Social Justice

Supported by the faculty in Psychological Science, September 25, 2020

As we settle into a new school year in the midst of a global pandemic that is disproportionately impacting BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) individuals, as well as experiencing an overdue reckoning with centuries-long racial injustice, we, the faculty of the Department of Psychological Science at UNC Charlotte, want to make our position clear. Black lives matter. We say the names of those who have been victim to the most recent examples of anti-Black and people of color violence and brutality–Jacob Blake, Breonna Taylor, Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears, Brian “Egypt” Powers, Sean Monterrosa, George Floyd and countless others. It is more important than ever for our department to be explicit about our anti-racist values and commit to taking concrete steps to build an actively anti-racist department. Without this commitment, we recognize that not all students, faculty, and staff can thrive.

We, the faculty, recognize that our positions of power are instrumental in holding the department to our values. Living our values begins with an acknowledgement that our country, while founded with the ideals of freedom and equality, has never allowed this to be true for all of its citizens. We also acknowledge that the discipline of psychology has played a role in the perpetuation of racist, homophobic, and transphobic attitudes and policies. To our students, we take our responsibility to educate seriously and vow to provide a more comprehensive overview of psychology’s history within the major moving forward.

As a department, we commit to the pursuit of justice and equity for all BIPOC students. We recognize that this may not have always been your lived experience.

Moving forward, our anti-racist plans of action include:

  1. Education
    1. Provide teacher training on the history of racism broadly and, more specifically, focused in academia
      1. Action we will take to accomplish this goal: Identify appropriate teacher training opportunities with an emphasis on trainings for how to incorporate and facilitate classroom discussions around this topic by November 2020. We aim to invest in BIPOC-created trainings on these topics with our time and money. We will also consult the Social Justice Initiative in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences on their efforts to educate and reduce racism at the college level.
    2. Decenter whiteness in our curricula
      1. Action we will take to accomplish this goal: Create a departmental committee by December 2020 to gather resources and best practices (e.g., syllabus editing) for our faculty.
  2. Conversation
    1. Include and incorporate minority students, faculty, and staff voices in decision-making and departmental planning
      1. Action we will take to accomplish this goal: A departmental climate survey will be conducted by May 2021 in order to understand the experiences, attitudes, and demands of our students, faculty, and staff.
    2. Create an infrastructure for sharing thoughts, comments, and concerns between faculty and students
      1. Action we will take to accomplish this goal: We will partner with current undergraduate psychology organizations (e.g., Psi Chi, Psychology Student Coalition, Jamil Niner Student Pantry) to develop this infrastructure.
  3. Recruitment & Retention
    1. Create targeted recruitment and retention of diverse faculty and staff
    2. Support our current BIPOC faculty and staff
      1. Action we will take to accomplish this goal: We will partner with an independent organization to review our current recruitment and retention efforts of BIPOC faculty and staff and develop a specific plan by May 2021. The success of these efforts will be evaluated bi-annually.

We encourage students, faculty, and staff to reach out to continue the conversation. We recognize that this is the beginning of actively centering our anti-racist values.

Finally, we encourage all to care for their mental and physical health during these uncertain and threatening times. Below are a few resources: