The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the shootings of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and Ahmaud Arbery are the most recent offenses in a long history of systemic racism across the country. Long-standing racial inequalities are reflected in violence against unarmed black men and women, the disproportionate spread of the coronavirus, and the multiple other disparities in income and housing among communities of color.
Now is a time for Maine to come together in its response to what the American Psychological Association calls the “ pandemic of racism.” We need an urgent new focus on underlying causes of long-standing social, economic, and political inequalities. A crucial step toward a more just and unified society is the thoughtful understanding of grievances and refusal to accept divisive language that perpetuates violence.
The people of Maine, as part of a nation built on the goal of a more perfect union, must advocate for a society that does not continue to perpetuate systemic racism and violence. Portland and Bangor were among cities around the country where protesters demonstrated in response to the murder of George Floyd and others. Over 1,000 people gathered in Portland to show support for the condemnation of violence against minorities.
The concept of xenophobia helps describe the roots of racism in this country. This fear of outsiders or foreigners encourages allegiance and group cohesion and has become intertwined with American racism, white superiority, and nationalism. Unfortunately, xenophobia is also becoming evident with the COVID-19 pandemic and has been intensified by economic uncertainty.
As an organization committed to learning from the collective horror and angst of the recent murders of our fellow black citizens, the Maine Psychological Association encourages civil engagement and social discussion to proactively advance the cause of social and racial justice for all people living in the U.S.
Acting with thoughtful urgency, the Maine Psychological Association and the American Psychological Association are committed to building sustainable and long-lasting policies that address this critical issue to help move our nation forward peacefully. We stand behind all Mainers, and all Americans, to work towards unification and to prioritize the equal rights of all Americans.
Thomas Cooper is the president of the Maine Psychological Association.