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A professional interdisciplinary organization dedicated to the understanding
and improvement of intercultural relations through world-class social science research
Established 1997

IAIR Statement of Empathy and Engagement:

Supporting “Black Lives Matter” and Working Together to Overcome Racism

June 15, 2020

Beyond global concerns about Covid-19, recent events remind us that too many people worldwide are still threatened by persisting pandemics of racism, ethnic profiling, and excessive violence. George Floyd’s murder is one more tragic reminder of the destructive impacts of racial discrimination.

We affirm that “Black Lives Matter” everywhere and stand against all expressions and symbols of racism, discrimination toward any social-cultural group, and systemic, targeted, or acts of injustice or brutality toward the vulnerable anywhere.

As members and fellows of an academy drawn from diverse interdisciplinary backgrounds, we stand for responsible, engaged scholarship and informed, nonviolent agency that facilitate greater intercultural awareness toward social and psychological changes in intergroup attitudes and actions based on our collective work.

We acknowledge that beyond the cognitive or behavioral, culture is deeply affective. Each day’s news elicits a range of responses, from disbelief, to anger, to frustration, to empathy, and beyond. As an academy, we affirm emotions and cultural initiatives that help us to stand with the vulnerable and victimized.

We seek to understand your standpoint, share your pain, and conduct research that informs educators, policy makers, justice systems, and any institutions or individuals who can promote equality and fair treatment of people.

We urge you to join us to stand together in the urgent tasks of addressing this painful gulf, resisting the “isms” that tear us apart, bringing people of diverse cultures together, and bridging those gaps with shared human care and concern as interculturalists.

The IAIR Executive Committee

Steve J. Kulich, PhD, President (2019-2021)

Adam Komisarof, PhD, President-Elect (for 2021-2023)

Kenneth Cushner, PhD, Executive Director/Treasurer

L. Ripley Smith, PhD, Executive Secretary

David Sam, PhD, Past-President (2017-2019)

Nan Sussman, PhD, Past-President (2015-2017)

IAIR Statement of Solidarity Related to COVID-19


March 12, 2020


As we pay attention to increasing news, personal reports, and professional opinions on the daily spread of the Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), we also share a concern about its impact on global health, economics, and perceptions of peoples and place.
As the IAIR Executive Committee, we express our solidarity with all who are affected! We particularly hope for an early recovery for those who have contracted the virus, and peace of mind and wellbeing for those curtailed by national or regional measures to control its spread worldwide.

Alongside a growing number of news and professional publications, we too express our concern about expressions of micro-aggressions, ethnic-targeting, and xenophobic responses toward Asians, Iranians, Italians/Europeans or others designated to be from affected regions. Though we humanly empathize with feelings of vulnerability, fears of the unknown, and survival and safety instincts facing many, we are both saddened and alarmed by campaigns of misinformation, malicious reference to certain ethnicities or countries, and discriminatory attitudes and acts (e.g. a Lancet letter on 2019-nCoV, fake news, and racism).

Because we are an academy dedicated to improving intercultural relations, we seek to serve the challenges facing each culture with our scholarship, engagement, and efforts to promote cross-cultural respect and good will. We acknowledge that available options and cultural practices in each affected nation or region might vary in how to respond to the virus. We therefore urge the withholding of judgement and decry expressions of bias or blame.

We call for shared responsibility to both prevent and call out attitudes or acts of injustice, discrimination, hate, and violence. Let us be reflective and monitor our own, or group member’s, responses and encourage mindfulness of others, tolerance of differences, and ways of reaching out to offer help beyond our own safety in these trying times.

Facts about the virus and its threat must be realistically faced, but no individuals or groups deserve to be further threatened or harmed by negative acts. We concur with the sentiments of our American Psychological Association colleagues, that “we must remind ourselves and others that the real challenge is the virus, not the people. The Coronavirus epi(pan)demic outbreak will eventually be over. Racial discrimination, hate, and xenophobia, however, are diseases that can outlive the virus, and if this occurs, they will be more difficult to address.”

In this time of global challenge, may we each embody the values and practices that we embrace as interculturalists – to affirm human and cultural dignity, exhibit empathy and respect, and engage across barriers and boundaries to help those in time of need!

In sincere solidarity,

the IAIR Executive Committee

Steve Kulich, Ph.D. IAIR President
Adam Komisarof, IAR President-Elect
Ken Cushner, Ph.D. IAIR Executive Director
L. Ripley Smith, Ph.D. IAIR Executive Secretary
David Sam, Ph.D. IAIR Past-President
Nan Sussman, Ph.D. IAIR Past-Past-President