At CDS, we write with sadness and outrage over the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many others in recent and not-so-recent American history. That the present moment is occurring in tandem with COVID-19, which has disproportionately impacted Black Americans, speaks to how systemic the problems of racism are within our society.

Our communities, locally, nationally, and internationally, are continuing to process these deaths and the resulting protests and calls for action.  As citizens and as scientists at CDS, we must advocate together for accountability and justice in our community, for an end to police brutality, and for equity for all members of our community and for the communities of children that we serve in our research. We must mindfully support our community members who have been hurting for far too long. 

We want to publicly recognize the pain experienced by our Black colleagues and students, and to commit CDS to act against racism, against anti-Black violence, and to work to use our expertise and resources to make the world more just and safe for all members of our community, for the families we serve with our research, and for the broader world.  We share in the grief and pain of this moment, as well as in the responsibility to do more and do better. In response to tragic moments like these, we are committed to ensuring that every member of our CDS family feels safe and supported, seen and heard. We are also taking this moment to think about the ways that we, as a society, can more clearly support our colleagues who are struggling most and who are the most impacted by racism. Dismantling racism requires not only holding the government, police, and larger institutions responsible, but also reflecting back on our own roles in maintaining the status quo.

We would, as a society, like to use this opportunity to call for justice for George Floyd and the many other people–disproportionately Black, Latinx, and Native American–who have been lost to police brutality, to state clearly that Black Lives Matter, and also to reflect on the actions we might take as members of the CDS community to educate ourselves and the broader world about racism. As a society we have begun conversations about concrete actions to ensure that our deeds align with our words and our values.

We are asking ourselves what we can do — immediately and moving forward — to advocate for and support our communities and children. I want to thank and celebrate so many of you who I know are actively serving and giving right now, from your efforts studying bias and discrimination, joining protests, cleaning streets and businesses, to quietly donating to organizations or causes or finding ways to support your own communities and families at this time. 

CDS has expertise that can help the world understand the devastating impact of educational, racial and economic inequalities on the cognitive development of children. CDS also has insight into the psychological processes that foster the development of racial bias and racism. This knowledge can shed light on how these processes might be prevented or undone.  As an institution, CDS has much that it can give.

Among the ideas we are working on are:

  • Featuring research on how to talk to children about race and racism on the CDS website to help parents and teachers as they help children understand the events going on right now
  • Highlighting the work of scholars working on anti-racism and racial bias
  • Improving diversity within our own organization
  • Having a CDS symposium at our next conference on this topic.

If you are interested in joining in some or all of these activities, please complete this quick survey. If you would like to nominate papers that reveal the mechanisms that underlie the development of racism or that describe research drawing on developmental science to combat racism, please do so here.  

In closing, I encourage all of us to reflect on and honor the memory of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor’s lives. Their lives remind us that our lives are lived well when they are lived in service to each other.

Connect with each other.  Connect with humanity in your scholarship.  We hope that as members of CDS who care about anti-racism, who want to end police brutality, and who care that today’s children live in a better society than we have right now, you will commit to justice, commit to community, and commit to supporting those people in your life who are struggling the most right now. We hope you will find ways in your own lives, and through your words, your listening, and your actions.  Black Lives Matter.

The President and Board of the Cognitive Development Society