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Listening Session & Statement on Racism and Systemic Inequality: Supporting Black Lives in PT Education

Jun 16, 2020

Check out all ACAPT's latest Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) news here.


ACAPT's Statement on Racism and Systemic Inequality: Supporting Black Lives in Physical Therapy Education - June 2020

The past two weeks have brought to the forefront the systemic racism that our Black colleagues live with in their daily lives. Our organization, the American Council of Academic Physical Therapy (ACAPT), grieves the senseless killing of George Floyd and other Black Americans. Racism, systemic inequality, and social injustice are the antithesis of what ACAPT represents. We recognize that racism is an urgent threat to public health; it is a driving force of other social determinants of health and is a barrier to health equity. Our mission is to support academic institutions to achieve excellence in physical therapist education. Our operational definition of excellence is aspirational; we intentionally strive to transform learners, expand our knowledge base, and improve societal health. Three domains drive this journey – inclusion, inquiry, and innovation.

As Dr. Sharon Dunn, President of APTA, stated in 2018, “Our vision charges us not to stand at a distance and point our fingers at our nation’s ills but to accept a personal responsibility to try to make a difference.” ACAPT is committed to making a difference, by implementing best practices that dismantle all forms of racism. As a young organization, one of our first actions was the formation of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force in 2016. Now more than ever, the DEI Task Force recommendations continue to guide our actions. Recently, ACAPT supported the creation of the DEI Consortium (2019), the purpose of which is to promote real change that supports increased accessibility and opportunities for everyone in education and the profession of Physical Therapy.

ACAPT is committed to making a difference by listening and responding to the  Black voices in our profession, educating our constituents on the complexities of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and supporting the work of the DEI Task Force and DEI Consortia to make the Profession of Physical Therapy representative of those we serve.

We encourage our member institutions to offer support to current and prospective Black students, as well as Black faculty and staff members, many of whom have likely experienced the deleterious effects of systemic racism. Our individual members can personally attest that systemic racism and inequality add stress, frustration, and anxiety to the rigorous demands of being a DPT student and/or a DPT faculty member. We will provide a safe space for difficult conversations. We will have no tolerance for bigotry, social injustice, or the inequality of any marginalized group. We will commit to our personal responsibility to listen, learn, speak out, and be respectful of all as we continue the journey toward excellence.

The words from an old hymn resonate at times like these – "…let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me!” We recognize that we must recommit ourselves to action and join the voices that are demanding change. The time is now!  

View PDF of the ACAPT Statement on Racism and Inequality in PT Education here.

ACAPT Board of Directors

Barbara Sanders, President, ACAPT, Texas State University
Michael Sheldon, Vice President, ACAPT, University of New England
Emmanuel John, Secretary, ACAPT, Chapman University
Nancy Reese, Treasurer, ACAPT, University of Central Arkansas
Peter Altenburger, Director, ACAPT, Indiana University
Mary Blackinton, Director, ACAPT, Nova Southeastern University – Tampa
John Buford, Director, ACAPT, The Ohio State University
Scott Davis, Director, ACAPT, Marshall University
Mary Dockter, Director, ACAPT, University of Mary
Mark Reinking, Incoming President, ACAPT, Regis University
Julia Chevan, Incoming Treasurer, ACAPT, Springfield College
Marie Johanson, Incoming Director, ACAPT, Emory University

The following Black Physical Therapy Faculty leaders collaborated with ACAPT in preparing this statement:

Senobia Crawford, Chair/DPT Program Director, Hampton University, VA
Bernadette Williams-York, Chair/DPT Program Director, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Charlene Portee, Dean, College of Health Sciences/Interim DPT Program Director, Alabama State University, AL
Lisa Vanhoose, Chair/DPT Program Director, University of Louisiana Monroe, Monroe, LA
Elicia Pollard, Dean, School of Physical Therapy, Langston University, OK
Michael Harris-Love, CU Physical Therapy Program Director, University of Denver Anschutz Medical Campus, Denver, CO
Kimberly Varnado, Program Director, College of St. Mary, Omaha, NE
Dawn Brown-Cross, Chair/Program Director, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL
Revenda Greene, Chair/DPT Program Director, Howard University, Washington, DC
Kai Kennedy, Vice Chair of Equity, Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, University of California, San Francisco
Gregory Hicks, Associate Vice President for Clinical and Translational Research, University of Delaware, DE

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