Creating an antiracist psychology by addressing professional complicity in psychological assessment

Desiree A. Byrd, Monica M. Rivera Mindt, Uraina S. Clark, Yusuf Clarke, April D. Thames, Emnet Z. Gammada, Jennifer J. Manly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The acceptance of racist practices in psychological assessment, like the use of racist stimuli in testing material, has gone unchallenged for far too long. Such practices are emblematic of the entrenched systems of structural racism and pernicious presence of anti-Black oppression within psychology and beyond. This article brings into focus one glaring example: the inclusion of a noose as an item in one of the most widely used standardized tests in neuropsychology-the Boston Naming Test. The deeply offensive nature of this item has gone publicly unaddressed in the psychological literature for decades despite over 27,000 published articles with this test as a primary keyword. Herein, we review the history of the racialized weaponization of the noose in the United States; the potential psychological harm and test performance degradation imposed by including racist stimuli in assessment materials; and the ethical and cultural competency implications of exposing examinees to racist stimuli during psychological assessments. Finally, we call out the professional complicity underlying this item's persistence in psychology, urging psychologists, test publishers, and members of editorial boards to put an end to the complicit support and take clear corrective action in response to this offense. We also charge our colleagues and community to critically review other psychological assessment measures, language, and procedures in their respective subdisciplines to make the changes that will align professional practice with the antiracist values required to undo the effects of structural racism in psychology. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-285
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Assessment
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


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