What's in a name? APA's Division 45 set to consider potential options

Use of the term "minority" in the name does not fit the nation's changing demographics.

J. Douglas McDonald, PhD
Past-President, The Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues (APA Division 45)

Joseph E. Trimble, PhD
Chairperson, APA Division 45 Council of Past-Presidents

Luis A. Vazquez, PhD
President, APA Division 45

The Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues has been APA Division 45's name since its inception in 1986. Some long-time division members, leaders and even founders have suggested that the use of the term "minority" in the name no-longer may be relevant. The nation's changing demographics seem to lend some credence to such a position. Yet, is this true for the discipline in general or APA as a membership organization in particular?

This issue is not a new one. Over the years, the need for considering action to engage the "formal APA division name change process," much less collecting ideas about what might be meaningful alternative(s) for the division's membership to consider, has ebbed and flowed. Dr. Fredrick T. L. Leong, during his presidential year, 2006/2007, approached Dr. Joseph E. Trimble and asked him to examine the issue in greater detail. However, after some initial discussions, other division-related projects/activities limited further pursuit. Yet, its continuing presence as an issue for the division's leadership to consider seemed to indicate that more "formal" action was indeed warranted. According to the APA Divisions' Services Office, a name-change would require a bylaws change vote by the division's membership. Moreover, the bylaws change vote would require a two-thirds, qualified (i.e. of those voting) supermajority (66 percent) vote of Division 45 members for approval/passage.

In 2012, during McDonald's presidential year, and after routine fact-finding discussions with the Division's Executive Committee and across the division's membership listserv to gather information, receive comments/feedback and to solicit guidance, advice and opinions, the division's Council of Past-Presidents, led by Dr. Trimble, was tasked with examining this issue further, developing a list of possible options for consideration, and proposing a possible process and timeline. In the end, a multi-step vote option was adopted. Division 45 members will be asked to vote: (a) yes or no for a name change; and if yes, (b) select one from a list of four options or propose another. The following four names were produced by the Division 45 Council of Past-Presidents as potential options for a new name of the division. They are presented here in no particular order:

  • Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity and Race

  • Society for Ethnic and Cultural Psychology

  • Society for Ethnocultural Psychological Inquiry

  • Society for the Study of Culture, Ethnicity and Race in Psychology

  • Other options?

To read more about the process and timeline of activities, please visit Division 45's website.