On June 1st we published a Call to Action urging organizations, employers, and academic journals to make a public statement regarding the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade. We must admit, we were never focused on a statement. We were however, focused on how to use this moment to see impactful change. One thing we have repeatedly stated is that actions speak louder than words. While a statement is important, the behaviors that leave an impact(those that significantly decrease and/or eliminate inequity) are certainly what matter most. Calling for public statements was an organizing tool, backed by behavioral principles. We wanted the statements and their content, to guide our next steps(hello Cooper!), set our objectives, and provide information to analyze the efficacy of our organizing after we were finished.
Much of the work required to see an equitable world, and field, will require each of us to ask how far we are willing to go.
So now, it's time to ask each organization, employer, academic journal "how far are you willing to go?"
One organization that we were particularly interested in hearing from was the BACB. Not to our surprise, many people responded they were underwhelmed by their response. We agreed, however, we terminated the call for official responses once we observed people's focus shifted to the content of the statements. In social justice organizing, strategy is extremely important. Though the outside world may not know the strategy, those at the strategy table are carefully considering each step in the behavioral chain. We needed people to turn away from their gut reaction to demand a better, well-crafted response. Though yes, we deserve more intentional statements, words written on a facebook page, don't render the impact we truly hope for. We preferred each person, infused with energy, save it for what really mattered: the action.
Now it is time for action. Particularly with the BACB.
In their statement the board stated the following:
"We stand in solidarity with our Black colleagues, certificants, clients, and the entire Black community in condemning all acts of racism, discrimination, and senseless acts of violence....The BACB is committed to diversity and equality and places the highest value on inclusivity in all environments, including professional settings, universities, and the community at large."
In the same statement, they also asserted they cannot speak or represent the discipline. To many of us, who believe we are guided by the BACB or their guidelines at least, this assertion was a shock.
"Practitioners of ABA are guided by specific documents regarding ethical behavior: Guidelines for Responsible Conduct for Behavior Analysts (Behavior Analyst Certification Board, 2001), and the Behavior Analyst Task List (Behavior Analyst Certification Board, 2005). Referring to these documents for guidance, behavior analysts can best answer three questions related to their service (Cooper et al., 2007): What is the right thing to do, what is worth doing, and what does it mean to be a good practitioner?” Bloh and Axelrod, 2008.
On June 2nd, while we waited to hear back from the board, we crafted our list of demands and we finalized them after reviewing their statement. We believe each demand is in alignment with the commitment the BACB outlined in their statement. They are as follows:
Release BACB demographic data. Behavior analysts understand the importance of data. According to Cooper, Heron, and Heward, we use data to guide decision making. In organizational research, demographic data is used to guide decisions and set goals based on the results (Konya et al., 2016).
Require demographic reporting for professional behavior analytic activities."In Behavior Analytic Research demographic variables are under-reported. This may limit the broader dissemination of these behavior‐analytic studies and the development of culturally responsive modifications to behavioral interventions." Jones, Peter, and Ruckle, 2020. While we will need publishers to ensure this occurs in their journal, the BACB can set the tone by requiring each of us to be better stewards at collecting and analyzing demographic data.
Add Cultural Training to the BACB Tasklist. We need to add cultural training that makes room for responsiveness, competency, humility, awareness, and more. Behavior analysts need to foster flexibility when dealing with varying cultures. The research is expansive in this area, it's time to use it.
Require Continuing Education Requirements in Culture. In preliminary research conducted by Bethea-Miller, Gingles, and Capell, 80 percent of respondents reported awareness of their own implicit biases, however 90 percent believe their biases do not translate to overt actions(2020). There is a disconnect between our own responsibility to the inequity that exists. It is likely we are showing this to the greater public as well.
Develop Gender Affirming Practices and Polices. Specifically, modify demographic reporting options for certificants to include a non-binary option and an option to not respond. The only options currently available are; Mr., Ms., Mrs., and Dr.
One thing we want to be clear to say: this is only a starting point. Mastering these behaviors/goals serve as a cusp and opens the door to achieve so much more. This would be the start of the race, not the finish line.
So how do we help?
We put out the call to action with the intention to put out another with our follow-up demands. Since then, we saw a behavior analyst, Dr. Lauren Beaulieu has already begun this work, therefore our role now is to support it. We had the honor of speaking with Dr. Beaulieu about her efforts and we want to ensure full participation. Therefore we are asking each of you to uplift, share, and sign her change.org petition to get the BACB to require cultural competency training. While our demands are slightly different, the basis is the same.
We are asking you to do the following:
Sign the petition
Share across all of your social media pages and tag us!
Share with your listserv
That is it! Let's collect as many signatures as possible and ensure the BACB does not ignore this call
Quick Reference List(you can email us for the implicit bias reference):
Bloh, C., & Axelrod, S. (2008). IDEIA and the means to change behavior should be
enough: Growing support for using applied behavior analysis in the classroom.
Journal of Early and Intensive Behavior Intervention, 5(2), 52–56.
Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2007). Applied Behavior Analysis (2nd
ed.). Upper Saddle River: NJ.
Jones, S.H., St. Peter, C.C. and Ruckle, M.M. (2020), Reporting of demographic
variables in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. Jnl of Applied Behav
Konya, Valentin & Matic, Dejan & Pavlovic, Jasmina. (2016). The Influence of
Demographics, Job Characteristics and Characteristics of Organizations on