SRA Statement On Anti-Racism And Social Justice

Dear Members,
SRA condemns the White supremacy, racism, and police brutality that led to the recent deaths of George Floyd, Tony McDade, João Pedro Mattos Pinto, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others. These events are unfortunately only some of the most recent and well-known and reflect the centuries of systematic oppression that have occurred in the United States and across the world against Black people. We believe Black Lives Matter.
Systemic racism touches everyday life experiences with long-term effects on almost every aspect of one’s life.
The research is clear about the pernicious effects of racism on the psychological and physical health of Black people (Chae et al., 2016Williams, 2018). Specifically, studies indicate that living in a racist society is negative for Black families and Black adolescents’ psychological, physical, and academic development (Berkel et al., 2009Murry et al., 2009Neblett & Roberts, 2013Seaton & Yip, 2009).
The stresses of graphic media depictions of police brutality (Tynes et al., 2019), coupled with social isolation, disruption, and loss, during a pandemic that disproportionately impacts communities of color, may have particularly acute impacts on adolescents, causing epigenetic aging (Brody et al.,2016). This may also be true for any of you, particularly our Black members, who may feel angry, sad, sickened, tired, exhausted, or numb. All of these feelings are valid, particularly with the trauma inflicted by witnessing these events repeatedly (Anderson & Stevenson, 2019). Please take time to care for yourselves and loved ones during this time.

These racialized events are occurring in tandem with the COVID-19 pandemic, which is disproportionately impacting Black Americans, as evidenced by overrepresentation in cases and deaths, often attributed to increased exposure as “essential” workers, in jobs that often do not have the option of working from home.  While data on the impact of the pandemic by racial/ethnic subgroup has been incomplete or missing, a recent CDC report on 580 COVID-19 cases revealed that 33% of the hospitalized patients identified as Black (CDC, March 2020). That the Black community bears the brunt of mortality has also been confirmed through AMP Research Lab, indicating that while Blacks make up 13% of the U.S. population, they compromise 42.8% of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S.(APM Research Lab, COVID-19 Deaths by Race and Ethnicity in the U.S. May 2020). In fact, four of five counties with the highest death rates are predominately Black (The COVID Racial Tracker, 2020).
SRA is committed to policies and practices that demonstrate, in words and actions, that our organization is inclusive, equitable, and just, for everyone. For example, we:

  • hired a consultant to examine our practices involving inclusion and equity
  • are forming a task force to develop strategies for implementing programmatic efforts targeting equity, social justice, and anti-racism as a public health concern; supporting anti-racism workplace settings, and providing support for early and mid-career scholars from marginalized groups,
  • are finalizing a consensus statement from SRA on mental health in African American youth in the context of racism that will be published in JRA, and
  • will expand opportunities to disseminate information (research, teaching tools, policies, and preventive intervention registry) about race, racism, and anti-racism, such as conducting webinars and podcasts for SRA members, parents, adolescents, legislatures, teachers, and other youth-focused organizations.  

We will leverage SRA members’ research on development to inform policies and practices that contribute to more equitable opportunities and flourishing lives. SRA Executive Council, in collaboration with a Presidential appointed ad hoc committee, will be charged with reviewing and evaluating SRA’s policies and practices for racialized impact and develop action plans to eliminate racism and social injustice.
Many members may be wondering what they can do to fight racism and help adolescents during this time. Please refer to this list of actions such as signing petitions, donating resources, making phone calls, sending emails, and educating oneself about race, racism, and antiracism. 
Take care of yourself and be there for others. These are emotionally and physically challenging times.  We also encourage you to reach out to each other in meaningful ways to promote an end to anti-blackness, including speaking up against racism and injustice in your family, community, and workplace. As Angela Davis stated, “in a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be antiracist”.
Yours in solidarity,
Velma McBride Murry, SRA President
Gabriela Livas Stein, SRA VP of Programming
Jen Brydges, SRA Executive Director

SRA Inclusion, Equity, and Social Justice Committee
Fatima Varner, Chair
Meeta Banerjee, Co-Chair
Russell Toomey, Past-Chair
Deborah Rivas-Drake
Kristy S. Lee
Vanja Lazarevic
Hyung Chol (Brandon) Yoo
David Lydon-Staley
Sasha Fleary