The Association Of Black Psychologists

Pressuring APA from another side was a group of African American psychologists, alluded to previously. These psychologists were mostly of a younger generation than the Clarks and were inspired by the more militant views of Elijah Muhammed, Malcolm X, and Frantz Fanon. The Clarks were committed to integration and the abolition of the color line. The younger black psychologists were committed to black identity and black nationalism. Rather than focusing on the damage to black communities and accepting victimization, these psychologists portrayed black communities as sources of strength and black families as sources of resilience (White, 1972). This was at the time that the national discourse, led by such well-meaning whites as Daniel Patrick Moynihan, was labeling black families as “tangles of pathology.”

What upset many younger and older black APA members was the lack of action on APA’s part to address institutional racism and the failure of psychology graduate programs to recruit and retain minority students or train their students in theory and method relevant to social problems. In short, what many minority psychologists (accurately) perceived was that APA represented a white middle-class ideology committed to maintaining the status quo. And the status quo included using psychological tests to label and sort minority children and students as inferior or deficient, or, at best, culturally deprived. In 1962 the APA had created a committee to investigate the low numbers of minority psychologists, but the committee was bogged down and had done nothing by the late 1960s. Fed up with what they perceived as foot-dragging, a group of young black psychologists founded the Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi) in 1968 at the APA meeting in San Francisco (B. H. Williams, 1997; R. Williams, 1974).

ABPsi was led by a dedicated group of mostly male psychologists. Some of the leaders were Henry Tomes, Robert Williams, Reginald Jones, Joseph White, Robert Green, Charles Thomas, Asa Hilliard, and others. In ret­rospect, the initial impetus for the organization was reactive; its members were angry and upset at the failures of what they perceived as a white-dominated psychology. However, these psychologists soon articulated a black psychology that focused on the strengths and resilience of black folks and black communities. In journals (e.g., Black Scholar, Journal of Black Psychology) and books (e.g., the several editions of Reginald Jones’s Black Psychology), White, Williams, Jones, Hilliard, Luther, X, and others articulated a positive psychology predicated on a world-view informed by the history and philosophy of people of African descent. One aspect that was present from the beginning and remains potent is the emphasis on community and how resolutions of problems come from reliance on community resources and the strength that the community gives to its members. This orientation stems from the communalism that is part of the cultural traditions of those of African, particularly West African, descent (Nobles, 1972). What the founders of ABPsi fostered and what has been maintained is a psychology of resilience and strength anchored in community.

ABPsi as an Organizational Model

Once the ABPsi was formed, it quickly became a role model for other organizations of ethnic minority psychologists in the United States. In 1970, Edward Casavantes, a Mexican American (Chicano) psychologist founded the first professional organization of Hispanic psychologists, the Association of Psychologists Por La Raza (APLR). At first, there were only a handful of members and the organization struggled to get recognition from APA (Pickren & Tomes, 2002). By the end of the 1970s, the group re-formed as the National Hispanic Psychological Association. The growth of the association was fostered by the financial support provided by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) for conferences and training (Pickren, 2004b). In 1979 the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Science was founded at the Spanish Speaking Mental Health Resource Center at UCLA, with Amado Padilla as the editor. After a period of lagging growth, the group was renamed the National Latino Psychological Association and began a period of growth at the beginning of the century, thus reflecting the rapid growth of the Latino/a population in the United States.

The Asian American Psychological Association (AAPH) was founded in 1972 by two brothers, Derald and Stanley Sue. By the late 1960s, there was growing unrest in the Asian community in the San Francisco Bay area regard­ing the inadequacy of mental health services. The brothers brought together leaders of various community groups, psychologists, social workers, and ministers who were involved in some way with mental health work. NIMH provided money to fund a meeting to sort the issues out, a meeting that became quite heated and confrontational (Pickren, 2004b). Out of this passionate meeting came a decision to more formally organize. As Stanley Sue later recounted, AAPA initially built its membership by going through the APA directory and contacting anyone who had an Asian-sounding name (Pickren & Nelson, 2007). From this small beginning, the AAPA has had a healthy growth pattern into the 21st century. It had a membership of over 400 by the year 2000.

The AAPA has been involved in a range of issues since its founding. It has provided key liaisons to the NIMH and other federal agencies to assist with the development of workable policies for training minority mental health providers and to foster cultural competence in the training of all psychologists. There has been substantial progress on developing a body of theoretical work that is reflective of Asian American cultural experiences in psychology by members of the AAPA, including clinical training and social research. Derald Sue and other leaders of the association were among the first advocates of guidelines for multicultural counseling. The Journal of the Asian American Psychological Association began in 1979. Dr. Richard Suinn (b. 1933) was elected to serve as the president of the APA in 1999, the first Asian American to serve in this office.

The Society of Indian Psychologists (SIP) grew out of two different organizational efforts in the early 1970s. Carolyn Attneave founded the Network of Indian Psychologists in 1971. Joseph Trimble formed the American Indian Interest Group, also in 1971. The two groups merged in 1973 and changed the name to Society of Indian Psychologists in 1975 (Trimble, 2000). The membership of SIP has remained small but very active. Because of a legacy of racism, which endures to the pres­ent, fostered by official U.S. government policies, the mental health needs of American Indians have been and remain great. Efforts to increase the number of American Indian mental health providers have met with some success. The most notable success has been the Indians into Psychology Doctoral Education (INDPSYDE) program begun by Arthur L. McDonald in the mid-1980s. In the early years of the 21st century, INDPSYDE programs were in place at a few colleges and universities in the West and in Alaska. As a result there has been a slow growth in the number of mental health professionals of American Indian or Alaska Native descent. Logan Wright, in 1986, became the first person of American Indian heritage to be elected APA president (Trimble & Clearing Sky, in press).