The Asian American Psychological Association mourns the deaths of Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha who were senselessly and tragically murdered in Chapel Hill, NC on February 10, 2015. The three victims were American-born Muslim students of Syrian heritage who were actively involved in their local communities as well as in efforts to ameliorate the lives of Syrian refugees overseas. Although the criminal investigations are still ongoing at this writing, we strongly urge the local and federal authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of this case as a possible hate crime. We stand together with our Muslim brothers and sisters to demand justice, and we send our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the victims and to the Chapel Hill community.
AAPA Statement on American Indian Mascots in Sports
The Asian American Psychological Association stands in solidarity with the National Congress of American Indians, the Association of Black Psychologists, the Society of Indian Psychologists, the American Psychological Association, and our allied Asian American Pacific Islander organizations in opposing the continued use of American Indian mascots and racial slurs in professional sports teams.
Psychological research has documented the negative psychological consequences such as decreased self-esteem, decreased sense of community worth, and decreased achievement motivation among American Indian children exposed to American Indian mascots (Fryberg, Markus, Oyserman, & Stone, 2008). Moreover, even casual exposures to American Indian mascots were shown in two different experiments to activate racial stereotyping of another ethnic minority group—Asian Americans—among university students at a school with an American Indian mascot as well as at a school without an American Indian mascot (Kim-Prieto, Goldstein, Okazaki, & Kirschner, 2010). The psychological harm of American Indian mascots affects everyone in insidious as well as explicit ways.
The name of the NFL team in Washington, along with its associated images and depictions, is an offensive racial slur. Sadly, it is just one of multiple uses of American Indian personalities and images by professional sports teams around the nation today. Contrary to the supporters’ claims that American Indian mascots and symbols honor American Indians, the evidence is clear that such racially stereotypical depictions are harmful. AAPA supports the retirement of all such symbols and mascots–including changing team names—as a step toward a more just and equitable treatment of all individuals in our society.
AAPA Statement on Michael Brown and Eric Garner
January 5, 2015
As we begin our work in 2015, the Asian American Psychological Association (AAPA) wishes to reflect on the recent series of events that have sparked much pain and anguish across the country. The AAPA shares the deep sadness and anger across the country and world in response to recent grand jury decisions not to indict the police officers who were involved in killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York. We express our deepest condolences to the families and communities of Brown and Garner, and stand in solidarity with our African American brothers and sisters. We believe #BlackLivesMatter and we will continue to stand with the Black community and advocate for justice.
At the same time, we also mourn the deaths of NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, dedicated public servants who were senselessly murdered by a deeply disturbed individual. We send our heartfelt condolences to the Ramos and Liu families and the communities the officers served. We acknowledge that law enforcement officers risk their lives every day to protect and serve the public, including protecting the freedom of speech and the right to assemble in peaceful protest. We strongly condemn any violence or threats against law enforcement. Violence is never the answer. We also believe that we can respect and show appreciation of law enforcement officers while still raising concerns about systemic and institutional inequities with respect to criminal enforcement that normalizes excessive use of force by police officers, racial profiling, and hyper-criminalization of Blackness. We are keenly aware that the recent deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice are not isolated incidents; rather, they are tied to a longstanding history of systemic racism that has plagued our country since its inception.
We remind ourselves of the ever-changing, dehumanizing, and stereotypical caricatures that have been used throughout history to justify violence against our communities of color, including the slavery of African Americans, genocide of Native Americans, colonization of Latinos/as and Pacific Islanders, and citizen exclusions and imprisonment of Asian Americans. We recognize that even “positive” stereotypes such as the myth of the “model minority” serve to silence our voices raised in solidarity, while simultaneously pathologizing Black experiences.
Though these forms of oppressions are interconnected, we understand that Black people are currently the primary target of state and police violence. We are troubled by recent research findings that our society has less empathy for those that are darker skinned (Trawalte, Hoffman, & Waytz, 2012) and that African American boys are viewed older than their chronological age (Goff et al., 2014). We acknowledge the power of the implicit racial biases that informs all of our decision-making and behaviors (Greenwald et al., 2009), including the higher likelihood of perceiving Black males as dangerous and as holding weapons despite being unarmed (Correll et al., 2002)—not even trained police officers are immune to this racial bias (Correll et al., 2007). Taken together, these studies provide an inexcusable context as to why Black men are more likely to be suspected, arrested, sentenced, and executed compared to their White peers (Eberhardt et al., 2006; Wade, 2014; Western, 2006).
