Confronting Historical White Supremacy in Social Work Education and Practice
A Way Forward
Keywords:Social justice education, racial formation, pre-service social workers, racial inequality and social services
Oftentimes, social work education is in denial of its seductive and pervasive relationship with White Supremacy, as if it is exempt in power relations rooted in racial formation. The present paper investigates the historical legacy of racial formation within the United States context and its inception in the field of social work. This paper provides comprehensive definitions of the key terms used in teaching social work practice from an anti-racist social justice lens. Whiteness theory is used to highlight the way social work has perpetuated White Supremacy in the evolution of the profession and Black feminist standpoint is used to examine the experiences of non-White women as they interface with racist and oppressive social systems. I advocate for the use of a social justice pedagogy in social work education to help students think critically and reflectively about their future practice to better understand the oppressive power structures in many of today’s agencies, organizations, and institutions.
Abbasi, G. (2020). Discipline and commoditize: How U-visas exploit the pain of gender-based violence. Feminist Criminology, 15(4), 464-491. https://doi.org/10.1177/1557085120923037
Alexander, M. (2011). The new Jim Crow. Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, 9(1), 7-26.
Aveling, N. (2004). Critical whiteness studies and the challenges of learning to be a ‘White Ally’. Borderlands: E-journal, 3(2), 1-10. https://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/8494/1/critical_whiteness_studies.pdf
Badwall, H. K. (2015). Colonial encounters: Racialized social workers negotiating professional scripts of whiteness. Intersectionalities: A Global Journal of Social Work Analysis, Research, Polity, and Practice, 3(1), 1-23. https://journals.library.mun.ca/ojs/index.php/IJ/article/view/996/1004
Ball, S. (2012). Foucault, power, and education. Routledge.
Benn-John, J., & De Mello, T. (2018). Understanding the interactive effects of sexual violence prevention and support work on the emotional labor of racialized workers in post-secondary institutions. Canadian Woman Studies/les cahiers de la femme, 32(1/2), 9-98.
Bhuyan, R., Bejan, R., & Jeyapal, D. (2017). Social workers’ perspectives on social justice in social work education: When mainstreaming social justice masks structural inequalities. Social Work Education, 36(4), 373-390. https://doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2017.1298741
Bonilla-Silva, E. (2017). Racism without racists: Color-blind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in America. Rowman & Littlefield.
Bundy-Fazioli, K., Quijano, L. M., & Bubar, R. (2013). Graduate students’ perceptions of professional power in social work practice. Journal of Social Work Education, 49(1), 108-121. https://doi.org/10.1080/10437797.2013.755092
Choudry, A., & Kapoor, D. (2013). NGOization: Complicity, contradictions, and prospects. Zed Books. https://doi.org/10.5040/9781350221512.0005
Collins, P. H., & Bilge, S. (2016). Intersectionality. John Wiley & Sons.
Degruy-Leary, J. (1994). Post-traumatic Slave Syndrome: America's legacy of enduring injury. Caban Productions.
Dei, G. J. S. (1999). Knowledge and politics of social change: The implication of anti-racism. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 20(3), 395-409. https://doi.org/10.1080/01425699995335
El-Lahib, Y. (2017). Theoretical dimensions for interrogating the intersection of disability, immigration, and social work. International Social Work, 60(3), 640-653. https://doi.org/10.1177/0020872816651704
Fast, E., & Collin-Vézina, D. (2010). Historical trauma, race-based trauma, and resilience of Indigenous peoples: A literature review. First Peoples Child & Family Review, 5(1), 126-136. https://doi.org/10.7202/1069069ar
Feagin, J., & Elias, S. (2013). Rethinking racial formation theory: A systemic racism critique. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 36(6), 931-960. https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2012.669839
Fellows, M. L., & Razack, S. (1998). The race to innocence: Confronting hierarchical relations among women. Journal of Gender, Race & Justice, 1, 335-352. https://scholarship.law.umn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1278&context=faculty_articles&fbclid=IwAR3Hku7Wn7RmHNYlkEmfNt0yj6-fQkS97f2i6czjDi4FMAL8RixsO2R6bnU
Foucault, M. (1984). The Foucault reader (P. Rabinow, Ed.). Pantheon.
Furman, R., Gibelman, M., & Winnett, R. (2020). Navigating human service organizations: Essential information for thriving and surviving in agencies. Oxford University Press.
