Call for Papers: Foundational Contributions of Black Scholars in Psychology

A call for papers for a special issue of American Psychologist focused on “Foundational Contributions of Black Scholars in Psychology” may interest AHP readers. Full details below.

Submission deadlines

  • Letter of intent deadline: June 30, 2021
  • Full-length manuscript submission deadline: December 1, 2021

Guest editors

  • Fanita Tyrell, PhD, University of Maryland
  • Helen Neville, PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • José M. Causadias, PhD, Arizona State University
  • Kevin Cokley, PhD, University of Texas at Austin
  • Karlyn Adams-Wiggins, Portland State University


Many psychology departments in the United States have issued statements following the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in which they affirm a commitment to fight against anti-Black racism. Staff, students, post-doctoral fellows, and faculty also issued demands for concrete actions to address anti-Black racism in these departments.

Despite these important steps, much is needed to overcome the history of anti-Black racism in psychology and the lack of recognition and representation of Black (e.g., African American, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latinx, African) scholars and scholarship in mainstream psychology.

This problem has also come with adverse effects to teaching and learning. To this day, many graduate and undergraduate programs in psychology routinely neglect innovative and foundational contributions in their syllabi, impoverishing students’ training and depriving them from gaining a better understanding of psychology.

Ultimately, the systematic disregard of Black scholars and scholarship reinforces a view of psychology dominated by the experience and perspectives of White scholars, and, by implication, the idea of Black inferiority.


The goal of this special issue is to catalog and enhance the visibility of the contributions of scholars of African descent to the broad field of psychology.

The proposed special issue intervenes on anti-Black racism at the epistemic level by pushing back against the invisibility, under-recognition, and underrepresentation of Black scholarship in psychology.

We are interested in papers that curate, review, and integrate innovative and foundational contributions by scholars of African descent, including schools of thought they created or contributed to.

Papers should focus on the contributions of Black psychologists who (a) write in the area of race, ethnicity, culture, and racism that center the experiences of people of African descent (e.g., Nigrescence, PVEST, and Optimal Theory) and/or (b) theoretical or empirical contributions created by Black scholars that address issues of race, ethnicity, racism and/or culture that are not specific to the experiences of Black people (e.g., intersectionality, social dominance, stereotype threat, and white racial identity).

In other words, these works must either incorporate a strengths-based approach to understanding the lived experiences of Black people and/or provide a critical analysis of race, racism, ethnicity, or culture to understand people or society.

With regard to purpose, we seek articles that:

  • will help all scholars re-envision their work to be more inclusive of research by Black psychologists;
  • help psychology departments embrace anti-racist ideals by providing readings that might be included in the syllabi for undergraduate, master, and doctoral programs courses. We envision that the article and the original works cited in the articles could be included in course curriculum and syllabi.

We seek proposals that include scholarship or a body of work that informs teaching, and research in one or more areas of psychology. These subfields include but are not limited to Black, community, counseling, clinical, developmental, educational, health, industrial-organizational, legal, personality, school, and social psychology.

With regard to content, we seek proposals that discuss the theoretical, and empirical contributions of Black scholars that had, or should have, a profound impact in shaping all subfields of psychology.

We encourage proposals that:

  • address the collective theory, contribution, and works of prominent Black psychologists;
  • focus on innovative and foundational contributions that reflects diverse, historical, and contemporary perspectives of Black scholars living in and outside of the context of the United States or North America;
  • provide a historical review of the evolution of Black psychology in the USA since the publication of Guthrie’s book in the 1970s.
  • highlight contributions that are native to other fields that were adapted to psychology. For instance, intersectionality originated in legal studies, Black feminism, and critical race theory are fundamental to advancing psychology. In particular, we are interested in psychological research contributions that draw upon Black feminist theories such as gendered racial microaggressions and/or scholars who have built their careers in this area of research.

Manuscript submissions and contributions to this special issue are not limited exclusively to Black scholars.

Proposals should provide a clear description of the method they will employ to select the works included in their submissions. These methods can include, but not be limited to, citation frequency, other quantitative or qualitative indicators, surveys and interviews with psychologists in each field, consultations with historians and scholars in Black studies. 

Proposals can include scholars and contributions of any historical moment. Regardless of the time period in which the theory or works were introduced, proposals should place the theory/work in a historical context and discuss its contemporary relevance/applications.

Submission details

Researchers interested in submitting an article to the special issue should submit a letter of intent to Fanita Tyrell no later than June 30, 2021.

The letter of intent (two-page single space maximum) should include a title, authors and affiliations, and provide a detailed description of the proposed manuscript and how it would fit into the special issue.

Only those letters of intent that are deemed responsive to the call for this special issue will be invited to submit a manuscript.

Letters of intent that are not invited to submit full manuscripts are welcome to submit to American Psychologist through the regular submission protocol.

If invited to submit a full manuscript, the submission due date is December 1, 2021.

Invitations are not a guarantee of acceptance of manuscripts for review or publication; all manuscripts will undergo an external, anonymous peer review process.

For further questions regarding this special issue please contact the guest editors.

Manuscripts must be prepared according to the manuscript submission information available on the American Psychologist home page and submitted electronically through the journal’s manuscript submission portal.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.