Published: 22 Nov 2021
Authored by: PCSR Anti-Racism Action Group
Anti-Racism Action Group Manifesto
28th November 2021
About the PCSR Anti-Racism Action Group (ARAG)
In line with the aims of the Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility, we recognise the impacts of the social, political, ecological and economic context on clients and therapists. The ARAG was formed in December 2020 to begin work on our shared agenda to help encourage the dismantling of racism within our profession.
We recognise and affirm the work that racially minoritised people have done and continue to do to challenge racism. We aim to:
5. Respond actively and publicly to events in real time.
6. Address racism at individual and structural levels.
7. Raise awareness and be actively involved in stopping the collusion with past and
ongoing settler colonialism.
8. Address the impact of British imperialism and white supremacy on communities
within the UK and throughout the world, including the peoples of Africa, Asia,
across the Arab world and the Americas.
About this manifesto
This manifesto has been developed by our ARAG membership through a series of meetings and discussions. It is a living document and will be revisited regularly by the members.
The purpose of this manifesto is to lay out the aims of our ARAG and how this will work in the wider PCSR membership, and what action we would like to take in the Counselling and Psychotherapy community.
Definitions of Racism
Racism is when a person is treated worse, excluded, disadvantaged, harassed, bullied, humiliated or degraded because of their race or ethnicity. At an organisational level, it can also be the collective failure to provide an inclusive and professional working environment to people because of their race or ethnicity.* This is sometimes described as ‘institutional racism’, based on the definition recommended by Macpherson in the 1999 Lawrence report, (Brighton Council, 2021).
*Race or Ethnicity includes people’s colour, and nationality (including citizenship) ethnic or national origins.
Significantly, racism can be perceived at both an individual and an institutional level. At an individual level, it can be seen in the beliefs, attitudes, and actions of individuals that support or perpetuate the ideas of racial superiority, while institutionally it is prejudice and discrimination expressed in the practices of social and political structures. (Feagin, 2013, in Charura and Lago, Eds, 2021).
The local and global power system structured and maintained by persons who classify themselves as white, whether consciously or subconsciously determined; this system consists of patterns of perception, logic, symbol formation, thought, speech, action and emotional response, as conducted, simultaneously in all areas of people activity; economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex and war, (Welsing, 1991).
Frances Lee Ansley describes White Supremacy as
‘A political, economic and cultural system in which whites overwhelmingly control power and material resources, conscious and unconscious ideas of white superiority and entitlement are widespread, and relations of white dominance and non-white subordination are daily re-enacted across a broad array of institutions and social settings.
Imperialism and Colonialism
We believe that white people of the UK need to face the reality of their history: a history of theft and plunder of the land and resources, and violent abuse, exploitation, rape and murder of peoples across the world. The deliberate cultivation of the belief that white is superior (white supremacy) by those who profit most from slavery and colonialisation, -rich white people - has permeated every part of our society, and our psyches.
We understand at the structural level, all working class people as well as minoritised peoples are oppressed by capitalism which is founded on white supremacy. Individually and collectively, all white people live with the advantages that come from having a white skin in a white dominated world.
This doctrine that white is superior was created to justify the enslavement and exploitation of people of different ‘races’ to feed the capitalist system and also to divert the white poor and working class from standing alongside poor and working class people from racially minoritised populations to challenge the existing structure of the British Empire. This continues today.
As counsellors and psychotherapists we are committed to recognising and raising awareness in the profession of some of the fundamental causes of distress in the people we work with: systemic racism is one of these causes.
We want counsellors and psychotherapists to work with the knowledge that the origins of so much of the suffering and trauma lie not in the individual but in the alienation caused by oppression plus deception (i.e. the mechanisms of oppression are denied or hidden).
We aim to engage counsellors and therapists, training bodies and professional bodies in actively uncovering oppressions and structural advantages, such as white privilege, so often denied or ignored by white people, and in working to change the culture of the profession to become actively anti-racist and inclusive.
Who Are We Addressing?
Members of the ARAG commit to addressing and working on our relationships with racism as an ongoing process. This includes our embedded and embodied experiences of prejudice.
We expect therapists who have joined PCSR, an organisation “that locates counselling and psychotherapy in a social, political, ecological and economic context” to be more familiar with the inequalities and injustices that create distress. But living in a society where racism is so deeply embedded inevitably means we all have work to do in dismantling racism and so we want to encourage and support PCSR members to become more actively anti-racist.
It is clear that counselling and therapy training are failing people of African and Asian heritages, and other People of the Global Majority (PoGM), ie racially minoritised people.
We will challenge and encourage training organisations to make the fundamental changes needed at all levels of the process of training:
1 Daniel Lim, I’m Embracing the Term ‘People of the Global Majority’, ‘Medium’, May 10th 2020
By Professional Bodies, we mean membership bodies that we subscribe to and educational awarding bodies that set professional standards.
Professional Bodies have great power and influence over the culture and practice of counselling and psychotherapy.
We will challenge them, particularly those at the top of the power hierarchy to become explicitly anti-racist organisations.
The Government and the Media
We recognise that the culture of racism that is evident in the field of counselling and psychotherapy is a reflection of the wider society.
In order to create deep and lasting change in our profession we need to engage in addressing racism as it appears in the media and in government communications and policies.
What Actions Will We Take?
Appendix & Further Notes
Useful quote when approaching training orgs
‘The heart of institutional racism in therapeutic practice lies within therapy training organisations..’
and, ‘ This institutional racism also transfers to the therapeutic space’