PAWNY's Anti-Racism Task Force was formed in June 2020 in response to the nationwide call to examine and ameliorate the deleterious effects of racism on the mental and physical health of People of Color and in particular, African-Americans in the United States. The purpose of this task force is to utilize our unique position as psychologists within a regional professional organization to promote equity, inclusion and increased access to culturally responsive mental health resources in our community.
The Psychological Association of WNY (PAWNY) stands in solidarity with Buffalo's Black community in the aftermath of the racially motivated mass shooting on May 14, 2022. This hate crime was a deliberate act of white supremacy planned to cause the most destruction to the Black community as possible. Our compassion goes out to the loved ones of those whose lives were taken. We acknowledge that healing will be hard to achieve given the trauma of the shooting, the deliberate decision of the shooter to target the Black community, and the long-standing history of segregation and racial tensions that exist in our city. We commit to be a part of the changes that are needed to address racial violence and the mental health needs of the Black community.
We vow, as an anti-racist organization, to purposefully identify, discuss, and address issues of race and racism. Those of us who are White will work to confront our inherent privilege and our roles in the perpetuation of systemic racism. We commit to not be passive bystanders but to be allies, to engage in the work of creating relationships and bonds with ethnic and racial groups that have been underserved, marginalized, and targeted. We commit to listening to the needs of these communities as we work to provide emotional support for those impacted by the mass shooting on May 14th including offering culturally responsive mental health services to those who have lost loved ones and who were witnesses to the violence, community members experiencing vicarious trauma, and, if requested, training and safe space opportunities for community leaders and groups.
We are increasingly aware of the robust resources that exist at the grassroots level in the Black community–organizations and community organizers who work tirelessly to address the healthcare and mental healthcare inequities that communities like the East Side of Buffalo face. PAWNY is committed to discovering pathways of collaboration and support of this work and to following the lead of these organizations and leaders.
We encourage community agencies and individuals seeking additional information about and/or collaboration with PAWNY to visit our website https://www.pawny.org/anti-racism-resources.asp or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Links to community and mental health resources that we currently know of are also available on our website under the Anti-Racism Task Force/Anti-Racism Resources tab. In the coming days and weeks, we will continue to update our resources for survivors, community members, and clinicians.
We share the belief put forward by the American Psychological Association (APA) that diversifying the field of psychology is a moral imperative and a necessity to meet the collective needs of our society. To this end, we are exploring ways to mitigate local pipeline issues that are barriers to diversifying the field of psychology in Western New York and making changes to our organizational culture in line with the goal of becoming a more welcoming and supportive network for psychologists of color to be a part of.
Discussions among professional colleagues are an integral component of personal and professional growth. Integrating formal and informal discussions exploring the impacts of race on our experiences and the experiences of our clients is critical in evolving our practices to be more culturally responsive, humble and inclusive.
To do better we have to know better. Our educational goal is about raising the social consciousness of the psychologists in our network through education.
In addition to being a professional network, PAWNY is an organization with a public presence and can serve as a source of information dissemination and referrals for the public. The ARTF in conjunction with the Community Outreach Committee has been working to advance this organizational goal so that we can live into and up to our organizational motto: Cultivating connectivity. Elevating inclusivity. Partnering with the community we serve.
Incredible assets already exist in the communities most impacted by marginalization and mental health disparities. We need not and should not reinvent the wheel nor will we make assumptions about what is needed or wanted. We will listen, plug-in where desired/appropriate and invest in relationships with community members and organizations.