A Message from Dr. Briggs
As the Director of the Behavior Analysis Research Lab and a faculty member at Eastern Michigan University (EMU), I believe strongly in acknowledging the privileges I have experienced throughout my career and reflecting on how I can use my position of privilege to inspire, support, and empower the next generation of behavior analysts. I am committed to (a) improving diversity and inclusion within the lab and (b) increasing the number and type of opportunities for my students in our training and research activities. I understand this will be an ongoing process that requires commitment and sustained effort.
I acknowledge the following:
First, I recognize that I have benefitted from access to educational and career advancement opportunities that are not equally available to so many others, including my female and underrepresented minority colleagues. Promoting women in science and diversity in science are central to my mentoring goals and critically important to advancing scientific research in the field of behavior analysis.
Second, I acknowledge that as a white person I have been socialized in white supremacy and that I am a part of systemic forces that continue to directly and indirectly disenfranchise my Black colleagues and other persons of color. Black Lives Matter in all contexts, including in science, academia, and mental health care.
Third, I understand that as a cisgender straight man, I am sheltered from the stigma and discrimination experienced by my colleagues from the LGBTQIA+ community. We should all work to create an environment in which every person feels safe, welcomed, and empowered to participate in any way they choose, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Fourth, I believe that ensuring accessibility and equity are essential for people who live with disabilities, whether these be physical, intellectual, medical, mental health, or other forms of disability.
As scientists and academics, we know that in order to solve a problem, we first need to understand it. For instance, now that I know Black students are only 1/5 as likely to earn a bachelor's degree, 1/6 as likely to earn a master's degree, and 1/8 as likely to earn a PhD as white students, I'll use my privilege to teach, inspire, and empower the next generation of Black leaders in psychology, the science of behavior analysis, and the field of applied behavior analysis.
Therefore, I challenge my colleagues and trainees to educate ourselves; to acknowledge our roles and privilege; to listen and sit with the uncomfortable feelings; to empower and amplify the work of our peers from marginalized groups; and to meaningfully contribute to the difficult work of charting a different path forward.
What steps are we taking?
Dr. Briggs (and our team members) are involved with several initiatives related to promoting diversity and inclusion: