Confirmed victory
Petitioning Psychology Today Kaja Perina, Editor in Chief and 2 others
This petition was delivered to:
Psychology Today
Kaja Perina, Editor in Chief
Psychology Today
Lybi Ma, Deputy Editor
Psychology Today
Letters

Psychology Today: Stop Publishing Racist & Sexist Articles

***UPDATE 5/31/11: PSYCHOLOGY TODAY APOLOGY IS NOT ENOUGH***

Almost two full weeks after this article first appeared, Kaja Perina, Psychology Today editor-in-chief, issued a lukewarm apology.

By choosing to publish such damaging information, Psychology Today has committed an egregious racial and cultural injury against Black women that cannot be rectified through insincere apologies and nebulous “promises” that it will not happen again. We demand that these proactive steps are taken by Psychology today to address this problem:

* Offer a real apology that acknowledges that scientific racism is wrong and detrimental and that Psychology Today’s choice to publish such material is injurious to Black women;

* Dismiss Satoshi Kanazawa; his track record suggests that he simply cannot be trusted to handle with care and rigor the platform that Psychology Today provides and that its readers respect;

* Clarify the "measures" you've taken to prevent scientific racism from being published on Psychology Today's website and magazine in the future for public evaluation.

* Run a series of articles by other contributors that actively debunk scientific racism and its connection to the field of Psychology.

_________________________________

 

***ORIGINAL PETITION, 5/17/11 ***

On May 15, 2011, Psychology Today contributor, Satoshi Kanazawa posted an article entitled "Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?" (now removed from their website, but reblogged here).  We demand that the Psychology Today editorial board publicly account for how and why this racist and sexist article was allowed to be published on the Psychology Today website, and take transparent steps to prevent this from happening in the future. 

Kanazawa's article is nothing more than a vile regurgitation of racist and sexist beliefs about black women disguised as "objective" and "scientific" research findings, and contributes to a historical legacy of using distorted "science" as a tool to justify violent ideas about and treatment of black women. Kanazawa has a history of writing biased and error-ridden articles that attempt to justify racist beliefs. Other scientists have discredited his research and his legitimacy as a social scientist has been called into question.  That Psychology Today publishes Kanazawa's often problematic articles casts serious doubt about the trustworthiness of their publications as well as the rigor of their editorial process.

Psychology Today is not just a magazine and website, but it's also a site that people access resources for mental health services for their well being.  Publishing damaging and crude articles such as Kanazawa's demonstrates a profound disrespect for anyone who turns to Psychology Today for these resources.

Though Psychology Today has removed the article from their website without explanation, the editors have not acknowledged or taken responsibility for publishing the article, discussed the editorial standards they require from their contributors and whether this article satisfied those standards, or explained why Kanazawa remains as a contributor, despite being discredited by other social scientists.  Psychology Today editors have a journalistic and ethical duty to be both transparent about how this article was published and accountable for this failure in public trust.  

Because of the damage that this kind of misinformation creates for both the public and Psychology Today, we demand the following:

1) a public statement from Psychology Today editors demonstrating accountability for the article itself and the editorial conditions that allowed this article to be published on your website,

2) the removal of Satoshi Kanazawa as a contributor to your website, magazine, and any other Psychology Today publications based on his history of discredited research and repeatedly submitting racially biased articles to Psychology Today, including this most recent disturbing article that your editors chose to abruptly scrub from your website,

3) and the development of more thoughtful and sophisticated strategies for identifying how racism, sexism, homophobia/transphobia, and other oppressions and biases shape any so-called "objective" scientific inquiries, methodologies, and findings that your contributors examine in your publications.  These strategies should be communicated to the public in an effort to be more transparent about how you are disrupting bias in your reporting.

Also, please visit this additional important change.org petition demanding that "psychological professional associations to devise a formal statement alerting the public that, given their track record, Psychology Today should not be considered a reliable source of psychological knowledge."

This petition has been endorsed by the following people:

Alisa Bierria
Aishah Shahidah Simmons
James Braxton Peterson, Ph.D.
Wil Gafney, Ph.D.
Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Ph.D.
Yvonne Welbon, Ph.D.
R L'Heureux Lewis, Ph.D.
Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Ph.D.
Mark Anthony Neal, Ph.D.
Jennifer Williams, Ph.D.
Tamura A. Lomax, Ph.D.
Erica R. Edwards, Ph.D.
Tishana Trainor
Tarana Burke
Imani Uzuri
Kenyon Farrow
Linda Perkins, Ph.D.
Llanor Alleyne
Yolo Akil
Kim Ford
Yaba Amgborale Blay, Ph.D.
Ruby Sales
Brittney Cooper, Ph.D.
Susana Morris, Ph.D.
Tiona McClodden
Amina Wadud, Ph.D.
Moya Bailey
Sarah Haley, Ph.D.
Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, Ph.D.
Tracy Sharpley-Whiting, Ph.D.
Sofia Quintero
Osizwe Raena Harwell, Ph.D.
Nuala Cabral
Alondra Nelson, Ph.D.
Asha French
Salamishah Tillet, Ph.D.
Joan Morgan
Crunk Feminist Collective
Ava DuVernay
Carla Jean-McNeil Jackson, Esq.
Christa Bell
Marlo Denice David, Ph.D.
Valerie Ann Johnson, Ph.D.
Carla Stokes, Ph.D.

 


Letter to
Psychology Today Kaja Perina, Editor in Chief
Psychology Today Lybi Ma, Deputy Editor
Psychology Today Letters
Dear Psychology Today,

On May 15, 2011, Psychology Today magazine published an article by London-based evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa entitled “Why are Black women less physically attractive than other women?” It is unfortunate that Psychology Today found it reasonable to use Kanazawa’s false and sensational narratives about Black women’s bodies and lives to drive viewership to their site. Black women’s bodies should not be forced to act as vehicular transport for the racist and sexist baggage of pseudo-science.

A swift online response and petition at Change.org, written and endorsed by a collective of black women, engendered over 40,000 signatures. Also, the student governing body at the London School of Economics, where Kanazawa teaches, unanimously called for his termination.

In contrast to this immediate protest from the public, your response has been tepid and lethargic. Almost two full weeks after the offending article first appeared, Kaja Perina, editor-in-chief, issued a lukewarm apology:

Last week, a blog post about race and appearance by Satoshi Kanazawa was published--and promptly removed--from this site. We deeply apologize for the pain and offense that this post caused. Psychology Today's mission is to inform the public, not to provide a platform for inflammatory and offensive material. Psychology Today does not tolerate racism or prejudice of any sort. The post was not approved by Psychology Today, but we take full responsibility for its publication on our site. We have taken measures to ensure that such an incident does not occur again. Again, we are deeply sorry for the hurt that this post caused. (Source)

This belated and half-hearted apology stands as a refusal to acknowledge the severity of Kanazawa's actions. The outrage against his article is not about pettiness or hurt feelings; rather, our outrage is a rejection of pseudoscience and eugenics masquerading as legitimate scholarly inquiry in a major (inter)national magazine.

And in fact let us note for you some of the problems with the apology:

* It severely mischaracterizes Kanazawa’s article as an innocuous exploration of “race and appearance,” thereby minimizing the severity of his actions.
* The use of passive voice – [i.e. “a blog post…was published”; rather than “we or one of our writers published a blog] bespeaks a refusal to be accountable.
* Apologizing because we (Black women, your readers, conscious-minded people) were hurt and offended is not the same thing as apologizing because your choice to publish the article hurt us.
* The magazine published clearly racist material. Doing so while claiming not to be racist is a contradiction in terms.
* The apology does not specify what measures have been taken to prevent future instances of racism cloaked as science.
* The apology treats this incident as if it were isolated rather than the most recent in a pattern of racialized pseudoscientific commentary from Satoshi Kanazawa published on Psychology Today's website, yet he remains listed as a contributor.

For the record, this protest is not an attempt to curtail the practice of academic freedom. Because scientific findings have social consequences, it is necessary to distinguish between legitimate forms of scientific inquiry and those wholly inaccurate forms that blatantly promulgate racism or sexism. The authors of the Add Health data set Kanazawa used have issued a public statement disagreeing with his faulty interpretations of their data, and other scientists have roundly denounced Kanazawa not based on politics but on the (lack of) merit in his conclusions. Rather than hiding under the cloak of academic freedom, then, both Kanazawa and Psychology Today must insist on higher academic standards. Otherwise, Psychology Today is actively misinforming the public, a practice which is antithetical to their stated mission.

By choosing to publish such damaging information, Psychology Today has committed an egregious racial and cultural injury against Black women that cannot be rectified through insincere apologies and nebulous “promises” that it will not happen again. Here are some proactive steps the magazine can take to address this problem.

Please:

* Offer a real apology that acknowledges that scientific racism is wrong and detrimental and that Psychology Today’s choice to publish such material is injurious to Black women;
* Dismiss Satoshi Kanazawa; his track record suggests that he simply cannot be trusted to handle with care and rigor the platform that Psychology Today provides and that its readers respect;
* Clarify the "measures" you've taken to prevent scientific racism from being published on Psychology Today's website and magazine in the future for public evaluation.
* Run a series of articles by other contributors that actively debunk scientific racism and its connection to the field of Psychology.

Psychology Today committed a grievous error in publishing Satoshi Kanzawa’s piece, but you can make amends by acknowledging their responsibility to their readers and by actively rejecting divisive material. Until Psychology Today is truly accountable for this error, this campaign will continue.