Franklin, D. L. (1992). Feminization of poverty and African-American families: Illusions and realities. Affilia, 7(2), 142-155. https://doi.org/10.1177/088610999200700210
Garcia, S. (2020, June 17). Where did BIPOC come from? New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/article/what-is-bipoc.html
Gerig, M. S. (2007). Foundations for mental health and community counseling: An introduction to the profession. Pearson.
Giroux, H. A. (1981). Hegemony, resistance, and the paradox of educational reform. Interchange, 12(2), 3-26. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf01192105
Gramsci, A. (2000). The Gramsci reader: Selected writings, 1916-1935. NYU Press.
Gregory, J. R. (2021). Social work as a product and project of whiteness, 1607–1900. Journal of Progressive Human Services, 32(1), 17-36. https://doi.org/10.1080/10428232.2020.1730143
Harlow, E., & Hearn, J. (1996). Educating for anti-oppressive and anti-discriminatory social work practice. Social Work Education, 15(1), 5-17. https://doi.org/10.1080/02615479611220021
Hardy, K. V. (2013). Healing the hidden wounds of racial trauma. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 22(1), 24-28.
Heidegger, M. (1962). Being and time (J. Macquarrie & E. Robinson, Trans.). Blackwell. (Original work published 1927)
Hill Collins, P. (1986). Learning from the outsider within: The sociological significance of Black feminist thought. Social Problems, 33(6), s14-s32. https://doi.org/10.1525/sp.1986.33.6.03a00020
Hill Collins, P. (2002). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. Routledge.
hooks, b. (2000a). All about love: New visions. Harper.
hooks, b. (2000b). Feminist theory: From margin to center. Pluto Press.
hooks, b. (2014). Teaching to transgress. Routledge.
HoSang, D., LaBennett, O., & Pulido, L. (Eds.). (2012). Racial formation in the twenty-first century. University of California Press. https://doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520273436.001.0001
Hughey, M. W., Embrick, D. G., & Doane, A. W. (2015). Paving the way for future race research: Exploring the racial mechanisms within a color-blind, racialized social system. American Behavioral Scientist, 59(11), 1347-1357. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764215591033
Husain, A. (2019). Moving beyond (and back to) the black-white binary: A study of black and white Muslims’ racial positioning in the United States. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 42(4), 589-606. https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2017.1410199
Husain, A., & Howard, S. (2017). Religious microaggressions: A case study of Muslim Americans. Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work, 26(1-2), 139-152. https://doi.org/10.1080/15313204.2016.1269710
Hutchison, E. D. (2016). Essentials of human behavior: Integrating person, environment, and the life course. Sage Publications
Kandaswamy, P. (2012). Gendering racial formation. In D. M. HoSang, O. Labennett, & L. Pulido (Eds.), Racial formation in the twenty-first century (pp. 23-43). University of California Press. https://doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520273436.003.0002
Kivel, P. (2007). Social service or social change. Incite, 129-149.
Kohl, E., & McCutcheon, P. (2015). Kitchen table reflexivity: Negotiating positionality through everyday talk. Gender, Place & Culture, 22(6), 747-763. https://doi.org/10.1080/0966369x.2014.958063
Kroehle, K., Shelton, J., Clark, E., & Seelman, K. (2020). Mainstreaming dissidence: Confronting binary gender in Social Work's Grand Challenges. Social Work, 65(4), 368-377. https://doi.org/10.1093/sw/swaa037
Krumer-Nevo, M. (2009). Four scenes and an epilogue: Autoethnography of a critical social work agenda regarding poverty. Qualitative Social Work, 8(3), 305-320. https://doi.org/10.1177/1473325009337839
Leonardo, Z. (2002). The souls of White folk: Critical pedagogy, whiteness studies, and globalization discourse. Race ethnicity and education, 5(1), 29-50. https://doi.org/10.1080/13613320120117180
Levinas, E. (1987). Time and the other (R. A. Cohen, Trans.). Duquesne University Press. (Original work published 1947)
Lorde, A. (2012). Sister outsider: Essays and speeches. Crossing Press.
