LMU Psychology Department Letter of Support and Solidarity with Black Lives Matter

To our LMU Psychology Community:

The LMU Psychology Department denounces the systemic and institutional racism and injustices that have most recently manifested in the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade, among others. We acknowledge that these injustices are not new and have roots that are woven into the creation and fabric of this country. We further recognize that inequities have far-reaching consequences and result in the dehumanization of, denial of resources to, and sanctioned violence against people of African ancestry in the U.S. and across the world.

As faculty members in the department, we believe and assert that Black Lives Matter, and to our Black faculty, students, and staff in this pivotal moment, we want to let you know that we value you, we stand with you in the fight for justice, and we are here to support you.

As a Department and as individuals within the Department, we are guided by the Loyola Marymount University Mission which calls us to encourage learning, educate the whole person, and serve in the promotion of justice. Consistent with the cura personalis, which St. Ignatius of Loyola required for those charged with the work of “caring for souls,” we acknowledge the need to create and maintain an environment where justice is supported, encouraged, and ever-present.

Additionally, we are guided by our role as social scientists and by empirical evidence that clearly demonstrates that racism, prejudice, and discrimination are real (Goff et al., 2008). We know that institutionalized racism results in fatal consequences for Black people both in the immediate and over time. Studies consistently show that marginalization, racism, and race-based trauma have profound negative effects on the physical and mental well-being of all Black people (Williams, Neighbors, & Jackson, 2008; Comas-Díaz, Hall, & Neville, 2019) and that the risk of brutality and violence can increase when considering the intersection of multiple identities, for example, being Black and transgender (Williams, 2016).

As social scientists, we also know that there is hope. Sheltered in place, America’s eyes and hearts have opened in ways we have not seen before. Attitudes can change and systems can change. Strategies, including those informed by our discipline, exist to combat prejudice at both individual and structural levels (Aberson, 2007; Bagci et al., 2018; Neblett, 2019; Paluck & Green, 2009). Institutional commitment to diversity can decrease the negative effects of discrimination in students (Hussain & Jones, 2019). Furthermore, Black people are remarkably resilient, and their faith, family, community and culture are often buffers against systemic violence and deleterious consequences of trauma (Neblett, 2019). As a Department, we are a community that can support our Black colleagues, students, and staff and create a safer more just society. But change will require effort and intentionality and must be grounded in the experience and needs of those most impacted.

As a Department and as individuals we know that this change can start with us and requires hard work, including:

  • looking inward to identify, understand, and monitor the ways we create, are part of, and benefit from unearned privilege and a system that disenfranchises and brutalizes Black people;
  • better partnering with students and communities of color to create educational opportunities that are centered in diverse experiences and viewpoints and that offer real chances for social change;
  • disseminating and encouraging the continued development of scholarship that targets issues of social justice, particularly focusing on experiences and consequences of race-based trauma; strength-based resiliency models of coping; and factors that promote active anti-racism attitudes and actions;
  • focusing on approaches to systems change that are based in community experiences, that are preventative and that are protective in nature (Wolff, 2014); and
  • encouraging and supporting self-care for this work, for example, by seeking social support, practicing kindness, doing aerobic exercise, meditating, and engaging in faith/spiritual practices (Bolier et al., 2013; Chida et al., 2009; Grant et al., 2009; Holt-Lunstad et al., 2010; Philippot & Segal, 2009).

We acknowledge that this statement does not provide specifics at this point and that, while the road ahead is long, the work is urgent. Together, we will strive to effect meaningful change.

In community and solidarity,

The LMU Psychology Department Faculty