May 26, 2022
Dear SPP colleagues,
Over the past few weeks we have seen the incredible strength, solidarity, and compassion of our colleagues. We have seen how we can support each other, even if we do not know each other and our only face-value commonality is our work as pediatric psychologists and trainees. A single issue galvanized our collective voice and propelled us into action – swiftly and without need for drawing upon the voices of allies. It was the right thing to do, and we all recognized this as a human rights issue. We have a lot to be proud of as a professional society.
Now that we have seen what we can do both individually and collectively, we cannot go back.
We cannot go back to remaining silent about issues that do not directly affect us.
We cannot let our fear of doing or saying something wrong stop us from acting to promote justice.
We cannot go back to remaining silent on these issues in spaces in which we hold power.
We cannot go back to allowing those who do not hold power, especially trainees, to feel isolated and suffer in silence.
We cannot go back to speaking without also listening.
We cannot go back to environments in which some individuals are in the room but not at the table.
We cannot go back to not centering the voices of those most impacted by inequities and oppression.
We cannot go back to not amplifying the voices of minoritized or marginalized individuals.
We cannot go back to not speaking up when women or members of marginalized groups are interrupted when speaking or have their lived experience questioned.
We cannot go back to pushing our colleagues, who hold membership to marginalized groups, to being the persons who have to remind us to be the allies we were committed to being.
We cannot go back to a time when all perspectives and lived experiences shared in brave and respectful spaces were not appreciated, valued, or welcomed.
It is only with committed and sustained collective action, such as those above, that we will move the needle towards true justice and liberation.
Undoubtedly, we will all fall short at some time and stumble in these areas. We will make mistakes. We will commit microaggressions. We will have moments when we are called to acknowledge that we did not get it right and be receptive to feedback. However, if this week has demonstrated nothing else, there is a clarion call for us to find places of synergy and collectivism to move our professional society forward, creating a place where all members feel seen and valued, where all members feel investment in their uplifting and thriving. It will take active unlearning, unpacking, and interrogating our past and our present. It will take acknowledging how we uphold systems and structures of oppression, how we maintain the status quo, and how we must disrupt these practices. It is uncomfortable, but necessary. And, we can befriend discomfort as the price of change and growth.
The takeaways from the SPP listening sessions are summarized below:
The same system that perpetuates one form of oppression perpetuates all forms of oppression.
Sexism is not just an issue for women, it is an EVERYONE issue.
Racism is not just an issue for people of color, it is an EVERYONE issue.
Xenophobia is not just an issue for immigrants, it is in EVERYONE issue.
Homophobia is not just an issue for the LGBTQ+ community, it is an EVERYONE issue.
Ableism is not just an issue for those with disabilities, it is an EVERYONE issue.
Anti-Semitism is not just an issue for Jewish people, it is an EVERYONE issue.
Classism is not just an issue for people with fewer resources, it is an EVERYONE issue.
Ageism is not just an issue for younger or older folks, it is an EVERYONE issue.
Religionism is not just an issue for people of different faiths, atheist, or agnostic, it is an EVERYONE issue.
Trainees value connection, safe spaces to discuss their thoughts/feelings/reactions, and accountability. They are eager for support, both in trainee-only spaces, and from supervisors, mentors, and advisors.
Trust is an essential element of effective support for trainees and recent incidents have understandably shaken their trust.
We heal in connection and community and that requires constant vigilance to maintain a healthy community for our members.
You might be asking, “how do I do this?”. Here are just a few some ways to start.
- First, pause and reflect on your own positionality and privilege. Leverage your privilege in different spaces to support minoritized and marginalized individuals and groups.
- In groups, be conscious of who has spoken and who hasn’t. Create space for more voices. Make sure everyone has a chance to speak.
- Be cautious about asking marginalized individuals to speak for an entire group of people. They can share their lived experience but may not want to or be comfortable with speaking for others.
- Comment when someone interrupts others in group meetings.
- “Let’s hold that comment for a moment so we can hear the rest of what _ has to say.”
- “I’d like to circle back to what _ was saying. I’m not sure it received enough attention.”
- Publicly affirm statements made by others.
- When you make a mistake, and we all do, own it publicly, practice self-compassion, and make the change.
- Check in with colleagues and trainees who may hold marginalized identities, particularly those who hold multiply oppressed identities. Instead of asking them to educate you or explain their experience, let them know you are there to hold space for them and that their feelings are valid.
- During especially emotionally heavy and traumatic days after difficult events in our country, consider how you could lighten the load of your marginalized colleagues and trainees, if they desire.
- Consider ways that you could reduce the price of the minority tax for your colleagues, and especially your trainees. Be intentional about initiating conversations during supervision, particularly following difficult events.
- Finally, be the ally you would want someone to be for you.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr has reminded us that, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
With humility and gratitude,
Naadira Upshaw, PsyD
Sahar Eshtehardi, MS
Marilyn L. Sampilo, PhD, MPH
Christina Low Kapalu, PhD