In her public letter to The Psychologist, Kirsty Miller expresses her views on why she has left the British Psychological Society. Now, I am not a psychologist, and not a member of the BPS. I do not know all their ethics and policies, but I am glad that they put out a statement against “racial injustice and [to] recommit to valuing diversity and fighting inequity”.1 To see that a practicing psychologist (Miller) finds that this is offensive and that she does not “subscribe to similar world-views”, I am deeply disappointed at this notion.2
I wonder what Miller means that she, and many others, do not subscribe to the world-view that there should be racial equality. Why does she disagree with the notion that police brutality and institutional racism should be challenged? I struggle to understand this mindset, but I do not wish to put words in her mouth. Without talking to her, I cannot have an understanding of her world-view. I can still challenge the messages she has offered.
I challenge her idea that by offering equality it is instead offering “preferential treatment in the here and now”. I don’t think many who fight for BLM (and other similar messages) would argue for a swing in the other direction – we are calling for equality, not a switch to a different kind of discrimination. I would argue that Miller has totally misunderstood the argument for equality.
Whilst attempting to remain unbiased whilst writing this post, I find myself challenged. To argue that a social justice agenda “promotes mental illness” is incredibly shocking – if an individual has repeatedly experienced institutional racism, of course they are going to look out for peoples motives. I wonder Miller’s motives for writing such words.
Miller further argues that education is being prevented because professors who are generally white and male feel that they cannot respond or contradict things concerning other demographic groups. I would argue this is not the case. There is such a thing as an ally to a cause. White people can easily ally to issues such as BLM, they should listen to the voices of ethnic minorities, promote their messages, but it doesn’t stop them discussing matters. My academic career has focussed entirely on institutional racism and challenging it.
I respect Dr Miller’s right to express her views and vote with her feet – she has left the BPS as far as I can see. I would argue that she won’t be missed, as her views don’t align with their ethical framework (it seems). I hope that she engages with those who have challenged her attitudes. I won’t go so far as to accuse her of anything, but I hope she grows as a psychologist and learns to understand how her views can impact on her colleagues and patients/clients.
I do wish to challenge those who have complained about the letter being posted by The Psychologist. As the editor has noted, there is “value in bringing these views out into the light”3. Echo chambers are dangerous as it means we miss the different attitudes and messages. That is how pockets of bigotry can grow. As professionals it is our duty to engage with the discourse and challenge things appropriately and ethically.
1 Murphy, D., BPS Statement on Racial Injustice, https://www.bps.org.uk/news-and-policy/bps-statement-racial-injustice, 02 June 2020
2 Miller, K., Why I no longer wish to be associated with the BPS, https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/why-i-no-longer-wish-be-associated-bps, 25 August 2020
3 Sutton, J., Editor Note: Why I no longer wish to be associated with the BPS, https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/why-i-no-longer-wish-be-associated-bps, 25 August 2020