Just a year ago, most of us had no idea that in about a week, our lives would change in ways enormous and tiny. (I’m writing this on March 7.) My personal shut-down day was March 15, the first day that Seton Hall University, where I teach, went fully remote. My last non-take-out restaurant meal was a few days before that. I wish I had known! I had a veggie sausage at a local beer hall, which was delicious, but my mediocre cooking skills mean that I can grill the heck out of a Beyond Sausage at home. In retrospect, I would have opted for the spectacle of a sushi bar or a sizzling skillet of fajitas!
I won’t lie. It’s been hard, and I hit (and pushed through) my own personal pandemic wall in December. But I also recognize the enormous disparities in the ways in which the pandemic has affected us, with people like me – white, childfree, employed, working remotely – faring far better than others. Women, especially those with children, have disproportionately lost their jobs and disproportionately taken on increased childcare obligations, including monitoring online learning from home (Thibaut & van Wijngaarden, 2020). Young people who identify as LGBTQ have faced the difficulty of isolation from supportive communities and, in some cases, the challenges of moving back to intolerant family homes (Gonzales et al., 2020). People living in certain counties (e.g., rural vs. urban), states, and countries have suffered more than others, often because of socioeconomic status or governmental policies (e.g., Moreno et al., 2020). And our BIPOC friends, neighbors, and colleagues have faced particular difficulties, due in large part to the structural inequities, including overrepresentation in essential jobs and decreased access to healthcare, that have only been exacerbated during the pandemic (Loeb et al., 2020).
Many parts of the world are also experiencing rising rates of xenophobia and anti-Asian racism (Misra et al., 2020). As an instructor, I start each class by sharing articles that I, or the students in the class, have found that relate to topics in the course. I recently flagged a New York Times article titled “What This Anti-Asian Violence Reveals About America” to share with my students. Not long after, I heard from Molly Metz, a member of STP’s Early Career Committee and until recently the head moderator of STP’s Facebook page. She shared a powerful Twitter thread by psychology professor Jin X. Goh who asked “has your university/ department/ organization said anything about the wave of violence against Asians and Asian Americans?” And anti-Asian racism isn’t limited to the United States; it affects many of our STP members around the globe.
Molly’s message and Goh’s tweets are important reminders of the work that STP needs to keep doing. I want to again call attention to STP’s Statement on Addressing Systemic Racism and Inequity in STP and encourage all of us to keep talking about racism and antiracism – with each other and with our students. And to keep finding ways to incorporate these topics into our classes both to support our Asian, Black, and other BIPOC students and to educate all students. I also want to encourage us to support and speak out on behalf of our Asian colleagues and students. (There are many helpful resources related to anti-Asian racism, including this compilation from Northwestern University and more general resources related to racial trauma from STP.)
As I indicated in my last post, one of my goals for this platform is to introduce STP members to the sprawling organizational structure of the organization in the hopes of helping anyone who is interested to find your niche within our organization. STP has five Vice Presidents, so starting with this post, I’ll introduce you to each of them. Appropriately, given the topic of this post, I’m starting with the Vice President for Diversity and International Relations, Kelley Haynes-Mendez. Kelley was an essential part of the development of the statement and resources on racial trauma I describe above, and has also spearheaded an organizational initiative to assess STP’s current status on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Below, she discusses her role within STP, the opportunities within her area, and why she so values her involvement in STP.
Kelley particularly wants to highlight STP’s Get Involved page, and she encourages STP members who are BIPOC or who represent marginalized and underrepresented communities to join us! Please do!
What would you like STP members to know about your position?
The Vice President for Diversity and International Relations is responsible for collaborating and consulting with the other four VPs, the Chairs of the Diversity Committee and the International Relations Committee, and other Executive Committee members to ensure that diversity and international issues are infused in all Society’s activities. The Vice President oversees and works closely with the chairs of the Diversity Committee, International Relations Committee, and International Twitter Poster Conference Committee in order to advance diversity and international issues within STP. Additionally, I consult with Presidential task forces and our journal editor in order to address diversity, equity, and inclusion issues. Presently, I am helping to coordinate an organizational self-assessment for diversity, equity, and inclusion. I am also consulting with the current Presidential task force on diversity, equity, and inclusion alongside chairs and members of both the Diversity and International Relations committees.
What do you most value about STP?
I found a home in STP after presenting at its Best Practices conference for teaching diversity. After that conference I was invited to be member of the Diversity Committee. After serving there for several years I became a liaison between the Diversity and International Relations Committees and later chair of the International Relations Committee. While serving as chair of the International Relations Committee I was also invited to be a part of a Presidential Task Force on internationalization. There are a number of opportunities to plug in and get involved within STP. Having so many opportunities available usually means that anyone who is interested can find a good fit. This is what I value most about STP – the opportunity to get involved with various committees, task forces, and other projects and initiatives.
Gonzales, G., de Mola, E. L., Gavulic, K. A., McKay, T., & Purcell, C. (2020). Mental health needs among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender college students during the COVID-19 pandemic, Journal of Adolescent Health, 67(5), 645-648. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2020.08.006
Loeb, T. B., Ebor, M. T., Smith, A. M., Chin, D., Novacek, D. M., Hampton-Anderson, J. N., Norwood-Scott, E., Hamilton, A. B., Brown, A. F., & Wyatt, G. E. (2020). How mental health professionals can address disparities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Traumatology. https://doi-org.jpllnet.sfsu.edu/10.1037/trm0000292
Misra, S., Le, P. D., Goldmann, E., & Yang, L. H. (2020). Psychological impact of anti-Asian stigma due to the COVID-19 pandemic: A call for research, practice, and policy responses. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 12(5), 461-464. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/tra0000821
Moreno, C., Wyles, T., Galderisi, S., Nordentoft, M., Crossley, N., Jones, N. Cannon, M., Correll, C. U., Byrne, L., Carr, S. Chen, E. Y. H., Gorwood, P., Johnson, S., Kärkkäinen, H., Krystal, J. H., Lee, J., Lieberman, J., López-Jaramillo, C., Männikkö, M., … Arango, C. (2020). How mental health care should change as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lancet, 7(9), 813-824. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(20)30307-2
Thibaut, F., & van WIjngaarden-Cremers, P. J. M. (2020). Women’s mental health in the time of COVID-19 pandemic. Frontiers in Global Women’s Health, 1. https://doi.org/10.3389/fgwh.2020.588372