“Theory’s Cool, But Theory With No Practice Ain’t Shit…”
Critical Theories and Frameworks to Dismantle Racism in Social Work Education and Practice
Keywords:social work education, theory, race, education, critical pedagogies, anti-racism
As it stands today, social work education falls short in providing critical theories and frameworks that reflect the experiences of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Such insufficiencies maintain racism and other forms of oppression that plague both social work pedagogy and praxis. To challenge and dismantle hegemonic curricula, social work education needs to do more to provide the knowledge and tools necessary for anti-racist social work. The purpose of this article is to present five critical theories and frameworks written by Indigenous and People of Color scholars that social work educators, researchers, and practitioners can integrate into their teaching and practice to raise the critical consciousness of social work students. These five postulations are Compa Love, Racial Triangulation Theory, Breath of Life Theory, kapwa, and cultural wealth. The article will also discuss implications for social work education and practice. Centering the voices of under-represented scholars whose epistemologies are rooted in the lived experiences and communities that the field of social work traverses provides a pathway for social work education and practice to be tailored towards self-determination for all.
Allan, J., Briskman, L., & Pease, B. (Eds.). (2009). Critical social work: Theories and practices for a socially just world (2nd ed.). Allen & Unwin. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003115304
Berman-Rossi, T., & Miller, I. (1994). African-Americans and the settlements during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Social Work with Groups, 17(3), 77-95. https://doi.org/10.1300/J009v17n03_06
Bhatti-Sinclair, K. (2011). Anti-racist practice in social work. Palgrave Macmillan.
Blackstock, C. (2011). The emergence of Breath of Life Theory. Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics, 8(1), 1-16. https://jswve.org/download/2011-1/spr11-blackstock-Emergence-breath-of-life-theory.pdf
Blackstock, C. (2019). Revisiting the Breath of Life Theory. The British Journal of Social Work, 49(4), 854-859. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcz047
California Department of Education [CDE]. (n.d.). Culturally sustaining pedagogy - Educator excellence (CDE). https://www.cde.ca.gov/pd/ee/culturallysustainingped.asp
Chuh, K. (2018). Asians are the new … What? In C. J. Schlund-Vials (Ed.), Flashpoints for Asian American studies (pp. 220-238). Fordham University Press. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt1xhr6h7.16
Chung, I. (2006). Bridging professional and cultural values and norms. A study of Asian American social work students. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 26(1-2), 223-233. https://doi.org/10.1300/J067v26n01_06
Constance-Huggins, M. (2012). Critical race theory in social work education: A Framework for addressing racial disparities. Critical Social Work, 13(2), 1-16. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.22329/csw.v13i2.5861
Corley, N. A., & Young, S. M. (2018). Is social work still racist? A content analysis of recent literature. Social Work, 63(4), 317-326. https://doi.org/10.1093/sw/swy042
Crenshaw, K. (1989). Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A Black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and antiracist politics. University of Chicago Legal Forum, 139-168. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429500480-5
Crenshaw, K. (1991). Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color. Stanford Law Review, 6, 1241-1300. https://doi.org/10.2307/1229039
Cross, T. (1997). Understanding the relational worldview in Indian families. Pathways Practice Digest, 12(4), 1-3. https://www.sprc.org/sites/default/files/resource-program/Relational-Worldview-Model.pdf
Curammeng, E. R., Lopez, D. D., & Tintiangco-Cubales, A. (2016). Community responsive literacies: The development of the ethnic studies praxis story plot. English Teaching, 15(3), 411-429. https://doi.org/10.1108/ETPC-01-2016-0016
Darder, A. (2011). Teaching as an act of love: Reflections on Paulo Freire and his contributions to our lives and our work. Counterpoints, 418, 497-510. https://www.darder.org/images/darder_teaching_act_love.pdf
David, E. J. R., Sharma, D. K. B., & Petalio, J. (2017). Losing Kapwa: Colonial legacies and the Filipino American family. Asian American Journal of Psychology, 8(1), 43-55. https://doi.org/10.1037/aap0000068
de Silva, E. C., Jackson, V., Oldman, V., Schacter, R., Wong, J., Lopez, L., & Richards, D. (2007). Institutional Racism & The Social Work Profession: A Call to Action. https://www.socialworkers.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=SWK1aR53FAk%3D&portalid=0
Delgado, R., & Stefancic, J. (2012). Critical race theory: An introduction (2nd ed.). New York University Press.
Desai, M. R. (2016). Critical Kapwa: Possibilities of collective healing from colonial trauma. Educational Perspectives, 48, 34-40. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1143600.pdf
Dominelli, L. (2018). Anti-racist social work. Red Globe Press.
