BME Psychology

BME psychology archive

This is a list of BME psychologists. The google form includes only basic information (e.g., DOB, names, notable works and notes). Doubtlessly this vastly under-represents the number of BME psychologists that exist and can not do justice to BME psychology work. It is intended as a starting place only to diversify psychology away from its White, Western bias. It needs improvement so please add your own BME names to the archive.

Do BME psychologists exist? 

Yes, of course. If we take UK psychology as a specific example, according to the latest survey by the British Psychological Society in 2015, 181 (1.8%) of its members are Black (in contrast the last census found that 3.3% of the UK population are Black). Despite the significant barriers to psychology that BME people face in becoming psychologists (e.g., psychology’s racist history, historical and continuing educational segregation and a particular commitment to resisting the ivory tower of academia. and doing applied work which is less valued within psychology) some BME people have progressed in our discipline.

It is just that their work is overlooked. Specifically there almost definitely hasn’t been one BME president of the BPS so far and there also isn’t a BME psychology section today in the BPS. Many psychology students do not know about Claude Steel’s brilliant work on stereotype threat, or Mamie and Kenneth Clarke’s work on the impact of educational segregation that helped win Brown vs Board of education (seriously, what other psychological study has been used in a supreme court case?). We need to redress this.

The origins of BME psychology

Holliday (2009) does a brilliant job at giving context to the history of Black psychology in the journal of Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology. In particular Holliday documents the formation of the first section of psychology for Black people: the Association of Black Psychologists which was founded in 1968 (pg. 319): 

Members of the Association have pledged themselves to the realization that they are Black people first and psychologists second…. The membership assumes primary responsibility for engaging in critical thinking about the relationships between Black people and the society in which they live . . . we are pledged to effect change in those areas in which the American Psychological Association has been insensitive, ineffectual, and insincere.

The Association of Black Psychologists (ABPSi) continues to work today. As their president points out: “Although we are 47 years removed from the founding of the ABPsi, we are seeing many of the same conditions that were present in 1968“.

Acknowledgements: Archive help gratefully received from Leeds Beckett Univeristy Psychology students: Kayla Jones, Amir Gilliam and Stephanie Griffiths.