Watering Our Roots: Cultivating Ourselves and AAPA’s Future
“Watering our roots,” is a call for reflection and revitalization of self in recognition of our interconnectedness and what it took to get where we are today. In addition to themes of “vision” and “self-care,” “watering our roots” signifies nurturing our network and building a solid foundation for our future. It also signifies attention to the sacrifices of our parents, our ancestors, and ourselves as we work in service to others. At times, we are encouraged by our cultures and/or families not to engage in self-care and self-compassion because that suggests weakness or acting selfishly. With this theme, we honor that caring for ourselves is not mutually exclusive from engaging in our cultural practices such as sacrifices for our families and is our professional responsibility to ensure strong “roots” so that we may give more to others. As a result, we seek to deconstruct, decolonize, and redefine what it means to care for self in our current cultural landscape. Simultaneously, we will explore our visions for the future as we practice rejuvenation of our organization and membership base. The world needs our brilliance and compassion, but we also need to ensure we are supported and support each other to continue our path. For some of us it may mean giving ourselves the permission to nurture and to take time to step back and check in; “What do I need for me so that I can have enough battery life for others?”
As an organization, AAPA is in a time of transition, we are in our fifth year of alternating conventions with and independent from the American Psychological Association. As highlighted and discussed in the AAPA 2019 Convention keynote, we still have much work to do within our organization to be more inclusive and welcoming of our diverse membership. We also honor the significance of “five years” as, on average, doctoral programs take five years to complete. Similarly, including undergraduate years, Master’s program can take 6 years to complete. We can also tie 2019’s convention theme, “Making waves and breaking through the bamboo ceiling,” to a Chinese parable about bamboo trees, which take five years to sprout above ground. Meanwhile, its roots are growing strong beneath the earth’s surface. “Watering our roots: Cultivating ourselves and AAPA’s future,” is a call to action to collectively set the course for the future of our organization .
We invite you to join us on this path of self-exploration, reflection, loving, and growth as we steer AAPA toward an exciting and inclusive future.
The Asian American Psychological Association mourns the loss of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, innocent lives and countless unnamed others lost to violent murders. We, once again, stand strongly against systemic violence and affirm that Black Lives Matter. We wish to show our unwavering support and solidarity with our Black siblings both within and outside of our AAPA membership. As an organization and community of immigrants, refugees, and people of color, we unequivocally condemn such acts of hate and violence and commit to supporting our members, students, victims, families, and communities during these difficult times. We, once again, urge our membership to continue working on identifying and dismantling the anti-black racism that exists within Asian American communities and beyond. A system that does not value Black lives will never truly value Asian lives.
As psychologists and mental health professionals, we recognize the racial and physical violence and traumatic grief that is being forced on Black Americans. We reject the lie of White Supremacy and call upon our membership to lead their respective communities in unlearning the myths that divide us from our siblings. We cannot stand idly by and must recognize the historical implications of our silence visually re-depicted by the two Asian American bystander officers in the murder of George Floyd. The historical stressors of oppression and injustice on Black Americans have consistently been linked to reductions in psychological wellness (Gee et al., 2019). Indeed, almost all Black Americans report experiencing racism, with the majority reporting daily encounters (APA, 2016). These constant attacks deplete psychological and physiological resources while perpetrating hostile and threatening environments.
To help move forward, we strongly advocate for institutional change through individual and systemic evaluations to help pinpoint areas of bias, followed by appropriate programming across workplaces, schools, and government systems. We suggest more intensive training and vetting at all stages and levels of the police academy to reduce racial bias and improve de-escalation skills. And most importantly, we ask our leaders (local to national) to take a strong stance against anti-Black racism and violence.
To our Black members, students, and professionals, we encourage you to make yourself a priority and create space for your personal self-care and that of your community. We also encourage you to consider reaching out to your family, friends, religious and spiritual institutions, mental health professionals, and local community and support groups.
For allies and supporters, we encourage you to reach out to folx within your network to allow space for sharing, venting, grieving, fear, and any other emotions that might arise. We encourage you to hold yourself accountable in ways that you can to not be silent– stand up, speak out, and support our African American and Black siblings. Work to identify, deconstruct, and remove the Anti-Blackness lurking in your daily interactions, on your social media, and in your teaching, research, service, and advocacy work. Make your allyship local and visible. We also encourage you to engage in discussions with the children in your lives about racism especially as they’re watching some of the most recent events in the media.
We demand justice and accountability for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. We also send our sincere condolences to their respective friends, family, and community as they mourn yet more losses of light and power in the Black community.
Past AAPA Statements
Hope, E. C., Hoggard, L. S., & Thomas, A. (2016). Becoming an adult in the face of racism. Monitor on Psychology, 47(6), 35-38.
Gee, G. C., Hing, A., Mohammed, S., Tabor, D. C., & Williams, D. R. (2019). Racism and the life course: taking time seriously. American journal of public health, 109(S1), S43-S47.
Live Document of Resources Against Anti-Blackness started by Dr. Jayakar V. Nayak bit.ly/combat-antiblackness
“All of us–regardless of our race, ethnicity, national origin, or citizenship–are striving to cope with anxiety and fear brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the social isolation precautions needed to reduce its spread. As an organization whose mission is to advance the mental health and well-being of Asian American communities, we draw attention to the additional stressors faced by our communities who are contending with increased stigma, racism, and xenophobia.”