Enriquez, V. G. (1994). From colonial to liberation psychology: The Philippine experience. De La Salle University Press.
Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Continuum.
Gentle-Genitty, C. S., Gregory, V., Pfahler, C., Thomas, M., Lewis, L., Campbell, K., Ballard, K., Compton, K., & Daley, J. G. (2007). A critical review of theory in social work journals: A replication study. Advances in Social Work, 8(1), 62-80. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.18060/132
Gomory, T. (2001). A fallibilistic response to Thyer’s Theory of Theory-Free Empirical Research in Social Work Practice. Journal of Social Work Education, 37(1), 26-50. https://doi.org/10.1080/10437797.2001.10779035
Gray, M. (2011). Back to basics: A critique of the strengths perspective in social work. Families in Society, 92(1), 5-11. https://doi.org/10.1606/1044-3894.4054
Hannegan-Martinez, S. (2019). From punk love to Compa Love: A pedagogical paradigm to intervene on trauma. The Urban Review, 51(4), 659-675. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-019-00540-3
Herz, M., & Johansson, T. (2011). Critical social work - Considerations and suggestions. Critical Social Work, 12(1), 28-45. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.22329/csw.v12i1.5843
Herz, M., & Johansson, T. (2012). ‘Doing’ social work: Critical considerations on theory and practice in social work. Advances in Social Work, 13(3), 527-540. https://doi.org/10.18060/1976
Horowitz, J. M., Brown, A., & Cox, K. (2019). Race in America 2019. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2019/04/09/race-in-america-2019/
Jani, J. S., Pierce, D., Ortiz, L., & Sowbel, L. (2011). Access to intersectionality, content to competence: Deconstructing social work education diversity standards. Journal of Social Work Education, 47(2), 283-301. https://doi.org/10.5175/JSWE.2011.200900118
Kendi, I. X. (2016). Stamped from the beginning. Nation Books.
Kiang, L., Huynh, V. W., Cheah, C. S. L., Wang, Y., & Yoshikawa, H. (2017). Moving beyond the model minority. Asian American Journal of Psychology, 8(1), 1-6. https://doi.org/10.1037/aap0000070
Kim, C. J. (1999). The racial triangulation of Asian Americans. Politics & Society, 27(1), 105-138. https://doi.org/10.1177/0032329299027001005
Kivunja, C. (2018). Distinguishing between theory, theoretical framework, and conceptual framework: A systematic review of lessons from the field. International Journal of Higher Education, 7(6), 44-53. https://doi.org/10.5430/ijhe.v7n6p44
Kondrat, M. E. (2013). Person-in-Environment. Encyclopedia of Social Work, September, 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199975839.013.285
Lagdameo-Santillan, K. (2018). Roots of Filipino Humanism (1)"Kapwa". Pressenza, International Press Agency. https://www.pressenza.com/2018/07/roots-of-filipino-humanism-1kapwa/
Lee, E. (2015). The making of Asian America: A history. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.
López, G., Ruiz, N. G., & Patten, E. (2017). Key facts about Asian Americans, a diverse and growing population. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/09/08/key-facts-about-asian-americans/
Lynch, A. (2006). The place of structural-self reflexivity in our ongoing educational journey as social workers. Social Work Review, 18(4), 78-89.
Malloy, S. L. (2017). Out of Oakland: Black Panther Party internationalism during the Cold War. Cornell University Press. https://doi.org/10.7591/9781501712715
Martinez, D. B., & Fleck-Henderson, A. (2014). Social Justice in Clinical Practice: A Liberation Health Framework for Social Work. Routledge.
