We at the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society condemn in the strongest possible terms the ongoing brutality against Black lives all around the world, as exemplified most recently in the murders of Ahmad Arbery, George Floyd, João Pedro Matos Pinto, and Breonna Taylor. These killings are the perpetuation of a legacy of racialized dehumanization and violence that is endemic in the United States and elsewhere, having its roots in the global slave trade. This is a moment of wider recognition of the reality and anguish of violent oppression against Black people, a reality that is all too familiar and too close for some of us while remaining too far away and unfamiliar for others. It is a time for mourning, contemplation, and reckoning.
As psychoanalytic thinkers, we affirm our responsibility for ourselves and each other. We understand that profound unconscious processes – combined with structural and individual racism in the external world – enable white supremacy to exert continued power in the service of violence, and that these unconscious processes have material consequences for oppressed communities. The blatant sadism evident in the killing of George Floyd is one such example. The continued neglect of the Black community’s disproportionate suffering and death in relationship to Covid-19 is another example, highlighting institutional racism and adding to the psychological, physical, and social burdens already faced by Black individuals.
We re-commit to bringing to light the hidden and largely unacknowledged psychological processes that reveal themselves in such acts, within ourselves, our families and friends, our institutions, and in our larger community. In doing so, we reject attempts to prematurely soothe ourselves about losses that are in fact agonizingly unmourned. We refuse invitations to ignore, justify, enable, and re-inflict gaping wounds in our national and global psyche. We make opportunities to hear, remember, and honor Black experiences, and to assert unequivocally that Black lives do indeed matter. We counter white supremacist narratives in our work as teachers and learners, in our clinical work, and in our research inquiries.
We invite our members to suggest ways in which we may further the enormous work ahead of us. We hope you will join us this October in our online conference, at which we will hold a plenary addressing anti-Black violence.
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