The AAPA affirms that there is no justice when these systemic racial inequities are in place. We support social justice research, service, and practice that provide space for change and healing. We encourage our community to think and talk about how anti-Black racism has shaped our lives and then take actions to change these effects. We urge our members and friends to actively stand in solidarity with the Black community who ask only for social justice: that their human rights are recognized and respected. Black lives matter and the rest of our lives depend on this, as in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Correll, J., Park, B., Judd, C. M., & Wittenbrink, B. (2002). The police officer’s dilemma: Using ethnicity to disambiguate potentially threatening individuals. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 83, 1314– 1329.
Correll, J., Park, B., Judd, C. M., Wittenbrink, B., Sadler, M. S., & Keesee, T. (2007). Across the thin blue line: police officers and racial bias in the decision to shoot. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 92(6), 1006.
Eberhardt, J. L., Davies, P. G., Purdie-Vaughns, V. J., & Johnson, S. L. (2006). Looking deathworthy: Perceived stereotypicality of Black defendants predicts capital-sentencing outcomes. Psychological Science, 17, 383–386.
Greenwald, A. G., Poehlman, T. A., Uhlmann, E. L., & Banaji, M. R. (2009). Understanding and using the Implicit Association Test: III. Meta-analysis of predictive validity. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 97, 17-41.
Goff, P., Jackson, M., Di Leone, B., Culotta, C., & DiTomasso, N. (2014). The essence of innocence: Consequences of dehumanizing Black children. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 106, 526-545.
Trawalter, S., Hoffman, K. M., & Waytz, A. (2012). Racial bias in perceptions of others’ pain. PloS one, 7(11), e48546.
Wade, L. (2014, November). When force is hardest to justify, victims of police violence are most likely to be Black. Retrieved from http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2014/11/28/chart-of-the-week-63-of-white-people-are-wrong-about-ferguson/
Western, B. (2006). Punishment and inequality in America. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.
The rapidly changing immigrant landscape in the United States signals a dire need for more research focusing on mental health concerns of undocumented Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) populations. Asian American population is the fastest growing racial group in the U.S., growing by 43% between 2000 and 2010. This rapid growth is fueled primarily by immigration, with over a quarter of all immigrants to the U.S. coming from Asia in the recent years. However, not all immigrants of Asia have documentation. In fact, there are an estimated 1.3 million undocumented immigrants from Asia in the United States. In 2011, Asian immigrants made up 11% of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States (The Benefits of Commonsense Immigration Reform: Asian American Immigrant and Refugee Communities). There are an estimated 416,000 Asian undocumented immigrants in California, or roughly 15% of the state’s undocumented population (NAMI, 2011). Three states with some of the largest Asian American populations are also home to the largest undocumented populations: California, New York, and Texas (Migration Policy Institute, 2010). Asian American communities are significantly impacted by the U.S. immigration policies and are invested in immigration reform.
Psychological research has pointed to many risk factors associated with immigration that impact mental health. Undocumented immigrants tend to have even higher risk factors that compromise their mental health and ability to cope with the stress of adjustment to a new culture than immigrants who come through authorized channels. For example, undocumented immigrants – like many other immigrants from other regions – are motivated to migrate because of poverty, religious or political persecution, exploitation, violence, war, or torture in their home country. Their journey from Asia to the U.S. is often filled with risks and trauma. There are additional hardships for undocumented immigrants and their families as their undocumented status make them vulnerable to exploitation by employers (Asian American Justice Center). Constant fear of deportation may cause stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as separation from their family and social support network and the stress of earning money they owe to the traffickers who transported them to the U.S. and to send remittances to their loved ones. Research has shown that a lack of pathways for citizenship for undocumented parents harms their children’s cognitive and language development (Yoshikawa, 2011).
Despite these general risk factors and challenges that contribute to the enormous psychological stress on undocumented immigrants and their families, there is virtually no research on the psychological experiences and mental health of undocumented AAPI populations. AAPA calls for increased funding for mental health research on this invisible segment of our community.
** Special thanks to the AAPA Policy Committee, especially Dr. Helen Hsu & Dr. Devika Srivastava, and to the AAPA Executive Committee