McMahon, A., & Allen-Meares, P. (1992). Is social work racist? A content analysis of recent literature. Social Work, 37(6), 533-539. https://doi.org/10.1093/sw/37.6.533
Nakaoka, S., & Ortiz, L. (2018). Examining racial microaggressions as a tool for transforming social work education: The case for critical race pedagogy. Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work, 27(1), 72-85. https://doi.org/10.1080/15313204.2017.1417947
Ncube, L. B. (2010). Ubuntu: A transformative leadership philosophy. Journal of Leadership Studies, 4(3), 77-82. https://doi.org/10.1002/jls.20182
Ortiz, L., & Jani, J. (2010). Critical race theory: A transformational model for teaching diversity. Journal of Social Work Education, 46(2), 175-193. https://doi.org/10.5175/jswe.2010.200900070
Paris, D. (2012). Culturally sustaining pedagogy: A needed change in stance, terminology, and practice. Educational Researcher, 41(3), 93-97. https://doi.org/10.3102/0013189X12441244
Park, Y. (2008). Facilitating injustice: Tracing the role of social workers in the World War II Internment of Japanese Americans. Social Service Review, 82(3), 447-483. https://doi.org/10.1086/592361
Park, Y., & Kemp, S. P. (2006). “Little alien colonies”: Representations of immigrants and their neighborhoods in social work discourse, 1875-1924. Social Service Review, 80(4), 705-734. https://doi.org/10.1086/507934
Parsons, R. J. (1991). Empowerment: Purpose and practice principle in social work. Social Work with Groups, 14(2), 7-21. https://doi.org/10.1300/J009v14n02_02
Pillow, W. (2003). Confession, catharsis, or cure? Rethinking the uses of reflexivity as methodological power in qualitative research. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 16(2), 175-196. https://doi.org/10.1080/0951839032000060635
Rendon, L. I., Nora, A., & Kanagala, V. (2014). Ventajas/Assets y Conocimientos/Knowledge: Leveraging Latin@ strengths to foster student success. https://www.utsa.edu/strategicplan/documents/2017_12%20Student%20Success%20_Ventajas_Assets_2014.pdf
Reyes, J. (2015). Loób and Kapwa: An introduction to a Filipino virtue ethics. Asian Philosophy, 25(2), 148-171. https://doi.org/10.1080/09552367.2015.1043173
Saleebey, D. (2008). The strengths perspective: Putting possibility and hope to work in our practice. In B. W. White (Ed.), Comprehensive handbook of social work and social welfare: The profession of social work (pp. 123-142). John Wiley & Sons. https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470373705.chsw001011
Salsberg, E., Quigley, L., Richwine, C., Sliwa, S., Acquaviva, K., & Wyche, K. (2019). From social work education to social work practice: Results of the 2018 social work graduates. https://www.cswe.org/CSWE/media/Workforce-Study/2018-Social-Work-Workforce-Report-Final.pdf?_zs=aBMte1&_zl=O32h5
Singh, G. (2014). Rethinking anti-racist social work in a neoliberal age. In M. Lavalette & L. Penketh (Eds.), Race, racism and social work (1st ed., pp. 17-32). Bristol University Press. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt9qgtg9.7
Solorzano, D. G., & Bernal, D. D. (2001). Examining transformational resistance through a Critical Race and Latcrit theory framework: Chicana and Chicano students in an urban context. Urban Education, 36(3), 308-342. https://doi.org/10.1177/0042085901363002
Specht, H., & Courtney, M. E. (1994). Unfaithful angels: How social work has abandoned its mission. The Free Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/sw/40.1.134
Spencer, M. S. (2017). Microaggressions and social work practice, education, and research. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Social Work, 26(1-2), 1-5. https://doi.org/10.1080/15313204.2016.1268989
Sue, D. W. (2006). Multicultural social work practice. John Wiley & Sons.
Sweet, J. H. (1997). The Iberian roots of American racist thought. The William and Mary Quarterly, 54(1), 143-166. https://doi.org/10.2307/2953315
Thyer, B. A. (1994). Are theories for practice necessary? No! Journal of Social Work Education, 30(2), 148-152. https://doi.org/10.1080/10437797.1994.10672225
Thyer, B. A. (2001). What is the role of theory in research on social work practice? Journal of Social Work Education, 37(1), 9-25. https://doi.org/10.1080/10437797.2001.10779034
Tower, K. D. (1994). Consumer-centered social work practice: Restoring client self-determination. Social Work, 39(2), 191-196. https://doi.org/10.1093/sw/39.2.191
Vespa, J., Medina, L., & Armstrong, D. (2020). Demographic turning points for the United States: Population projections for 2020 to 2060. Current Population Reports, P25–1144. U.S. Census Bureau. census.gov/library/publications/2020/demo/p25-1144.html
Vought, R. (2020). Memorandum for the heads of executive department agencies. Executive Office of the President of the United States. https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/M-20-34.pdf
Wu, E. D. (2014). The color of success. Princeton University Press. http://www.jstor.org.proxy.bc.edu/stable/j.ctt5hhphr
Yosso, T. J. (2005). Whose culture has capital? A critical race theory discussion of community cultural wealth. Race Ethnicity and Education, 8(1), 69-91. https://doi.org/10.1080/1361332052000341006
Zou, L. X., & Cheryan, S. (2017). Two axes of subordination: A new model of racial position. In Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Vol. 112, Issue 5, pp. 696-717). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/pspa0000080