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Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion - GSA Statements

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GSA Statements

Aging Researchers Call for Inclusion, Justice, and Equality (June 3, 2020)

The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) — the nation’s largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging — joins in solidarity with the movement to condemn the entrenched racism undermining American society and promote equal rights for all.

The latest in a long history of terrible and senseless deaths of Black Americans serves as another reminder of the pervasive nature of racism in our culture and the profoundly negative impact that this has on people of color.

This is a public health crisis that must be addressed immediately. Minority groups represent the fastest growing segment of the older adult population. As a non-partisan, professional membership organization of experts in the aging field, GSA member scientists have thoroughly documented the racial health disparities experienced by people of color across the life course. These disparities extend to physical health, psychological health, and financial health. All members of society deserve the opportunity to live in safe environments and have access to quality health care.

GSA is proud to uphold its tradition of supporting an inclusive environment in aging research, education, and practice. Since 1987, the organization has been guided by a Minority Issues in Gerontology Advisory Panel, which seeks to increase the quantity and quality of research related to minority aging issues and to attract minority members in Society activities and governance.

Today, GSA continues to contribute to efforts to include older adults and people of color in clinical research. It publishes research in its journals about the impact of discrimination as we age. It provides support for minority scholars to participate in the GSA Annual Scientific Meeting, where it also highlights research on minority topics. And it supports the work of minority journalists covering aging issues. GSA also partners with the National Institute on Aging’s Butler-Williams Scholars Program, which is designed to encourage emerging researchers into aging research, with a special focus on those from underrepresented minorities.

GSA will move forward with all these efforts as we seek to develop further understanding of, and solutions to, the toll that racism is taking on American society. It will support the dissemination of evidence to eliminate systemic issues that increase the disparities that negatively impact health and well-being. These efforts will not just be directed externally, but internally as well — recognizing that every organization, GSA included, must actively strive to free itself from conscious and unconscious discrimination and bias that undermines our collective well-being. GSA calls on all of its members to contribute to the development of long-term goals for addressing racism and its surrounding issues.

And GSA stands with those who condemn institutional racism and supports their first amendment rights to advocate safer, better lives for Black Americans and other marginalized groups. It stands with members and organizational partners pushing to create lasting change for inclusion, justice, and equality.

The Minority Issues in Gerontology Advisory Panel Calls for Action (June 5, 2020)

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.

GSA Advocates Racial Justice, Decries Anti-Democratic Violence (January 18, 2021)

As Washington, DC, and state capitols prepare for a possible second wave of violence this week, The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) — the nation’s largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging — again stands with those who condemn anti-democratic riots, white supremacist movements, and racial discrimination.

The current attempts to prevent the legitimate, peaceful transition of power are antithetical to the values Americans hold most dear. Further, the initial law enforcement response to the insurrectionary assaults of January 6 also stands in stark contrast to the more aggressive response to diverse, peaceful protests against racial injustice in 2020 — further demonstrating the systemic racism present in American society that GSA is committed to addressing.

This unfolding episode is another reminder that there exists a public health crisis brought about by such entrenched racism, and that a great deal of work remains to defeat it. GSA is dedicated to improving the lives of people of all backgrounds as we age. Its member scientists have thoroughly documented disparities experienced by people of color across the life course — encompassing physical health, psychological health, and financial health, and many more dimensions. These disparities have been compounded by the scourge of COVID-19.

GSA stands ready to be a resource to the incoming administration and Congress on policies that address race and aging. Through the recently established GSA Diversity and Justice Working Group, the organization also will continue to advance initiatives that increase diversity and inclusion within the gerontological community of scholars.

GSA will move forward with all these efforts as we seek to develop further understanding of, and solutions to, the toll that racism is taking on American society. It will support the dissemination of evidence to eliminate systemic issues that increase the disparities that negatively impact health and well-being.

Denouncing Anti-AAPI Hatred, GSA Reiterates Commitment to Fighting Discrimination (March 23, 2021)

As the U.S. again confronts the catastrophic consequences of racially motivated hate, The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) — the nation’s largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging — joins with all who condemn violence, racism, sexism, and ageism targeting the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.

Individuals of AAPI background have been increasingly made targets of acts of hatred, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and punctuated most recently by murders in the Atlanta area. Such crimes contribute to a public health crisis that must be addressed by every sector of society.

Minority groups represent the fastest growing segment of the older adult population. And GSA member scientists have well documented disparities experienced by people of color across the life course — encompassing physical health, psychological health, financial health, and more. But all people deserve the opportunity to live in safe environments and have access to quality health care, free of discrimination.

Recognizing that biases — whether driven by race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion, profession, or many other dimensions — are antithetical to GSA’s core values, the organization established a Diversity and Justice Working Group in 2020. This member-led body of experts is spearheading efforts to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion within the gerontological community of scholars, and in society more broadly.

Today we are reminded that this work to produce lasting change is more important than ever. Through its commitment to research, education, policy, and practice in aging, GSA pledges to be an ally to federal, state, and local government entities, businesses, educational institutions, professional societies, and coalitions in taking swift and direct action against acts of hate and discrimination toward AAPI individuals and all minorities.

GSA Issues Statement Following Verdict in George Floyd Case (April 21, 2021)

With a conviction for the murder of George Floyd, the U.S. observes a milestone on its long and difficult march toward racial justice. And The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is reaffirming its solidarity with those acting to bring about sustainable change in rooting out the entrenched racism undermining American society and promoting equal rights for all.

GSA stands with other leading organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Medical Association in recognizing racism as a public health threat. As minority groups make up the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population, GSA member scientists have frequently identified the many disparities individuals in these groups experience over the life course, across many dimensions.

The pervasive prejudices in this nation — and their measurably negative impact on minorities — have often been visible within our system of law enforcement but they are not unique to it. Every institution has a role to play in holding itself accountable for eliminating conscious and unconscious discrimination and bias, which undermine our collective well-being.

The senseless killings of Floyd and other Black individuals nearly a year ago served as the catalyst to launch or accelerate diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives nationwide. Although the public health threat of racism continues, the outcome in Floyd’s case has the potential to provide a similar momentum for those who have a renewed sense of hope that change is possible.

GSA remains dedicated to the cause of dismantling systemic racism and — through its commitment to research, education, policy, and practice in aging — serving as a partner in efforts to achieve justice for all members of society.

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