Hands up, don’t shoot: A community psychology perspective on unarmed police shootings of Black people in America


The killings of unarmed Black men and women in America at the hands of police officers are a prolific, pervasive, and unjust epidemic. We suggest that community psychologists, advocates, and policymakers use perspectives and values embedded within Community Psychology in order to help combat this issue. This includes: 1) taking an ecological approach to understanding the context that contributes to and maintains systems of racial inequality, 2) use Community Psychology values such as sense of community and respect for diversity to address the problem. However, inherent paradoxical issues, such as, the community-diversity dialectic (Neal & Neal, 2014), arise when integrating core Community Psychology values. This potential roadblock on the journey to using Community Psychology to advance this social justice issue must be overcome. We describe what this dialectic entails and provide an example of an organization of advocates, The Black Lives Matter movement, which effectively uses Community Psychology values, methods, and perspectives to overcome the community-diversity dialectic and lead efforts aimed towards addressing this social issue.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i24212113v4i2p9

Keywords: Community Psychology; Black Lives Matter; diversity; values; intersectional political consciousness; social justice


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