May 28, 2020
As mental health professionals, art therapists see the dreadful effects of racism in our communities every day. This week, our nation witnessed via bystander video the exceptionally horrific death of George Floyd. A police officer pinned Mr. Floyd down to the ground with his knee, applying his full body weight to his neck for four more minutes after he had stopped moving. Mr. Floyd’s last words were, “I can’t breathe.”
Art therapists are often called in for support after a traumatic event—to help people and families grieve and heal. But such egregious events as Mr. Floyd’s death, or the many others before him who died by police brutality, not only devastate the entire community but shock our nation. These events expose the destructive effects of systemic racism, racial trauma, and oppression targeting communities of color.
Art therapists, as mental health workers, care deeply about the communities we serve—and work to create a safe, inclusive, and just society where all people can flourish. As an organization that views equity as our responsibility, the American Art Therapy Association cannot remain silent as yet another black man dies at the hands of the police. We echo Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, that being Black in America should not be a death sentence. We demand justice for George Floyd and for the Minneapolis community, as they try to grapple with this unconscionable tragedy.