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In Case You Missed It – May 1, 2015 – Baltimore, SCOTUS on same-sex marriage and other n

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Welcome to In Case You Missed It, a weekly roundup of news articles related to issues of psychology, health and mental health, social justice and the public interest that you may be interested in.

We collate these articles from multiple news and commentary websites.

This week we look at stories covering the unrest in Baltimore following the police-involved death of Freddie Gray, the Supreme Court’s hearing of arguments on same-sex marriage, how to support a loved one who is coming out as transgender and more.

Make sure to also check out these APA publications:

Monitor on Psychology – our monthly magazine

APA Access – our monthly member newsletter and

In the Public Interest – the Public Interest Directorate’s monthly newsletter.

Baltimore Uprising

In a joint press conference with Prime Minister Abe of Japan, President Obama responded to a reporter’s question about the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody in Baltimore, and the aftermath, commenting “since Ferguson, and the task force that we put together, we have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals — primarily African American, often poor — in ways that have raised troubling questions.” The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing outlined proposals to rebuild trust between police and the communities they serve. But he noted this is not just a law enforcement issue. We must commit as a nation to lifting up poor communities: “If we are serious about solving this problem, then we’re going to not only have to help the police, we’re going to have to think about what can we do — the rest of us — to make sure that we’re providing early education to these kids; to make sure that we’re reforming our criminal justice system so it’s not just a pipeline from schools to prisons; so that we’re not rendering men in these communities unemployable because of a felony record for a nonviolent drug offense; that we’re making investments so that they can get the training they need to find jobs. That’s hard. That requires more than just the occasional news report or task force.” Following the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, APA Past President Dr. Nadine Kaslow and APA CEO Dr. Norman Anderson outlined in an op-ed how psychology can contribute to the necessary work of change.​

Why Baltimore burned –

In the wake of the unrest that exploded in Baltimore on Monday evening, Americans are searching for answers. In this article, a native of Baltimore urges us to look deeper for the cause than just the recent death of Freddie Gray and instances of police brutality. Rather he points to broader systemic issues that have made Baltimore a “tale of two cities.” The riots occurred in a part of Baltimore that has long been neglected and left behind. The gulf between the haves and have-nots in Baltimore is a chasm. A quick look at the statistics paints a pretty stark picture of the disparities.

Fixing what ails Baltimore will take sustained efforts to address entrenched inequality across multiple systems – from better schools to better healthcare to better housing and job opportunities. Most importantly, these disparities are not isolated to Baltimore. Economic inequality in urban areas is a nationwide issue. For more information, check out the report of APA’s Task Force on Urban Psychology.

2News reporters asked both a Dayton psychologist and a sociologist to answer the question many have asked: “Why riot?” While both Dr. Michael Williams and Dr. Ruth Thompson-Miller condemned the violence, they explained that the actions result from a number of underlying factors.

“Maybe they see it as their way of getting some power for themselves,” Thompson-Miller suggested.

Dr. Ruth Thompson-Miller, a sociologist and University of Dayton professor who studies social behavior tells 2 NEWS that the media often focuses on just riots without a deeper look, cautioning that without an examination of the root cause it’s impossible to understand why they’re happening. “… I think these young folks that don’t have jobs, who live in poverty, who, you know, are seeing these young men and women get shot and nothing being done– I can see the frustration, you know, I can see the frustration.”

Psychologist, Dr. Michael Williams added his own take, “Well, I think on a very emotional level it is retribution,” Dr. Williams described. “It is getting a little back in a very basic and fundamental sense that is material.”

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the Obergefell v. Hodges case which could determine whether same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. Obergefell combines four challenges to same-sex marriage bans, from Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and Michigan. SCOTUS will decide whether the federal constitution requires all states either to license same-sex marriages or to recognize those marriages if they’re performed elsewhere. APA filed its own amicus brief citing research showing that homosexuality is a normal expression of human sexuality; that there is no scientific basis for concluding that same-sex couples are unfit parents and that denying them access to marriage is an instance of stigma. For more on marriage and family issues for LGBT people, check out our resource page.

On your local Bud Light bottle: “The perfect beer for removing “no” from your vocabulary for the night. #UpForWhatever.” Bud Light and Anheuser-Busch are taking criticism on social media for a tagline that seems to many to promote rape, in particular in light of substantial research linking alcohol consumption and sexual assault. What’s your take? Anheuser-Busch has since issued an apology for the slogan.

On Friday last week, Bruce Jenner, the former Olympian came out as transgender in a heavily promoted interview with Diane Sawyer. Jenner’s admission that he is a woman (although he will continue to use male pronouns for the time-being) has introduced millions of Americans to issues of gender expression and transgender identity for the very first time. This article offers tips for supporting loved ones going through their own transition – including providing encouragement, realizing that transgender identity isn’t a choice and educating oneself on the issues. For more on this topic, check out our resource, Answers to Your Questions about Transgender People, Gender Identity and Gender Expression.

What do you think of these stories? Did we leave anything out?

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