A Response to Dr Kirsty Miller, “Why I no longer wish to be associated with the BPS”

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

3 thoughts on “A Response to Dr Kirsty Miller, “Why I no longer wish to be associated with the BPS”

  1. Why do these responses always rely on accusations of racism? At least you leave yours implicit (at several points in your essay, lest we miss it). But the reliable old witch-calling is there nonetheless.

    I can see why Miller thinks that “a social justice agenda promotes mental illnesses.” Clearly she is not saying racial equality promotes mental illness, which seems to be the Strawman you and many are beating over and over again. She means a particular TYPE of social justice agenda that encourages a victimhood mentality, the one based on Kendi’s version of “anti-racism”. Have you never been a part of one of the anti-racist trainings? If a person of color says they do not think they have experienced oppression, They are encouraged to dig deeper and find what harm they have suffered. The response to her letter is actually proving her point – by reading this letter many have been “harmed.” In fact, people are falling all over themselves to be the most harmed by her letter. Because this particular BRAND of “social justice” (which is a misnomer for the kind of ideology that is gripping academia) makes victimhood a form of power.

    It’s telling that you do not defend the research methods that are being touted by so-called “anti-racists.” Ad hominem attacks are for those who know their ideas are bad and have no other way to participate in an argument.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Jay for your response. I appreciate your views.

      I certainly don’t feel comfortable explicitly stating Miller’s views – that’s why I focussed more on asking open questions about her views as opposed to saying “this is what she implies”. It is not fair for me to make an assumption without knowing her whole body of work and her stance on things. Although, I was uncomfortable with many of her responses to people online.

      I’m not sure what kind of “anti-racist” training you’ve been on, but the difference and diversity training I have experienced does not mirror your statements. I’m not denying it has happened though, and I trust in your assertions.

      Like I said, I am not a psychologist. I am not a member of the BPS. I do not know the wealth of research and academic papers that have spurred this particular argument, so I cannot defend or argue against.

      I certainly disagree with your attitudes around those who have been harmed by the letter. Their feelings and emotions are just as valid as yours and Millers. I would argue that the way the Psychologist handled this has been poor, and they are back peddling a bit now. It’s clear they didn’t think of the implications when they published the letter.

      Once again, thank you for replying to my post. I appreciate the discourse. Have a lovely day Jay.

      Liked by 1 person

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