As members of the NYSBOTC, we are disgusted at the events that have taken place around our country which include the executions of Black people. These murders of Black women and men are part of a long continuum of anti-Black violence in the United States and across the globe. Centuries of dehumanization, institutional violence, and racial terror continue to occur within a history of inaction. Attention to this longstanding inequity, that mars our existence on a daily basis, has resulted in a global demand for justice and the elimination of systemic racism that bleeds throughout our country and its institutions.
We appreciate the empathy, sympathy, and apologies that continue to be expressed by many. However, those that benefit most from this oppressive system must be willing to sacrifice their privilege by "evening the playing field” and destroying racism from the inside out. The New York State Black Occupational Therapy Caucus stands in solidarity with the national and global protests against police brutality as well as all forms of institutional racism. The question is what we will do as Black occupational therapy practitioners to facilitate equity and equality.
The New York State Black Occupational Therapy Caucus (NYSBOTC) was established in 1975 as a local chapter of the National Black Occupational Therapy Caucus formed in 1974. The purpose of the NYSBOTC is to serve as a vehicle to bring Black OTs, COTAs and students together to identify, share and attempt to resolve issues germane to the Black OT community. The NYSBOTC functions as a sounding board and support for Black occupational therapy practitioners and students who are experiencing racial inequity and injustices within the workplace and within institutions of higher learning.
The Goals of the NYSBOTC :
To increase student recruitment, retention, and support toward certification.
To promote equal opportunity in employment.
To increase communication among Black licensed occupational therapists, certified occupational therapy assistants and students.
To increase awareness and knowledge of occupational therapy among other Black professional groups and the Black community at large.
Forty-five years later the above goals remain relevant to students and Black occupational therapy practitioners. Forty-five years later Black OTs make up less than 5% of the profession.
The NYSBOTC strives to be an advocate for clinical and academic excellence through student scholarships, practitioner awards, and mentor-ship for practitioners and students. Our membership includes students, clinicians, educators, organizational leaders, and entrepreneurs.
We are dedicated to continuing our efforts to increase the presence of Black students and Black faculty in academia. We continue to address our goals through mentor-ship, forging relationships with institutions of higher education, and strategically increasing representation in state and national Occupational Therapy organizations. To effect sustainable change, these efforts must be spearheaded with the resources of our national organizations.
We are encouraged by the recent efforts of the AOTA and NYSOTA around the issue of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. However, we realize that this is still the beginning of a discussion that started decades ago. Action is needed to effect tangible change. We are calling on AOTA to commit to implementing initiatives that will be the driving force to increase diversity within our profession. It is imperative that these initiatives begin with increasing the presence of Black students and faculty within the academic settings and removing the barriers that exist to actualize these changes.
As an organization we remain committed to moving the anti-racism narrative forward and promoting change. We are also committed to supporting our local and national organizations as they develop and implement initiatives to dismantle structural racism and work to build a more diverse and inclusive profession.