Each July, we look forward to beginning the program year with new officers, committee members and others who take volunteer leadership positions in the association. This year, we welcome Sue Pressman as the 69th president of the American Counseling Association, along with a cadre of other dedicated volunteers. We know that we are living in challenging times, and we wish all of them well as they take on the mantle of leadership.
For many people, the coronavirus and working from home has taken its toll. And now we are faced with race-based violence and a void in national leadership to help us navigate toward the society that we envision. People all over our country are in pain. Members of ACA are in pain. People who work for ACA are in pain. I know because I’m one of them. When I think of the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Dreasjon Reed, Tony McDade, George Floyd and countless others, I am saddened. Our country can be better than what we have witnessed.
ACA has a long history of supporting social justice, opposing discrimination and understanding the benefits of diverse communities. So, some might ask, what is ACA doing? First and foremost, ACA denounces any form of discrimination, and we firmly believe that Black Lives Matter. We have looked at what we can do as an organization. We have reached out to partner with our divisions, regions and branches. We have also looked outside of our “family” to engage in meaningful partnerships with other groups that will fight oppression and racism to the same magnitude that we will.
In early June, ACA launched a special section of its website (at counseling.org/knowledge-center/mental-health-resources/racism) featuring resources, information, and announcements about upcoming events for counselors who want to know more about their place in opposing race-based violence. In addition, the site includes numerous articles and suggested readings for those who want to learn more about understanding and working to eliminate racism.
In mid-June, ACA, its regions, many of its divisions and the ACA Foundation came together in a virtual town hall to explore and recommit to fighting racism. I have always appreciated knowing that my employer takes these realities seriously and puts resources behind effecting true societal change. ACA is in this fight for the long game. We intend to continue building out what we are offering in the coming weeks and months.
It is important that ACA members and other professional counselors take the time to address their own personal needs, as well as those of colleagues, friends and family. As you deal with your own emotions over what has unfolded, remember to check on those who may feel isolated, marginalized and forgotten. What has been happening has profoundly affected me professionally and personally. I believe that each of us must do what we can to ensure that everyone is treated with dignity and respect. In our own way, each of us needs to make a difference.
Let’s remember George, Ahmaud, Breonna, Dreasjon, Tony and so many others. And then let’s think about what role we will take both individually and collectively to end race-based violence in our country.