruling his death a homicide, according to press reports. You can call the Phoenix PD and demand justice at (602) 262-6747; (602) 262-4580; (602) 262-7626; (602) 262-6141. You can call the Maricopa County DA’s Office at (602) 506-3411; (602) 506-8522; (602) 506-8541.
- Sign up to view the release of the film “Picture a Scientist.” This film highlights three women and the challenges they have faced as a woman or a woman of color in the world of science.
- Visit the website of Academics for Black Survival and Wellness (academics4blacklives) for more information on how you can embark on a 21-day personal and professional development initiative for those who are non-Black academics to honor the toll of racial trauma on Black people, resist anti-Blackness and white supremacy, and facilitate accountability and collective action.
- For Black academics, visit academics4blacklives for a 21-day space of wellness. Read this article and others within it and related to diversity in colleges for current statistics on lack of diversity in academia and steps you can take as academics to address this (i.e., make it a priority to hire Black faculty, hire Black students).
As this column continues to develop, we welcome commentary/feedback, news on research and publications of minority members and non-members, as well as research on health disparities, anti-racist materials, action-items, and resources, advocacy, and allyship materials. This could include advocacy across drug policy, academia, or other areas. Please email Newsletter Editor Meredith Berry with your feedback on this or future columns, thoughts on enhancing diversity, or if you get the feels from this column and need to email someone.