Resolution Against Racism and in Support of the Goals of the 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance

Approved as an Emergency Action by The American Psychological Association Board of Directors on June 10, 2001.


Whereas during the past 52 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the global community has enacted numerous international human rights instruments, including the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and made important advances in the struggle against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance;

Whereas psychologists and other social scientists have established that racism, racial discrimination and ethnic conflict and violence are pervasive and persisting challenges for the United States of America and the international community;

Whereas racism and racial discrimination threaten human development because of the obstacles which they pose to the fulfillment to basic human rights to survival, security, development, and social participation;

Whereas racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance have been shown to be attitudes and behaviors that are learned;

Whereas racism has been shown to have negative cognitive, behavioral, affective, and relational effects on both child and adult victims nationally and globally, historically and contemporarily;

Whereas racism has been shown to increase anxiety, depression, self-defeating thoughts and avoidance behaviors, and is linked to a host of medical complications in ethnic minority individuals;

Whereas racism has been shown to negatively affect ethnic minority children's academic and social development, self-esteem, and personal feelings of efficacy;

Whereas racism and poverty are inextricably linked and both are risk factors for high levels of emotional distress;

Whereas racism intersects with gender in ways that result in different experiences of inequality by men and women, girls and boys;

Whereas racism negatively affects the cognitive and affective development of members of the dominant group by perpetuating distorted thinking about the self and members of marginalized or oppressed groups;

Whereas racism can promote anxiety and fear in the dominant group members whenever they are in the presence of, or anticipating the presence of, marginalized group members, often leading to acts of hostility and aggression toward ethnic minority individuals;

Whereas both active racism and passive acceptance of race-based privilege disrupts the mental health of both perpetrators and victims of racial injustice;

Whereas the United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 2001 as the International Year of Mobilization against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance;

Whereas the purpose of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, to be held in South Africa, August 31 to September 7, 2001, the preparatory meetings which will precede it, is to raise public awareness of racism and racial discrimination globally and to mobilize political commitment to eliminate racism and promote full and effective social justice;

Whereas the American Psychological Association (APA) has shown its support for the struggle against racism by its: (1) support for the ongoing efforts of the United Nations to promote and defend human rights, (2) adoption of UN human rights instruments as standards for its boards, committees, and membership at large, (3) establishment of the Committee of Ethnic Minority Affairs within the central governance structure of the Association, (4) adoption of policies against various forms of discrimination, as well as policies in favor of increased access of racial/ethnic minorities in all aspects of the profession, (5) establishment of the Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues, whose journal focuses on mental health issues of ethnic minorities, (6) support for interdivisional collaboration to convene a bi-annual National Multicultural Conference and Summit that addresses issues of racism, oppression and intolerance of social diversity, (7) dedication of the 1999 Annual Convention to Racial and other Diversity Issues in psychology, (8) sponsorship of the 1997 APA Miniconvention on Psychology and Racism, and (9) support, since 1997, of the APA National Conversation on Psychology and Racism;

Whereas the struggle against racism requires continuing active resistance against it at all levels and areas in the field of psychology and the use of psychological science and practice to promote social justice and human welfare nationally and globally;

Therefore be it resolved that the American Psychological Association denounces racism in all its forms for its negative psychological, social, educational and economic effects on human development throughout the life span;

Be it further resolved that APA further the objectives of the 2001 United Nations World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance through efforts focused on elimination of all forms of racism and racial/ethnic discrimination at all levels of the science and practice of psychology in the United States;

Be it further resolved that APA will: (1) pursue diverse racial representation at all levels of APA governance, (2) call upon all psychologists to eliminate processes and procedures that perpetuate racial injustice in research, practice, training and education, (3) call upon all psychologists to speak out against racism, and take proactive steps to prevent the occurrence of intolerant or racist acts, and (4) promote psychological research on the alleviation of racial/ethnic injustice. 

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June 2001