Macey, M., & Moxon, E. (1996). An examination of anti-racist and anti-oppressive theory and practice in social work education. The British Journal of Social Work, 26(3), 297-314. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.bjsw.a011097
Macias, T. (2013). “Bursting Bubbles”: The challenges of teaching critical social work. Affilia, 28(3), 322-324. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886109913495730
Marsiglia, F. F., & Kulis, S. (2009). Diversity, oppression, and change: Culturally grounded social work. Lyceum Books.https://www.amazon.com/Diversity-Oppression-Change-Culturally-Grounded-dp-0190059508/dp/0190059508/ref=dp_ob_image_bk
Marthinsen, E., Juberg, A., Skjefstad, N. S., & Michael Garrett, P. (2019). Social work and neoliberalism: The Trondheim papers. European Journal of Social Work, 22(2), 183-187. https://doi.org/10.1080/13691457.2019.1558795
Mclaughlin, K. (2005). From ridicule to institutionalization: Anti-oppressive, the state and social work. Critical social policy, 25(3), 283-305. https://doi.org/10.1177/0261018305054072
Miller, J., & Garran, A. M. (2017). Racism in the United States: Implications for the helping professions. Springer. https://doi.org/10.1891/9780826148858
Mills, C. W. (2014). The racial contract. Cornell University Press.
Morgaine, K., & Capous-Desyllas, M. (2014). Anti-oppressive social work practice. Sage.
Morley, C., Macfarlane, S., & Ablett, P. (2017). The neoliberal colonization of social work education: A critical analysis and practices for resistance. Advances in Social Work and Welfare Education, 19(2), 25-40.
Omi, M., & Winant, H. (1994). Racial formation in the US from the 1960s to the 1990s. Routledge.
Pateman, C., & Mills, C. W. (2007). Contract and domination. Polity.
People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond Undoing Racism. (2017, October 24). Home. http://www.pisab.org/
Razack, N., & Jeffery, D. (2002). Critical race discourse and tenets for social work. Canadian Social Work Review/Revue Canadienne de Service Social, 19(2), 257-271.
Roediger, D. R. (1999). The wages of whiteness: Race and the making of the American working class. Verso.
Rogowski, S. (2018). Neoliberalism and social work with children and families in the UK: On-going challenges and critical possibilities. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 30(3), 72-83. https://doi.org/10.11157/anzswj-vol30iss3id519
Schiele, J. H. (2017). The Afrocentric paradigm in social work: A historical perspective and future outlook. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 27(1-2), 15-26. https://doi.org/10.1080/10911359.2016.1252601
Smith, A. (2007). Introduction. In Incite! Women of Color against violence (Eds.), The revolution will not be funded: Beyond the non-profit industrial complex (pp. 1-18). https://collectiveliberation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Smith_Intro_Revolution_Will_Not_Be_Funded.pdf
Smith, A. (2012). Indigeneity, settler colonialism, White supremacy. In LaBennett, & L. Pulido (Eds.). In D. M. HoSang, O. Labennett, & L. Pulido (Eds.), Racial formation in the twenty-first century (pp. 66-90). University of California Press. https://doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520273436.001.0001
Smith, A. (2008). Heteropatriarchy and the three pillars of White supremacy: Rethinking women of color organizing. Transformations: Feminist pathways to global change, 264.
Smith, L. T. (2013). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. Zed Books.
Staszak, J. F. (2008). Other/otherness. In R. Kitchin & N. Thrift (Eds.). International Encyclopedia of Human Geography. Elsevier. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:77582
Tascón, S. M., & Ife, J. (Eds.). (2019). Disrupting whiteness in social work. Routledge.
Todorova, M. S. (2019). Togetherness indifference: Feminist and queer of color-based approaches to teaching for solidarity in social justice education (Unpublished manuscript).
Wagner, A., & Yee, J. Y. (2011). Anti-oppressive in higher education: Implicating neo-liberalism. Canadian Social Work Review/Revue canadienne de service social, 28(1), 89-105.
Wane, N. N., & Todd, K. L. (Eds.). (2018). Decolonial pedagogy: Examining sites of resistance, resurgence, and renewal. Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-01539-8
Wane, N. N., Manyimo, E. L., & Ritskes, E. J. (Eds.). (2011). Spirituality, education & society. Springer Science & Business Media. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-6091-603-8
Wane, N., Jagire, J., & Murad, Z. (Eds.). (2014). Ruptures: Anti-colonial & anti-racist feminist theorizing. Springer.
Warde, B. (2016). Inequality in U.S. social policy: An historical analysis. Routledge.
Copyright to works published in Advances in Social Work is retained by the author(s).