The Minority Issues in Gerontology Advisory Panel of The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) stands in solidarity with all who are grieving and exercising their right to protest the losses of Black lives at the hands of racism and discrimination in the United States. We appreciate and echo our Society’s call for inclusion, justice, and equality for all. Further, we agree with our Society’s call for the development of long-term goals that address racism, conscious and unconscious discrimination, and bias – both within and outside of our Society.
We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge that this call to action is not new. Our founding members, of what was first known as the “Task Force,” pushed our Society towards a greater level of inclusion over 30 years ago:
"Dr. E. Percil Stanford, leaders of the SRPP section, and the executive director and council members of the GSA (and members from other GSA sections) collectively proposed a GSA-wide task force on minority aging issues. This task force would extend beyond the recognition and commitment from the SRPP’s Task Committee on Minority Issues. In 1987, the planning committee of the SRPP Task Committee on Minority Issues prepared and submitted a proposal to the GSA’s council requesting the inauguration of the GSA Task Force on Minority Issues. The long-standing goals of this task force were to increase the following: (a) quantity and quality of gerontological research on minority aging, (b) number of minority researchers in gerontology, and (c) participation of minority members in the society (L. K. Harootyan, personal communication, September 9, 2012)."
Excerpted from: Brown, C.S., Baker, T. A., Mingo, C., Harden, J. T., Whitfield, K. E., Aiken-Morgan, A. T., Phillips, K., & Washington, T. (2014). A review of our roots: Blacks in gerontology. The Gerontologist: “Remembering our Roots” Special Issue, 54 (1), 108-116.
Standing on the shoulders of Dr. E. Percil Stanford and the many other GSA members who have come before us, we, as the Minority Issues in Gerontology Advisory Panel of GSA, remain steadfast in our commitment to stand against racism and discrimination, structural inequalities and inequities, and social injustices perpetuated against Black communities – and all racial/ethnic minority communities – within GSA and our respective institutions and communities.
As such, we resolve to promote the following as next steps on a path forward in these challenging times:
To foster opportunities for conversations on race dynamics in academic, practice, and community spaces, which have the potential of great and far-reaching impact within GSA, care settings, and our respective institutions. Such conversations could be organized at annual meetings and virtually throughout the year.
To expose our Society’s blind spots related to the lived experiences of individuals who live at the intersection of race and aging. It is imperative to understand that the journey to antiracism is undergirded by making conscious decisions (i.e., a radical reorientation) to become aware of actions and ideas that perpetuate racism and its negative consequences (Kendi, 2019).
To partner with GSA leadership teams to develop short- (e.g., special issues in GSA journals on minority aging, structural inequities, and racism) and long-term plans of action with attention to restructuring resource allocation to address social injustices and inequities (e.g. antiracist and anti-bias interventions).
To increase the representation of racial/ethnic minority scholars on the GSA Board of Directors, journal editorial boards, and other leadership positions.
To garner tangible support for the advancement (i.e., successful completion of doctoral training; tenure & promotion) of early career racial/ethnic minority scholars, who are of critical importance to the fulfillment of our cause.
To continue promoting scholarship, teaching, and service that highlight the social, economic, and healthcare injustices experienced by marginalized groups across the life course.
We believe that, together, we will make great strides towards inclusion, justice, and equality for Black Americans – and us all.