MPS Resource Guide for Anti-Racist Action


In psychiatry, we talk about “doing the work” of healing. This necessitates introspection, listening, discomfort, trying new things, and learning from failures. But when it comes to acknowledging and addressing racism in our systems and ourselves, white (and sometimes other non-Black) psychiatrists can be as oblivious and fragile as our less psychologically-minded peers. Because the everyday expression of racism has largely shifted from explicit statements of hatred to more insidious and hidden aggressions, barriers, and stereotypes, we are typically free to avoid the reality faced by our Black colleagues, patients, neighbors, and friends. We are apt to use our skilled cognitive approaches to take in a situation others see as racist and consider “alternative” interpretations that lessen the impact on ourselves. But this approach serves to uphold the attitudes and systems of racism, and we must do better. Each of us can take action to be better clinicians, advocates, and community members; what follows is a suggested list of resources and opportunities to get us started in doing this urgently necessary work. 

 

Take time for critical self-reflection and commit to personal growth.

  • Countless reading lists are circulating on social media, but here is a “scaffolded” multi-media learning plan targeted to your stage of white identity and growth.

 

Talk about race and racism with our families, including children.

 

Acknowledge and take every opportunity to counter the ways racism is at work in our economy, schools, policing, healthcare systems, housing policies, and community programs. 

 

Acknowledge and address the ways in which racism is “in the room” in our offices, emergency rooms, and hospital units. 

 

Create safe spaces in our workplaces and professional organizations that allow for the acknowledgement of experiences of racism as well as other forms of oppression and discrimination.

  • Seek out, center, and amplify the voices, cultures, and expertise of people from under-represented minority groups in person, on social media, and in print. 
  • Make room for the exhaustion and pain faced by our colleagues.
  • Recognize and respond to microaggressions.
  • Respond productively when provided with teaching or feedback. 

 

Promote representation in our workplaces, professional organizations, and government. 

 

Advocate for trauma-informed practices in healthcare, community safety initiatives, and the justice system. 

 

Volunteer or donate to organizations fighting to address health disparities and social determinants of health.

 
*Thanks to all those who helped me compile these resources in the spirit of educating and activating one another. *

Hannah Larsen, MD
Secretary & Membership Committee Chair, Massachusetts Psychiatric Society