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Tina R. Lee


GSC: Addressing The Legacy of White Supremacy and Western Dominance in Psychology

Tina R. Lee, GSC Chair, Columbia University 

The Graduate Student Committee (GSC) invited graduate and undergraduate students to participate in this year’s call for essays on Addressing The Legacy of White Supremacy and Western Dominance in Psychology. This call was organized to inspire future psychologists to explore our field’s racist legacy and to address the enduring dehumanization experienced by BIPOC communities. Specifically, it was in response to the APA 2021 Resolution: Apology to People of Color for APA’s Role in Promoting, Perpetuating, and Failing to Challenge Racism, Racial Discrimination, and Human Hierarchy in U.S. 

GSC encouraged submissions that could deeply reflect on and examine the harms committed by the field of psychology as well as recommendations for reparations in order to move forward. We received a range of creative, critical, and reflective essays from different disciplines. The following are student winners and honorable mentions from the contest: 

  • Finding Alternatives for Western Imperialism in Higher Education: Unlocking “the door to a far larger view of the world than White America has ever known” by London Williams (graduate student winner) 
  • Re-envisioning the History of Psychology – Mitig’s WigWam of Spiritual Needs: A Critical Reimagining of the Life and Works of Abraham Maslow by Julia Sebastien (undergraduate student winner) 
  • Calling in Whiteness: A Call for Designing and Supporting Anti-Oppressive Scholarship through Epistemic Pluralism by Andrew Stein & Melanie Muskin (honorable mention) 

It is important to note that this project was not meant to valorize Whiteness or White scholarship, which would only perform and reify White Supremacy. We acknowledge the inherent risk of re-centering Whiteness when studying the subject matter. Yet, the historical alternative has been to render Whiteness invisible, further amplifying its power and exacerbating social inequities. To that end, our call was intended to underscore how the field of psychology - and particularly White scholars and practitioners – are primarily responsible for maintaining and disrupting systemic racism in society. Advancing critical thinking around Whiteness and accountability for racial injustice were thus central goals of this contest. 

Finally, this contest would not have been possible without the generous time and service of our excellent peer review committee: Aldo Barrita, Amber Raley, Christin Mujica, Ibette Valle, Jane Leer, Kayla Storm, Natalie Chong, Rosa Bermejo, and Rebecca Hill. Each essay was blind reviewed by at least two peer reviewers and provided detailed feedback. Thank you all for your shared commitment and thoughtful contributions to this project! 

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